LOOK & LISTEN BUT???

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    IIN HIS SERVICE

    GOD COMMANDS A MESSAGE OF JUDGMENT

    WHEN THE GOSPEL NO LONGER PERFORS ITS TRANSFORMING WORK

    BY Aldwyn Lake

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    GOD COMMANDS A MESSAGE OF JUDGMENTIsaiah 6:1-10 (NASB)

    1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty

    and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stoodabove Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with

    two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out toanother and said, " Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth

    is full of His glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at thevoice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.5 Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of uncleanlips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the

    King, the LORD of hosts." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with aburning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.

    7He touched my mouth with itand said, "Behold, this has touched yourlips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven."

    8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who

    will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" 9He said, "Go, and tellthis people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do

    not understand.' 10 " Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Theirears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes,Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and behealed."

    INTRODUCTION

    In this sixth chapter of Isaiah we have been presented with an aspect of true

    worship to God. There is no other place in the Bible where this is more clearly

    presented. The aspect that I am referring to is that of revelation and response.

    Wherever and whenever God is truly worshipped these two things must be

    present, God revealing Himself or making Himself known and the correct

    response to Him by those to whom He is revealed. That is what is occurring here.

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    THE REVELATIONS AND RSPONSES

    God first revealed Himself sitting on His throne lofty, exalted and holy, as the

    supreme sovereign and righteous ruler of the whole earth. In response to that

    revelation Isaiah humbles himself, bowing in Gods presence and acknowledgesthat he is exceedingly sinful, utterly unholy and unfit to worship the true and

    living God. He honestly confesses this in His presence saying, Woe is me; I am

    ruined.

    The second aspect of Gods revelation is His mercy. God shows to Isaiah that He

    is merciful and ready to forgive where there is true repentance. Since Isaiah

    made the right response to the first revelation, God makes this second revelation.

    He reaches out to Isaiah the sinner, not with fire of punishment and destruction

    but with that of cleansing, atonement, satisfaction, forgiveness and reconciliation.

    Isaiah responded by receiving the mercy of God and as such he was forgiven. God

    continues this revelation of His mercy by making it known to him that this is what

    was done, for the angel who was Gods agent of salvation said to Isaiah, this has

    touched your lips, Your iniquity has been taken away and your sins have been

    forgiven. Gods work took immediate effect and Isaiah was made fit to be in

    Gods presence and fit to worship Him.

    It is important to note that Isaiah made the correct response to Gods extension

    of mercy and we must not think that this is the obvious and only response that a

    person can or would make. Oftentimes sinners give a negative response to Gods

    mercy and reject it, turning away from the offer of salvation. Those of us who are

    involved in witnessing for God in presenting the gospel to sinners, will know that

    this is a common experience. People reject the Gospel and Gods offer of

    salvation. But, Isaiah did not, he made the correct response to Gods offer and as

    a result he received the salvation.

    The third revelation that God made is that He has work to be done and that in His

    grace, He is prepared to employ the services of His subjects to work with Him.

    Here again Isaiah, in an expression of worship, makes the correct response to

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    work. He gives himself totally and unconditionally to God to be used by Him in His

    work by saying, Here am I; send me.

    We can put all these together and say true worship to God is God revealing whom

    He is to His creatures and in response they bow or surrender all that they are toHim; waiting to receive from Him; and having received, they rise from there to

    serve Him with all that they are and with all that they have been given.

    ISAIAHS ASSIGNMENT

    From verse 9 to verse 10 of this chapter, God reveals to Isaiah the work that is to

    be done and its nature. The passage reads:

    9He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive;

    keep on looking, but do not understand.' 10 " Render the hearts of thispeople insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they mightsee with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, andreturn and be healed."

    In these verses God is doing three things. The first is that God gives Isaiaha message. The second is that God tells Isaiah his job is to take that

    message to His people. And, the third is that God shows that Isaiahs workis part of His broader and more involved programme. We may say that thisis an unusual job that was given to Isaiah.

    THE MESSAGE

    Isaiah was to preach the word of Gods salvation to the people and the reason for

    this was that there was hope for them in Gods salvation only. As such, they

    needed to hear it; they needed to see their condition and they needed to

    understand what Gods salvation was all about.

    The people needed to be made aware of where they had gone wrong, of the way

    back to God and of the consequences of their disobedience. They needed to be

    told that God would forgive and deliver if they repented.

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    That is the message that Isaiah had to take to the people. But, he also had to say

    to them Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not

    understand.

    He was to say to them keep on listening to the message but do not come to aknowledge of your state, standing or condition in Gods presence. This is

    what do not perceive means; and, it is actually a command. He was to

    command them to listen and command them not to perceive.

    He was also to say to them, Keep on looking but do not understand. They

    were to keep on looking at what God was doing and at their condition but

    they were not to understand what it all meant. These were commands also.

    He was to command them to keep looking and also command them not to

    understand what they were seeing.

    THE JOB

    Isaiahs work was not to enlighten the people but it was to put them in

    darkness. This is how God states it: "Render the hearts of this people

    insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim. Isaiahs ministry was not

    one of deliverance, although he preached a message of deliverance. It was

    one of condemnation and judgment for God said, in giving instructions toIsaiah, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,

    understand with their hearts, and return and be healed." In Gods broader

    programme His intention was not for His people to return to Him and be

    healed but it was for their judgment and condemnation, although the

    message preached was one of Gods salvation.

    How do we know that the message was of Gods salvation? We know this

    because of what is written in Isaiah chapter 28 verses 5 and 6 and verses 9

    to 13. Speaking of the work of the Lord in the midst of and on behalf of His

    people Isaiah says:

    5 In that day the LORD of hosts will become a beautiful crown and a glorious

    diadem to the remnant of His people; 6 A spirit of justice for him who sits injudgment, a strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate.

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    9 "To whom would He teach knowledge, and to whom would He interpret the

    message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just taken from the breast?

    10 "ForHe says, ' Order on order, order on order, line on line, line on line, a little

    here, a little there.'" 11 Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering

    lips and a foreign tongue, 12 He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the

    weary," and, "Here is repose," but they would not listen. 13 So the word of the

    LORD to them will be, " Order on order, order on order, line on line, line on line, a

    little here, a little there," That they may go and stumble backward, be broken,snared and taken captive.

    Isaiah 28:5-13 (NASB)

    THE PROGRAMME

    As is see here, Gods message was not a complex one, and it was not presented in

    a way that made it difficult or impossible to understand either. It was presented

    in a way as if little children were being taught. Order on order, order on order,

    line on line, line on line, a little here, a little there. It was repeated over and over

    in a simple and systematic manner, and time was taken to explain and to make it

    clear. But they would not listen, they would not take heed. Eventually they wouldstumble backward, be broken, snared and taken captive.

    APPLICATION

    This is an important lesson and message for us today and the importance of it

    should also come across most strongly to us because that message that was given

    to Isaiah has been repeated five times in the New Testament. Jesus Christ inspeaking to the people of His day said that this scripture was also fulfilled with

    respect to them. They were hearing the word of God, they were reading it every

    Sabbath but they could not see or understand its fulfillment in their time. His

    words in this regard have been repeated in the four Gospels. And the apostle Paul

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    during his ministry said the same thing of the Jews in the book of Acts, several

    years after.

    We must take warning and observe whats happening with us in our time lest we

    find ourselves repeating the mistakes of those who went before us. We mustexamine ourselves to see if we have stiffened our lips, folded our arms and have

    taken a stand; not with God but against Him.

    Gods people in Isaiahs day had been in rebellion against Him for such a long

    time, that eventually they had reached the point of no return and they did not

    know it. God had reached the point where the only actions He could take were

    punishment and destruction; there was no longer an avenue for restoration and

    as such the preaching of the Gospel did not have any transforming effect upon

    those who heard it. May God keep us from reaching there, even we who are

    called by His name.

    Isaiahs ministry was not one of reconciliation or restoration. It was one of

    hardening. Hence we read:

    "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on

    looking, but do not understand.' 10 " Render the hearts of this people

    insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might seewith their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and

    return and be healed."