These small group studies take us through almost twenty of the key events in the Old Testament. Our Old Testament Survey contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Old Testament Survey Lesson 18 – Call of Isaiah
Old Testament Events #15 – The call of Isaiah – Isaiah 6
Isaiah’s vision of the throne room of God (6:1-4)
The time of the vision (1)
The location of the things in the vision (1)
The content of the vision (2-4)
Isaiah’s repentance and forgiveness (5-7)
Isaiah recognizes his sinful state (5)
Isaiah is forgiven (6-7)
The call answered (8-13)
The Lord calls for a worker (8)
Isaiah willingly answers the call (8)
The Lord defines his ministry (9-10)
The Lord defines what would happen to Israel around the time of Isaiah’s ministry (11-13)
When did King Uzziah reign?
How long before the captivity was this?
What strikes you as interesting about Isaiah’s heavenly vision?
Which part of heaven did Isaiah see?
What are the Seraphim? What is their purpose? Why do they need to do this?
What do you notice about the song?
What does verse four signify?
How does Isaiah respond?
Do you think his response is right?
What does this response teach us about how we should view ourselves?
If we saw God how would feel about ourselves? Why?
Instead of comparing ourselves to God and His standards who or what do we normally compare ourselves to?
Why did the Seraphim put a burning coal on Isaiah’s lips? What is it supposed to mean?
What can we learn from verse 8?
What is God calling for?
Does He still call for workers?
Does He only call for missionaries or does He call for other kinds of servants?
Do you think he has a special call for every believer?
If so, how can we find it?
Do you know what God is calling you to? If so, what? If not, what should you do to find out?
Will you follow it?
What did God tell Isaiah about his future ministry? What does it mean? Did God not want to the people to repent?
What does this tell us about our ministries?
Might God be using them for a different purpose than we think?
What was God’s plan for Israel?
Exodus 15:11 – Who is holy like God? He is majestic.
1 Peter 1:15 – We should be holy like God.
Revelation 4:8 – The people in heaven are still declaring God’s holiness. It is continual and deserves unending praise.
Numbers 23:19 – God is not a man that he should lie. He doesn’t sin and is nature has no ability to sin.
Job 42:6 – Job spent a long time confessing his innocence and making many judgments about God. When facing God directly there was nothing he could say except “I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”
Luke 5:8 – Peter also had a similar confession.
Daniel 9:3-19 – Daniel’s pray of confession for self and country to God.
Numbers 31:23 – Fire (and water) symbolize purification and cleansing.
I. Isaiah’s vision of the throne of God (6:1-4)
King Uzziah died in 740 B.C. That was almost 200 years before the exile of the Southern tribes. King Uzziah (also called Amaziah) reigned for 52 years. He did right in the sight of God (2 Kings 15:7). However, he wasn’t as dedicated as some kings. The high places were not destroyed and people still burned incense. Also, God struck him as a leper for much of his life because he himself did some of the role of the priests.
Isaiah was probably born into an influential and upper class family. He would have been well-educated. As a prophet, he was a messenger for God and told the people what God told him to. He often advised against relying on foreign powers and encouraged the people to trust in God. He also attacked spiritual decline and apathy and fought against many of the social symptoms of this. Tradition says that he was sawed in two as a martyr during the reign of Manasseh. From Isaiah we also get many of the Messianic prophesies concerning the coming of the Messiah.
Isaiah (like Ezekiel and John) got a glimpse into the very throne room of heaven. The throne was “lofty” and “exalted”. It presents quite a view. In Ezekiel and Revelation the passages talk about magnificent, glittering colors, fiery bright light, crystals, sounds of wings, and moving wheels with eyes (Ezekiel also saw that vision right before God called him, Ezekiel 2). It must have been quite a spectacular sight.
There were also Seraphim. These are mentioned only here. The Seraphim are evidently flying angels. They have six wings and are in the presence of the throne of God. Their object appears to be to worship and praise him. The song the sing describes his holiness and glory.
God’s creating power is amazing. He creates such a vast variety of things from vegetables, to animals, to people, even to angels! The creation we see around us is amazing and should be enough to lead anyone to believe in God. But the creation we can’t see seems to be at least as spectacular. Verse three also shows God’s extreme holiness and glory. His holiness is so great that it requires several (perhaps hundreds or thousands) of Seraphim to continually sing forth his holiness. They certainly have a lot to be thankful for. But if they have a lot to be thankful for, we have more. If they can see God’s holiness and praise Him, we can more. We (not the Seraphim) are the ones who sinned and rebelled against God. We are the ones made in God’s image. We are the ones put into this world which He created for us. We are the ones that the Son of God came to give His very life for. We are in the earth which is full of His glory. These Seraphim are singing forth God’s holiness 24/7. What about us? How much do you sing in praise of God? How much do you exalt and lift Him up? How much of your prayer and song is focused on exalting God and how much is focused on your own needs, life, and effort? Even many “praise and worship” songs today focus a lot on how good we are, how we chose God, how faithful and dedicated we are, etc. Let us exalt God’s holiness!
How is God holy? He never sins. He cannot sin. He is the definition of everything that is perfect. He cannot do anything unjust. He cannot do anything unloving. He does not delight in people’s sufferings. He is the standard by which everything else is measured. Because of this, we cannot judge God. These days people like to judge God, His Word, or His plans. They consider if it is fair or not. They consider if it is right or not. Many come to the conclusion that a lot of things are not fair. If they were God, they would do things differently. Give story of council of 200 who sit down and vote on sections of Scripture. However, this is NOT our place!! No matter what God does we cannot question it. He is the Creator and we are the created. We were created to serve Him and follow His rule, not vice-versa. Why do people question and judge God? It is pride. Pride led Satan to question God and want to be like God. Pride caused him to stop following God and rebel.
So what does this mean for us? Some of it we will look at in Isaiah’s response. But we can also learn to put God’s will above our own, God’s wisdom above our own, God’s word above our own, and God’s commands above our own ideas. Refusal to acknowledge God’s holiness as it is written in Scripture is one of the key reasons why people misinterpret Scripture. They think, “surely a holy God would not…” or “surely a holy God would…”. They think that God’s holiness is like their own. This is why people don’t believe in hell, the final judgment, Jesus as the only way to God, and election among many others. They think it’s not fair. Part of worshipping God is acknowledging His holiness, accepting His plans and words no matter what they are, and surrendering our will to His. So let us surrender to Him, follow His holy standards, and not question His motives or authority.
II. Isaiah’s repentance and forgiveness (5-7)
Now let’s look at Isaiah’s response. What reaction did God’s holiness cause in Him? It caused him to fear greatly! Why? Because he realized that he was a terrible sinner as were those around him. Looking at the standard of perfection made him realize immediately just how far short he fell. This is talking about Isaiah, not Samson or Saul or Judas! Isaiah was one of the most godly people on earth at the time. He would give his entire life to serving God. He was almost surely not involved in all of the “bad” sins of immorality, idol worship, rebellion, etc. As far as most of the world was concerned if they studied Isaiah’s life they would have felt guilty for not living up to nearly as high standards as he did! Sometimes before I have felt guilty when comparing some aspects of my life to others that I know. Just this week I have been cleaning up my new apartment. At the beginning I didn’t think it was too dirty. It looked much cleaner than a lot of the apartments I had looked at. But soon I began to clean it. I washed some of the white tiles on the wall. After a washed a few I was amazed! They were so white compared to the others. Before they had looked white, but they were actually gray. When compared to the real white, their ugly grayness became very clear. This was how it was with Isaiah. He was much whiter than most of the people in the world. Yet when He saw the true white, he was very ashamed. He felt extremely guilty and inadequate. He uttered a curse on himself because he knew he deserved God’s wrath and judgment.
We can learn several things from this. Firstly, we need to see ourselves for who we are. It is easy to get prideful and think we are doing well. But actually all of us, every one, is a dreadful sinner. We are completely depraved and lost. If we faced God we would not have a word of defense to say. All we could feel is guilty, ashamed, and wretched, even more so than Isaiah.
Second, we should not compare ourselves to other men. It is easy to do this. If we do we will can find others more black than us and that will help us to feel good about ourselves. But feeling good about ourselves should not be our objective. Instead of comparing ourselves to men, we should compare ourselves to God’s holiness and the perfect standard which He laid out for us in Scripture. Remember the verse that when we have done everything required of us we are still an unworthy slave and have done only that which we ought to have done. Perfection is what is expected! Compare yourselves to the true white so that you can see the gray and black and get rid of it, “Be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 3:15).
Thirdly, we need to consider what God’s holiness should motivate us to do. As we discussed already it should motivate us to praise Him. But it should also motivate us to repent. And it should motivate us to stay away from sin! Don’t you think Isaiah thought twice about sinning after that? God’s holiness is the model for us to follow. Anything short of that and we need to repent to Him. Do not be satisfied with the status quo! Do not be satisfied to float along in your Christian life! Strive for holiness! (Php 3:12-14) This week you can read some psalms of David to see his confession and prayer life and how he responded to God’s holiness.
Notice also God’s forgiveness. He accepted Isaiah’s repentance and freed him of his sin.
III. The call answered (8-13)
Here is God’s call going out. What is this call? It was the call for someone to go the nation of Israel and preach His word to them. Isaiah willingly answered the call saying the famous words, “Here I am, send me!” Isaiah didn’t grudgingly accept. He was eager and excited. He didn’t delay. He answered the call immediately. He didn’t offer excuses or reasons why he couldn’t do it, but volunteered. What a great, great example for us!
Does God call us to anything today? If so, what? Where can we see it? Is it different for different people or the same for everybody?
God is calling us. We can see His call for us in Scripture. There are a lot of aspects of it, but basically they are to make him Lord of our life (Luke 14:26-33), share the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20) and build up the church (Ephesians 4:12). These are parts of God’s call that are given to all believers. When God calls you to these things how will you answer? Will you refuse? Will you tell them it is impossible because you need to what what what? Will you tell him you don’t have time now, but will do it later? Or will you say what Isaiah said, “Here I am, send me!” Surely Isaiah could have made a lot of excuses and reasons he couldn’t do it, but instead he found reason to do it. God is issuing His call for faithful followers to serve Him. Don’t let it go by.
Also, God’s call may be more specific. He gives specific gifts to every individual. Everyone is not called to be a preacher, nor an elder, nor a missionary. But everyone is called to work for God! There is no excuse for a believer not to do God’s work! Pray and consider what God is calling you to do. And keep striving for bigger things.
Look also at Isaiah’s ministry. It looks to be pretty discouraging. As he preached people would listen or understand or repent or be healed. Was it worthwhile? If we had this kind of ministry it would be very easy to give up and think that it is not fruitful. We must have missed the call. We must be doing something wrong. God must want us to do something else. It is possible, but not necessarily true. If we follow God’s call He will accomplish His plan through us. However, it will very likely not be what we expect! Look, through my coming here He provided a great wife for me. It certainly wasn’t what I expected but if that is all He accomplished by bringing me here it would be well worth it. Spreading God’s word is productive in itself. It makes people accountable and responsible. It gives them a chance to hear. It spreads the news of God’s kingdom around the world. We don’t always know why God wants us doing certain things, but we can be sure He will use it for good. It may be He wants to teach us a lesson such as patience or faith. It may be that He wants to plant a seed in their hearts. It may simply be that He doesn’t want them to have any excuse. If you are following God’s call and feel discouraged don’t give up! Only when you get to heaven can you know the full extent of influence you have had. I was reading a book just this week by a Christian guy who wrote this book for families to learn to live God’s way. He has had a big influence as a Christian writer providing material and encouraging Christians in the Lord. He was saved because of a friend inviting him to church. That friend probably never had any idea what impact that simple invitation would have. He may never know this side of heaven. Again, do not give up. The fruit might take longer than you expect (Indian guy example) or it might be a different kind than you expect, but it will come if you continue on. Gal 6:9-10
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
Also, Isaiah didn’t let his past sin keep him from serving God in the future. He had sinned, but he repented and was still useful for God.
In verses 11-13 God tells him some of what he would prophecy about (Babylonian deportation and subsequent return).
God is extremely holy. He is the standard. He deserves continual praise. He should not be questioned. Everything He does is right and fair.
We are extremely sinful, even those of us who are “good” by human standards. We may think we are white, but when next to God we will be black. God’s holiness should motivate us to repent. It should motivate us to godly living. It should motivate us to praise Him. It should motivate us to surrender to His standards and plans.
God is issuing a call for everyone of us. Some of the aspects are the same for everyone and some are unique for certain individuals. Do not make excuses, delay, or hope others will take your place. Give your life to following God’s call!
OT Event #1 – Creation
OT Event #2 – Fall of Man
OT Event #3 – The Flood
OT Event #4 – Babel and Abraham
OT Event #5 – Call of Moses
OT Event #6 – Let My People Go
OT Event #7 – 9 Plagues
OT Event #8 – The Passover
OT Event #9 – Ten Commandments
OT Event #10 – The Promised Land
OT Event #11 – Early Kingdom
OT Event #12 – David is Anointed
OT Event #13 – Divided Kingdom
OT Event #14 – The Prophet Elisha
OT Event #15- Kingdom Under Hezekiah
OT Event #16 – The Dispersion, Esther
OT Event #17 – Daniel in Babylon
OT Event #18 – Call of Isaiah
OT Event #19 – OT Period Ends, Malachi