Isaiah - Lesson 3

Isaiah's Call to Servanthood

This lesson on Isaiah's Call to Servanthood, will give you insight into Isaiah's vision, his call to servanthood, and the implications of his call. This vision led Isaiah to accept his divine calling and undertake a lifelong journey as a servant of God. You dive into the biblical and cultural understanding of servanthood during Isaiah's time and the challenges he faced in his role. Finally, you'll explore the contemporary relevance of his servanthood, which provides invaluable lessons for modern believers and speaks into the concept of servanthood today.


Lesson 3
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Isaiah's Call to Servanthood

I. Isaiah's Vision and Call

A. Description of Isaiah's Vision

1. The Holy One and Seraphs

2. Isaiah's Response to the Vision

B. The Call and Isaiah's Acceptance

II. Isaiah as a Servant

A. Understanding of Servanthood

1. Cultural Context

2. Biblical Perspective

B. Challenges and Responsibilities of Isaiah's Servanthood

III. Implications of Isaiah's Call

A. Impact on Isaiah's Ministry

1. Spiritual Transformation

2. Prophetic Role

B. Contemporary Relevance

1. Lessons for Modern Believers

2. Reflection on Servanthood Today

  • Through the in-depth study of Isaiah, you'll gain understanding of its purpose, authorship, key themes, structure, and its significant contributions to the Old Testament, shaping your comprehension of prophetic literature.
  • In studying this lesson, you gain an understanding of the concept of servanthood in the Book of Isaiah, exploring its societal, literary, theological, and personal implications.
  • In the lesson, you explore Isaiah's divine vision, understand his servanthood in a biblical and cultural context, and reflect on its contemporary relevance and implications for today's believers.
  • By exploring trust as the basis of servanthood in this lesson, you gain a deeper understanding of biblical teachings, the role of Isaiah, and the practical implications for modern Christian life.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the significance of trusting Yahweh, the invisible God, in difficult times and the consequences of relying on human conspiracies and seeking guidance from mediums. By choosing to trust God and follow His light, you will find hope, experience His strength, wisdom, and peace.
  • This lesson, spanning chapters 13 to 35, delves into various aspects such as oracles against the nations, God's rule of history, Judah's situation, and the repercussions of placing trust in the nations.
  • In this lesson, you learn about trusting in God even in the midst of chaos and to not rely on worldly powers. By waiting expectantly and trusting in God's sovereignty, you can find peace and security amidst a turbulent world.
  • The lesson offers deep insights into trust from a biblical perspective, drawing on case studies from Isaiah and giving you practical applications for contemporary Christianity.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain insight into the message of trust in Yahweh presented in Isaiah chapters 13 through 35, emphasizing the contrast between human power and God's sovereignty and discussing the ultimate victory of God in eschatological literature.
  • This lesson highlights the theological impact of the exile and the questions it raises about God's promises and His power. It explores the issue of trust and warns against relying on worldly solutions, using the example of seeking help from Egypt. Isaiah challenges the people to wait for the Lord and defines trust as confident expectation.
  • In this lesson, the consequences of trusting in worldly powers like Egypt and Assyria are emphasized, highlighting their limitations compared to God's power. The lesson stresses the need for repentance, rest, and trust in God for salvation and strength. It calls for addressing the present condition of the people and the land rather than being complacent. The promise of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is mentioned, which will lead to transformation and the establishment of peace.
  • This lesson introduces Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, and his dire dilemma on whom to trust—God or humanity—in a situation rife with political and personal peril. By examining Hezekiah's predicament, you will grapple with the notion that trust is the foundation of servanthood to God. The concepts of power, authority, and faith are analyzed through the lens of Hezekiah's interactions with Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. Ultimately, this lesson presents a thought-provoking exploration of trust in divine power versus human power, faith in the midst of desperation, and the implications of such trust for leadership and servanthood.
  • You will delve into the unique prophetic style of Isaiah, understanding his future-oriented prophecies, and the challenges brought by the exiles. You will explore predictive prophecy and how God's transcendence enables accurate predictions. Further, you'll examine the book of Isaiah's authorship, its implications, and the context of Assyrian-Babylonian transition.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about the themes of grace, servitude, and the promise of God's deliverance in chapters 40 to 55. You will understand the meaning behind the denunciation of idols and God's sovereignty, in addition to the assurance that even amidst fear, God is present and will aid His people.
  • This lesson analyzes the role of a witness, God's omnipotence and His role as the sole deity, His promise of deliverance and transformation, and the continuity of faith across generations through His spirit. The key message of this lesson is that God is the Creator and Savior, the only true God, and our role as His witnesses is to testify to His reality and His power in our lives and in the world around us.
  • In this lesson, you grasp the profound concept of God's grace, witnessing how He reclaims His chosen despite their sins. You delve into the biblical view of cause and effect, discovering God's principles at work. Moreover, you gain insights into the suffering servant, embodying true Israel, fulfilling what Israel couldn't. This figure vividly portrays divine calling, struggle, and unwavering trust in God. The lesson ends by revealing the promised restoration of Israel, instilling hope in God's unwavering promises.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain knowledge and insight into the concept of grace, the anticipation of God's saving work, the revelation of His victory, and the transformative power of Jesus' servant hood.
  • Through this lesson, you'll explore the significant role of justice, righteousness, and servanthood in the Book of Isaiah, showcasing the transformative power of God's grace in redeeming and restoring His people.
  • In this lesson, you journey through spiritual growth, witnessing human virtues and flaws, Israel's struggles, and divine grace. The Divine Warrior transforms God's people into beacons, illuminating God's glory. Finally, the Warrior, as the Messiah, brings comfort, freedom, and beauty amid sorrow.
  • This lesson provides a detailed exploration of the struggles of God's people, their plea for God's intervention, and their accusation towards God for their hardships. It calls upon you to reflect on the human condition and our inherent need for divine intervention. Lastly, the lesson underscores the importance of a relationship with God, not merely seeking righteousness but seeking Him and His presence in one's life.

Diving into this course by Dr. John Oswalt, you will find yourself immersed in the study of the Book of Isaiah, particularly focusing on its purpose, authorship, major themes, structure, historical context, author, and time of writing. The major themes like redemption, restoration, and the holiness of God will be unraveled, along with an examination of the book's literary style and chapter breakdown. Additionally, you will gain insights into the concept of servanthood within the context of ancient Israel, exploring its historical, literary, and theological perspectives. Isaiah's vision and his divine calling to servanthood will be thoroughly discussed, revealing the challenges he faced in his role and the contemporary relevance of his servanthood. You will delve into the relationship between trust and servanthood, with trust being a prerequisite to becoming a servant, as demonstrated by Isaiah. The class culminates in providing you with the knowledge of the transformative potential of trust, its importance in the biblical narrative, and its role as a cornerstone for faith and community development. Lastly, you will understand the message of trust in Yahweh presented in Isaiah, learn about the contrast between trusting in human power and glory versus living by faith, and gain an understanding of the importance of trust and the dangers of relying on worldly solutions.

Recommended Books

The Holy One of Israel: Studies in the Book of Isaiah

The Holy One of Israel: Studies in the Book of Isaiah

Growing out of the work that the author did in preparing two major commentaries on Isaiah, these essays range from comprehensive to specific, and from popular to scholarly....

The Holy One of Israel: Studies in the Book of Isaiah

Dr. John Oswalt



Isaiah's Call to Servanthood

Lesson Transcript


We look now at another question, and the question is why does Isaiah's call narrative come six chapters into the book? I have heard a. Preachers say, well, he's not the first preacher to start preaching before he's called. I don't think that's the case here. I think what we're dealing with is a theological arrangement. I think that Chapter six is here because Isaiah is saying if what happened to the man of unclean lips could happen to the nation of unclean lips, then that problem of this Israel versus that Israel could be solved. If my experience of the way could be duplicated in the nation, then that issue could be solved so that we do not have a chronological arrangement here. We have a theological arrangement. So what do we see in this chapter? Surely one of the greatest pieces of literature in the world. Direct. Economical. Simple. Passion that beautiful. Profound. All in these 13 dense compact verses I said to you in the previous lecture, I don't think any word in the Scripture is unnecessary. I think everything that is there is on purpose and chosen and that certainly here every word is loaded. Every word counts. So we begin. With. A vision. Of human inability. In the year that King Uzair died. I saw. The Lord. Why this historical note in this tight, dense little poem? Why bring that in? Because it is vitally important. That's the reason. Now, who is Wizz Air? Wizz Air, also known as Azariah in the books of Kings, was one of the better kings of Judah. He came to the throne, almost certainly because his father foolishly attacked the Northern kingdom and became a captive and his son. Age, probably about 16, was put on the throne as his co regent.


He ruled for some 50 years. And while he's not the best of Judah's kings, he is depicted as one who was basically powerful. Effective. And broadly speaking, faithful. He is, of course, remembered because he. Became arrogant. And decided that he was going to go into the temple and offer incense. Well, in the Old Testament, you don't do that. The king who plays priest today will be God tomorrow. And that was not going to happen. And so he was struck with leprosy and. The Bible says he was confined to the palace while his son Jotham was the one who, in fact, ran the country. So we've got this interesting situation. Now, it's during this time that. Azaria. Has been somewhat dormant. This is roughly from 796 until 739 B.C. Assyria was somewhat dormant during that time. Personally, I think this is a result of Jonah's ministry but can't prove it. But now there are signs. It looks like the bear is waking up. The giant is stretching himself. So. In the year that King Uzor died, I saw the Lord. Oh, well, as long as the desire is there in the palace, we're going to be okay. As long as he's in charge in the background. We're going to make it good. Always. Yeah. Sometimes a mighty oak can obscure the sky behind it. And when the oak falls. We see. Those black rolling storm clouds. In the year that King was. I died. I saw the Lord. Now we don't know whether. Isaiah was actually in the temple or whether it was a vision. But nevertheless, we can imagine Isaiah thinking, What are we going to do? Jotham is okay, but. But he's not. Who's higher? How are we going to survive? How are we going to make it? In the year that King Ozai died, I saw the Lord.


Over and over again. It is the crises in our lives that bring us to the point of seeing the facts and seeing the realities. O When everything is going well, when we are successful, when there are no troubles about who needs God. Nice to have you along along for the ride, but. We're making it. We're doing all right. In the year that King was iodide. Oh, God. Oh, God. What are we going to do? And so in many ways, I want to say to you that if you if I if we are ever to see God in his reality, in his glory. It will probably be as a result of some crisis in our lives. In my own life. I vividly remember my father, who, as I said earlier, was a farmer, a good man, a Christian man. A believer. His. His table. Grace was always the same. But the year that I was ten, he was involved in a terrible automobile accident. His back was broken. He spent nearly six weeks in the hospital in a very painful brace. And finally. On a Saturday morning, he came home. And that. Dinner, as we call it, on the farm, not lunch. He prayed. And he didn't pray his usual prayer. You prayed a prayer of thanks. And when he finished, I said, Daddy, why did you pray that way? He said. I had a long time in the hospital to think about what matters and what doesn't matter. And I see it a little more clearly now. A crisis. In the year that King was had died, I saw the Lord. So a vision, a vision of human inability. Don't. Don't discount the crises. Don't think that God is out to get you. Think rather.


What can I see as a result of this that I might not have seen otherwise in my life? And then, of course, her vision of God. I saw the Lord. And in this case, it's not the divine. It's. It's not the divine name. It's the title. I saw the Lord. I saw Adonai. I saw the ruler. I saw the master. Hmm. Hmm. The one against whom I'm tempted to rebel. But the one who is truly in charge of the universe. He was high and lifted up. Seated on a throne. Who is this? He is. The king. He is seated on a throne. He has all power in his hands. He has the right. To call the shots. He is the one who has all rule beneath his scepter. He is the king. And the. Him of his robe filled the temple. Think about that for a minute. How big was the throne? If the hymn of his robe filled that 75 foot tall sanctuary, how big was the throne and how big was the one who sat upon the throne? I saw the Lord. In that regard. I think of one of the other visions of God in the Old Testament. Remember that after the ceiling of the covenant. The elders went up onto the side of the mountain. And had a meal with your. And it says it says they saw him face to face. Now, how do you put that together with chapter 34 or 33, rather, where God says, you can't see my face and live? That'll be one of my questions for heaven. But. The one description that is given is. And the pavement under his feet was like very heaven for blue ness. I think of these elders sort of drifting down off the mountain.


And the people saying, what happened to you? We saw God. Oh, really? What do you look like? You should have seen the pavement under his feet. And here comes Isaiah. What happened to you? I've. I've seen the Lord. What do you look like? You should have seen the hem of his garment. Oh. Words. Stop. At the pavement. And that the him? Yes. Yes. I saw the Lord. Oh, oh, oh. How we need a vision of the greatness of God. For so many of us. And I count myself. God is a little prayer answering machine living under our bed that we crank every so often and get upset with him because he doesn't pay off. Oh, God. Have mercy upon us. I saw the Lord, the King. The king who is divine. High and lifted up. These words appear three times. This phrase appears three times in the book. The next time. In chapter 52, verse 13. My servant. Will be exalted, high and lifted up. And the third time in chapter 57. God who lives in the high and lifted up place, and also with those who are of contrite heart. High and lifted up. And he has served. By burning one's Seraphim. The Hebrew word. He served by flames. With all that fire. Suggests of energy, of light, of consuming power. Turning mass into energy. Insurgency. All of that. And again, we see, as I've tried to say to you before, every word here is charged with layer upon layer of meaning. Seraphim. You have six wings. With two. They cover their faces. Who can look upon God and live. With two. They fly instant in his service. And I think of Ezekiel's attempt to express this idea. There were wheels within wheels so that they could go whichever direction instantly.


And so it is here. These who delight to serve God on an instant. And with two, they cover their feet. Creatures. How can creatures even exist in the presence of the Creator? How can the characters in a novel exist? Unless in the mind of the novelist. A vision of God. Calling to one another. That's fascinating to me. How is it that they are able. To speak. But speaking to one another. As though they delight in reminding one another. Who? The great God really is. In some ways. That's the best of Christian worship. When, as they often say, with God as the audience, we remind each other. Who is he? What is he like? What is the wonder? Holy, holy, holy. Superlative. Holiest. Holiest. Holiest. The only holy one, as I've said to you before. The only one who is truly other than this world. This is what Paganism does. Paganism brings deity into this world so that we can control it. So that we can use it if if DFT is really other than this. Psychosocial physical cosmos. Then we can't master him. We can't make him do anything. All we can do is surrender to him and trust him. I don't like that option very well. I've never met any human who is not at heart a control freak. We don't like chaos. We don't like disorder. We want things in control. Is holding. Terrifying. Awesome. Mysterious. Wonderful. Huawei. As I said in the previous lecture. The Lord of Hosts. Again, this is multilayered. For the pagans. Those lights in the skies, those hosts. Are the gods. Yang Wei, as we're told in Isaiah 40, knows them all by name and calls them out. He's the Lord of hosts. But he's also the Lord of the angelic hosts.


I remember. When I was a child. My mother was in the Book of the Month club, and one of the books she got was Dante's Inferno. And it was filled with woodcuts. It was not merely the Inferno was Paradiso also. And I remember one of the pictures. Basically, it's a it's a rose. Of angelic figures. He's the Lord of Hosts. He's the Lord of Heaven's armies. Hmm. That's God. That's a God. A book was written many years ago by a man named J.B. Phillips. Your God is too small. Oh, it's true. It's true. It's true. I go into Europe's great cathedrals and I think whatever those folks got wrong. They got one thing right. He is great. He is awesome. He is wonderful. And the whole earth. Is full of his reality. Everything that we see is redolent of the reality of the I am everything that we see the mountains, the seas, the fields, the wind, the rain, all of it. If we have eyes to see, points to him. It is that point to itself. It points to him and that's what Paul is talking about in Romans chapter one. We've got enough knowledge to know that there is a God. And that he rewards those. Who served. A vision of God. Again at the sound of their voices, the door posts shook. And Smoke was filling the temple. If we are to be his servants. We have to have a vision of our own inability. And we have to have a vision of God. We have to have a vision. Of ourselves. Alas, for me, this is the man who, in chapter five pronounced a lassies. A Yvonne is people who grieved for the sins of his people. But now they're not for them.


Therefore, me. And oh, how true that is. Every one of us must come to that place where we recognize no good thing dwells in me. As long as you believe. As long as I believe. Well, I'm not so bad. There's not much hope. Because we really are so bad. One of the great cardinal truths of Christian theology is total depravity. We are lost. And that's exactly what happens to Isaiah. I'm fascinated. They're really. Is no precise equivalent for what he said. And I've says I'm ruined. I think King James said I'm undone. I think it's the sense of dissolved. There's just nothing left of me in the light of that. What is there? A pad of butter in the noonday sun. A grease spot on this pavement under his feet. But notice what he doesn't say. He does not say. I am finite. He doesn't say. I am mortal. He doesn't say. I'm temporal. That's not what impressed him. What impressed him was I am unclean. Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. There is something about me at the level of morality. That cannot exist with him. Now in in paganism. Unclean ness is basically the realm of the demonic. And you got to be sure to exclude the demonic from your rituals or they won't work. The demons break the connections between the human and the divine or the divine and the natural. And you got to get rid of that. And there are complex rituals for getting rid of the unclean in the Old Testament. The unclean is basically a negative. It is that which is not your way. That which is other than your always intentions or purposes or design. So you do not exclude the demonic. And thus we come clean. What you do is deal with the absences in your life that make you unclean.


So Isaiah is saying. There is an utter, utter break between me and him, between my character and his character and the man of unclean lips. Why does he say lips? I would think he would say unclean heart. This is a guess, and I'm certainly open to being corrected when I get to heaven. But I think he was looking at the expression of his life, which reflected his heart. You know, it's easy to say, well, I've got a very clean heart. And the expression of your life says you lie. What is your life look like? What is your walk look like? Does it reflect a clean art? I think that's what he's talking about. It's also been pointed out that he's just heard the Seraphim, and I think he says, Oh, my goodness. Well, when I think of the drivel that comes out of my mouth compared to them. Oh, what do I have to say? And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, as I've suggested to you before. I think this is this is key. It's not merely my condition. It's the condition of this nation in which I live. That we say we are the people of God, but we live. As though we're not. I'm a man of unclean lips. I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips and mine eyes. Have seen the king. I think it's so significant in the year that King was a died. I saw the king. This underlines my point that I tried to make earlier. Sometimes we cannot see the King because their eyes are on the king. The king sometimes needs to die in order that we can see the king. Now. I think it's a mark of his despair that he doesn't say.


God, could you. Could you do something here to help me out? No. It's hopeless. It's over. He's seen your way. You know, Bless the Lord. It's not over. A vision of human inability. A vision of God. A vision of ourselves. And a vision of God's provision. Pure grace. Pure grace. Again, it's Christian theology. There's nothing we can do to save ourselves. If God does not intervene, the situation is truly hopeless. But God does intervene. One of the Seraphim. Flew to me with a live coal in his hands, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. Now, I love Isaiah. But this frustrates me. Which altar? Is it the incense? Altar? Is it? Is it a call of holy, sanctified incense? Perhaps. But my heart tells me no. This is from the high altar out front. And the coal is a piece of stinking, burned lamb flesh. Whatever it was, it was hot. The sheriff had used tongs to carry it. Now, if the burning one has to use tongs, that's hot. It wasn't a rose. Sprinkling a drop of water. It was a blazing hot coal. And he didn't say, Oh, do it again. It feels so good. He cried. It burns. It burns. Friends. When we come face to face with a living God, it's not going to be fun. Oh, it's going to be glorious. It's going to be redemptive. It's going to be heavenly. But it's going to hurt. It's going to hurt. This. Has touched your lips. Your iniquity. Now my texture says guilt, but that that's not wrong. As I tried to say to you before, iniquity is the consequence. The result, the reality of your sin and your sinfulness. That's taken away. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Mm hmm.


Isn't that wonderful? It's taken away. Gone? And your sin. The tech says a tone for. I like to say, wiped out. The words. That had been inscribed on the tablet of my life. Wiped away by blood. Oh. A vision. Of human inability. A vision of God. A vision of ourselves. A vision of God's provision. And then? Then. A hearing of the heart of God. Again. You just have to love it. What does God say? Does he say. All right. It's taken long enough to get your attention. Now, then, get up and get out of here. Get going. I've got a job for you. I've heard a lot of those testimonies in seminaries over the years. That's not what God does. Hmm. Whom shall I send? Who will go for me. Hmm. And here's Isaiah down here jumping up and down. God. God, could you use me? I longed to hear that testimony in a seminary chapel someday. All I ever wanted to be was a preacher. The Gospel. And God said, I got to be an orthodontist. I've heard the other one a lot. All I really wanted to be was an orthodontist. And God said, No, you're going to preach the gospel. No. And the problem is, Grace has not driven deeply enough into our souls. Oh, God. Couldn't you use me somewhere? Somehow, someway. He heard the heart of God. And he offered himself. Now, almost every sermon I have ever heard on Isaiah six stops right here. Preach here. I send me to build a megachurch. Here am I send me to in the world. Here am I send me to be the next Billy Graham. We've got to receive God's commission. I want you to preach a word. That will drive this generation farther away.


Or you could preach an easy word that might appear to bring them near and heal them. But it won't. Preach a word that's going to deafen this generation, blind them, give them fat heartedness. And Isaiah's response is so wonderful. Not why, but. Yes, sir. How long? So what they say about the Marines when the real sergeant says jump, you're only response is, Yes, sir. And when may I come down? How long, Lord? Until the nation is a field of burned out stumps. Until there's nothing left. But smoking stumps. But out of one of those stumps will come a little green shoot. If you'll be faithful, your message will turn this generation away from me. But there will be another generation. That will hear. If Isaiah had preached the message that he perhaps wanted to preach, we would have never heard of him again and his book would not exist. But he was faithful. He preached a message. A message of hope through judgment. And because he was faithful. His book exists and we know him. And we give thanks for him. A vision of human inability. A vision of God. A vision of self. A vision of God's provision. A hearing of the heart of God. In receiving of his commission. And Isaiah says, I believe now if that could happen to the nation. The nation. The nation of unclean lips could indeed be saved. I think in many ways the book of Isaiah is then. Structured. Around Chapter six. Chapters 7 to 39 are a vision of God and themselves. How trustworthy is he? How willing to trust are We are. Chapters 40 to 55 are a cleansing by fire. As God reveals his grace to them. 56 to 66 are an invitation. And a commission.


So I say again, it seems to me that Isaiah is offering his experience as. The answer. The solution to that problem. How can this Israel become that Israel? Questions. You refer to this as a vision. Is it possible he is not a vision and he actually did go to heaven? Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I. I keep seeing, I saw and that's where I get the vision language. But but you can see really as well. So yeah, I wouldn't rule that out at all. Okay. You mentioned that the entire book of Isaiah can be structured around chapter six, and at the end of chapter six, it says, So the Holy Seed will be the stump in the land. Do you think that's a hint at the redemption that Jesus brought later? So the Holy Seed will be the stump of the land. Is it a reference to the redemption that Jesus will bring? I think so. I think that's exactly. And, you know, it's you've got different language used for shoot and stump and stock and branch, all of them referring to the Messiah in one way or another in different places and different books. So I think it is I think it is clearly saying in Chapter 11, and I will talk about that I guess in the next one, a shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse. Now it's a different word. It's not. This one is. A seed will come up. And so you can't say, well, absolutely, these are the same. But I think clearly the implications are the words to go back to you. Oh, yes. Yes. Again, it's it's all it's all just layered and layered and overlaid. So but I do think so. I think that's where it's headed.