I no longer see Isaiah 6 as a call to gospel missions. I’ve heard it preached this way for years. It’s tempting. The call from God is clear and powerful. “Who should I send? Who will go for us?” To which Isaiah replies, “Here I am. Send me.” I’m not saying that God is not calling Isaiah to a mission here. He is. But it is not a gospel mission. Just look at what Isaiah is to go and say to the people…
Keep listening, but do not understand;
keep looking, but do not perceive.
Make the minds of these people dull;
deafen their ears and blind their eyes;
otherwise they might see with their eyes
and hear with their ears,
understand with their minds,
turn back, and be healed. (Is 6:9-10 CSB)
This is not good news for the people of God. This is a condemnation of their hearts and minds. God has given them time to respond and follow his lead for their lives. But they have consistently rejected his design. As God declared in Hosea, “You are not my people.” Isaiah’s mission is a preparation for dead hearts to beat again. He preaches deafness and blindness. It paints a hopeless situation for the people. But there is hope in Isaiah 6.
There is hope for those willing to follow God. He will cleanse them from their sin and give them an opportunity to follow him in obedience. Isaiah’s people were a lost cause, but the prophet was ready to follow God. The same occurs for many individuals during this time. Then, as now, the way to destruction is wide and the way to life is narrow. If we confess our sins he is quick to forgive our sins. If we seek to follow him, he will give us purpose. That doesn’t mean the job will be easy. Look at Isaiah’s message. It was not happily received by the masses.
There is hope through the Holy Seed. While Israel remains unfaithful there will be one who is faithful. While the land is destroyed because of the unrighteousness people there, there will be one who makes all things new in the world by his righteousness. Isaiah was not commissioned for a preaching the gospel because the good news had not been revealed yet. A time of trial and judgment was coming and destruction was assured for many, but out of that remnant would be one who would endure to fulfill the promises of God.