Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. Isaiah 55:3 (NIV)
In the year when King Uzziah died the Lord told me to go and speak His word to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. It was a daunting task. They were a people who’d abandoned God and were loaded with guilt. I was in deep distress. Who was I, a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips, to declare the word of the Lord? But God’s ways are above our ways. He sent an angel to touch my mouth with a hot coal and, declaring the Lord’s mercy and grace, the seraph said, “Gone is your guilt, your sins are wiped out!” Then the Lord said, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” And I said the only thing I could say, “I’ll go. You can send me.”
Over the course of my life the Lord gave me many messages for the people. But perhaps the message that was most remarkable was the one concerning the coming of the Messiah . . .
Astonishingly, it started with this pronouncement: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Visualize that . . . God with us . . . as a baby . . . a great light . . . and His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor.
Then later, the message began to change, to become dark and foreboding. The Messiah was going to be beaten, His beard pulled out, his face spat upon. What did it mean? Would the Messiah really be treated in such a dismissive way? And then, even more dreadful, his appearance was going to be disfigured beyond human likeness.
I was shocked and appalled. Who would have thought that the Messiah would be manhandled like this? It was horrible. No one would believe it possible. And there was more. He was going to carry our grief and sorrow, be stricken, smitten, pierced for our transgressions, oppressed and afflicted, crushed for our sins, scourged for our healing. And He’d do it all without uttering a word of complaint!
The message was a heavy burden and should have worn me down, but the Lord sustained me and showed me that all would not be lost. Even now, with my eyes growing dim and my frame wasting away, I can still remember how the Lord said that the Messiah would bring good news to the poor, bind up the heartbroken, have compassion on those who return to Him, announce freedom to captives, comfort all who mourn, be found by those who did not seek Him and bring a joy that lasts forever.
There’s much more to the story and I’ve written a more extensive account which I’m sure you’ll get to read. Enough said. The Lord has spoken. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
[Scripture excerpts taken from the book of Isaiah]