My Teaching on Isaiah 6:8-13 a Ministry of Judgment & Damnation, and Who Becomes Spiritually Pregnant?
Have you ever been discouraged that more people do not become saved under your preaching, teaching, or ministry? I believe these prophetic words will help explain why, and will encourage you. Though we should never stop trying to maximize our effectiveness (Biblically), but we can rest assure that that sometimes it is God’s will to harden their hearts, close their eyes, and blind their ears.
The entire sermon notes to this sermon, can be found below the embedded video.
In review last week in ‘part 2’ we studied verses 5-7.
There we saw ~
(a) The confession
(b) The provision
(c) The remission of sins
(d) The Seraphim places the hot coal on Isaiah’s lips
(e) God incarnate, His glory & the exaltation of Christ.
Now in part three, in verses 8-13 we study ‘The commission’ of Isaiah, in three parts ~
(a) its terms
(b) its limitations
(c) the restoration
(d) and how God’s commission to Isiah then, is applicable to our great commission today.
Let us first read the Text, verses 8-13.
8 Also 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.” 9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered: “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate, 12 The Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 But yet a tenth will be in it, and will return and be for consuming, as a terebinth tree or as an oak, whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump.”
It says in verse 8 “Also 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.”
In vs 8a Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord.
This phrase “Also I heard” in the Hebrew (shâma‛) means to hear intelligently with obedience, attentively, to declare, with diligence, to discern, to listen, to make a noise.
What does the Lord say?
In vs 8b the Lord says “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”
Notice the Trinity here. God says “who will go for Us.” The “Us” here displays the plurality of Persons in the Godhead.
Though we may serve in different capacities, if you’re born-again, you’ve been saved to serve. You are ‘ipso facto’ from the time of spiritual conception or conversion.
In vs 8c Isaiah responds saying “Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
Though none of us are prophets, verse 8c should be our response, “Here I am Lord, send me.”
Though Isaiah was to go out, perhaps some of you should not. You must first be saved, and you must be sanctified. Only a man whose lips have been cleaned, can go proclaim the Word to a people with unclean lips.
Though I am not speaking of the Lord’s truly saved bride here.
But perhaps less than 5% of the local churches across America, actually send their congregations out.
Perhaps less than 5% of the churches across America actually have an official ‘office of evangelism’ (Eph 4).
Perhaps only 5% of our churches across America are not dead like Sardis, or lukewarm like Laodicea.
Nevertheless, if your local church is generally dead (or lukewarm), that doesn’t mean you have to be.
Reforming America Ministries said this.
“Pastors who do not make evangelism a priority in their churches will inspire church members to not make evangelism a priority either, and pastors that do not put their faith into practice will lead church members to follow the same practices. Sadly, many pastors will argue that they have put their efforts into discipleship, but not evangelism. This is absurd. If men in the local church are discipled biblically, they would evangelize faithfully, but since the practice of evangelism has become scarce in many churches throughout America, it is obvious that men are not being discipled biblically by their pastors. It is important to note that one of the marks of a true church is evangelism. Therefore, churches that do not practice evangelism, in my opinion, are not sound churches, but rather, social clubs.”
Over the decades, at the end of their sermons, I’ve heard pastors tell their congregations now go out and eat, or go enjoy the game, or go enjoy the rest of your day, or go vote. But I rarely heard one tell their congregation “Now go out, and proclaim the Word of God! But God surely tells Isaiah here in the next verse.
Interestingly while teaching Isaiah six, many pastors, teachers, or commentators will stop at verse 8, and/or fast forward to verse 13; or they will totally skip verses 9 & 10.
Not because these verses are over our heads, or beyond our intellect; but because they are hard to swallow, as Isaiah prepares for his ministry of judgment and damnation.
Throughout the New Testament verses 9 and 10 are repeated five times. Therefore we will examine verses 9 & 10 here.
But this is something that we not only can understand, but we can even experience this while preaching (or sharing) the Gospel in the streets.
Perhaps this passage would be a great assignment for a speaker at a conference on evangelism.
Even Charles Spurgeon mentioned how difficult this mission must have been. Spurgeon said, “Now see what a sorrowful mission God, in these next verses, assured Isaiah that his ministry so far as the conversion of the Jews were concerned, would be altogether fruitless; they would not receive his testimony.”
In Verses 9-10 God said, “And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”
Verse 9 speaks of both the outer faculties (hearing and seeing), and the inner faculties (understanding or knowing).
In verse 9a God commands Isaiah to go and tell, not ‘show and tell;’ but “go and tell.”
He then warns Isaiah that they will “not understand,” and they “will not perceive.”
These words “understand” and “perceive” in the Hebrew are imperative. God says what he means, and He means what He says.
Matthew Poole said,
“The sense is, because you have so long heard my words, and seen my works, to no purpose, and have hardened your hearts, and will not learn nor reform, I will punish you in your own kind, your sin shall be your punishment. I will still continue my word and works to you, not in mercy, and for your good, but to aggravate your sin and condemnation; for I will blind your minds, and withdraw my Spirit, so that you shall be as unable, as now you are unwilling, to understand or perceive anything that may do you good.”
Next in verse 10 we see an emphasis on a total inability to comprehend. Today our liberals, pacifists and contemporaries would call this being “too divisive,” or they would tell us “you shouldn’t cause division.”
God not only separates the goats from the sheep on Judgment Day. Here in verse 10 He uses Isaiah to begin a preliminary process of separation now. Isaiah is soon to begin his ‘ministry of judgment.’
Let’s read verse 10 again. “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.”
In verse 10a God tells Isaiah to go out and “make the heart of this people dull (to harden their fattened hearts). To make “their ears heavy” (to close their ears), and to “shut their eyes” (that they may remain spiritually blind).
Lest they “return and be healed (or become converted).
You’ve heard the term “Shut it down!” God does shut many down. The Lord does forsake some, He does turn some over to Satan, and He decrees that some remain reprobates.
One scholar said “It is a strange and sad errand on which the prophet is sent, to blind, to defend, and to harden. Yet we may safely say at once that God never hardened hearts that would otherwise be soft, and that owe their hardness to His interposition.”
You ask ‘how do we reconcile this today in the 21st Century?” The answer is simple.
Our responsibility is to preach (or share) the whole counsel of God, both His Law and His Gospel; and trust in the Lord for His results.
If you’re being Biblical, you will experience a 100% result ratio. Some remain lost, while others become saved, while others are edified. Either way, it’s a win win situation.
As Matthew Henry said,
Yet the Lord would preserve a remnant, like the tenth, holy to him. And blessed be God, he still preserves his church; however professors or visible churches may be lopped-off as unfruitful, the holy seed will shoot forth, from all the numerous branches of righteousness shall rise.”
In the middle of the night have you ever turned the lights on in your barn, your garage, or your house? Watch closely, and you will see the critters of the darkness run. You will see the mice, rats, cockroaches, black widows or other insects flee.
But the creatures of the light will either remain, or they will flee to the light. That is what the Sword of the Lord does in the public realm. The Gospel discriminates. Let us not forget the parable of the Dragnet (link here).
Every time we tell the unconverted the truth, and they reject it, we are assisting in the process of the ushering-in of their judgment and wrath.
It says in Romans 2:4-5, Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath, in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,”
When someone rejects the truth, and does not repent, or does not understand it, we may tell them again; but the consequences can be devastating.
Because if they do not believe, there will be an increased hardening of their heart. Henceforth, the totally depraved, becomes totally unable to comprehend; and many will be totally hardened beyond recovery or redemption.
One scholar said Isaiah’s “task was to bring the Lord’s word with fresh, even unparalleled clarity, but in their response people would reach the point of no return.”
Many ‘professing’ Christians will accuse Heralds of “you’re turning them away from Jesus,” or “you’re pushing them away.” Well I say ‘good.’
But the truth is, it’s impossible to push the unregenerate away, because they are already dead. You can’t be any deader than dead. To those already saved, the hearing of God’s Word will be a ‘sweet aroma,’ but to the lost; it will be a ‘stench of death.’
It says in Ephesians 2:1 that before we (born-again Christians) were saved, we were dead in our trespasses and sins.
That word dead in the Greek (Nekros), means that we were spiritually and metaphorically dead, dead as a corpse in a graveyard. Unable to respond to the things of God. Unable to “accept Jesus,” or “make a decision,” or “repeat this prayer” etcetera.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
Even after the unregenerate actually witnessed Jesus perform miracles, they did not believe.
It is recorded in John 12:37-41 ”But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.”
It is clear that the Lord gave Isaiah his marching orders, while warning him of the difficulties that lies ahead. So in the next verse, Isaiah asks the Lord a reasonable question.
Verse 11a says, “Then I said, “Lord, how long?”
Isaiah found no pleasure in knowing that most of his labor would be counter redemptive. So he pleads to the Lord “How long lord?” Though Isaiah’s question was submissive and respectful, perhaps it was mourningful as well.
By describing the collapse of Judah, in vs 11b-12, the Lord answers him,
God said “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate, 12 The Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.”
Verse 11 says the land will be desolate, verse 12 says there will be a mass deportation of people.
90% of the population will be cut down. What will be left will be tantamount to the leftovers after a devastating fire.
Over the last couple months California has experienced many devastating destructive fires. Many were killed, hundreds are still missing, and billions of dollars’ worth of homes and property were destroyed, including nearly an entire city up north (Paradise).
God answers Isaiah by telling him this desolate news. But in the next verse God tells him some good news, that 10% of them will be saved.
In verse 13 God says, “But yet a tenth will be in it, and will return and be for consuming, as a terebinth tree or as an oak, whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump.”
There is a humble remnant that will repent and respond. There is a stump in the midst of all that desolate, devastation and destruction, where a few live branches will survive and sprout-out from that surviving stump.
As it says in Isaiah 11:1 “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
In verse 13e God said, “So the holy seed shall be its stump.”
This “seed” is the Hebrew word zera‛ (zeh’-rah). My Hebrew Lexicon describes it as an “offspring,” or a “semen virile.”
It is similar to the seed in 1 John 3:9. The seed in 1 John is the Greek word ‘Sperma,’ which is where we get our modern word ‘sperm’ from.
One cannot become spiritually conceived, or spiritually pregnant, or spiritually born again without this seed, and the fermentation process via the Holy Spirit.
This “holy seed” in Isaiah is the remnant according to the election of grace, and with which Christ identifies Himself.
The only way a person can be ‘resurrected onto eternal life,’ rather than be ‘condemned onto eternal destruction,’ is through this “holy seed.”
As I said in a previous blog post.
“At the moment of that salvific conception, a person that receives the supernatural born-again experience receives a circumcised heart. Being impregnated with the Lords Incorruptible Seed (sperma), produces a new birth. The Theology of the Lords Seed is a miracle that I cannot fully understand. But what will follow is an inceptive growth of the circumcision of sanctification. Does a woman just become pregnant? No, at conception the baby is created. The baby then grows both inside and outside her womb. Lord sanctify me more. I don’t want to be in kindergarten, I want to excel as I graduate into Your glory.”
This seed gives life, and if you’re truly born-again, you will not continue in sin without repentance.
As it says in 1 John 3:7-9, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
That concludes my three part series on Isaiah chapter six…