DIG: Why is the call of Isaiah placed here instead of at the beginning of the book?
In one sense the LORD has revealed Himself to us through His Word and His Son who tabernacled among us (Yochanan 1:14), but in another sense ADONAI is a God who hides Himself (45:15). No matter how hard we try, all of our efforts to understand YHVH are doomed to failure. His plans and purposes are a mystery to us because His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (55:8-9). We will only know the LORD when He decides to reveal Himself to us (Deuteronomy 29:29). When we search for God in our own strength – that is, when the direction of the search is from down upward – we cannot succeed. It is only when ADONAI seeks us – that is, when the direction of the search is from up downward – that contact between God and ourselves can be made. The call of YHVH to His people, then, is basic to biblical faith. Every man-made religion is founded on the principle that it is possible for people to reach out and touch God through their own initiative. But our faith, as taught in the Bible, affirms that our relationship to the LORD is based on divine grace and not on human activity. Revelation takes place only when the Creator discloses Himself to us.17
While Jeremiah and Ezekiel place their calls at the beginning of their books, Isaiah places his in Chapter 6, following the initial prophecies. It makes for a smooth transition. Just as Chapter 6 is the conclusion to Chapters 1-5, it is also the introduction to Chapters 7-12. In addition, the placement here rather than at the beginning accomplishes two things. First, the vision of the holy, holy, holy One reinforces what Isaiah has already said in the first five chapters, and establishes several themes that he will detail in Chapters 7 to 66 – that a Holy God cannot tolerate sin! Secondly, it vindicates Isaiah’s authority to say what he is going to say. The readers might be asking themselves, “Why should we believe this prophet and respond to his message?” This chapter demonstrates that the One True God called Isaiah, and that his message should not be ignored.
Attempts to determine the nature of the vision are endless. Whether it was ecstatic, mystical or “actual” has no bearing upon the reality of the impact on Isaiah’s ministry. How he saw the LORD is insignificant. What matters is that he saw Him, and saw Him in such a way that changed his ministry and his life forever. When we encounter Ha'Shem's Word today, it should do the same for us.
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017