One of the most inspiring passages in the Old Testament is the record of Isaiah’s call to be a prophet of God. He relates this call in Isa. 6:1-8. In this compelling account Isaiah described the vision in which he saw the Lord God sitting on His throne in heaven. God’s majesty in this vision was enhanced by the presence of the Seraphim who flew around the throne room calling out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3). As Isaiah viewed this scene he was overcome with his own sins, but one of the Seraphim took a burning coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips, cleansing him of his sins. The climax of this scene is in v. 8. Here the scripture says, “Then 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!'”
Even though Isaiah was overwhelmed by the majesty of God, and by his own inadequacies as a man, he immediately volunteered for duty when God called. He did not ask what God intended for him to do, or how hard it would be, or how long he would have to serve. He simply said, ‘Here am I, send me!” From that day forward Isaiah devoted himself to proclaiming God’s word to Judah, and according to Jewish tradition he lost his life at the command of wicked king Manasseh for doing so.
The response of Isaiah to God’s call inspires us and we hold him in high regard for it. For some of us, however, this is the extent of its effect on us. We manage somehow to deflect the personal aspect of this call and instead turn it into a recruiting tool to put others to work in the kingdom. In effect we say, “Here am I . . . send him!” This, of course, is a distortion of the intent of this account. The primary lesson of Isaiah’s example is to show that each of us should not fail to respond to the Lord’s call to service.
The New Testament ratifies this principle. In Eph. 4:11-16 Paul spoke of all the works that God had placed in the church in order to facilitate its growth. He spoke especially of spiritual leaders whose job was “equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (v. 12). Then, in v. 16 he stated that the growth of the body is dependent upon “what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part”. In other words, every member of the body of Christ is expected to contribute to the growth of the body.
The call of God is for His people, individual members of the church, to supply what the body as a whole needs in order to grow. We do this in many ways, of course, but one of the most important ways is in the teaching of God’s word. In Heb. 5:12-14 the inspired writer chastised the Hebrew Christians because at a time when they should have been teachers, they were still in need of milk rather than solid food. The fault, as he described it, was theirs alone because they had not trained their senses to discern good and evil. They had not answered God’s call, but had instead relied on others to answer it.
The growth and maturity of the church depends on each Christian doing his or her part to insure it. This means that we should be answering God’s call just as Isaiah did. Isaiah did not feel himself worthy to stand before God, or to serve Him, but when God cleansed him, he knew that he must serve. Every Christian has been spiritually cleansed by obedience to the gospel. Therefore, we have no excuse to refuse God’s call to service. Like Isaiah, let us be emboldened by this cleansing God has granted us, and say, “Here am I, send me!”