A group of college students met outdoors to pray one day in 1806. When a thunderstorm started, they sought the shelter of a nearby haystack, where they felt moved to pray that the gospel of Christ would spread around the globe. This famous “Haystack Prayer Meeting” led to the formation of the American Board, the first Protestant mission organization in the United States to send missionaries overseas.
“Here am I. Send me!” (v. 8) has been the heartfelt cry of many generations of Christian missionaries. In today’s reading, it was Isaiah’s response to a vision of God’s glory. Isaiah saw Him “high and exalted . . . and the train of his robe filled the temple” (v. 1). Attendant angels proclaimed His glory and holiness. Isaiah was filled with a sense of his own smallness in the presence of the awe-inspiring Almighty, and even more than that a sense of his own sinfulness in the presence of absolute holiness. God took the initiative and offered forgiveness, as symbolized in the “live coal” brought by an angel (vv. 6–7). The prophet’s lips being touched with a burning coal is a painful image. Divine forgiveness is purifying and cleansing, but not necessarily gentle!
God then called Isaiah into ministry. Would he lead revivals and turn the people’s hearts back to the Lord? Not quite. Instead, God described his prophetic ministry as hopeless, humanly speaking. The Israelites wouldn’t listen; their hearts would remain hard. A severe judgment was coming. Yet hope remained, as God promised that a “holy seed” would remain and be the beginnings of the nation’s renewal (v. 13). Inspired by his vision of God’s glory, Isaiah was undeterred by these mostly negative descriptions. He rejoiced to be part of God’s plan and responded, “Here am I. Send me!”
Apply the Word
We like to measure success with numbers and size and temporal power—converts, megachurches, media empires, political influence. By such measures, Isaiah was a failure. God measures success differently. Because Isaiah was obedient and faithful, God counted his prophetic ministry a rousing success! “Here am I. Send me!” is to submit to God for all results.