The Best and Most Ridiculous Plan ~ Isaiah Series ~ Part 4
~ Isaiah Series ~
The Best and Most Ridiculous Plan
Sometimes following God’s lead seems absurd.
Isaiah, despite the disgusting reality of the culture he was living in, despite his age, despite his qualifications or lack thereof, despite his past, despite the lack of clarity on his job description, immediately responded to God’s invitation to “go” in the affirmative: “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” (We talked about that in Part 3 of this series.)
That’s crazy and awesome enough in its own right. But do you know what happened right after that? Because the next part of Isaiah’s story astounds me in a whole different way:
When God tells Isaiah what it is God is asking him to do, Isaiah asks this: “FOR HOW LONG, Lord?” In other words, how long will Isaiah be God’s mouthpiece, how long will he be commissioned to speak God’s truth to God’s people, how long will it take until the people Isaiah is talking to “hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” (6:10)???
In response to this question, God tells Isaiah that Isaiah will do this job of prophesying God’s truth to them until all but 10% of the people are long gone and everything in the nation is destroyed:
“Until the cities lie ruined,” God says. “Until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken.” (Isaiah 6:11-12)
[Insert record scratch sound here. Because… whaaaat?!?]
If I were Isaiah, I think I’d be saying something like this right about then: “Um… that doesn’t sound like a very fruitful mission, God. I’m not sure I see the point.” After all, what is the point of telling people about God’s love and His truth if you already know ahead of time that they’re going to reject it and that it’s all going to end in disaster?!
And yet Isaiah follows God’s lead anyway. Why?!? Why follow the lead and walk in obedience to Someone who is leading you down a road that is apparently not going to go anywhere…?
And that’s where Isaiah 6:13 comes in handy – here is where God hints at “a stump” that will remain as “the holy seed” in Israel:
“But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
God gives Isaiah a bit more information in 9:6-7 when He describes the future Messiah:
“For to us a child [will be] born… and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
That, this future Messiah, is what the “holy seed” promised in Chapter 6 will eventually grow into.
So yes – in the short term, it seems like Isaiah is given a useless, fruitless mission. Pretty much his entire generation is going to reject him and reject God and come to ruin.
YET WE CAN’T FORGET THE SEED. The seed of HOPE. The hope of the MESSIAH. The Messiah who will come and SAVE everyone in the end.
Because that is the end game, you guys: It’s Jesus. It’s salvation for the world. It’s trusting that God wants His truth to go forth even when He knows that the majority of people will reject it. It’s trusting that God’s plan, though ridiculous and hopeless and maybe even useless in our eyes, is actually, ultimately, the very best plan there is.
A single, holy seed was promised. That’s it. That’s all Isaiah was given was back at the beginning of his journey.
One seed. It seems so small. So insignificant. Yet, in the long run, that seed would grow into something totally different, totally beautiful, and totally useful for the entire world.
Just like Hope itself.
I go for hikes at least a couple times a week. Every time I do, I see flowers and bushes and weeds and trees as far as I can see – too many to ever count. And, recently when I was on one of my adventures, pondering this truth I’m writing about today, I looked out at it all and I couldn’t help but be struck by this thought: each of these were birthed from a tiny seed. From a blade of grass, to the tiniest of flowers, to a large, ancient oak— each one was once a minuscule little seed.
A single seed is powerful. A single seed can produce amazing things. And when Isaiah heard his marching orders way back when— when he heard God tell him that everything he can see with eyes will likely get destroyed no matter how hard he works, no matter how much truth he prophesies, no matter how much he prays for and loves his countrymen— when Isaiah heard about God’s plan of “the holy seed” remaining as a stump in the land… it, apparently, was worth it all to him.
Because he took God’s promise and went forward and did what God was calling him to do. Even though he knew it would be really hard and things would get a whole lot worse before they ever got better.
That was enough. The hope of that Holy Seed, the hope of the child who would one day “be called Wonderful Counselor,” etc… that hope was enough for Isaiah.
He took that one tiny seed of Promise and he chose to follow God’s lead with just that in his pocket.
Sometimes God seems to be calling us into hopeless situations, calling us to do or say a certain thing with no promise of change or fruitfulness whatsoever. Sometimes the reward for all our hard work is a looooong way off.
But we can, just like Isaiah, take whatever promises and encouragement God has whispered to us, however small and insignificant —and maybe even odd— they might seem, and we can walk forward with hope and courage. Because the One who planted that seed will be faithful to see it through to fruition.
It might take awhile. It may seem absurd. And the road there might be fraught with chaos and grief and frustration. But it will come. Eventually, God will fulfill His promises.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” ~Isaiah 55:10-11
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Over the next several weeks, as I continue to dive into Isaiah, and as my church studies this book in depth during our weekend services, I am going to be sharing my thoughts here on the blog. I would love if you joined me. And feel free to listen to the solid teaching happening on the weekends if you feel so inclined. (Click here to listen to the sermon series.)
I look forward to hashing out this incredible ancient book with you.
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What about you?
When has God led you to do something that seemed absurd? How do you hang onto Hope and/or remind yourself about the promises God has given you?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.