The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

Isaiah 6:8-12

This fall, I’m taking a survey class of the Old Testament. My assignments for the class involve a LOT of reading (of course!), and reflection on what we feel are important or significant (whether historically or personally) portions of our readings. Our first assignment was chapters 1-39 of Isaiah (or as my instructor refers to it, First Isaiah). Translation is the Oxford New Revised Standard 

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am; send me!” And he said, “Go and say this to the people: ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’ Make the mind of the people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said, “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate; until the Lord sends everyone far away, and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.”

“Here I am; send me” has always been one of my favorite passages in the Bible, without really knowing the story behind the phrase; why Isaiah said it, and in what context he was responding to.  I understood that it was Isaiah’s commission as a prophet, which carried special significance to me as I began to understand what (I believe) God wants me to do with my life.

What I didn’t know was that Isaiah’s commission was not to prophesy in the manner in which I understood it to be. What God actually wants Isaiah to do is tell of the forthcoming judgment and destruction of the Israelites, that will actually serve as His method to restore Israel to a state of acceptability to Him. For this restoration to occur, the Israelites must be blinded-not only visually, but in hearing and comprehension-to their transgressions so that “they cannot repent and thereby avoid the punishment of the Lord. (NRSV, 997)”

Another section of this passage that I didn’t understand was Isaiah’s question to God (“how long?”). I assumed that this was Isaiah’s inquisition into how long it would take God to complete His restoration. Instead of responding to that inquiry, God charges Isaiah to do His work until His judgment and destruction are complete, with no definitive answer to Isaiah’s question.

I now see this passage as a charge not only to Isaiah, but to anyone who submits themselves to the will and desires of God. Once we make that commitment, we are to work until God’s purpose-whatever that may be, even if contrary to what we believe it to be-is accomplished. “How long” is not a question to be answered by our definition or on our timeline, but rather on His.

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Written by Coby Dillard

September 4, 2011 at 9:05 am

Posted in School Assignments

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