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 “Who will go for us?”
 

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 Os Guinness is a Christian writer known for his book “The Call”. He is also known to be the best literary critic who is continuing in the line of Francis Schaeffer. In his book, Guinness says:
“calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service. This truth – calling – has been a driving force in many of the greatest ‘leaps forward’ in world history.”
In other words, great events in history happened through those who found and answered God’s calling. For example, Moses answered the calling of God on Mt. Sinai and the Galileans in Judah answered Jesus’ calling. Again during the 16th century, the religious reformers did the same. These were all people who realized God’s calling and through them a new history was built.
 
 
The topic we are going to explore today is ‘calling’ and the scripture we are reading today is about Isaiah’s calling. Personally, I realized my calling through these very verses.  So, it has a special meaning to me. But, when I first read these lines I didn’t even fully understand the content. But, when I read it, the words started to sink in me. From then I kept asking myself, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Even now, whenever I read those lines my heart becomes passionate.
  
I hope that today’s scripture will provoke you as well. I pray that as Isaiah realized his calling, we will all realize our calling this hour. So that, as Guinness wrote, we can invest everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have with a special devotion and dynamism for God. Let’s discover the purpose behind life and faith through today’s scripture.   
 
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 To begin, the first phenomenon that occurs when Isaiah realizes his calling is the discovery of God. So, I want to define the first stage of calling as “Experience of Holy God”.   
 
 
 It says in verse 1, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” The King Uzziah was a great king in the beginning as it is written in 2 Chronicles chapter 26. He conquered Palestine and Arabia, his influence reached Amon and his name was famous to the ends of Egypt. He built castles and gates, and dug water reservoirs so that the people could raise livestock. He invented a technology to up keep the vineyards and also weapons to protect his kingdom. 7) Architecture, science, agriculture, water, weapons…He did not lack in any aspect. It says in 2 Chronicle 26:15, “His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful.”
   
But, we can see his changed as he reached the end of his reign in 2 Chronicles 26:16: “But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall.” Uzziah failed to stay humble. His arrogance is detailed in verse 19: “Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the LORD's temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead.”
    
 
He was a great king in the beginning, but an arrogant one in the end. It was during this time that God began to show Isaiah something. So, in light of this, let’s look at verse 1 of Isaiah chapter 6. When it says “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” it means that the experience of God was so great that he couldn’t even handle seeing God’s robe. In verse 2 it says, “above him were seraphs”. The term seraphs is a unique word that only appear here in the bible. So, we can’t be sure of what it means exactly, but it probably is a heavenly being.
    
 In any case, what are these seraphs doing? Look at verse 3: “And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." The word holy is repeated 3 times here to mean the best and the most high holiness. Complete holiness. The word holy really means to distinguish or differentiate. So, we can say that Isaiah saw God’s glorious holiness that is completely separate, or different from this world.    
 
Why do you think God showed Isaiah this?
People from Isaiah’s time had only seen the outside veneer of King Uzziah’s reign. So, people didn’t think he was a bad king compared to previous leaders. Perhaps they thought this is good enough. But, what happens within 20 years after Uzzia’s reign? North Israel was destroyed by Assyria and South Judea became subject to the power. Finally, Palestine faced a crisis. In other words, King Uzziah seemed to have done great works, but they were full of errors. In fact, they were nothing before God’s glorious presence.
 In other words, God showed Isaiah this vision, because He wanted Isaiah to look at the world in comparison to God’s glorious presence and see the reality Israel was in.     
 
This is the reason why we must experience God’s presence in our lives. This is because without knowing God’s glory, we cannot have His calling. We might live just being satisfied with the present and those who live day by day thinking it’s good enough don’t need words like ‘the calling’. 12) But, when we see God and when we cannot help but shout to the holiness of Him, we will begin to see everything in perspective of God and realize the limits of the world. We will then see the great gap between the completeness of God and the incomplete and brokenness of this world. This realization will bring us from being satisfied by the worldly life to holy dissatisfaction. We will see the world through God’s eyes and realize what we must do.
 
 
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Then what happened to Isaiah after he experienced the presence of God? Verse 5 says, ‘“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”’
 
I said previously that it was important for Isaiah to witness the presence of God in order to show the limited nature of Uzziah’s reign.
 
 But Isaiah here saw more than the limited nature of Uzziah, he saw his own faults. We see Isaiah confess ‘I am a man of unclean lips” after he compares himself to the mystical seraphs that are praising God in the previous verses. Just as a short person seems shorter next to someone who is tall, Isaiah’s faults were highlighted when seen in comparison to the seraphs.
 
 During last week’s early morning service, we looked at chapter 50 of Psalms. Verses 17-19 says, “You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit.” These lines are showing us an example of how a service should not be conducted. How can one use his mouth that praises God for evil? And how can one use his tongue that prays to deceive? Thus, in order to genuinely worship, we must recover our mouths and tongues.
 
 We also need to look at what condition our mouths and tongues are at. Compare our mouths to the praising of the angels… A parable from Talmud tells a story of a wife and a husband. One day the husband asked his wife to buy the most expensive ingredient from the market and the wife returned to the house with a cow’s tongue. She cooked it up and they enjoyed their meal together. A few days later, the husband asked his wife to buy the cheapest ingredient from the market and the wife again returned with a cow’s tongue. 17) The husband then asked his wife why she had bought the cow’s tongue in both incidences. The wife answered, “The most valuable ingredient is the tongue as there is nothing more precious than kind words. However, the cheapest and the most worthless ingredient is also the tongue because it can speak without thinking. Thus, the tongue is both the worthiest and the worthless feature.”
 
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Isaiah’s experience can be compared to this parable. After he witnessed the glorious presence of God, he realized how insignificant and worthless he is, especially his tongue.
 
Isaiah was called upon by God as his prophet - a person who’s supposed to represent the mouth and the tongue of God, but Isaiah realized that he cannot play this role.
 
 However, this seems to be a common response pertaining to those who were called upon by God. For example, when Moses was called upon he says, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue,” Gideon asked, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” and when Peter caught such a large number of fish that his nets began to break, “He fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” After witnessing the almighty nature of God, people realize they are feeble and confess their sinful natures.
 
In response, “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for’” (6:6-7). God cleansed the part that Isaiah thought was his weakest suit.
 
 While reflecting on the scripture, I thought that a person who has been reborn is one who’s experienced the grace of God cleaning his mouth with a live coal. Why? Because without having experienced the healing of God, one cannot spread such words of God to others. Because faith can only be explained by faith. In this light, a church must first focus on grace and blessings, because preaching the words of God before experiencing such things can not only be harmful to the person who’s receiving the words but also for the person who is preaching.
 
 Beloved church members, I hope that just as God had cleansed the lips of Isaiah before entrusting him with the word of God, our lips will too be cleaned beforehand.
 
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The first vocation is to see the Holy God’s presence and glory, and the second is to realize one’s weakness and to cleanse ourselves. And the third is to know the heart of God.
The first half of verse 8 reads “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” This could be seen as a heavenly meeting.
이사야가 천상의 존재들과 함께 회의 하시는 하나님의 모습을 보게 것입니다. 그리고 그때 하나님의 음성을 듣게 되었는데, ‘내가 누구를 보내며 누가 우리를 위하여 갈꼬
 Isaiah was able to observe God having a meeting with the celestial beings. And that’s when he heard the voice of the Lord say “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
I tried to name this scene “God’s Anxiety,” but I am afraid of one thing: that I might also have a glimpse of this meeting of God because if you take a look at the history of Christianity, there was not one of those who had glimpsed at God’s meeting who did nothing. For instance, Underwood the missionary came to Korea as a result of his glimpse at God’s heavenly meeting. And from the pastors I know there are several who were troubled by what they saw of God’s meeting but then ended up going into the mission field. They all were shown God’s meeting, heard God’s anxiety, and saw His heart.
Of course just because people receive the call of God does not mean everyone has to become a missionary, and there is no need for that. Reformer Calvin said, “In Christianity, there are two kinds of God’s calling. One is a calling of salvation and the other of mission. A calling of salvation refers to how God intended the creation of the world to make us His children. A calling of mission could be seen as one where God gives a duty. But these callings are not given exclusively to pastors and missionaries. All people have different jobs, environment, and situations, but all have that calling, not only a call of salvation, but also a call to a mission.
From Os Guinness we quote, “Of what you have, what is it that you have not received?” Augustine, St. Francis, and other great Christians in history were influenced by the question that Paul raised in the church at Corinth. This is because we have without exception received everything in our lives through grace. Christ did not choose us because we were worth being chosen, but because He loves us in his grace. In the end God, who granted us everything in His grace, is calling us to do His work through us.
 
 Beloved church members, I hope that through today’s sermon, you will be able to hear God during His heavenly meeting. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” I hope that you will hear this anxiety of His.
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But what happens when you hear the story of the heavenly meeting? In verse 8, Isaiah responded “Here am I. Send me!” Does he not give himself to God after hearing it? He confesses to God to use him even though he is low and weak.
 
28)  In a church in the countryside, there were two 6-year-old children. Their church schoolteacher were making sandwiches for them when the two kids started to fight about who eats first. So the teacher, to teach them about yielding, told them “Children, if Jesus were here what would He have done? Wouldn’t he have said ‘You should eat first’ and yielded? So, who wants to yield first?” Then one friend raised his hand and said “Teacher, can I yield first?” Then the other friend followed and said “I will. I will yield being Jesus first.”
 
29) There is another story: A mother who was preparing dinner called her son and said, “Jung-Bae, can you get some garlic from the backyard shed?”
“No.. I don’t want to.. It looks really dark outside that a monster might come out…” “Jung-Bae, what are you talking about? Jesus is out there protecting you so what is there to fear?” “Really..? He is there?” “Of course! He will help you whenever.” And so Jung-Bae opened the backdoor and yelled out, “Jesus! If you’re there, please get me some garlic from the backyard shed!”
 
30) Beloved church members, God is calling out to all of us. Who in that workplace shall be sent to share God’s words? Who in that school can do God’s work? Who in that house can share God’s love? What saints shall I send to that church?
Our vocation is to see the Holy God.
Our vocation is to realize one’s weaknesses, and cleanse ourselves.
Our vocation is to know the heart of the Lord.
Our vocation is to volunteer to take part in God’s work.
 
Like that, I hope that our vocation will act as a force that moves our lives. I hope that God’s great history will be written through us.
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