Here am I! Send me!
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!” – Isaiah 6:8
This passage in Isaiah is a very familiar passage to most Christians. Isaiah isn’t really written in chronological order as far as the life events of Isaiah are concerned. Isaiah records his visions and prophecies and every now and then interjects a record from some personal life event of his. Sometimes they are in conjunction with the surrounding prophecies. Other times they are already past events with no connection to the surrounding prophecies.
This is what we see here in chapter six. We have the record of his calling from God to prophesy to the people of Israel. But we have him already prophesying to the people for five chapters before this. Unlike most of the other prophetic books in the Old Testament in which the prophets record their calling first, Isaiah does not.
The book opens in chapter one with a very simple introduction:
“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” – Isaiah 1:1
Then Isaiah goes immediately into the message which God had given him for Israel. The discourse which he begins in chapter one, verse two continues on all the way until the end of chapter five. The first five chapters of Isaiah are really like one long sermon. Much in the same way that the Sermon on the Mount spans the entire width of chapters five through seven of Matthew. After concluding his discourse in chapter five, he interjects the record of his calling in chapter six, and then opens with a new discourse in chapter 7.
Your Message is More Important than Your Calling
One thing this says to me is that, for Isaiah, his calling was not as important as his message. Now this is purely interjection on my part. No where in the book does Isaiah himself make this direct statement. But when you look at the book you see that he spends 65 chapters (some of them very long) expounding on the message God gave him. He only spends one chapter (possibly the shortest on in the book) in which he briefly mentions his calling. And he opens the book with an immediate jump into his message. Kind of gives you the impression that his message was far more important to him than his calling.
Four Points in Application
Application? You’re calling is not more important than your message. You can be called to preach and to pastor but if your message is not relevant, applicable and biblically sound then you’re doing more harm than good.
Second point: Being called to preach does not mean that what you preach is from God. Your calling does not validate your message. Your message validates your message. If your message is not faithful to sound doctrine the fact that you’re called is really irrelevant.
Third point: Being called does not give you the authority to preach what you want to preach. Messages which carry unbiblical doctrines (whether directly or indirectly) do not carry authority just because they came from someone who is called to preach.
Fourth point: You’re calling centers around the word of God and not around your calling. I know that is going to be quite a mouthful for some and even harder to accept for others. Let’s look at it again: You’re calling centers around the word of God and not around your calling.
Thus says the Lord; Not thus says the preacher
Isaiah did not go through his ministry as many preachers do today proclaiming, “You have to listen to me because God called me,” or, “…because I am your pastor. I am the man God has put over this church…” This kind of thinking drives me nuts and I always have to restrain myself from saying something I might regret when I hear preachers or pastors use this line or lines like it. I’ve noticed that most who do only do so because they don’t have the proper biblical training to support their thoughts with sound exegesis. So they resort to the “authority” of their position because they don’t really know how to resort to the authority of the word.
Over and over again Isaiah uses the phrase, “Thus says the Lord,” amd never once uses the phrase, “Thus says your prophet.” In other words, he called people to heed to his message because what he preached was the word of God. He did not call them to heed to his message based upon the authority of his calling or his office as prophet.
His place as a prophet was validated not because he was called to be a prophet but because he preached the word of God. His message was validated not because he was a prophet but because he preached the word of God. Wrap your mind around this one: He was not a prophet because he was called; he was a prophet because he spoke the word of God.
You see, God does not call us so that we can be obsessed with our calling. He calls us so that we can be obsessed with making Him known, to the nations, through His word. A prophet without the word of God is not a prophet. It doesn’t matter how “called” he is.
A pastor not properly trained in the word of God is a pastor not properly trained to shepherd his flock. He will lead them into his own errors as he works out the kinks in his doctrine.
A preacher not properly trained to preach the word of God may sound great and look good; but he is still a preacher not properly trained to preach the word of God. Like the untrained pastor he will lead people into his own errors as he works out the kinks in his doctrine.
We can have the right motive that compels us to say, “Here am I! Send me!” And God may say, “Go!” But we must remember that He tells us to go with His words, not ours.
– Joseph Sterling