Holy Fools: Isaiah

Holy Fools: Isaiah

Holy Fools: Isaiah.

WANTED: An imaginative scribe who can write exquisite poetry. A faithful believer who can switch from one extreme to another at the Lord’s command… from a sublime vision of God’s glory to a ridiculous demonstration of shameful nakedness; from confronting the people over their sinfulness to comforting people with hopefulness; from being an outspoken messenger one minute to a living object lesson the next. Desperately needed is a young person who can respond to Yahweh with “Send me.” 

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.” (Flannery O’Connor).

Isaiah began his ministry as a young man who witnessed a spectacular scene in the Temple. He saw the LORD Yahweh sitting high on His throne, with mighty angels attending Him. The angels were flying as they shouted “Holy, holy, holy, Yahweh-Sabaoth, LORD of the Angel Armies! The whole earth is filled with His glory!” The voices of the angels shook the Temple to its foundations, and the smoke from the LORD’s presence completely filled the building. This dramatic scene of God’s perfection and power left Isaiah shaken to his core. All he could do was acknowledge that he was impure in His presence, and not worthy of this vision. Isaiah thought he was doomed because he saw the Lord in all His glory. Yahweh then announced that He wanted a messenger to approach the people, and He wondered who would go for Him to bring His message. Isaiah immediately responded with his historical line, “Here am I. Send me.” And this was just the beginning for Isaiah. What would come next to top this?

There is no doubt his unforgettable calling from the LORD fueled his life and ministry from beginning to end. His role as prophet lasted anywhere from 40 years to 60 years, depending on the scholar. His ministry spanned the reigns of five kings of Judah. Isaiah remained in and around Jerusalem during that whole time. Much like so many of the other prophets, the people refused to take his words to heart. They wouldn’t listen to Isaiah’s messages from God. He would announce God’s judgment only to be ignored.

But Isaiah was adaptable. He would both confront the people and comfort the people. Sometimes he was harsh and condemning, and sometimes he was soothing and hopeful. His encouraging words were based on God’s promise of a future Messiah who would redeem and heal them, and save them from permanent judgment. So Isaiah spoke of God’s justice one minute and God’s mercy the next. He spoke more about the coming Messiah than any other prophet in the Hebrew Bible. His poetry painted a picture of both woe and hope, and is probably the finest in all of Scripture. So Isaiah has been called the Bible’s greatest prophet, since he is quoted over 50 times in the New Testament.

Through his ministry, Isaiah was called more often to be a literary and vocal mouthpiece than an object lesson. But the one main exception was a doozy (chapter 20). Isaiah was instructed to be a visual aid to God’s judgment of Egypt. The Lord asked Isaiah to “remove the sackcloth from your loins.” In other words, Isaiah was told to walk around naked and barefoot, to demonstrate how Assyria was going to take Egypt captive. This was also an allusion to what might happen to Israel and Judah if they agree to unwise foreign alliances. One hopes that God would allow Isaiah to at least wear his underwear loincloth. To walk “naked” could mean wearing nothing but one’s underwear. One would hope so. Otherwise, God would be illogically asking Isaiah to be obscene, which somehow doesn’t fit with the Lord’s character. But even walking around in nothing but one’s underwear is bad enough. It is humiliating and shameful. Imagine all the mothers putting their hands over the eyes of their children as Isaiah walked by. Not to be too graphic, but in announcing His instructions to Isaiah, this street theater rated “R”, the Lord wanted the people to know that the Egyptian captives would have “their buttocks bared.” Please, please, not Isaiah’s. Amazingly, Isaiah did just what God asked, for three years! Isaiah must have been ridiculed, jeered, avoided, and publically scorned during that difficult time in his ministry. Certainly, Isaiah became a laughingstock, and he earned the title of holy fool of God. It’s a wonder how Isaiah recovered from this episode, but apparently he did just fine once he got his clothes back on.

For all his trouble, Isaiah died a martyr’s death at the hands of the very wicked king Manasseh. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the last thing Isaiah thought about was the very first thing he saw years ago… The LORD sitting high on His throne, the heavenly angels singing about the His glory, and how he was overwhelmed with the holiness of God. Holy, holy, holy.

Jessamyn Rains – Holy (Sanctus) (Official Music Video) – YouTube


Donnie McClurkin (HOLY HOLY HOLY) – YouTube