Will You Say, “Here I Am! Send Me”?
“Jehovah [said]: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I proceeded to say: ‘Here I am! Send me.’”—ISAIAH 6:8.
1, 2. What special reason for happiness did one couple have?
“WE ARE happy to send our letter of acceptance to go to Colombia. We have enjoyed our privilege of service here in Ecuador much more than this typewriter can describe.” Thus began a letter from two of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had gone to Ecuador where a new branch office for the Watch Tower Society was being built.
2 These ministers went to Ecuador to do more than help on the building; they could also help as Christian teachers. They write: “We have found that the field service is one of the most important things. Just three weeks ago, eight of us went out to an open market and placed 73 books and over 40 magazines. The week before, we started two new Bible studies. We can truly see the need for the new branch. My wife and I would like to thank you for the privilege to continue in this special form of full-time service” now in Colombia.
3. How have many reflected a spirit similar to that which Isaiah showed?
3 This couple, and hundreds of others who have offered to be sent to a foreign country, reflect a spirit similar to the prophet Isaiah’s. When he heard Jehovah say: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah replied: “Here I am! Send me.” God then commanded: “Go, and you must say to this people, ‘Hear again and again, O men, but do not understand.’” (Isaiah 6:8, 9) For what was Isaiah volunteering to be sent, and what resulted therefrom? And what can we learn from this account in terms of modern parallels and of any personal lessons for us?
Isaiah’s Commission to Preach
4, 5. (a) What situation prevailed when Isaiah received the vision recorded in Isa chapter 6? (b) What did Isaiah see in this vision?
4 Jehovah God asked Isaiah, “Whom shall I send?” in the year that King Uzziah died. (Isaiah 6:1) That was 777 B.C.E., or about a century and three quarters before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and desolated the land of Judah. Jehovah could see that sad development coming, and he commissioned Isaiah to deliver a message about it. What can we learn from his preaching commission?
5 As we would have been, so Isaiah must have been profoundly impressed by the setting in which he received his commission. He wrote: “I . . . got to see Jehovah, sitting on a throne lofty and lifted up, and his skirts were filling the temple. Seraphs were standing above him. Each one had six wings. With two he kept his face covered, and with two he kept his feet covered, and with two he would fly about. And this one called to that one and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies. The fullness of all the earth is his glory.’”—Isaiah 6:1-3.
6. Why was it a privilege for Isaiah to see what he did?
6 Isaiah knew that Uzziah had been struck with leprosy when he, not being of the priestly tribe, presumptuously invaded the Holy of the temple to offer incense. So, what a privilege for Isaiah to view the very presence of God! Isaiah, an imperfect human, did not literally see Jehovah, but he was permitted to see Him in a vision. (Exodus 33:20-23) The grandness of this was highlighted by angels of high rank (seraphs) who attended at Jehovah’s throne. They, sensing God’s holiness, respectfully covered their ‘faces.’ Beyond this self-effacing act, they emphatically proclaimed God’s holiness. What effect do you imagine that all of this would have on a human?
7. How did Isaiah react, and why might we have felt similarly?
7 Let Isaiah answer. “I proceeded to say: ‘Woe to me! For I am as good as brought to silence, because a man unclean in lips I am, and in among a people unclean in lips I am dwelling; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of armies, himself!’” (Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah knew that he was a spokesman for God, yet this vision impressed on him that he was unclean, not having the pure lips that would befit a spokesman of this glorious and holy King. Some of us, too, may at times have been struck by our sinfulness, not feeling worthy to approach God in prayer, much less to have his name called upon us. Isaiah’s further experience should, then, be encouraging.
8. An angel performed what service, with what effect?
8 One of the attending seraphs flew to him with a fiery coal from the altar of animal sacrifice. Touching the coal to Isaiah’s mouth, the angel said: “Look! This has touched your lips, and your error has departed and your sin itself is atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:6, 7) In the days of Solomon, fire from heaven evidenced that Jehovah had accepted the altar of sacrifice, even though the offerings could not make even the priests completely clean before God. (2 Chronicles 7:1-3; Hebrews 10:1-4, 11) Still, when Isaiah had his uncleanness cauterized away by the fiery coal, he could accept Jehovah’s judgment that his sinfulness was atoned for to the extent needed to receive a special preaching commission. What interesting portents does this suggest regarding the future?
9. What was the tenor of Isaiah’s message?
9 This amazing experience led up to the prophet’s receiving the preaching commission mentioned. (Isaiah 6:8, 9) But why was Isaiah to say that the people would repeatedly hear but still not get any knowledge? God’s voice added: “Make the heart of this people unreceptive, and make their very ears unresponsive, and paste their very eyes together, that they may not see . . . and that they may not actually turn back and get healing.” (Isaiah 6:10) Does that mean that Isaiah, by bluntness or tactlessness, should repel the Jews so that they would remain at odds with Jehovah? No. This was simply an indication of how most Jews would respond no matter how faithfully and thoroughly Isaiah fulfilled the preaching task for which he had volunteered by saying, “Here I am! Send me.”
10. (a) Where did the fault lie as to the people’s being as if blind and deaf? (b) What did Isaiah mean by asking, “How long?”
10 The fault lay with the people. Despite Isaiah’s allowing them to “hear again and again,” they would not take in knowledge or gain understanding. God stated beforehand that most, because of their stubborn and unspiritual attitude, would not respond. A minority might. But the majority would be as blind as if their eyes were pasted shut with the strongest glue, if you can imagine that. How long would this bad state continue? That, rather than how many years he would have to serve, is what Isaiah asked with the words: “How long, O Jehovah?” God replied: “Until the cities actually crash in ruins, to be without an inhabitant.” And so it happened, though after Isaiah’s lifetime. The Babylonians removed earthling men, leaving Judah “ruined into a desolation.”—Isaiah 6:11, 12; 2 Kings 25:1-26.
11. How did Isaiah’s preaching offer consolation?
11 Finally, though, Jehovah assured Isaiah that all was not hopeless. “There will still be in [the land] a tenth.” Yes, it was ‘like a massive tree in which, when there is a cutting down of it, there would be a stump, a holy seed.’ (Isaiah 6:13) After 70 years of Babylonian exile, a seed, or remnant, returned to the land, as if a new sprout emerging from the stump of a massive tree. (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4; compare Job 14:7-9; Daniel 4:10, 13-15, 26.) Hence, while Isaiah’s message was somber, it contained a consoling element. There is Scriptural reason, though, for us to view Isaiah as a pattern for future developments. How so?
12. What Scriptural basis is there for calling Jesus the Greater Isaiah?
12 Centuries after Isaiah’s death, one came whom we might call the Greater Isaiah—Jesus Christ. In his prehuman existence, he had volunteered to be sent by his Father to earth, where he would include in his preaching things that Isaiah had written. (Proverbs 8:30, 31; John 3:17, 34; 5:36-38; 7:28; 8:42; Luke 4:16-19; Isaiah 61:1) More pointedly, Jesus tied himself in with Isaiah chapter 6 when explaining why He taught as He did. (Matthew 13:10-15; Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:9, 10) That was fitting, for most Jews who heard Jesus were no more willing to accept his message and act on it than those who heard the prophet Isaiah were willing to accept his. (John 12:36-43) Also, in 70 C.E. the Jews who had made themselves ‘blind and deaf’ to Jesus’ message met a destruction like that of 607 B.C.E. This development in the first century was a tribulation on Jerusalem ‘such as had not occurred since the world’s beginning nor would occur again.’ (Matthew 24:21) Yet, as Isaiah prophesied, a remnant, or “holy seed,” exercised faith. These were formed into a spiritual nation, the anointed “Israel of God.”—Galatians 6:16.
13. Why can we expect yet another fulfillment of Isaiah 6?
13 We now come to another Bible-based fulfillment of Isaiah chapter 6. As a key to understanding this, consider the words of the apostle Paul around the year 60 C.E. He explained why many Jews who heard him in Rome would not accept his “witness concerning the kingdom of God.” The reason was that Isaiah 6:9, 10 was again being fulfilled. (Acts 28:17-27) Does this mean that after Jesus left the earthly scene, his anointed disciples were to carry out a commission comparable to Isaiah’s? Yes, indeed!
14. How were Jesus’ disciples to do a work like Isaiah’s?
14 Before the Greater Isaiah ascended to heaven, he said that his disciples would receive holy spirit and would thereafter “be witnesses of [him] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Just as the sacrificial altar supplied what was needed for Isaiah’s error to depart, so Jesus’ sacrifice was the basis for his disciples’ having their ‘sin itself atoned for.’ (Leviticus 6:12, 13; Hebrews 10:5-10; 13:10-15) Thus, God could anoint them with holy spirit, which would also empower them to be ‘witnesses to the most distant part of the earth.’ Both the prophet Isaiah and the Greater Isaiah had been sent to proclaim God’s message. Similarly, Jesus’ anointed followers were “sent from God . . . in company with Christ.”—2 Corinthians 2:17.
15. What has been the general response to the preaching like that of Isaiah in our time, pointing to what future?
15 In modern times, particularly since the close of World War I, anointed Christians have seen the need to declare God’s message. This includes the sobering fact that “the day of vengeance on the part of our God” is near. (Isaiah 61:2) Its devastation will be a blow especially to Christendom, which has long professed to be God’s people, as did Israel of old. Despite decades of loyal preaching by God’s anointed witnesses, most in Christendom have ‘made their heart unreceptive and their ears unresponsive; their eyes are pasted together.’ Isaiah’s prophecy indicates that this will continue to be the case “until the cities actually crash in ruins, to be without an inhabitant, and the houses be without earthling man, and the ground itself is ruined into a desolation.” This will mark the end of this wicked system of things.—Isaiah 6:10-12.
16. Why can it be said that the “great crowd” are sharing in a work like that of Isaiah?
16 Today, there are millions of devoted Christians who have the Biblical hope of living everlastingly on a paradise earth. On the basis of Jesus’ sacrificial blood, this “great crowd” can have their sins forgiven to the extent now necessary. They also receive power and support through God’s spirit as they join with the remaining number of anointed Christians in saying, “Here I am! Send me.” Send them to do what? Paul says at Romans 10:13-15: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ However, how will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth? Just as it is written [at Isaiah 52:7]: ‘How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!’”—Revelation 7:9-15.
17. Comparable to Isaiah’s prophecy, what is the content of our message?
17 Recall that it was before he knew the full content of the message that Isaiah said, “Here I am! Send me.” In contrast, we know what God wants declared now by those responding to his invitation: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” It includes forewarning about “the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” Yet, the message also includes “good news of good things.” For instance, those who are “sent forth” share in proclaiming “liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners.” Should not doing that be a source of great satisfaction?—Isaiah 61:1, 2.
18, 19. In what special ways are many saying, “Send me”?
18 If you already are declaring “good news of good things,” this review of Isaiah chapter 6 might prompt you to ask: How might I respond more fully in the spirit of Isaiah 6:8? As with the couple mentioned at the outset, hundreds have shared in the International Volunteer Construction Workers program. Many others, who lack construction skills, have moved to lands where the need for Kingdom preachers is greater. This is best done after seeking advice from the branch office of the Watch Tower Society. Of course, planning is vital, for language, living standards, job prospects, and other things may be vastly different in a foreign land. Yet, do not dismiss the possibility out of hand just because major adjustments might be required. Many who have the attitude “Here I am! Send me” have made such moves and have been richly blessed by God for so doing.—Compare Proverbs 24:27; Luke 14:28-30.
19 Still others—single brothers or sisters, married couples, even whole families—have moved elsewhere within their own land or area where there is a greater need for Kingdom preachers or for Christian overseers. (Acts 16:9, 10) Doing this may have required making sacrifices, such as obtaining another kind of secular work, perhaps one that paid less. Some have taken early retirement with a limited pension and found part-time work so as to have more time for the ministry. How fine it is when entire families say, “Here we are! Send us.” This, too, reflects Isaiah’s situation. His wife actively shared in doing God’s will as a prophetess, and his sons were involved in prophetic messages.—Isaiah 7:3, 14-17; 8:3, 4.
20. With Isaiah 6:8 in mind, what should you consider?
20 Even if your present circumstances do not permit such major changes, you can consider, ‘Am I doing all I can where I am, imitating Isaiah’s responsiveness?’ Exert yourself in declaring God’s message, even in inclement weather or in the face of public indifference; certainly, Isaiah did the same. Be zealous in speaking to others about the “good news of good things!” Jehovah has said, “Whom shall I send?” Prove that, like Isaiah of old, your response is, “Here I am! Send me” to proclaim His message.
Points for Review
□ In what circumstances did Isaiah receive the vision of Isa chapter 6, and what did he see?
□ What kind of commission did Isaiah receive?
□ Why can Jesus be called the Greater Isaiah, and how are his disciples involved in a work like Isaiah’s?
□ How can you display a spirit like that of Isaiah?
[Picture on page 17]
Isaiah was cleansed and sent to preach
[Picture on page 18]
Many have responded, saying, “Here I am! Send me”