Day 12 Isaiah 6 ... Power behind the Throne

This chapter flashes back to a scene that took place two decades before Hezekiah became king. The prophet Isaiah, a giant of Jewish history, received a direct, dramatic call from God.

When Isaiah began his work, Judah seemed strong and wealthy. But Isaiah saw signs of grave danger - the very same signs that had alarmed his contemporary, the prophet Micah. Men went around drunk; women cared more about their clothes than about their neighborâs hunger. People gave lip service to God and kept up the outward appearance of religion, but little more.

External dangers loomed even larger: on all sides; monster empires were burgeoning. The nation of Judah, said Isaiah, stood at a crossroads. It could either regain its footing or begin a perilous slide downward.

Two kings, Jotham and Ahaz, paid Isaiah little heed. Ahaz sold off temple treasures to buy protection from Assyria; and it was he who erected foreign idols in Jerusalem and sacrificed his own sons as part of a pagan ritual. Isaiah breathed fire during those dark days, and the collection of his early sermons still gives off heat. But, in a remarkable turnaround, the new king Hezekiah made Isaiah one of his most trusted advisers. In any moment of crisis, he called upon the prophet.

Not every prophet blasted the establishment from street corners. Isaiah spent his days in the corridors of power, offering political advice and helping set the course of his nation. (Second Chronicles 26:22 even credits him with writing an official royal history.) Although he sometimes stood alone against a crowd of contrary advisers, he never tempered his message. Isaiah outlasted four kings, but he finally offended one beyond repair. Tradition records that the last, King Manasseh, had Isaiah killed by fastening him between two planks of wood and sawing his body in half.

It seems likely that much of Hezekiahâs zeal for reform traces back to the influences of the prophet Isaiah. The divine call recorded in this chapter shows where Isaiah got the courage and commitment that made him such an important force in Judahâs history.

Point to Ponder: When have you "volunteered" for a difficult task for God?