Here in Canada, harvest time has started where farmers start to bring in their harvest of grain following their hard work of sowing, watering, and now, hopefully reaping a bountiful harvest.
There is a deep conviction in our heart, that today, there is a vast spiritual harvest of precious souls to be gathered into the kingdom of God from around the world. Jesus said to his disciples while passing through Samaria, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”—John 4:35. This is so true today as well.
Missiologists are telling us that there are still many unreached people groups around the world, who are waiting for the message of the gospel. Here are the statistics we have been provided about the global unreached people groups:
- People Groups: 17,406
- Unreached Groups: 7,402
- % Unreached Groups: 42.5%
- Population: 7.84 Billion
- People in Unreached: 3.27 Billion
- % People in Unreached: 41.8%
As we ponder these solemn facts, we are convinced we need a fresh vision like Isaiah the prophet received.
SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 6:1-13
(Read this important passage of Scripture).
“In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory”—Isaiah 6:1-3
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” —John 4:35-36.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”—Hebrews 2:9.
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”—Hebrews 12:2.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish. But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”—Proverbs 29:18
“Where there is no revelation [or prophetic vision], the people cast off restraint; but happy is He who keeps the law.”—Proverbs 29:18
Isaiah, son of Amoz is often thought of as the greatest of the writing prophets. His name means ‘the LORD Saves’. He is also often referred to as ‘the Prophet of Redemption’ He was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah, beginning his ministry at about 740 BC.
During this time, the moral and spiritual condition of the nation of Judah was very low. Compare Isaiah chapters 1-5. In Isaiah 29:13 the LORD said, “this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”
It was in this spiritually dark time that the Lord called and commissioned Isaiah the prophet.
According to an unsubstantiated Jewish tradition, Isaiah was sawed in half during the reign of wicked King Manasseh. See also Hebrews 11:37.
In this passage of Scripture before us in Isaiah chapter 6, we have a record of the Prophet Isaiah receiving a spiritual vision that transformed his life and ministry.
Isaiah received his prophetical vision during the reign of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, Kings of Judah (Isaiah 1:1). This could mean that he received this transforming vision and call to service while he was a young man.
A) What do we know from Scripture about King Uzziah and his Reign?
· In 2 Chronicles 26, we have an account of the reign of King Uzziah. He began to reign when he was only 16 years old (vs. 3), and he reigned 52 years in Jerusalem.
· He did what was right in the sight of the Lord (vs. 4).
· He sought God’s help and direction, and “as long as he continued to seek the LORD, God made him to prosper” (vs. 5).
· God helped him against his enemies, and he became strong and famous. “He was marvelously helped, till he was strong” (vs. 15).
· However, “when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction” (vs.16). He went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense, a privilege, and responsibility reserved for priests only under the old covenant. God smote him with leprosy, and he had to dwell in an “isolated house, cut off from the House of the Lord until the day of his death” (vs. 16).
· How sad! This King began so well yet ended his reign in such a tragic way, all because of pride and disobedience.
· The Scripture says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). The Bible also says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
· May the Lord help us, by His grace, to not only begin well and continue well but also to finish well as did Paul. Note 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
B) Now, let us consider together ‘The Transforming Vision’ of Isaiah the Prophet. Isaiah 6:1-13.
· First, we note that “it was in the year that King Uzziah died,” when he (Isaiah), may have been in the house of God and received this transforming vision.
· It is important that we also go to the place of worship in times of bereavement, discouragement, and tragedy so that the Lord can speak to our hearts to encourage us and give us fresh vision and direction for our lives.
· We also observe that although King Uzziah had died, the Lord was still on His Throne.
Let us further note that Isaiah received a ‘Three-Fold Vision’.
1. ISAIAH HAD AN UPWARD VISION. #
“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (Verses 1-4.)
a) John tells us in John 12:38-41 that Isaiah saw His (Christ’s) glory and spoke of Him.
b) He saw the LORD as King on the throne (verses 1-5).
c) He saw Him in his holiness (verse 3).
d) He also saw Him in all His glory (verse 3-4).
e) He also saw the LORD in His great love and compassion and His plan of redemption for His people Israel as well as all the Gentile nations through the coming redeemer and savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Note: We also must first see the Lord High and lifted up, in all His glory, majesty, power, holiness, and great love and compassion for ALL people.
The apostle Paul wrote about his vision or revelation of Christ in Galatians 1:15-16 saying, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through his grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles.”
Near the end of his life and ministry, he was still “pressing on to know Christ better.” (Philippians 3:8-14).
Also, note Paul’s prayer for believers in Ephesians 1:16-23.
John the Apostle received a powerful vision and revelation of the glorified Christ, the Son of God, in Revelation Chapter 1.
Also, compare these scriptures: Hebrews 2:9 “But we see Jesus…”, “Looking unto Jesus…” Hebrews 12:1-3
· If we look at others, we will be disappointed; they will fail us.
· If we look at ourselves, we will be discouraged.
· If we look at circumstances, we will become fearful.
· But if we look to Jesus, He will encourage and strengthen us.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His Wonderful face!
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the Light of His Glory and Grace”
2. ISAIAH ALSO HAD AN INWARD VISION #
He saw himself in the light of God’s holiness.
a) Note: Isaiah did not get spiritually proud because of his amazing vision of the LORD. Rather, it humbled him! Every vision and every further spiritual experience and encounter with God should humble us and not make us spiritually proud.
b) In chapter 5 Isaiah the Prophet spoke out against the sins of his people saying “Woe” to them, for there was indeed much sin among the people of Judah, and they needed to turn back to God in repentance to avoid judgment. But he now saw himself in the light of the holiness of God, and he cried “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips…” (Verse 5).
c) Just as soon as he confessed his sin, “one of the seraphim flew to him with a live coal which he had taken from off the altar, and touched Isaiah’s mouth, and said, ‘Behold this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged.’” (Verses 5-7). In 1 John 1:7-9, we read; “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
d) Isaiah needed the cleansing touch of the Lord upon his mouth and lips so that he might be a cleansed vessel (instrument) in the hand of God through whom the Lord could speak His message. God is still a Holy God and desires to work through individuals who have been cleansed by Him. The Lord cleanses us by His precious blood (1 John 1:7-9); and by His word (John 15:3; 17:17 & Ephesians 5:25-27); and by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (1 Peter 1:2 and Romans 8:1-16).
e) Isaiah was touched and cleansed by that holy fire and was now ready to be used by the Lord.
J. Edwin Orr wrote the words of this powerful hymn:
“Search me O God, and know my heart today.
Try me O Savior, know my thoughts I pray:
See if there be, Some wicked way in me:
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.
I praise thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin:
Fulfill thy Word, and make me pure within.
Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame:
Grant my desire to glorify Thy Name.
Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine:
Fill my poor heart, with Thy great love divine.
Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride:
I now surrender, Lord in me abide.
O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee.
Send a revival- Start the work in me.
Thy Word declares thou wilt supply our need.
For blessing now O Lord I humbly plead.”
3. ISAIAH THEN RECEIVED AN OUTWARD VISION! #
He saw others in their need. Isaiah 6:8-9.
a) After Isaiah had received the ‘upward vision’ and ‘inward vision’, he then received an ‘outward vision’. The scripture says, “Also 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.” And He said, “Go, and tell this people…”
b) The Lord commissioned Isaiah to go to his people and tell them God’s Word. He was not given an easy assignment, as we can see when we study this Book. Isaiah’s ministry spanned many years during the reign of four kings of Judah. (Isaiah1:1).
c) Isaiah is called the Prophet of Redemption. He predicted the birth of the Savior, the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6-7), as well as His sufferings and cruel death (Isaiah 53). He predicted the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 44:3-4), as well as the Gospel being made available and taken to the nations of the world. Isaiah chapter 54:1- 5, and Isaiah 11:1-10. Compare Romans 15:12.
Isaiah Chapter 35 as well as many other passages in this prophecy foretell the coming of the Messiah, His life, His ministry, His atoning death, and glorious kingdom.
d) Isaiah truly had an outward vision. He ministered not only to his people living in that day, and to all of God’s people down through the ages, but also to us today.
e) We also need to have, along with an upward and inward vision, an outward vision. We need to see others all around us and those in the regions beyond who are lost in their sin, needing to hear the gospel.
f) “The spiritual harvest truly is plenteous but the labourers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38). This is true today as well.
g) In John 4:35 Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the Harvest?’ Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look at the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
Today there is a ripened harvest of precious souls all around us, as well as in the regions beyond, to be gathered in. The Lord of the Harvest is still calling, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Will you answer as did Isaiah the prophet, “Here am I, send me”.
Dr. Alexander Duff was a great veteran missionary to India. When he was an old man, he returned to his homeland of Scotland to die.
There, during the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr. Duff addressed the meeting, and then made a strong appeal for young men to volunteer their lives for India, but no one responded.
Under the strain of the appeal, the aged missionary sank to the floor and was carried off the platform. The Doctor was bent over the old veteran and was examining his heart when suddenly he opened his eyes and asked, “where am I?” “Lie still” urged the physician, “your heart is very weak.” The old warrior interrupted. “But I must finish my appeal.”
Again the Doctor cautioned, “Lie still; you are too weak to go back.” But the missionary would not be stopped; gathering his strength, he got back on his feet; And with the Doctor on one side and the Assembly Chairman on the other, the old white-haired warrior walked back to the rostrum, while the whole congregation rose in honor of his courage.
He resumed his appeal. “When Queen Victoria calls for volunteers for India,” he continued, “hundreds of young men respond, but when King Jesus calls, no one goes.” Then he paused and once more continued. “Is it true that Scotland has no more sons to give to India?”
Again he waited, and still, no one responded. There was silence. The old man then made a major decision, and under the burden of India’s unreached millions, he concluded his call. “Very well then, if Scotland has no more sons to send to India, then old and decrepit though I am, I will go back; and even though I cannot preach, I can lie down on the shores of the Ganges River and die, in order to let the people of India know that there is at least one man in Scotland who cares enough for their souls to die for them.”
As the old veteran turned to leave the pulpit, the silence was broken at last. All over the congregation young men were getting to their feet crying out “I’ll go,” “I’ll go,” “I’ll go”! And after old Dr. Duff passed on, many of those young men did go to India, investing their lives as missionaries, as a result of an old gospel warrior’s burden and vision for the un-evangelized.
And what about you? Will you go? Are you willing to become involved in missions?
In closing I quote the words of the song “Lord, give me a Vision” (Author unknown)
“Lord give me a vision, O help me to see
The need all around me, souls lost without thee,
Oh, make me a blessing, as onward I go,
By telling the story that others may know.
Lord give me a vision, of fields that are ripe
Of sheaves, we must gather, err cometh the night!
Dark shadows are gathering, and some will be lost,
Some neighbour or brother; how awful the cost!
Lord give me a vision, lest empty I stand
There at the great judgment, no sheaves in my hand,
No labour of love, to offer my King,
With nothing but leaves then, the Master to bring.
Lord, give me a vision, oh, help me to see
Some neighbor today, Lord, and bring him to Thee,
That on that glad morning, some soul there may say,
“The prayers of God’s children have shown me the way.”
Today the Lord of harvest is calling: “Whom shall I send?” “Who will go for us?” There are still vast areas of the world that need to be evangelized with the gospel of Jesus Christ. May the church around the world hear His call and go with the gospel until all have heard the good news that Jesus saves.
God calls some to go, others to be senders, but he calls us all to pray. May we heed His call and respond, for today it is harvest time around the world. Let us lift up our eyes and become involved in bringing in this harvest of precious souls today.
Word in Season: Lloyd Schuetz
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