J. S. Eiland
What Thing Shall We Become?
Isaiah eagerly accepts his commission which is really not at all surprising considering the man he was and the man he hoped to become. What did catch me a little bit however, is what God actually commissioned Isaiah to do, it is not a petty task nor a pretty one at that.
“Go and tell this people:
Be ever hearing but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.
Make the heart of this people calloused;
Make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their
hearts, and turn to be healed.”
I mean damn! What a commission!? Isaiah is pretty much called to this duty as a last-ditch effort to break his own friends and family from their ignorant and negligent ways. It is not that they are necessarily bad people, just that they have lost any sense of honor in their daily lives, they care only for the riches of this life and land and nothing of the riches of spirit and soul. The Lord goes on to answer Isaiah’s next question of “how long?’ in a similarly bleak fashion by basically saying until they all destroy themselves. It makes me wonder if we remain in this time to this day in some ways. Or if perhaps we are fast approaching another purging by the Lord. It is not all that difficult to look at great civilizations from the past and pinpoint, with relative accuracy, when those civilizations began to rot from the inside out.
History Repeats Itself
By the turn of the first millennium, the people of Ancient Greece had become lazy and more concerned with luxury and lifestyle than the wealth, health, and well-being of their civilization. Fractured alliances between Greek city-states caused by their unyielding differences in political, social, and economic ideals deteriorated any chances of objective communications between these city-states and resulted in internal strife and essentially civil wars. Throughout the last decades and generations of the empire, the tensions between the ruling aristocracy and the lower classes increased consistently and dramatically, again with no objective communication nor empathy towards each other. In the end, the Greeks fell to the Romans because the Romans boasted a more united civilization that was able to fracture the Greek isles even more deeply and thus divide and conquer the entire civilization.
The Greeks were unable, or perhaps unwilling to unite their civilization due to what essentially amounted to petty differences in opinions. Without a respected and honorable leadership group and a sense of common unity and camaraderie, the people of Greece no longer held any pride in their world nor in each other. Their petty squabbles overtook their sense of pride in country and culture and prevented them from finding common ground with each other and instead encouraged them to splinter and isolate into smaller and smaller fractured factions, even within the city-states themselves. This corruption cursed the civilization from the inside out and opened them up to easy foreign invasion.
The blame cannot be placed solely onto the heads of the people of Greece however. The leadership, particularly the leadership expansion prevalent from around 250 BC on to the end of the Hellenistic age with the conquering Romans. Without a doubt the focus on expanding the empire during this time diminished the quality of Greek leadership, particularly in first lines and newly appointed leaders. The Greeks didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, they just didn’t do right. Expansion almost always yields an inferior product. Painful measures must be taken to ensure quality does not suffer during any expansion. This takes a tremendous and immediate amount of time and resources as well as a long term investment in proper growth and development. As you can imagine, expanding nations do not consider time nor money to be in abundance. Nonetheless, the point is to be made that as a leader, one is held to a higher standard than those who follow. This is a good and natural thing because leaders, by the nature of their positions, make decisions that affect all those who follow them, therefore leaders, by nature, hold more responsibility in their lives. So in the end, whenever a civilization crumbles into rubble from whatever cancerous plight that managed to rip it to its knees, ultimately it falls to those who misled and equally as guilty are those who had the chance to lead and backed away from it, for they are often the catalysts of change and progression within a leadership structure.
The Greeks are not the only people to fall victim to such rot. The Romans, Egyptians, Assyrians, Phonecians, English, all grew too large to maintain cohesive camaraderie across their expansive lands and even more importantly, throughout the classes of their populations. As soon as the people of a nation no longer see their nation as a blessing but as a curse, it is only a matter of time before it will fall. Whether a God-ordained destruction is their fate or not, no nation can withstand such evil doings and willing division within itself. After all, Jesus told the Pharisees; “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Matt 12:25 Abraham Lincoln considered this wisdom prudent enough on which to base his “radical” speech after being declared the Republican candidate for the presidency on June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois; famously quoting and continuing; “‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
What Can We Learn? What Can We Do?
So often in the Bible, God lays waste to entire populations because they have become so terribly corrupt and displeasing to Him. While I look around at our world today and how we somehow manage to live both so offensively and defensively all the time, it truly makes me wonder if we are not barreling straight towards another hardening of hearts. Perhaps we are already there and those people who have kept their heads hidden in the sand for so long now are beyond help and hope. I do not have these answers, but I do know that this thought adds a certain emphasis to the state of our union, our civil unrest, our active class and trade wars, and of course, our decades of fraudulent leadership.
As it is, we have taken God from everything and essentially left ourselves adrift upon an ocean of life with no way to navigate, steer, or make any other headway in any other way. Of course there are still remnants, pockets of worthy loyalists, many of whom are openly fighting this cancerous corruption in their own ways and I thank God so much that I am not alone in this battle. We are many, and we are infinite with God. Let us all be as eager to accept God’s commission for our own lives as Isaiah was for his. For I also “...am a man of unclean lips, and live among a people of unclean lips…”
I know many of you have a hard time believing in God, or accepting God, and that is fine. That does not separate you from me, nor me from you. What does separate us is an unwillingness to accept each other for who we each are and our seeming inability to unite under a common banner of liberty and justice, as one nation.
So the question put to us now is this; What shall become of us? We will as Honest Abe said; “...become all one thing, or all the other.” So what thing shall we become?
The Commission of Isaiah (NKJV)
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, 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!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am unclean!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
And he touched my mouth with it, and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.”
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:
Keep on earring, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.”
Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered:
Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man,
The land is utterly desolate,
The Lord has removed men far away,
And forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and will be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump.”