Sunday, January 27, 2013

TorahBytes: The Invitation (Yitro)

Then I heard the voice of Adonai saying, "Whom should I send? Who will go for us?" I answered, "I’m here, send me!" (Isaiah 6:8; CJB)

It has been said, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." There is certainly some truth in this, but it implies a certain kind of focus on ourselves that I don't think is correct. God indeed has a wonderful plan and he is interested in individuals, but to understand how God desires relationship with us, we need to know how we are to connect with his plan.

This week's Haftarah (weekly portion from the Hebrew prophets) draws us into one of the most spiritually intense scenes in the entire Bible. It occurred around the time of the death of a once great king of Judah, named Uzziah (not to be confused with the prophet Isaiah who is a key character and  author of this account). I say, "once great" since Uzziah, who began so well, spent his last days in isolation due to his contracting leprosy as a result of defiant pride.

It was against the backdrop of this depressing situation that the prophet Isaiah was overwhelmed by a vivid heavenly vision in which he came to see his own dismal moral and spiritual state. As God is known to do, he responded to Isaiah's honest confession by cleansing him of his sin, which in turns set up the invitation. It is this invitation that provides insight into God's invitation to us.

After Isaiah's cleansing, he heard God say, "Whom should I send? Who will go for us?" to which he replied "I'm here, send me!" It wasn't until after Isaiah accepted the invitation that God told him what to do. That God doesn't tend to reveal the specifics of his will until after we offer our services to him is a message for another time. For now, I want to focus on the invitation itself.

God issued a general invitation in Isaiah's hearing, which he accepted. God had a mission and was looking for those who were willing to participate. Isaiah accepted. I am aware that there other occasions in the Bible when specific people are called by God for particular tasks. But not this time. This was a general invitation to no one in particular. Isaiah heard. He accepted and became part of God's wonderful plan.

Some may be quick to point out that even though the invitation in this account only looks nonspecific, God actually intentionally designed it for Isaiah alone. He knew how to hook Isaiah and purposely set him up to respond exactly as he did. Perhaps this is how it worked. But the story isn't told that way. How God does what he does is not explained. Some people have made some pretty good guesses as to God's mechanics, but that misses the point of this and many other Bible stories.

God has a mission today. It is a mission to be part of his rescue operation promised to Abraham and fulfilled in Yeshua the Messiah.  God is looking for those who will extend his rule in the name of Yeshua, who gave himself as the perfect and final sacrifice for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended to God's right hand until he returns to judge the world. Yeshua's kingdom has impacted almost every nation on earth, transforming millions of lives. God's wonderful plan, though often ignored and ridiculed, has been the greatest force on earth for good these past two thousand years.

It is not so much that God has a wonderful plan for each of our lives, but that he invites us to be part of his wonderful plan. Do you hear his invitation?

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