It was around noon that particular day. I was standing near the Student Union building in the center of campus waiting for a student with whom I had an appointment. As I stood there I observed the hundreds of students walking past me. That’s when it hit me. There were 32,000 students attending that school and we had maybe a couple of hundred involved in our ministry. Though we had done just about every kind of outreach imaginable, we were impacting a tiny fraction of that student body. The unpleasant reality was we weren’t changing the world. In fact, it rolled along mostly oblivious to our efforts and uninterested in our message.
Isaiah, the prophet, faced something similar. Israel was very religious in his day. But Isaiah 1:11 says that God was sick of all their religious activity because it was phony. In verse 13 God said, “I cannot bear your evil assemblies” and in verse 15 he said, “When you spread your hands in prayer I will hide my eyes from you.” He wanted nothing to do with their “religion.” Israel was spiritually deader than a doornail.
Isaiah was called to the difficult task of preaching to those spiritually dead people. It was going to be a long, discouraging job. Isaiah 6:9-10 says that the people would be “ever hearing, but never understanding.” They would have calloused hearts, dull ears and closed eyes.” How would Isaiah ever be able to keep going in the face of such a discouraging and daunting task?
Isaiah 6 tells us. When God called him to this task he gave him a glimpse of what he, the Lord, is really like. Isaiah says in 6:1, “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted.” That was what he needed. If Isaiah had started with the motto “I’m going to change the world,” he would have burned out, and it probably wouldn’t have taken long. In his book, The Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan wrote, “in those moments of greatest need our greatest need is simply to see the Lord.” God knew that what Isaiah needed to sustain him was know what God is really like.
I realized that day at Long Beach State that I needed something different to enable me to keep going in the face of a discouraging reality. What I needed was to see the Lord, to see God as the Almighty, the Sovereign over all history, in short, to see him as he is in all his glory and power. If we have any hope of making a difference in this world that is where we must start. We must see the Lord, seated on his throne, high and exalted.