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Jan 16, 2020

Meet the Messengers: Isaiah, Faithful and Available

Thomas Smith
Meet The Messengers Isiah

“Here I am! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

When it comes to the Old Testament prophets, one could argue that Isaiah is without peer.

(This is the second part of a series where Thomas Smith takes a closer look at six prophets from the Old Testament, God’s messengers. Find the first part here: Hosea.)

Isaiah has been called by many “the Fifth Gospel” because his prophecies predict so many aspects of the life of Jesus, from his birth to his enthronement in heaven. He is quoted over ninety times in the New Testament and represents three-quarters of all the prophetic readings we hear during the Advent and Christmas seasons. His writings are vast (sixty-six chapters), powerful and poetic.

Learn more about the prophets in Thomas Smith’s study, The Prophets: Messengers of God’s Mercy.

Isaiah was faced with a daunting challenge: His voice was to be raised during the period of the Divided Kingdom, in the late eighth century (700s BC). His audience was the southern kingdom of Judah who seemed blind to the dangers of covenant unfaithfulness.

Most men would shrink at the task of preaching for decades to a people so deaf to his message, but not our prophet.

What was the secret of his consistent courage?

  1. He focused on the Lord. Isaiah is given a vision of God on the throne (Isaiah 6:1-4). God was perfect in holiness, high and lifted up, in control of his universe. That vision of God’s power and presence was the source of Isaiah’s strength. It certainly sustained him when he saw the state of his own people’s sinfulness. He knew his task to preach was a God-sized one, but his powerful God would help him to fulfill it. In fact, one translation of the name Isaiah is “The Lord is my helper.”

  2. He recognized and acknowledged his own sinfulness and inadequacies (the truth about himself). Faced with the holiness of the Lord, he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). This helped to keep him humble before the task at hand. And the Lord responded by cleansing and preparing his prophet.

  3. He responded with availability and generosity to God’s call, “Here I am! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). Availability is no small virtue. Think of how many acts of love, mercy, or service we never perform, all because we are “too busy” or “unavailable.” Or consider how many times we have hesitated to share the good news because we “leave that to the professionals” or we feel inadequate. Pope Francis said, “Our falling short of perfection should be no excuse; on the contrary, mission is a constant stimulus not to remain mired in mediocrity but to continue growing” (Evangelii Gaudium, 121). Another put it this way, “God does not ask for our ability or our inability, but our availability.”

Imitating Isaiah

The life of Isaiah can become a great spiritual check-up for us. In light of his life, ask yourself these questions:

  • What great task is before you?

  • How can focusing on God’s presence and power sustain you?

  • Are you honest about your own sinfulness before the Lord and believe he desires to cleanse you and make you whole?

  • Finally, do you have a generous and willing spirit to respond to the needs before the Church?

Isaiah’s story begins with courage in the face of great challenges, and he was faithful to the very end. Jewish tradition tells us that Isaiah was martyred by being sawn in two by the wicked King Manasseh (an event that may be referenced in Hebrews 11:37).

Through his intercession and God’s grace, may we face the particular challenges of our life with courage and consistency.

Missed the previous post? Click here to catch up!

You May Also Like:

Prophets: Messengers of God’s Mercy [Bible study program]

How We Participate in Divine Mercy [CFR video] 

Divine Mercy [Abiding Together podcast]

Thomas Smith is the co-author of Wisdom: God’s Vision for Life,  Revelation: The Kingdom Yet to Come and The Prophets: Messengers of God’s Mercy. He is an international presenter for The Great Adventure Bible Timeline. Bringing a wealth of experience and insight on the Word of God to audiences across the U.S., Thomas is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after parish mission and conference speaker. Thomas Smith has taught as an adjunct professor at the St. Francis School of Theology in Denver, and is the former Director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Denver Catechetical School. He lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho and writes for his website

This article was first posted on The Great Adventure Blog, Ascension Blog’s former home, October 2, 2014. To learn more about The Great Adventure Bible study click below.

Featured image, Prophet Isaiah (c. 1508-1512), by Michelangelo sourced from Wikimedia Commons

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  • The great task that is before me is knowing what to do now I am out of work, during this time focusing on God’s presence and power has definitely sustained me and we have been blessed as a family not to do without. This time has led me to re evaluate my life apart of which has meant I have had to be honest about your my sinfulness before the Lord and believe he desires to cleanse me and make me whole (amazing how this was one of the questions). Unfortunately part of my reflection has led me to see I do not have a generous and willing spirit to respond to the needs before the Church, God willing this will change.

    • Hi, Paul…I can sympathize with you…for I am re-evaluating my life as well…I am retired, and it has taken time for me to see those areas I might be able assist in the Church…but fortunately, we have a God who puts before the places he would like us to start, if we pray to Him to show us….The first thing I did was pray to God to give me a generous and willing spirit to do His Will…There is a song that we sing in Church called, “Here I Am, Lord” with lyrics by Eric Tom on You Tube you can listen to. If you pray that song and then trust God to show you what it is He would desire you to do….He will surely send you His answer, for the doors to what that is will open up before you. I have found this to be the case for me. God bless your search.

      • Cheers Beverly,
        I really like that song and often consider it as a prayer, now to trust my prayers will be answered.

        • God does answer our prayers…though the answer may not come in the way we would expect them to…they always come in the way that is best for us according to God’s plan for us….That is where trust comes in. Peace..:)

          • Appreciate what you mean, I realise when we say “my prayers will be answered” we mean in a yes not a no. When I ask God to show me what it is He would desire me to do the answer may not be what I am expecting or in the form I am prepared for.

          • That has been my experience…and when I am not sure if God has answered by prayer or not…I always pray that He will show me in a way that I can’t miss…adding He knows how block-headed and hard-headed I can be sometimes…LOL…and usually He answers me in a way that I surely can’t miss!!

          • That made me smile, a lump of 4×2 on the side of the head is needed with me sometimes.

    • God does will us to be merciful. He says so in his living word. My husband recently triumphed and was in your similar stage of life. You are doing the will of God by your post. I truly believe in you. With God all things are possible. Perseverance is infectious and is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Stand on your faith. God provided for our family he no doubt will pursue your family. God Bless.

  • Focus on the Lord, let prayer always be on my lips in everything I encounter in daily life. The four questions will be very helpful to keep my focus and to realize that every good I do is the result of God working in and through me. What a sorry cracked pot He has chosen to do His work! But, I am excited to be a part, even a small part,
    in the great task of bringing God’s word to His people.

    • Me, too!! I am truly broken in many ways…but God has used me in amazing ways!! It seems God’s love for the broken in the world is great indeed!! For when we look at Scripture, he has certainly chosen a motley crew to be his chosen ones!! And I am truly grateful that he is also using me!! How about you?

      • Yes! It is good to be needed. Recently there have been some changes going on, good changes. Or at least, opportunities for good change. My role in this seems to be changing as well. Sometimes it feels like I should just retreat, build up a wall and carry on by myself doing what I have been doing. That would be the “evil one” speaking! But, being a cracked pot is not easy. So many looser limps from the past come to the forefront and sometimes paralyze me. Say a prayer for me that when the Lord comes He finds me faithfully serving Him!

      • Oh, I think I don’t know how to post a private reply, just look on the regular and you will see my reply. My computer has been not working well so I am behind in the prophets!

  • The Lord is constantly amazing me. I am forever grateful for studies such as these and the messages it brings us from Him. Currently I am in the beginning stages of assisting to start a Health Ministry in my Parish collaborative and the first 2 of these “studies” have spoken to my heart and soul and have been a source of affirmation and comfort that by trusting in Him, staying true to the Word, and stopping to Listen; we will be blessed with the answers we are looking for, Thank you for providing this. I take great comfort in the words: “God does not ask for our ability or our inability, but our availability.”

  • Well done Tom. I love the brevity. All meat, no fillers. Could your staff “link” the references from scripture and encyclicals? Keep it up Isaiah.

  • it is the conviction of one’s call that leads one to be committed to the task, not the responses of the people. I act from where I am and other from where they are in life.

  • Isaiah had a great Impact in the future: his words confirm our faith in Christ. Often I read the Bible thinking about the past. You have reminded me to see it as a call to action now and a call to trust God for any future impact.

  • The first question is one I am currently struggling with ” What great task is before you?” I know God is calling me to do something because He had twice cured me of cancer when the Dr.’s were predicting death.
    I am also afraid that I do have that “leave it to the professionals” attitude.
    I have lost count of how many times an encounter with an atheist (by the way some of them know scripture better than I) or Protestant has sent me scurrying to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”

  • “God does not ask for our ability or our inability, but our availability.” This line has particular meaning for me as I lack self-confidence and am very self-critical. With hindsight, I can see that God has simply put me into ministries, whereupon I spend considerable time scratching my head wondering how I got there and how to get out of it. Yet I am happily still serving God where He put because I am available. Now I am realising (with excitement and some trepidation) that I am being gently led, guided and mentored on a new path. I haven’t a clue what He wants or where I will end up. I am sure that no matter how small and/or dull the ministry is in the eyes of others, it will be very big and exciting for me.

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