Whit’s End: The Call & The Coal


We concluded our “One Book” series today, rounding off New Testament applications from Old Testament lessons.  This Sunday morning we looked at the prophet Isaiah’s call as found in Isaiah 6.1???8.  As he stands before the throne of God, he is completely aware that he is standing before the Holy, Almighty God.  And in the midst of that realization he has another.  He is reminded quickly of his own sin, and of the sin of his people.

Isaiah, like all the prophets, was keenly aware of Israel’s sin and specifically their idolatry.  The people had exchanged their worship of God for a seeking after their own desires, hoping to gain from their indulgence into other cultures and their gods.  Because of their sin, curses fell upon Israel and they experienced hardship and calamity often, usually in the form of being conquered by other nations.  They were repeatedly taken away from Jerusalem and slavery became a way of life.

But the God of Israel isn’t a “3 Strike” God.  God is a God of faithfulness, of steadfastness.  As one of my members said this morning in Sunday School, “I’d say God was partial to ’em.”  God was partial to Israel, good or bad, thick or thin, because he was their God and they were his people.  Though afraid and rightfully so, Isaiah was being called by a God of second chances (and 3rd, 4th, 5th chances, etc.).  God was calling Isaiah into relationship.  

Through the coal taken from the altar, Isaiah’s lips are made clean, he was purged of his sin, and now he was ready to take on the rest of God’s calling.  See, God doesn’t call us to salvation only.  God calls, saves, and sends.  Salvation is only the beginning.  So now that his lips are clean, Isaiah is now ready to be sent out to deliver God’s message to the people that so desperately need to hear it.  

As a Christian, we hear the same call.  We can remember John, a voice crying out in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord.  All people are called to come and receive.  John the Baptizer said in John 1.29, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  Jesus is very much the coal from the altar from the Isaiah text.  He cleans our lips, purges our sin, removes our stains, and takes away our guilt.  Jesus is the Lamb, given for us.  Been that’s only the beginning.  As we know and read from Matthew 28, God then sends us out as disciples, charged with making new disciples.  The response to Matthew’s text should come from Isaiah’s text, “Here I am, Lord.  Send me.

I love the old gospel song Softly and Tenderly.  I’ve included the lyrics below.  Notice how the first two verses are very personal, as if they are speaking to you.  But then notice vs. 3 and 4, how these words can now become your own as you tell others of the hope you’ve found in God’s call in Jesus.  I hope they serve your heart well this afternoon.  Have a blessed week.

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, 

calling for you and for me; 

see, on the portals he’s waiting and watching, 

watching for you and for me. 


Come home, come home; 

ye who are weary come home; 

earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, 

calling, O sinner, come home! 

Why should we tary when Jesus is pleading, 

pleading for you and for me? 

Why should we linger and heed not his mercies, 

mercies for you and for me? 


Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing, 

passing from you and from me; 

shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming, 

coming for you and for me. 


O for the wonderful love he has promised, 

promised for you and for me! 

Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon, 

pardon for you and for me. 


Rev. Whit R. Martin
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church

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