Misinterpreting Scripture – Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah 6:8 (New International Version)

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,

“Whom shall I send?And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

This is a wonderful Bible story. The prophet Isaiah finds himself, miraculously, at the throne of God. After seeing the angels worship God he cries out that he is unclean and so are his people. An angel then touches his lips with a hot coal and tells him that his sins are forgiven and atoned for. But the part we know the best is what happens next. God wants to send someone to deliver His message and Isaiah famously responds with “Here am I. Send me!”

Guilt trips have been laid on many believers by missionary groups who claim that if you want to serve God you will also volunteer to go out and spread the gospel in foreign countries…and wouldn’t you know it – that speaker just happens to know a good mission trip for you. (If you haven’t run into this, count your blessings.)

There is a problem with this approach, besides the obvious fact that Christians shouldn’t lay guilt trips on each other, that is that foreign missions have nothing to do with the work of Isaiah. A few verses later we see that God is asking Isaiah to preach to his own country and that they will not even listen to him. Reading the rest of the book we see that the prophet does not travel anywhere but stays put and advises the king of Israel. This pokes a big hole in the “Isaiah 6:8 means everyone has to be a foreign missionary” theory.

Did you read the entire chapter? I didn’t think so.

In this situation, “Here am I, send me” meant prophesying to a stubborn local population. For you, it could mean traveling to a far away country, volunteering at church, or taking care of elderly relatives who have no one else. Let’s discover these things on our own and not allow a guilt trip to lead us.

(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)
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