Haftarah Portion: Yitro (Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6)
Gospel Reading: John 12:37-41, Matthew 23:11-13
Commentary by: Chris Knight

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!’ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.’ Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’ Isaiah 6:1-8 (NKJV)

Being called on a mission for God, and awestruck by the holiness of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Isaiah finds himself feeling unclean and unworthy before the throne of God. He confesses his sad state in comparison to the amazing sight of the throne. Then, something incredible and at the same time very strange happens. One of the angels cleanses Isaiah, who is then charged with his divine mission to be God’s messenger.

We see scenes like this a few places in the scripture, my favorite example being Moses. God selects someone, that individual feels unworthy in God’s presence, God qualifies their calling, and God then accomplishes His mission through the humble, grateful, awestruck servant. Put another way in scripture, “He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The Lord seems to be in the habit of using the humble for His purposes; those who recognize that the mission isn’t accomplished in their own strength, but in the Lord’s. The Master says this in regards to the humble versus the proud.

But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Matthew 23:11-13 (NKJV)

As we read further in the haftarah, we see the contrast between Isaiah who truly hears God’s word and the people who are completely out of touch and on a separate page than that of the Father.

And He said, ‘Go, and tell this people: “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, and return and be healed.’ Isaiah 6:9-10 (NKJV)

Later, in the gospels, we see these words being attributed to the religious of the day who either rejected Yeshua altogether or didn’t understand the strange Kingdom message that He was bringing with His many parables. John puts it this way.

But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. John 12:37-41 (NKJV)

Many who rejected Yeshua, didn’t reject Him because they were humbly submitting to the word of God but because they were proudly stubborn in their own attitudes, beliefs, and expectations in what Judaism was “supposed to” be or look like. When Yeshua didn’t fit the mold of what the religious wanted from their messiah to be, they rejected Him. “That can’t be the Messiah!” or “He’s threatening our safety!” or “Some King he is! How does he think he can overthrow Rome!?”

What are we placing our confidence in today? Do we take Isaiah’s approach, recognizing our unworthy state before a holy God and humbly accepting His word? Do we take the approach of those who rejected God, putting our own wisdom and theological correctness up on a pedestal that not even God Himself is allowed to move?

As those who are born again as a new creation in the image of Yeshua, we are to continually be molded by His character. Every day we seek to see more and more of the Messiah living within us. One of the ways I believe we do this best is by laying aside our ego, recognizing that we still have a long way to go, and humbly following His voice wherever it leads. This is what Yeshua did. It’s what Isaiah and Moses did. It is what we should do.