9-10He said, "Go and tell this people: "'Listen hard, but you aren't going to get it; look hard, but you won't catch on.' Make these people blockheads, with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes, so they won't see a thing, won't hear a word, so they won't have a clue about what's going on and, yes, so they won't turn around and be made whole."
Imagine the surprise in Isaiah's eyes when he hears these words from the one who has just called and anointed him to be the prophet to the nation of Israel. He has stepped forward, hearing the call of God, in obedience....and this is the first message he is told to deliver to the people! No easy calling here! I think I would be reconsidering if I took one step backward when everyone was taking one forward!
Isaiah is asked to bring the message that reveals the heart and spirit of the nation - you listen, but you don't hear; you see, but you don't have clarity in your vision; you deliberately stifle my voice and block my vision. Wow! Not an easy message right out of the shoot! I'd like us to consider something this morning - the power of our senses in the ability to perceive.
For those who are sighted, vision is a thing we take for granted. For those who have never seen, vision is a thing that is not understood. For those who have sight failing, the loss is astronomical! What once was clear suddenly (or gradually) becomes clouded, shaded, and difficult to interpret with our sense of vision. We call that person "blind". In the spiritual sense, blindness is equated to the inability to be conscious or aware of your surrounding, events, or self.
For those who have the ability to hear, that ability is a tool whereby we take in information (often without even realizing we are - like background noise). We use this sense to supplement our other senses - if we cannot see well, we know the location of an individual merely by the sound of their voice, using what we hear to help us interpret our surroundings. In a spiritual sense, the lack of hearing is equated to being unreasonable, self-determined, and unyielding.
For those who can taste, the enjoyment of food is quite a blessing. The sweetness or saltiness of an item can alert our taste buds to interpret what it is we are experiencing. We get pleasure (or displeasure) out of what we take into our bodies via our mouth. To the one who has lost their sense of taste, food is bland, and the experience of taking it in is no longer enjoyable. In a spiritual sense, when we no longer enjoy what we are taking in, we are like the one who is losing their sense of taste. God tells us that his Word is like honey - sweet, pleasurable, and life-giving. To lose that sense of enjoyment is to lose a special thing.
For those with the ability to touch and feel what it is they are in contact with, the moment of touch can be both an enjoyable experience and a sense of warning of danger. Touch alerts us to things that may not be good for us - as in when we sense heat from the stove. Touch also brings great pleasure when it is received at the end of a difficult day (as in a hug or a pat on the back). It can also help to guide us. In a spiritual sense, losing our ability to sense the touch of God on our lives leads to us going our own way, living by our own rules, and isolating ourselves from what can bring total healing.
The last sense we could examine this morning is that of smell. It is in this sense that we interpret the enjoyable odors of life (like the blooming rose or the fresh cut grass). It is also this sense that gives us an awareness of those things not so pleasant (like the odors of the landfill or rotting food). Both give us an awareness of our surroundings, alerting us to things we both might find enjoyment in experiencing, or want to avoid if we don't want to have the displeasure associated with the negative odors we are interpreting. In a spiritual sense, when we experience God fully, there is a sweetness to his presence that our senses all take in.
No wonder God focuses Isaiah on the senses of seeing and hearing! The senses do so much to assist in us knowing that God is real, he is present, and that his is moving in our midst. Even one sense out of use in our lives can greatly impact how we interpret what is happening around us - especially in the spiritual realm. So, tune up your senses! They were given for a reason!