"I heard the
voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who
will go for us! Then said I, Here am I; send me."
Whenever these words
have been used in Christian circles - and they have been,
and still are, very frequently employed - it is almost
invariably in relation to missionary work among the
'heathen' or in non-Christian countries. It may,
therefore, be something of a surprise and, maybe, a shock
to have it pointed out that they were never so related
when first spoken. Not the 'heathen' or 'nations', but
the Lord's own people were the occasion of this
missionary call and challenge. The Prophets - Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others - were called to be
missionaries to the people of God, and God only knew how
desperately necessary that was!
Never was a 'heathen'
nation more desperately in need of missionaries than were
the Lord's people in those times. Speaking generally, we
should find very little more sympathy and support than
did those "missionaries" if we said the same
things of the Lord's people today. Indeed, we should
receive the same kind of treatment - in different ways -
that was served out to them.
But there are two
things to say about this. Why all the Conventions and
Conferences? Why all the magazines and literature, and
books? Why all the preaching and teaching? All of which
carries as its strongest note and emphasis the
unsatisfactory condition of Christians today. There is a
wholesale deploring of that condition, and there is no
fundamental basis for all these conventions and special
spiritual occasions if all is well and as it should be.
That is a general fact, although we may not take account
of all those who have a special 'axe to grind',
some particular line or aspect of teaching. The measure
or degree of feeling and conclusion as to the declension
or poor condition will be discerned in the messages given
and emphases made.
There is, however, a
further and much greater factor in the appraisement, and
this is by no means general.
On what ground and as a
result of what did this 'missionary' call and challenge
come to the prophet? If that question were to be put to
Isaiah, to any other prophet, or to Paul, Peter, John;
that is: How did you come to see and to feel as you do?
How did you come to be so utterly committed to and
involved in this mission and ministry? Their answer -
with one voice - would be: "I saw the Lord"!
Saw the Lord"
That was all, but that
was enough. Whether it was Moses at one end or John at
the other - with the many between - their life and work
was due to their having seen the Lord. But that seeing of
the Lord always meant a seeing of what the Lord wanted as
opposed to the existing state. It was a comparison and a
contrast. It is always impossible to see the Lord and to
remain satisfied with things as they are. Any seeing of
the Lord means a new seeing of what He wants, and is
therefore a challenge and a commission. As in the time of
Eli and Samuel the low spiritual state was because
"there was no open vision".
There is therefore only
one thing for the real spiritual purifying and uplifting
of the people of God, and for their release from the
captivity of lesser conditions, and that is a new
revelation or seeing of the Lord. This will produce
ashamedness, sorrow, repentance, and a new committal. It
will humble us, it will empty us; but it will inspire us.
The most vital reality
of seeing the Lord is not in the immediate emotional
effect, but in the fact that we see the Lord Himself as
the model or pattern of everything. We spend so much time
and energy on plans, orders, arrangements, and forms. But
the Lord is all that in Himself, and the government of
the Holy Spirit will result in an organic reproduction
of the Lord as the sum of all things.
Despite all our fussing
and effort to reproduce a 'New Testament Order' we never
get more than a man-made institution. The New Testament
and what is there never came about in that way. If ever
they got near to arranging things by discussion (and they
did once, at least), the thing touched earth, touched
death, and the result was stalemate. Everything then was
the free and spontaneous movement of the Holy Spirit, and
He did it in full view of the Pattern - God's Son. The
ministry of the Holy Spirit has ever been to reveal Jesus
Christ, and in revealing Him, to conform everything to
No human genius can do
this. We cannot obtain anything in our New Testament as
the result of human study, research, or reason. It is all
the Holy Spirit's revelation of Jesus Christ. Ours
it is to seek continually to see Him by the Spirit, and
we shall know that He - not a paper-pattern - is the
Pattern, the Order, the Form. It is all a Person
who is the sum of all purpose and ways.
Who will say that the
Lord's people do not need above all things men and
ministries which have behind them this dynamic - "I
saw the Lord".
There is a desperate
need for missionaries to scattered, defeated, and
imprisoned 'Israel' - the spiritual Israel - of such as
have seen the Lord and who are thus in a position - the
only right position - to say: "Here am I; send
First published in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, May-June 1963, Vol 41-3