And he said, “Go, and say to 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 blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump. Isaiah 6:9-13 ESV
Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes, but see not,
who have ears, but hear not.
Do you not fear me? declares the Lord.
Do you not tremble before me?
I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea,
a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass;
though the waves toss, they cannot prevail;
though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
they have turned aside and gone away. Jeremiah 5:21-23 ESV
When my grandma was a little girl, her whole family only spoke German. But when she got a little older, her parents decided that they needed to change that. Her parents had come from Germany, but they lived in the United States, and they knew their children needed to learn English. So they began to speak only English in their home. When my grandma was old, she had forgotten her first language. My other grandparents could speak and read German fluently their whole lives even though they lived in the United States, but if someone spoke German to my grandma, she wouldn’t understand it. If she saw something written in German, she couldn’t read it.
It might have been a little bit sad that my grandma lost her first language, but something terribly sad happened to God’s people. God told Isaiah that they saw but didn’t understand what they saw, and that because their hearts were dull, they heard but didn’t understand what they were hearing. This wasn’t because they forgot their language, but instead because they had turned away from God and continued to push him away from them. This made their hearts so dull that they couldn’t understand the important things God wanted to say to them. Even when God sent his prophets to them, they didn’t listen or care. So God told Isaiah that in the end the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed and many of the people would die. The people would be like a tree that is cut down and burned, with only a stump left.
Isaiah’s message was terribly sad and frightening, but there was a tiny bit of hope in it, too. God promised to leave a stump, and through that stump God’s people would survive. Nothing would stop God’s plan of sending the promised Savior to his people and to all people in the world. Jesus is God’s promised Savior. He came to die for us and bring us back to God. Because of Jesus, we are God’s people, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us hear and understand God’s word to us every day.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus, our Savior, and for your Holy Spirit, our Helper. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.