Why Would God Ask a Question When He Already Knows the Answer?
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Have you ever been at a meeting and the person in charge says, “We need a volunteer to coordinate our next event. Who wants to do it?”
You look around and realize you're the only person at the table. The person in charge is staring at you with an expectant look.
Maybe that's what happens when God Almighty asks Isaiah the famous question inESV:
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
God asks the question and stares right at Isaiah. Because there isn’t any other human in the throne room.
OK, let's get this clear.
There's no one else who can take this opportunity (who is human).
God knows who he wants to take the opportunity.
He's staring right at Isaiah.
Yet God Almighty asks. Asks.
Although God has no qualms about directing and telling people what to do, he still asks. He asks knowing the person could refuse. Of course, God knows everything including Isaiah’s answer. But from a human standpoint, he could know it because of what occurred several verses previously.
In verse 3, Isaiah sees the Holy God high and lifted up in all his regal holiness. The continual words spoken by the Seraphim is:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (ESV).
The repeated description of God in triplet is very significant. The more a word or phrase is repeated, the more the meaning is being stressed. And the more the speaker is saying, “pay attention.” This Jewish idea is used by Jesus when he frequently says, “Verily, verily, I say to you …” Anyone listening understands the words are very important.
What is Isaiah’s response to this magnified magnificence about God’s holy nature?
“Woe is me! For I am lost; for 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!” (ESV).
Isaiah fully expects to be killed instantly because the Scriptures say no one can see the Lord and live. Isaiah deserves death as a woefully sinful person. But the Seraphim brings a burning coal and touches Isaiah’s lips, saying,
“Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (ESV).
Isaiah is about to die and suddenly gets a reprieve. Picture yourself sitting in the electric chair knowing you deserve death—you really are guilty. Just when the executioner starts to pull the switch someone shouts, “Wait! Clemency has come through from the president of the United States.” Not only would you be stunned, you would be willing to kiss the president's feet and do anything he requests.
God’s graciousness is demonstrated in a powerful way in this throne room scene pointing to the future Messiah coming to earth to reveal the fulfillment of salvation predicted back in. As a result of realizing we don’t deserve being forgiven by a totally holy God, we are filled with gratitude which motivates and energizes our obedience.
That is gratitude in action as a result of receiving what we don’t deserve. Then we pray, “Gracious God, I praise you because you are totally holy and yet made it possible for my sin to be forgiven. Thank you for motivating me to serve you out of gratitude for my redemption.”
Copyright © February 2020 Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller, used with permission.
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