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Prayers of the Prophets – Lesson 9: Spiritual Cleansing

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him: and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. –Isaiah 55:7

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 6:1-13

In the fifth chapter of Isaiah, the prophet pronounced woe upon six different sins of Judah: (1) covetousness and self-indulgence; (2) drunken revelry; (3) defiant vanity; (4) moral subversion; (5) inordinate pride; and (6) perverted justice. God identified these specific areas of their rebellion for them, as he prepared to send Isaiah to proclaim God’s coming judgment and Israel’s hope of a Messiah.

In Isaiah 6, the prophet had a vision of God in the temple. That vision was so vivid and real that Isaiah was deeply shaken. During this vision, the prophet’s original calling was expanded, and he found himself immersed in a mission for which God offered little hope for success. And yet, due to the vision he received and the spiritual cleansing brought into his own life, Isaiah seemed ready, even eager, to be used of God.

When God brings a move of spiritual revival, it is often His own people that need to experience it first. How easily our Christian lives can grow stale and lifeless! We must hunger for Almighty God to breathe His life-essence into us once again. Our neighbors, our churches, and our communities desperately need the Lord, but if there is any hope of them finding Him as their savior, then they must see our lives renewed.

If we’re no different from the world, why should they want to be like us? If we read the same books, go to the same movies, and engage in the same sinful or questionable activities as unbelievers, then what impact could our testimony possibly have? Like Isaiah, if we have any hope of introducing bringing souls to the spiritual cleansing of the Holy Spirit, then we must ourselves be cleansed by “coals from the altar.”

Lesson Questions

  1. What vision did Isaiah have that caused him to see his own spiritual impurity? Isaiah 6:1-4.
  2. What was the prophet’s anguished prayer response to this vision? Isaiah 6:5.
  3. How was Isaiah’s sin and impurity cleansed? Isaiah 6:6-7.
  4. How did Isaiah respond without hesitation to God’s call for a messenger? Isaiah 6:8.
  5. What mission was given to Isaiah that God foretold was nearly hopeless? Isaiah 6:9-10. Note: Having received spiritual cleansing himself, Isaiah is now sent to Judah to proclaim their need for cleansing from sin. In this message, many prophecies concerning the coming Messiah emerged. Take note that the poor reception of God’s message in Jesus’ time was similar to Isaiah’s difficult calling. Read Mark 4:10-12.
  6. How long was Isaiah to undertake this difficult mission? Isaiah 6:11-12.
  7. What promise was given to Isaiah lest he would think all his work in vain? Isaiah 6:13.
  8. How did God speak to Israel about their religious hypocrisy? Isaiah 29:11-19.

Life Application

Jesus contrasted humble and prideful prayers in His parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). As the Pharisee prayed, he lifted himself up in pride, thanking God that he himself was superior to “other men.” The tax collector, much humbled in God’s presence, beat upon his own breast, crying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” The attitude of the heart makes a tremendous difference in prayer. God knows all that is written on the inside before He ever hears our words.