Study 6 A KESWICK CONVENTION IN 739 BC
BREAD ENOUGH AND TO SPARE
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Isaiah 6: 1-9)
Long before the first Keswick Convention was held in 1875 in the Lakeland town of Keswick, in Cumbria, England, another similar convention took place. It was held “in the year that King Uzziah died”; according to one authority it was in the year 739 BC. The purpose of conventions is to provide ministry from God’s Word which will lead God’s people into deeper spiritual blessing. In Isaiah 6:1-9 we read of the steps taken by the prophet Isaiah which led into such blessing. What are these steps? Study the verses carefully and you will notice:-
1. The first step: CONTEMPLATION
In verse 1 Isaiah says, “I saw the Lord”. All vital Christian experience begins with a vision of the Lord. Isaiah was worshipping in the temple when suddenly he was overawed by an amazing sense of God’s presence. This is our need today, to have an unveiling of our glorious Lord. Notice from verses 1-5 that:-
- 1. He saw Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate glory. “I saw the Lord” (verse 1). That is, he saw the glory that was His before He came to earth to be our Saviour – look up and compare John 12:41 and 17:5. What a wonderful vision Isaiah had! He saw the eternal Son of God who was (and is) one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in creation (Colossians 1:16) and in redemption (Hebrews 1:1-3).
- 2. He saw Him reigning, “seated on a throne” (verse 1). The earthly throne was empty, for King Uzziah had just died. How wonderful it is in these days of uncertainty to know that there is a throne established for ever in Heaven! – look up Psalm 45:6.
- 3. He saw the Lord worshipped. “I saw the Lord…high and exalted” (verse 1, and see verse 2). The angelic beings paid homage to the One who alone is worthy of their worship and ours – look up Revelation 5:11-14.
- 4. He saw His purity and holiness (verses 2 and 3). Even the celestial beings had to cover their faces, so blinding was the awful purity of the Lord.
- 5. He saw His power. In verses 3 and 5 He is spoken of as “the Lord Almighty”.
- 6. He saw His majesty. “My eyes have seen the King” (verse 5).
- 7. He saw a glimpse of His future glory. “The whole earth is full of his glory” (verse 3). That is not true now, but it will be true one day – Isaiah 35:1-10.
2. The second step: CONVICTION
The prophet experienced a deep conviction of sin – “Woe to me!” I cried, “I am ruined!” (verse 5). The only thing which will produce a consciousness of sin is a vision of the Lord: Job despised himself (Job 42:5-6); Peter pleaded with the Lord to leave him (Luke 5:8); and John fell at His feet as dead (Revelation 1:17). How sinful we see ourselves to be in the light of His purity! We discover, with Isaiah, that sin separates from God, for the word “ruined”, or “undone” (KJV) should literally read ‘cut off’ – see Isaiah 59:1-2. In Matthew 27:46 we have a significant illustration of the power of sin to separate from God, when “He, who knew no sin”, bore this separation for us. What then should we do with our sin?
3. The third step: CONFESSION
In verse 5 we read that Isaiah said, “I am unclean…” (KJV). This is the only way to get rid of sin – confess it. It must be acknowledged, confessed and forsaken – we cannot cover it (Proverbs 28:13). God’s work is hindered because Christians are carrying about with them unconfessed sins. Notice that Isaiah’s besetting sin had to do with his lips, and that his confession was not general but particular. He did not say, ‘Woe to me!…I am a sinner’. He confessed to the Lord the particular sin which He felt convicted about.
4. The fourth step: CLEANSING
Notice in verses 6 and 7: (1) The seraphs represent the Holy Spirit. (2) The live coal speaks of the precious blood of Christ. (3) The altar speaks of Calvary. It is when we confess our sins that the Holy Spirit applies the blood which was shed on Calvary, and we are cleansed (1 John 1:7-9). God demands clean servants because He cannot use unclean instruments (Isaiah 52:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1). In confessing our sin to the Lord we shall be able to enjoy that intimate fellowship with Him which makes it possible for us to hear His voice.
5. The fifth step: CHALLENGE
In verse 8 Isaiah says, “I heard the voice of the Lord…” Isaiah only heard God’s voice after experiencing the cleansing. God is wanting men and women whom He can commission and equip to go out to preach His Word among the nations. Why are there not more people prepared to face this challenge? Is it because of sin in their lives? There is a desperate need today for those who are willing to place their lives fully at the disposal of the Lord for service here or overseas.
6. The sixth step: CONSECRATION
Notice in verse 8 two things which Isaiah did when he heard God’s call: (1) He dedicated himself to the Lord – “Here am I.” (2) He dedicated himself to the Lord’s service – “Send me!” The Lord wants us before He wants our service.
7. The seventh step: COMMISSION
The Lord said to Isaiah, “Go and tell this people”. Now we see why God wanted to cleanse the prophet’s lips – because He wanted him to go and tell. Then notice the people he was called to go to – those amongst whom he lived! Wherever you or I may be, that is where God wants us to witness for Him!