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Sep 15, 2019

Origin Story

Origin Story

Passage: Isaiah 6:1-13

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Isaiah: The Story Beneath the Story

Keywords: story, sermon, grace, isaiah, mills river

We skip ahead this week in the book of Isaiah to the moment when he received his summons to speak a prophetic-- and off-putting--word. What does his experience, vividly recounted, mean to tell us about God, ourselves, and what it’s like to have been set apart by God?

Order of Worship

Pre-Service Text: Leviticus 17:11
Call To Worship: from Psalm 99
Sermon Title: Origin Story
Central Text: Isaiah 6:1-13
Response: Communion
Call to Confession: Luke 5:1-10
Corporate Confession of Sin (see readings below), followed by personal confession
Assurance of Pardon: John 3:16-17
Benediction: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Post-Service Text: Malachi 3:2

09.15.19 Sermon Notes


Vimeo - Kirsten Selfie

Lord of the Rings, Gaze on Galadriel

The Mission - Heavy Burden

Readings & Scripture

Pre-Service Text: Leviticus 17:11
11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make
atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

Call To Worship: from Psalm 99
LEADER: The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

PEOPLE: The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!

LEADER: Exalt the Lord our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!

ALL: Exalt the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy!

Central Text: Isaiah 6:1-13
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Is. 6:4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “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!”

Is. 6:6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Is. 6:8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 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.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the LORD removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 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.

Call to Confession: Luke 5:1-10 (summarized)
1 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

Corporate Confession of Sin
Eternal God,
in whom we live and move and have our being,
whose face is hidden from us by our sins,
and whose mercy we forget in the blindness of our hearts:
Cleanse us from all our offenses,
and deliver us from proud thoughts and vain desires,
that with reverent and humble hearts
we may draw near to you,
confessing our faults,
confiding in your grace,
and finding in you our refuge and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Assurance of Pardon: John 3:16-17
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Benediction: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Post-Service Text: Malachi 3:2
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Related Scriptures:

  • Leviticus 6:12-13; 17:11
  • 2 Chronicles 26:16-21
  • Judges 6:22
  • Psalm 13
  • Psalm 89:46
  • Isaiah 1:7
  • Malachi 3:2
  • Matthew 13:14 / John 12:40
  • Matthew 15:18
  • Luke 5:1-10
  • 1 Timothy 6:16

Discussion Questions & Applications:

  1. Was there ever a moment when you realized you believed Jesus? What was it like? What did you believe in that season?
  2. If you’re willing to share specifically, or just generically, what are the words you most regret ever saying?
  3. Consider all the senses mentioned in the passage. What does Isaiah see? Hear? Feel?
  4. Once in the presence of God’s glory, Isaiah’s first realization is his own sinfulness. That may be an experience we’d prefer to avoid. But why might we want (and need) to accept that truth?
  5. Why must Isaiah’s sin be atoned for? Why can’t he just start speaking on God’s behalf?
  6. You might call this dramatic passage Isaiah’s “origin story.” How might what happens to him reflect what happens to any believer--not in the same dramatic fashion, but in what Isaiah comes to realize?
  7. How does Jesus help to confirm, through His teaching and experience, everything Isaiah comes to realize in this passage? How does Jesus do even more than merely confirm those truths?
  8. How right now is your God too small? Your sin too burdensome (or too trivial)? His grace too diluted? Or your sense of His call on you too distracted?


  • O, MY black soul, now thou art summoned
    By sickness, Death’s herald and champion;
    Thou’rt like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
    Treason, and durst not turn to whence he’s fled;
    Or like a thief, which till death’s doom be read,
    Wisheth himself deliver’d from prison,
    But damn’d and haled to execution,
    Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned.
    Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;
    But who shall give thee that grace to begin?
    O, make thyself with holy mourning black,
    And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
    Or wash thee in Christ’s blood, which hath this might,
    That being red, it dyes red souls to white. - John Donne, “O, my black soul, now thou art summoned”
  • . . . for the first time in my life I felt myself in the presence of personal sanctity. - W.H. Auden of the author (and Inkling) Charles Williams
  • As an old monk on Mount Athos once told me, contemplative prayer is the art of seeing reality as it truly is; and, if one has not yet acquired the ability to see God in all things, one should not imagine that one will be able to see God in himself. - David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss
  • Sinful Israel can become servant Israel when the experience of Isaiah becomes the experience of the nation. When the nation has seen itself against the backdrop of God’s holiness and glory, when the nation has received God’s gracious provision for sin, then she can speak for God to a hungry world. - John Oswalt