Personally I have always had a hard time reading Isaiah, because of prophesy that takes place within it. I've never been one to really try and find "other" meanings behind a text. If this is you, please bear with me and read it.
As I have spent a great deal of time this week reading over this passage and other passages in the Bible that reference it, I have come to a point of thinking perhaps many of us have been reading it wrong. Perhaps there is something in this passage for us beyond just understanding who Isaiah was at this point in time and his prophesying of what was to come.
The first thing I notice in this passage is Isaiah has an encounter with God. He realizes and understands that he is unclean. I find this interesting because we are 5 chapters in and this encounter is about to change his whole life. He has already been a prophet but he understands that parts of his life have not been acceptable to God and that he needs God to do a work is his life, so he can be cleaned.
This is important, because I think that is the same for us. It is so easy to get caught up in doing the right things that we try to hide from the fact that we have to have an encounter with God and that we have to willing to accept we are unclean. We have to be willing to allow God to clean us. When we do, our lives will be changed.
The second half of this passage has really made me think. You can find commentary after commentary with people all saying different things about how God made people blind to who He is, while others say that the people were already blind and God obliged and let them stay that way.
The more I read it, the more I wonder if the reality of the situation wasn't as much God telling Isaiah to keep people in the dark about who He is, but rather He was letting Isaiah know that he was to continue to share with people about who God is and what He was doing, but these people were spiritually blind and until they realized it and realized they needed God, they would never get it. They could continue to hear about the wonders of God and who He is, but would be lost because they had become so desensitized to the message.
Then Isaiah asks how long....I can only imagine what it is like to be told you need to preach to people and share with them about God while also being told they won't get it. It would seem like a total waste of time and energy. God tells him to keep sharing until things are utterly ruined. For me, that pretty much sounds like God is saying keep preaching until things are no longer the way they are. These people would have to loose everything before I want you to stop. In other words, don't.
Lastly, the last verse sounds like hope. God says even though it will all seem meaningless, it is not. There will be a few that will get it. Those few I will heal and they will last even when all else is gone.
So what does this all mean for us.
I think it means first that we have to realize our need for God and our need for a Savior. We have to realize that we too may have become desensitized and may just be going through the motions. We have to be willing to let God change us, cleans us, and be willing to take on whatever mission He calls us to. Personally, I think this may be an ever going challenge for each of us. I know time and time again in my life I find myself going through the motions and wanting to hide the fact that I am not perfect.
Secondly it means that we have to be obedient to God when things seem hopeless. God may give us something to work towards that we may never see the end result in. We may spend the rest of our days doing what He has asked only to feel like it is in vein and that our life has been meaningless. Yet, we must be obedient because we may never know what impact our obedience may have.
Lastly, through our healing, relationship with Christ and obedience God will make a difference. We may not see the difference and perhaps it's not for us to see. However, God wants us to know that regardless of what we see there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope in the end. He is working out His plan and He has asked us to be a part.