Summary: If we would listen and take seriously the negative message of the prophets, we would be a much more powerful and positive force in achieving the goal of keeping God's people faithful to Him and His Word.
Abraham Lincoln told of how he and his brother were plowing the corn
one day. He was driving the horse, and his brother was holding the plow.
The horse was lazy, but suddenly it took off so fast that even with his long
legs Lincoln could hardly keep up. On reaching the end of the furrow he
checked the horse, and he found what they called a chin fly fastened on him.
Lincoln knocked it off, but his brother scolded him for doing so. He said,
"That's all that made him go."
The prophet Isaiah was like a chin fly on Israel. The prophets were not
popular. They were despised because they were always biting and stinging,
and aggravating the people by their constant denunciation of their sin.
However, without this negative aggravation the people would have been like
a lazy horse, and they would have done little or nothing for God. The
prophet kept them going, or at least kept the remnant going by reminding
them constantly of their folly and their duty.
The prophets were great examples of the power of negative thinking. It is
superficial to be always encouraging people. When they are missing God's
best, they need to be discouraged, and then condemned in order to motivate
them to stop going down the wrong road. It does not harm your child to be
scolded and disciplined for their foolish acts, and when they rebel and begin
to go the way of the fool, they need to be punished. The negative approach,
when they are going astray, is just as important as the positive approach
when they are walking in obedience to God's light. Isaiah is an excellent
example of how the negative and the positive can both be used effectively. In
Isaiah we see the ideal balance of God's justice and God's mercy.
One of the reasons modern Christians do not care much for the prophets
is because we live in an era of positive thinking, and the prophets are too
negative. They go on for chapters at a time denouncing sin and evil. It gets
to be quite a bore when you are conditioned to hearing the positive. If we
are to gain the value from Isaiah that God intended His people to gain, we
must be convinced of the value of the negative. In other words, we must see
how the negative can lead to positive values. This alone will motivate us to
pay attention to the negative thinking of Isaiah.
First, let me share with you what Dr. Dunlap, a psychologist learned. He
made a simple but irritating error as he typed. Instead of THE, he typed the
H first and had HTE. The harder he tried, the more he goofed. He decided
to try something. He began to deliberately type HTE over and over
hundreds of times. After this deliberate negative practice, he discovered he
could then type it right with no difficulty. He found this negative practice
worked in many areas of life, such as swimming, golf, sending Morris code,
etc. When you bring the subconscious mistake to the surface, and gain
conscious control over it, you gain freedom from it. He wrote, "By
practicing the mistake you learn to break the power of the mistake over
How does this apply to the prophet Isaiah and his condemnation of sin?
In this way. We know that the more unconscious sin is the greater power it
has over our life. The man who does not even know he uses a curse word in
every breath he takes cannot break the habit because he is blind to his folly.
However, if a man can be made conscious of his bad habit, so he is shocked
by it, and aware of what an offense and embarrassment it is, he will have a
choice at least to stop or alter his habit. Awareness of the negative is a key to
reaching the positive. Being tied up makes you long for freedom; being
hungry makes you long for food; war makes you long for peace; loneliness
makes you long for fellowship. The negative experiences of life drive us to
seek the opposite and positive experiences. It is only those who fully feel their
lossness who respond to the Gospel, and rejoice in being found by the Good
Shepherd- the Lord Jesus.
Find a man who is perfectly content with himself, and no matter how
wicked and lost he is, he will have no interest in salvation. It is only the man
who thinks negative about himself, and who feels worthless and lost who can
benefit from the positive Gospel of salvation. It is the same story with those
who are saved. If they backslide and are content in their fallen state, they
will not be interested in repenting and returning to God. It is only when