The clarity of the message of every prophet of God stands in marked contrast to much of the preaching done today. While it might be true that some have been too harsh in their preaching throughout all the centuries, so much of the preaching we hear today is far removed from the kind of preaching given by God to His people by His prophets.
God’s instruction to Isaiah could not be misunderstood. “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa. 58:1). God’s people were clothed in complacency and outwardly involved in worshiping God. Isaiah specifically mentions specific acts of worship—multitudes of sacrifices, burnt offerings, the observance of the Sabbath and monthly feast days, praying to God with outspread hands, assemblies of sacred meetings, the burning of incense and many prayers (Isa. 1:11-15). However, there was no leader among them who openly confronted their sinful hearts. This is why God told Isaiah to raise his voice with the astounding clarity of a trumpet and openly address their sinful complacency.
Albert Barnes, in his commentary about the commission God gave to Isaiah, describes the kind of preaching God wanted Isaiah and preachers today to do. “Speak loud and distinctly, so that the language of reproof may be heard. The sense is, the people are insensible and stupid. They need something to rouse them to a sense of their guilt. Go and proclaim it so that all may hear. Speak not in whispers; speak not to a part, but speak so earnestly that their attention will be arrested, and so that all shall hear.”
Our culture, especially among the younger generation, is characterized by conversations in a non-confrontational manner. This concept has become part of the philosophy in pulpits throughout the land. Where is that voice in the wilderness of the forerunner sent by God that openly addresses the evil in his world? John lived among a generation of vipers and unashamedly cried out against open immorality. “It is not lawful for you to have your brother Philip’s wife.” A question which should be asked in churches in America is, “How long has it been since you last heard a message with such clarity about marriage and divorce in the pulpit?”
Preaching has changed. Far too many preachers are like the religious leaders in Isaiah’s day. Every preacher today should solemnly read God’s charge to Isaiah. The reality is that the sophistry of human wisdom has become the norm. The world will never be truly converted to Christ without upsetting the souls of those immersed in complacency. Preaching should never be designed to gain the approval of men, but of God!