“And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and they sin purged.” Isaiah 6:7
I’m going to speak this morning on the subject, “Let Him Touch Your Lips.” Of all sermons, this sermon would certainly apply to every person in the house, regardless of how old you are. Let Him touch your lips.
There are four major prophets in the Old Testament. I’m sure that anyone here, who knows anything about the Bible, knows that there are the major prophets and the minor prophets; the minor prophets being Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi, Joel, Nahum, etc., but there are only four major prophets.
These four are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Let’s say those together, shall we? Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.
One more time, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Now, these are the only four major prophets. These major prophets have many differences; if I had time, I’d go into their differences and show you how Jeremiah and Isaiah were so different in their makeup.
Isaiah, for example, was a loud, impetuous kind of person, but no Jeremiah. Jeremiah was more retiring and quiet. Isaiah was a happy-go-lucky kind of fellow. Jeremiah was more of a retiring introvert. Isaiah was more optimistic and full of enthusiasm. Jeremiah was pessimistic and felt unworthy to do God’s work. God had to calm down Isaiah and stir up Jeremiah.
Each of the prophets had his own peculiar personality, character, outlook, talents, etc., but there was one unusual similarity and, if you’ll listen carefully, I think you will find out something you never knew before. There is one unusual similarity, or characteristic, of all the major prophets. Now as far as I know, this thing that happened to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, never happened to Amos, never happened to Jonah, never happened to Habakkuk, never happened to Nahum, never happened to Hosea, never happened to Zechariah, never happened to Haggai, never happened to Malachi.
As far as I know, this particular circumstance or event happened only to the four major prophets. Maybe that is why they were called “major prophets.” In each case, the prophet had his lips touched by God.
You recall Isaiah 6:6,7, the seraphim came and took the tongs from off the altar and touched the lips of is. Jeremiah had become discouraged and defeated, and God came and touched the lips of Jeremiah. In Ezekiel’s life, in the 2nd and 3rd Chapters of Ezekiel, when God was commissioning him, you’ll find that he was given a roll, and that roll was to touch his lips and he was to eat that roll, passing through his lips.
When Daniel was an older man, the Lord came and anointed the lips of Daniel. How strange it is that of all the prophets, only Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel would have this experience of the touching of the lips. Isaiah had his lips touched by God. Jeremiah had his lips touched by God. Ezekiel had his lips touched by God. Daniel had his lips touched by God.
Now, there are three things about this common denominator experience. In the first place, each man, though he had his lips touched by God, it happened at different times. In the second place, it was for different purposes. In the third place, it was at different ages. Lets put the ages first, shall we? Different ages and purposes and times.
Now, bear in mind, here are four men; here’s Isaiah, here’s Jeremiah, here’s Ezekiel, here’s Daniel, and each of these men had his lips touched by God. Now, bear in mind, not a word is ever said about Peter’s lips being touched by God. Not a word is ever said about John the Baptist having his lips touched by God. Not a word is ever said about Elijah having his lips touched by God. It is reserved for these four men, who are called the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
1. It happened at different ages. I mean by that, when Jeremiah was a little boy, his experience came. When Isaiah was in his late teens, the experience came. With Ezekiel, his experience came when he was 30 years old. For Daniel, it happened when he was an old man. When Jeremiah was a little boy, God touched his lips. When Isaiah was a teenager, God touched his lips. When Ezekiel was thirty years of age, his middle years, God touched his lips. When Daniel was an aged man, in the sunset years of his life, God touched his lips.
Now, what is God trying to teach us? God is trying to teach us that He wants to touch us at every phase and every age of our lives. Are you, this morning, just a lad, nine, ten, eleven, twelve years of age? God wants to touch your life. God wants to touch your lips. Are you, this morning, a teenager, in the high school, or junior high ages? God wants to touch your lips. Are you, today, in the middle years of life? God wants to touch your lips. Are you, today, in the later years of life—the sunset years—God wants to touch your lips.
Now, let’s go through them. Jeremiah said, when God called him, “I am but a child.” When Jeremiah was only a child, God came and said, “I want to touch your lips,” and Jeremiah said, “But, I am only a child.” (Jeremiah 1:6) In the Hebrew, the word “child” here means a very young man.
Now, God can touch the lives of very young people—little children. Did you know that Robert Hall was converted at the age of twelve? Matthew Henry, who wrote the great Matthew Henry Commentary, was saved at the age of eleven. Did you know the great Isaac Watts, the great preacher and songwriter, was saved at the age of nine? Did you know that Jonathan Edwards, the great, mighty preacher of the early days of our country, was saved at the tender age of seven?
This means that God wants to come to our children in our primary department and touch their lips. God wants to come to our youngsters in our junior departments and touch their lips. That makes the job of every superintendent so important. That makes the job of every teacher so important, for God, oftentimes, touches, for a life’s work, the lips of people at just childhood, such as was the case of Jeremiah.
But then, the Lord touched Isaiah in his late teens. I want all the teenagers to stand, this morning, would you please? I want you to stand. All the teenagers. Now, may I say this to you? God waited until Isaiah was in his late teens to touch him and God wants to touch your lips.
I was thinking this morning, as these graduating seniors walked across the platform and got those New Testament and told the plans for their lives, I was wondering how many sermons it has taken to make you what you are. I was wondering how many open assemblies it has taken to make you what you are. I was wondering how many lessons and how many prayers and how many tears it has taken to make you what you are. Now, God wants to touch your lips. God has a plan for your life.
You came by this morning and said, “I don’t know my plans, yet.” It’s not God’s fault; God has a plan for your life and you may know God’s will as sure as anybody else may know God’s will. God wants to touch your lips while you are young! Let Him touch your lips. While you’re in your teen years, let Him affect your life. Now, let the hand of God touch you so you can serve God with a long and happy and vigorous life for Jesus Christ! Thank you, kids, you may be seated.
So it was that Isaiah had his lips touched, when he was only a teenager. You know, tonight I’ll say something about this in my own timid way, again. All Hell is turned loose today on our teenagers. The entire world, all Satan’s devices, all of his arsenal, they’re all turned loose and pointed toward the young person. The younger generation; the teenager; the boy; the girl. Everything from Hell’s arsenal is pointed at teenagers and that’s one reason why, in God’s name, we stress these truths over and over again.
Listen, brother, the louder the Devil barks, the louder Hyles is going to bark. The louder the Carmichaels beckon, and the louder the Black Panthers beckon, and the louder the Rap Browns beckon, and the louder the SDA beckons, and the louder the dope-racket beckons, and the more rotten our high schools get, and the more dress codes that go out the window, and the more dirty books our young people have to read, the louder I’m going to scream for right and decency and honor and integrity!
The Devil’s after you! He’s trying to get you! Oh, while you are yet a teenager, let the hand of God touch your lips, as He did Isaiah of old. There’s a third. There’s Ezekiel. Ezekiel had his lips touched, also, but it was not until he was the age of thirty, which means that God wants the middle-aged people, also, to have their lips touched. God wants to use the lives of you in your thirties and forties and fifties. God wants to use you in those productive years of your life.
You say, “Brother Hyles, I’m trying to get ahead in business.” Let God touch your lips and serve God. But you say, “Brother Hyles, my family’s young and we’re facing a busy schedule.” I don’t care! Let God touch your lips! If you are a child, like these boys on the front row this morning, God wants to touch your lips. If you are a teenager, like these hundreds and hundreds of young people that stood awhile ago, God wants to touch your lips! If you are in your middle years of life, God wants to touch your lips, as He did Ezekiel’s of old.
But there’s something else. Daniel, the other of the major prophets, didn’t have his lips touched until he was an older man. Isn’t it wonderful how planned and organized God is? God gave us four major prophets, with the same experience of the touching of the lips, but each one at a different phase of his life—childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old-age. Daniel came to the last years of his life in Daniel, Chapter 10. He had a wonderful experience. God came and touched his lips, as He did Isaiah, as a teenager; as He did Jeremiah, as a boy; as He did Ezekiel, as a middle-aged man, entering his middle-ages, even so, God touched Daniel. That means God has something for you older people, too.
I detest this so-called generation gap. You know what? A generation gap could be spanned by an old-fashioned razor strap. Generation gap! We’ve always had a generation gap. My mama like to have killed me when I was a kid. We had a peach tree out in the yard that never grew a peach. Never a peach. She’d go out and get a peach tree limb. I can see her coming back toward the house, now, and taking the leaves off that peach tree limb. If I could roll my pants legs up and let you see my beautiful limbs, today, you could still see the marks that I bear on my body from the fruit that peach tree bore.
Now what am I saying? I’m saying that I’m weary of people saying we’re the older generation. You young pip-squeaks better listen to some of us who have lived a little while longer; and some of you older people, let God touch your lips and speak awhile.
I was in New York City preaching not long ago. You’ve heard about when the hippie crowd almost martyred me and got me in a corner until 1:15 and some hippies were outside my motel room most of the night, because I’d taken my stand and preached. I had letters from New York City again and again, folks wrote me letters and said, “We heard you preach. We are parents of young people. We have just been silent. We have just let the young people speak, but now we are going to speak!” Well, of course!
Let some people with hoary heads and wisdom and the gray beards speak. Let some people speak who have walked years enough and miles enough and paths enough to have knowledge and wisdom young folks don’t have! I get so sick of people saying, “Well, young folks are smarter than they were when we were kids.” Yeah, smart enough to burn down cities, smart enough to shoot each other, smart enough to not take baths, or comb their hair, or get haircuts. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing the younger generation needs more than a baptism of wisdom and knowledge from the older generation!
We’ve stepped aside and let the lips of the young folks speak and it’s time that the older generation said a few words! I thank God for Spiro Agnew! If you don’t like that, you can lump it the best way you can! It’s time somebody said “Amen” to him! One of my young kids in the church here, a teenage boy, brought me a great big picture, five or six feet tall, of Agnew. I’ve got me another one, “Agnew for President.”
I don’t care what you think about it, it’s time somebody spoke, besides the teenagers. It’s time somebody spoke that bathes. It’s time somebody spoke that combs his hair. In fact, it’s time that somebody spoke that has no hair! It’s time somebody spoke that has graying temples. It’s time the wisdom and wit of age and the seasoning of age stood up and said to a generation that’s going to rot the whole world, “Listen to us for a while! We have something to say!”
I’m for the young people, not against them, but I’m also for the older people, not against them. Just as God can touch the lips of a little child named Jeremiah, and the lips of a teenage lad name Isaiah, and the lips of a middle-aged young man named Ezekiel, he can also still touch the lips of older people named Daniel. Use your talent for God. If you are 60 or 70, teach a Sunday School class. Don’t sit on the sideline. Don’t retire from service for God! Stay on the battlefield! Don’t give the world to a bunch of beatniks! Don’t let the new crowd take over our generation! Stand up and be heard! Let God touch your lips! Use your talent and your life for Jesus Christ!
A little old man down in Durham, North Carolina, lingers in my mind. I preached one day, about nine or ten years ago, in the city of Durham. I spoke on the 8th Psalm, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou has made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou has put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.”
I spoke on the 8th Psalm and when I finished speaking, an old man in his 80s stood up, and skinny, he was. He couldn’t have weighed much over 100 pounds. His arms looked like broomsticks with hinges on them. He held up his little old arms and he began to speak and he said, “People, I have been a preacher for over 50 years. I’ve preached my voice out. I’ve been looking forward, all these years, to retiring. I’ve been looking forward to just settling down and taking it easy. But,” he said, “a few months ago, I came to retirement, and I have now, enough money to care for me for the rest of my life, but when I heard that young man” (I was a young man then), he said, “When I heard that young man speak this morning, God spoke to my heart and I’m not going to retire!” Then he raised up his those little, old, feeble arms and he said, “I’m re-enlisting!” Oh, would God, some of you people who are 60 and 65 and 70 and 75, get back in the Sunday School class, and share with our boys and girls, the wisdom of age. Let God touch your lips. You children this morning, you Jeremiahs, let God touch your lips. You teenage Isaiahs, let God touch your lips. You middle-aged Ezekiels, let God touch your lips, but you older Daniels, let the hand of God touch your lips.
I was thinking about this awhile ago, as I was waiting to preach. Let’s take our deacon board, for example. The young man who sang a duet with his wife a while ago, one of our deacons, is a young man, and yet we have deacons on our board in their 70s. You come to a deacon’s meeting and we have the enthusiasm of youth, the knowledge and wisdom of age, the level-headedness of middle-age—all ages are needed.
Look, anytime somebody says that this is a generation of young people, I want to say, “Sit down! This is a generation of all people!” All people.
2. This touching of the lips was for different purposes. Are you listening? At different ages, childhood, youth, middle-age, old-age; also, for different purposes.
In the case of Isaiah, Isaiah was a young fellow whose mouth was a little dirty. I don’t know what the sins of his lips were, maybe he was guilty of cursing, and I can think of nothing any more uncivilized than using God’s name in vain.
The other day, I was at a certain place and a fellow kept saying, “Jesus Christ,” and he would use God’s name before the word “d-a-m-n.” Finally, I walked over to him and said, “You know Him too, do you?” He said, “Know who?” I said, “Know God.” He said, “How do you know?” I said, “That’s all I’ve heard you talk about since I’ve been here, is God.” A person who can’t use decent language ought to keep his mouth shut! A person who can’t speak without being profane ought not to speak! A young man who can’t speak without using dirty, filthy language ought to keep his mouth shut!
Maybe Isaiah was guilty of vulgar language, I don’t know. Maybe dirty jokes, maybe dirty gossip, I don’t know, but I know one thing. God came and touched the lips of Isaiah, because Isaiah had unclean lips. Isaiah was an optimist and God touched his lips and said, “Isaiah, may I touch your lips to cleanse them?”
Now Jeremiah was not a young man who cursed. Jeremiah was reared in the priestly line. Jeremiah was not a young man who was overly optimistic, or overly zealous, or impetuous. Jeremiah was a retiring kind of reluctant fellow. The truth is, Jeremiah didn’t want to preach, when he was called, and didn’t want to keep preaching after he started. Time and time again, he wanted to quit. He came to God one time and he said, “I tell You what I wish I could do. I wish I could go out to a little wayfaring lodge, where the painters just paint all the time. I’d like to get me a little private place, where nobody knows me, and hide out for a while, and just be anonymous for a while.”
Sometimes I want to do that. I’m not famous, but almost everywhere I go, somebody knows who I am, and there are times that I wish…You know, I got on an airplane the other day and I said, “Boy, I’ve got a long flight to take and I’m just going to relax,” and lo and behold, the first fellow who got on the plane right before me, turned around and said, “Could I be so presumptuous as to ask if you’re Dr. Jack Hyles?” I wanted to say, “No, my name is Streeter, Cal Streeter,” but I had to sit by that rascal and talk to him for four hours. Four long hours! Jeremiah said, “I don’t want to keep preaching. I want to quit.” Sometimes, when a preacher’s ordained, (I’m sure you fellows have heard this, Dr. Billings, I know you have) a fellow is ordained and some very, very smart preacher will get up and try to say, “Young man, if you can keep from preaching, don’t preach.” I don’t believe that for a minute. Jeremiah could keep from preaching. Jeremiah didn’t want to preach, but the Lord came and touched his lips.
Why? Because he was reluctant. He wanted to quit. He was a pessimist. I suspect that this morning I’m talking to 25 Sunday School teachers, who taught last year, that quit this year, and you need to get right with God. You say, “Brother Hyles, I’ll tell you what. I want to sit with my family during Sunday School.” Well, who doesn’t?
“Brother Hyles, I’m just tired and weary.” Well, who isn’t? Good night, everybody’s tired in the summertime. You’ve heard about the lady that was tired all the time? All the time, she was tired, and she went to the preacher and said, “I’m always tired. I never get any rest. I just want to quit!” He said, “Well, that’s all right. One day you’ll die and you’ll just be in the grave and you can lay there and rest for a long time.” She said, “No, it’d be my luck for the resurrection to come the next morning and I wouldn’t get enough rest. I never get any.”
You say, “I’m tired! I’m tired of serving God!” Let God touch your lips! Keep on going! Keep on going. Isaiah had unclean lips and God touched them to cleanse them. Jeremiah had reluctant lips and God touched them to excite them. Ezekiel’s lips were touched for courage. He served in a hard place. Ezekiel served in bondage. Ezekiel preached to people that were salved in Babylon. He served in a hard place and he needed courage. So as God came to Isaiah and said, “I’ll touch your lips for cleansing,” He came to Jeremiah and said, “I’ll touch your lips to stimulate,” and He came to Ezekiel and said, “I’ll touch your lips for courage!”
If you have not enough courage to stand for God at school, then let God touch your lips and give you the courage he gave Ezekiel. When they say that it’s time to have the dance and, in your heart you know you shouldn’t participate, let God touch your lips with courage to say “No”! When they pass the liquor bottle around at work, and you’re tempted to take a swallow, a swig, a jig, a jug, or something, and you’re tempted to take it, let God touch your lips with courage!
I wish we had some Christians who have the courage of these hippies. I wish we had some Christians that would stand up for God, like these hippie people will stand up against the establishment!
Let us pray.