We often walk by, overlook, or take for granted God’s expressions of glory here on earth, increasingly losing our sense of reverence before God as our world offers more and more shiny baubles for us to admire. Today we see a glimpse of God’s amazing glory and grace…
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6 reveals the calling of Isaiah into service as God’s prophet to his people. Yet before Isaiah is called, we see a glimpse of the heavens. This is important because we see spiritual things as if we are looking into a mirror in a dimly-lit room (1Corinthians 13:12). Any opportunity to see the spiritual reality of heaven is a gold brick placed in the road to our enlightenment.
Here we see God seated on his throne, high and exalted above everyone and everything. Seraphim angels flew around him calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!” This will be our refrain one day as we worship God on his side of glory. Notice the repetition of God’s holiness three times, which we link to the triune nature of God.
And the earth is full of his glory. We see this glory of God in so many ways, yet we often walk by, overlook, or take for granted God’s expressions of glory here on earth in creation and in grace. Jesus revealed to us the glory of God in coming to earth (John 1). God is everywhere and is worthy of our praise.
Isaiah’s reaction to this encounter with God provides an appropriate example of the posture of humility we ought to have before the Lord. I have often said in reflecting on God’s word to us in the Bible that we are increasingly losing our sense of reverence before God as our world offers more and more shiny baubles for us to admire.
We are imprisoned by the physical and we miss the amazement of the spiritual.
If we were to see God and have even a short moment of time in his presence like Isaiah here, we would cry out the same: “Woe to me! I am ruined! I am unclean!” We would immediately realize the truth which seems so hard for humanity to consistently embrace: we fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Not just short. We fall infinitely short of the glory of God. We are nowhere close to having the right to stand before God or even have an audience with him.
Yet God, in his loving faithfulness toward the people he created, reaches down to us in redemption. God has touched us with the atonement of the live coal. Jesus took our guilt away and atoned for our sin. And so, the people who are not worthy to even stand before God are offered forgiveness and grace by our holy, holy, holy God so that we can be counted worthy…
And this all sets the stage for God to ask one of the most important questions humans could ever answer: “Whom shall I send?”
Next we will consider how to answer this question in the context of our amazement for God and his glory and his mercy…