Friday, January 16, 2009

A Holy God and an Undone People - Isaiah 6

“In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted,with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And he touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.’” (vs 1-7)

Is there a more beautiful or clearer passage in all of Scripture that shows just how glorious our God is and just how desperately needful of mercy we are?

Here Isaiah witnesses the song of the Seraphim in heaven: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts….” Here is God called the LORD of hosts signifying His omnipotence. Our God is a God of infinite power! Here is God declared to be not just holy but thrice holy.

How thankful we should be that His attributes once again are united and ever intertwined. “Power without purity to guide it would be a terror to mankind!” (Matthew Henry)

The Seraphim are doing their work in heaven and it is a work of praise. They call out this anthem of praise “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts.” Can there be a more beautiful song? (And just think - one day I will hear it!)

Isaiah sees them singing in humility and in reverence. They stand above Him – who would dare to sit? They cover their faces – who would dare to look? They cover their feet for this is the holiest of holy ground!

When Isaiah encounters this Holy God he is undone. He is a sinner – "a man of unclean lips." He is a sinner – and so are we for Isaiah involves us all when he says "and I live among a people of unclean lips!"

“The disease of sin is hereditary and epidemic, which is so far from lessening our guilt that it should rather increase our grief. We have not done what we might have done for the cleansing of the pollution of other people’s lips. We have rather learned their way and spoken their language!” (Henry)

Isaiah is ruined in God’s presence – as are we apart from an act of Divine mercy. And here we have just that. “Then one of the seraphim flew to me…” Wow! I have never noticed this before and I am in absolute awe this morning. This seraphim who is doing the greatest of all works – praising the Holy, Holy, Holy God in the very presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy God- is momentarily sent from that task to carry grace to a ruined Isaiah. How great is God's care for ruined sinners!!

“Those that are struck down with the visions of God’s glory shall soon be raised up again with the visions of His grace. Here was one of the seraphim dismissed for a time from the throne of God’s glory, to be a messenger of His grace to a sinner.” (Henry)

God cared enough for Isaiah, the man of unclean lips, to send a seraphim from its high calling to bring cleansing grace and pardon to those unclean lips. “And he touched me mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.”

This thrice Holy and Omnipotent God did not leave Isaiah in his sin. Praise Him that He has not left me in mine as well. Just as the Seraphim came and brought the burning coal of cleansing to him, the Holy Spirit has applied the cleansing work of Christ to my unclean lips. Soli Deo Gloria! How can I not shout for joy!

As a side note I am struck with the fact that the seraphim obeyed -not that I would doubt that He would but I am struck by what he left in order to obey this command! He left this amazing place to be an instrument of amazing grace! I am shamed for I am selfish with my time. I am often reluctant to leave things of such insignificant worth to do eternally significant works.

Holy God – Please help me to not cling to guilded toys of dust but help me to be so awed by your holiness that I am willing to leave anything at anytime to do your bidding! AMEN!

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