Isaiah 6.1, In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne…
I am thankful for the love and grace of God. Yet, when the cherubim, seraphim, and angels all gather round the throne, this is not the virtue they extol. Rather, they are in constant refrain pondering the holiness of God. In Isaiah 6, the prophet has an encounter with God’s holiness – and it changed him.
Self in light of God’s holiness
Unlike Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, Isaiah is not shouting, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Instead, when Isaiah comes face to face with a holy God, and recognizes himself in that light – his only response is: “Woe is me…I’m undone, unclean…”
If a survey was taken, I imagine that many would say, “I would like to have seen what Isaiah saw.” Just consider the fact that Isaiah saw God, high and lifted up. He heard God’s voice – what an experience. Yet, if the question were asked, “Would you like to feel what Isaiah felt?” – the answer there may be different. However, you can’t have one without the other. To truly encounter a holy God, in these bodies of flesh – man cannot help but be reminded of his own sinfulness.
Ready to Serve
Once Isaiah sees a holy God, and is reminded of his own sinful self, now he is ready to hear and respond. Notice that it was “Then I heard the voice of God…” We will not accomplish much of eternal value if we lose sight of God’s holiness. Yes, He is full of grace; Yes, God is love. But we must never forget that He is holy.
Isaiah is now prepared to serve God for nearly six decades. Notice it is not because he has witnessed the need of the hour; rather, he has caught a fresh glimpse of a holy God. This is the motivation that will sustain him over the decades. This is the motivation that will enable him to die as a martyr as an old man.
Now fired up and ready to serve, Isaiah learns that he will not see a national revival in his day. His motivation is not the need of the hour, nor is it the promise of revival. Rather, his motive is that he is serving a holy God and regardless of the response, he can be faithful to the one who has called him.
We live in an unholy world. Truly, evil men and seducers are waxing worse and worse. God is still holy. As Lord Tennyson lay dying, a friend asked him, “Is there anything you need?” Tennyson’s reply captures the spirit of this post: “Yes, a new vision of God.”