1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth. 4 The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts. 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for. 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Who should I send? Who will go for Us? I said: Here I am. Send me. 9 And He replied: Go! Say to these people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep looking, but do not perceive. 10 Dull the minds of these people; deafen their ears and blind their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their minds, turn back, and be healed. 11 Then I said, “Until when, Lord?” And He replied: Until cities lie in ruins without inhabitants, houses are without people, the land is ruined and desolate, 12 and the Lord drives the people far away, leaving great emptiness in the land. 13 Though a tenth will remain in the land, it will be burned again. Like the terebinth or the oak that leaves a stump when felled, the holy seed is the stump.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
He saw “The Lord.” You might want to read that one more time before you move on to the next sentence. Isaiah saw the Lord. And that encounter had impact.
It impacted the angels that announced the Lord's holiness, so much so that they used their wings to cover their faces. So much so that the first three words they were even able to utter in the midst of such an encounter were, "Holy, holy, holy...." Those three words held such weight, such impact, that the entire temple shook on its foundations and the entire building was filled with smoke.
With every one of his senses impacted, Isaiah had one mighty revelation: he was a man indescribably unworthy to be in the presence of the only One who holds any true worth at all. He was aware of every flaw he possessed in the presence of One who alone is flawless.
It’s amazing how God's holiness is a perpetual reminder of how unholy we are. But in an extension of love, one of the seraphim sees something worth unfolding his wings for, so he unfolds them for man, and he extends to Isaiah burning coals to touch his lips and remove his guilt.
The purifying fire goes to the sinful places of man, and does what only the salvation of the one and only holy God can do: it forgives all sin.
And once Isaiah can receive that forgiveness, then God has found a man He can use. And He wants to use him. He asks to use him. "Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for Us?" Then the same mouth—the mouth just moments ago so familiar with every wrong it had committed, every vile word that had come from it—proclaims with no hesitation, "Here I am. Send me."
When is the last time something has taken your breath away? Caused you to weep at the beauty of it? Caused you to stop to take it in, savor it, allow it to be branded on your heart, your mind, your memory?
When did awe become such a rare commodity? There are some things in life that demand awe. Whales off the pacific. Eastern Gates in Jerusalem. Babies’ first breaths. Or the final breaths of dying loved ones. Some things demand our awe.
Yet awe is growing more and more rare in this generation, a culture that has become masters of the mundane, defined more by social media than by character that demands account. Thankfully, God will force moments of awe.
I've noticed that those moments often come when I am given a real reflection of the sinner I once was and can still be, and the forgiveness that I've received—when I am unkind, angry, or unforgiving, when I am jealous, or controlling, or critical.
Then I encounter something holy—the power of a worship song in my car, a convicting word from a friend or my spouse, the message from my pastor, or the Scripture in my Bible that I just happened to be on that morning—and my unholiness demands a response. I shout in those moments, if I am willing to be honest, "It's all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man, I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips."
But because God is after more than my sorrow and repentance, He comes to me with His righteousness and substitutes it for my lack. He cleans my lips, forgives my sin, and gives me a second chance. And the realization of that woos my heart to be in awe of this gracious and kind and loving Father.
Then He gets to what He is ultimately after: my willingness to go, do, and be the hands and feet of Him, my Savior. And when my heart has encountered the awe of the forgiveness that is His, it can have no other response than, "Here I am. Send me."
- One of the things I have found these last few years that really helps to break me out of "mundane" ways of living is to take seasons of "fasting" from the "noise" in my life. Sometimes it is simply not turning on the radio or talking on the phone when I'm in the car, instead using that time to reflect on The Lord, to quote scripture, or to pray and listen. Other times it is fasting Facebook, or putting an "out of office" notification on my emails for a while and not allowing those to dictate my life. The immediate effect of removing some of the distractions and using that time to intentionally connect with my Father is amazing.
- I love to read autobiographies of people who have made real sacrifice and impact. One of the most powerful books I have read in years is "Unbroken", by Laura Hillenbrand. Reading the stories of other people's faith journeys and how God has carried them breeds awe in me.
- I often ask The Lord to show me His love in my details. Seeing how He loves me so specifically wraps my heart in awe. Recently after an intensive time of ministry I asked The Lord if He would let me see dolphins in the ocean off of the gulf. I've been traveling there for almost twenty years and have never seen any. I don't even know why this mattered, but it just felt as if seeing dolphins would be such a picture of the fact that He sees me. Early one morning I made the decision to drop everything and head to the beach for a quiet time. And what did I see? Yep, dolphins. Two, swimming right in front of where I was. Do you know what I sang that morning? The only song that came to my mind or my lips, "Holy, holy, holy..." God loves to love us in this way. Begin to ask God to show you the details of His love. Then look for them, and as you see them, thank Him. You'll be amazed.