Isaiah 6:1-5 (NIV)
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
"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."
Yesterday, I was reading how Isaiah, the prophet of God, was speaking "woes" upon other people who would call evil, good and good, evil. Now we see this same prophet previously had an encounter with the Living God where he had pronounced woe upon himself. He was particularly aware of his uncleanness and had the same reaction as anyone who sees God.
A sheet-rock contractor awaits inspection of his competed work and the owner comes in with a spotlight. He shines it at an angle on the wall and every minor imperfection is magnified a thousand times as it casts a dark, harsh shadow. The contractor naturally and rightfully cries "unfair!" There is no sheet-rock wall in the world that could stand up to such scrutiny.
And so it is with God, in the brightness his presence, we would cower in abject horror at the realization of our true nature compared to his absolute holiness. The attendant angels worshiped God by repeating "Holy" three times, the strongest form of a Hebrew superlative.
This awesome encounter is not over for Isaiah, he goes on:
Isaiah 6:5-9 (NIV)
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
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!"
He said, "Go and tell this people: "'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'
What is this hot coal? It was the cure of Isaiah's guilt and sin. The coal was taken from the altar of sacrifice, the temple's picture of the ultimate atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our guilt and sin can only be removed by Jesus' sacrifice. It is through our lips, purified and sanctified by God, that the good news of Jesus Christ is preached to a world who hears but does not understand.
I want to say with Isaiah, "Here am I, send me!"