Awed by Almighty God

Isaiah began his ministry with a dramatic call from God. He was commissioned by God to be his authentic voice to a people who had fallen into sinful ways. They had abandoned the worship of the one true God for worthless wooden and stone idols. They had traded the powerful for the impotent and the majestic creator for poles or statues made by man. The scene of Isaiah’s vision is recorded in Isaiah Chapter 6 verses 1-8

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
    The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.

Then I said, “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. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

What hits you first in this heavenly scene? I was struck by the other worldly creatures that were flying around proclaiming the holiness of Almighty God. They covered their faces with their wings as they could not even look upon the glory of God. Perhaps the feet were covered as the feet touch the ground and might be considered dirty. Seraphim are not mentioned elsewhere in scripture so we can assume they are heavenly creatures tasked with honoring holy God. Can you even imagine the sound of their voices that were loud enough to shake the rafters! Smoke has been associated with God’s presence when he appeared to the Israelites at Mt Sinai, Exodus 19:18 “All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire.” Fire is also associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit and baptism by Jesus, Matthew 3:11b “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” The other image that assailed me was the fact that the train of God’s robe filled the temple. It must be massive and He needs no one or nothing to help Him manage it. He has it under control and the majesty of this swirling robe fills my mind as a majesty and wonder.

When Isaiah first took this all in, the first thing he realized was his own sinfulness. Being confronted by the purity of Holy God illuminates all areas of darkness within us. The Seraphs realized his dilemma, being sinful in God’s presence was not allowed, and immediately took action. One appeared with a burning coal to take care of the problem of Isaiah’s sin. The coal touching his lips cleansed him and took away his sin leaving him forgiven and free from guilt. We can only imagine how clean and pure Isaiah must have felt and how privileged to be alive in the presence of Almighty God. Once sin was gone, God spoke to Isaiah and presented his mission request. He did not order Isaiah to go but asked if he would be willing to go. God created Isaiah with free will and God wanted him to desire to follow Him. Isaiah would need the resolve of his own will to preserve in his God given mission. God knew the times ahead would be difficult and God needed him willing and fully engaged.

How are you feeling as Lent begins? Are you ready and willing to engage in a soul-filled journey of self-reflection? Are you looking to see God more clearly, repent more fully and believe in Him more completely? Take a lesson from Isaiah as we begin this journey. Look to God, see your sinfulness in his presence and release it to Him. Accept his full cleansing and open your heart and mind to what God is calling you to do. It might be in your home, workplace, church or community. May your response be the same as Isaiah, “Here I am Lord! Send me!” He will give you what you need to see it through just as he did Isaiah.


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