Today’s passage in Isaiah destroys the popular notion that there is a god in heaven who wants us to be happy and feel good about ourselves.
Isaiah’s encounter with God utterly overwhelms him; entering the presence of the most holy God shatters his understanding of self. The only physical feature of the Lord Isaiah describes is the train of His robe, and yet that is enough to overcome him. Even the seraphim, who are always there with God, cannot help but ceaselessly call out His glory in the presence of His holiness. In His midst, the ground literally shakes.
Isaiah’s response to this scene is not to feel happy. He doesn’t think he’s “good enough” to be there. No. Faced with the reality of the glory of God, Isaiah grasps the depths of his depravity. “Woe to me! I am ruined!” (6:5) he declares. Isaiah realizes he is deserving only of condemnation. It’s not a general feeling of shame—this is a deep understanding that even his very best is but “filthy rags” (as Isaiah says later in 64:6).
The seraphim touches Isaiah’s lips with a “live coal”, and declares, “Your guilt is taken away…” (v. 7). Instead of the death that was deserved, Isaiah is completely cleansed. God then questions, “Who will go for Us?” (the “Us” giving evidence of the Trinity), and is met with Isaiah’s immediate reply: “Here I am! Send me!” (v. 8) God’s forgiveness compels him to serve the Lord. It’s the natural response, flowing out of gratitude and love.
We, too, have a point at which we face the depth of our sinfulness. But, thank the Lord, rather than condemnation, God offers us complete cleansing and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Our response? To gladly, lovingly serve Him with that same full and open heart as Isaiah.
Question: Do I understand that God is truly this majestic and awesome? Am I aware of how much I’ve been given, that I cannot help but be fully, willingly, available to Him?
Oh, Holy Lord, thank You so much for cleansing me, in spite of me. There is nothing in me that is righteous or good apart from You. I want to respond to You as Isaiah did—“Here I am. Send me!” Please help me to mean it.