Whoa, or Woe?
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is given a vision of the Lord.
“… I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.”
Whoa! This is an intense scene. Isaiah notes three things about God in this vision.
He is sitting upon His throne.
God is still reigning. Even when His people are in terrible sin, and have turned their backs on Him, God still reigns. Nobody can remove Him from this throne. Find encouragement in that today. No matter how bad it looks, God will reign.
He is high and lifted up.
God is, and will be exalted. This gives us hope as well. As we look around at a world that has turned it’s back on God entirely, we can find comfort in the fact that God is exalted in Heaven, and He will be exalted on earth.
“And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.”
God will be exalted. Every knee will bow.
Lastly, Isaiah notes that the train of God’s robe fills the temple.
What glory this speaks of! He is the most elevated royalty that there is. The King of kings, and the Lord of lords.
Isaiah also sees some creatures that our Bibles translate “Seraphim”. This is literally,”burning ones”. The number of them isn’t recorded. But they are majestic creatures, here proclaiming the holiness of God.
This whole scene blows my mind. What a picture of God being worshiped. We can sit here and read about it, and just whoa. Whoa! This is incredible.
But Isaiah doesn’t say “whoa”. Isaiah says “woe”
“And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
“Woe is me”
The word “woe” can be translated, “Destruction is certain.”
Isaiah sees God in His glory, and his response is, “I’m in trouble.”
For the past 5 chapters, Isaiah has been declaring that destruction was coming to Israel, but here in chapter 6, that changes. All of a sudden, Isaiah has included himself under that judgement.
Seeing God made Isaiah realize that he didn’t meet God’s holiness. He couldn’t even come before God. Isaiah wasn’t fit to declare Israel’s sin to them, because he had his own sin. He was just as guilty.
1 John 1 says that God is light. As we draw near to God, He will reveal our darkness. Our sin becomes exposed by His presence. The areas of our life where we are struggling with sin are simply areas that we aren’t taking near Jesus.
Darkness and light cannot coexist.
God’s love is shown in this chapter as well. Now that Isaiah has seen his sin for what it is, God sends one of the seraphim to him, to purify him.
“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is take away, and your sin is atoned for.”
Isaiah’s sin has now been dealt with. He has been made clean by God. This cleansing results in a calling.
God’s cleansing results in God’s calling.
Now that Isaiah is cleansed, he is ready to be used by God. He wants to be a part of showing the nation of Israel how great their God is.
God says in verse 8, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Isaiah is eager to respond, “Here I am! Send me.”
Now that Isaiah has been cleansed of his sin, he is a fitting vessel to carry a message to Israel.
Before you can be used as a part of God’s plan, you have to go through His cleansing. We enter God’s Kingdom through the blood of His Son.
Isaiah’s message isn’t a fun one… God tells him to go and preach to the people, even though they won’t listen, and even though they’ll ignore him.
It looks so bleak that Isaiah asks God, “How long am I supposed to preach without them listening?” and God tells him, until the judgement has come. God knows that Israel won’t turn, but being a fair and just God, He uses Isaiah to give them a final warning. This is their chance to turn.
Isaiah goes, and we’ll see that in the rest of this book. Isaiah has seen the Lord. He has been cleansed by the coal from the altar. He is sold out for God, even though the job doesn’t look fun, there is no turning back. His life was changed the day that he saw God, and it resulted in “woe”.
When we realize that entering God’s presence will mean having our sin dealt with, we’ll see revival in this nation.
We all want to go before God, and say “whoa”. We all want the experience of His glorious presence. But how many of us are willing to fall on our faces before God, and say “woe is me”.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
-1 John 1:9