In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 ‘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.’
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’
8 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!’
9 He said, ‘Go and tell this people:
‘“Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.”
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.’
11 Then I said, ‘For how long, Lord?’
And he answered:
‘Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.’
Many books have been written about the opening verses of Isaiah 6 on God’s attribute of holiness. I have found JC Ryle and RC Sproul’s books on holiness to be uplifting and convicting as they have expounded on our holy God; I would encourage any Christian to read these books.
When I read these verses I am more amazed at the actions of the angels than that of Isaiah. To think that these heavenly beings need to cover their faces and feet in God’s presence, reveals to us how great God is and the reverence with which we should approach Him. I find it quite chastening when I read passages like this. I pray ‘Almighty God’ without even thinking about the real meaning of the word ‘almighty’ – I just use the familiar title. The added challenge is that we are called to be holy just as God is holy. In many respects this is an impossibility, but what is impossible for man is possible for God, and so we need to pray for God’s help.
Prayer: O Lord God we can’t comprehend the feeling that Isaiah experienced when he had this vision of You. This is a vision that we are aware of but easily forget the impact that it had on Isaiah. Being in Your presence must be such an awesome and fearful thing, and yet when we come to You in prayer we should realise that we are coming before the throne of grace to commune with You.
When we pray we should also realise our sinfulness and depravity and seek Your ‘cleansing’. Forgive us Lord when we don’t do this.
We should also respond in obedience to You and open ourselves up to do Your will. We so easily pray the Lord’s Prayer but don’t really consider what we are asking of You or ourselves. We pray for Your strength to enable our obedience and for wisdom to know what is from You and what is not. Lead us along the path of righteousness each day, irrespective of the trials that we face, so that we will be truly distinctive and give witness to You.
Holy Spirit please help us to be holy.
We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.