Confrontation with God - High and Lifted Up
Confrontation with God: High and Exalted (Isaiah 6:1-8)
"The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." The purpose of a believing, faithful life is the expectation of the vision of God. "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8, KJV). The expectation of every believer is that we shall see the King someday. The invisible God we serve will be gazed at in His glory.
In the past God gave us a preview of what we shall spend eternity viewing. One such preview was given to the prophet Isaiah about 740 B.C. While he was at God's house, the building vanished and he saw God as He is. We only see ourselves as we are when we see God as He is.
The Vision of God Reveals His Glory
The occasion of seeing God is often a crisis. "King Uzziah died." This king reigned fifty-two years. His significant reign enlarged the nation to its greatest extent. After his death the nation declined. His death marked a personal and national crisis. God emptied an earthly throne in order that Isaiah could see His eternal throne. God comes to us at life's critical passages. When a chair on earth is empty, we see the throne in heaven more clearly.
The manifestation of God defies human description. Scripture clearly and repeatedly states that no one can see God at any time (Ex. 19:21; 20:19; 33:20; John 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:16). God is pure Spirit and therefore invisible. Yet Jacob said "I have seen God face to face" (Gen. 32:30, KJV) and Isaiah says, "I saw the Lord." We must understand that God adapts Himself to a form mere humans can see. That form is the Lord Jesus. John 12:41 makes it clear that the human form and glory that Isaiah saw was the Lord Jesus.
The manifestation of God may take place at His earthly house. Whether temple or church, the most likely place to see God is at the place of worship. Isaiah must have been at the Jerusalem temple when God broke in with this vision. He went to church and really saw God.
The vision of God emphasizes His position and His praise. His position is one of elevation, "high and exalted." This emphasizes His power towering above all earthly powers. This defines His elevated separation above all that is human and creaturely. We ought to dwell on His sublime elevation.
His praise comes in both action and confession from sublime heavenly beings. The seraphim are named only here in the Scripture. Their very name means "burning ones." They are personal beings with faces, feet, and the capacity to speak. They must be terrible and splendid to see. Their action is one of humility, activity, and availability. Their humility is expressed in covering their faces and feet. Their activity for God is ceaseless—they always hover with their wings in His presence. Their activity is without ceasing to praise and serve God.
Their confession is the holiness of God. Never stopping, they cry back and forth in choirs, "Holy, holy, holy." The very word suggests the divine perfection that separates God from creation. The threefold repetition suggests the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.
We should join with them now for believers shall be with them forever. How do we do on earth now what they do in heaven? We meditate deeply on the attributes of God Himself. We live a life of truly humble service to our King.
The Reaction of Man Reveals Our Need
There is a universal reaction to the praise of God. The very threshold and foundations of the eternal temple shake with the reverberation of praise. Like a mighty organ shaking a cathedral, all creation vibrates with the praise of God. A mysterious vapor or cloud of smoke adds to the mystery of the scene.
There is a personal reaction to the vision of God. The exclamation is one of "Woe." When mere humans see God as He is, they expect calamity is about to fall. Isaiah felt as if he were about to dissolve, be cut off completely from existence. When we see God we are driven to confession. That confession concentrated on the area of speech for Isaiah. He feels deeply flawed before God in the area of His speech. He recognizes this not only about Himself but about all others around Him.
Have you experienced God? Such an experience will definitely lead to a confession of your own need for cleansing.
There is a heavenly reaction to the need of man. That reaction comes at divine initiative. With the nod from God, one of the fiery ones takes a hot stone from the altar and touches Isaiah's lips. Note well that cleansing comes from a place of sacrifice at the initiative of God. We know what Isaiah did not know—that place would be the altar of Calvary with God's own Son giving His blood. No seraph touched us with a hot stone; Jesus cleansed us with His blood.
God wants us to know that we are forgiven. Isaiah was shown by deed and informed by word that God forgave and cleansed him. The messenger informed Isaiah that both his sin and the resulting sin of guilt had been covered—"your sin atoned for" (v. 7). Atonement means that my sin is so covered by sacrifice that God no longer can even see it. What peace and well-being that brings. By deed and by word the Lord Jesus died on the cross and gives you His word of honor that He cleanses and purifies.
The Decision of Man Volunteers to Serve
You can never be the same after such an experience with God. Isaiah has a radical change of insight and a new freedom. He becomes a glad volunteer to take the word of God. He is not drafted. He eagerly steps forward to take the word about a holy God who makes a way for man to stand in His presence without fear and guilt. Have you volunteered?