So I recently started reading the book of Isaiah, and man, it is amazing! There is just so much knowledge in the book, so much to learn about God and the extent of his anger at our sinning, and I have only read the first few chapters. But one chapter has stood out so far, for multiple reasons: chapter 6, Isaiah's Commission.
In chapter 6, Isaiah is taken in the Spirit to see our God, seated on his throne in the temple of Heaven, and here he is given a message to tell the Israelites. But in particular, verses 5-8 have significance to me, and I just want to talk about it a bit.
'Woe to me!; I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am am man of unclean lips, and i live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.'
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it, he touched my mouth and said, 'See this has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?'
And I said, 'Here I am, send me!'
~ Isaiah 6:5-8
It was at Antioch's annual missions conference, World Mandate, that I first heard read this passage, only a week after being baptized. It was just immensely powerful to me, and I didn't even fully understand the passage then. But a man came up to me with a message from God, telling me that He saw what I was doing and that He was very proud of me. And then he shared this passage, and said that he saw my life as being similar to Isaiah's here.
To start, it would be worth noting that Jews of the OT believed that if they looked upon the face of God, they would instantly die, and that is why Isaiah says "I am ruined." He sees God is all his glory, and thinks he is about to die, and this distresses him because he knows he is a sinner. Isaiah can look upon himself and see just how filthy he is in the eyes of God, and he accepts the fact that he will never be worthy of God's love. But its so awesome what happens next. God does not strike him dead, he does not cast him out of heaven for being unclean, he does not condemn him for his sins. Rather, he takes care of all his sins, makes Isaiah as white as snow. He calls a seraphim to just touch a live coal to his lips, and all is make right, his sin atoned for.
Now about the seraphim: they are a creature only named here in Isaiah. They are described as having six wings, which parallels the four living creatures described in Revelation. Just think about that: it is not any normal angel that cleanses Isaiah of his sin, it is one of God's highest heavenly beings, one of only four that personally comes to save him. And this is just like Jesus with us; I'm sure there were many ways in which God could have removed sin from this world, but he chose to send his one and only Son to die for us, personally taking all of our sin upon himself. He did not want to simply tell us that we are no longer slaves to sin, but he wants to have a personal relationship with us. And we are getting better treatment than Isaiah even; he got ONE of the highest beings in heaven, we get THE highest being, in addition to a perfect example of how we are to live our lives.
And what happens next is also incredible. God calls for a servant, and Isaiah asks to be that servant. Even though he is a sinner, he wishes to serve God in whatever way He needs. God could have called upon an angel or seraphim to deliver the message (think of the angel speaking to David concerning the Jesus' birth), but God lets Isaiah be the courier for this message. God does not want to be a God who is out of tough with us, who created us and left us alone. He is a God who wants to use us to further glorify his kingdom, and as a people who love Jesus, we should graciously accept any gift God has given us. We should all learn our spiritual gifts and find out how best to use them to share the Gospel.