Isaiah 6 v 1 – 7
In the year that King Uzziah died 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. 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!” 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 taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (ESV)
When we look at this passage of scripture, we see immediately many things just jumping out at us in the days in which we live and I need to tell you a little bit about King Uzziah before we continue. Uzziah was also called Ozias, was also called Azariah and also called Azarias in the Old Testament. So you need to keep track – it’s all the same King – Uzziah. He was a good, very powerful king. You can read about him in 2 Chronicles 26. He was the son and successor of Amaziah the king of Judah and he was king of Judah for 52 years and when he became king Isaiah was only 15 years old. And so by the time he had finished reigning, Isaiah was also getting to be quite old already. He was a good king – we see in Assyrian records (extra biblical records) that Uzziah reigned for around 42 years from 783-742 BC and his reign marked the height of Judah’s power. Judah was never more powerful than under his reign. He fought successfully against other nations that surrounded them and he took tribute from the Ammonites. Judah expanded westward with settlements in Philistia and elsewhere, and during the period of Uzziah’s reign, the nation prospered – they were blessed and the desert areas were reclaimed by water conservation. He was a brilliant man and Jerusalem’s walls were reconstructed – towers were added engines of war were mounted at strategic points in the holy land and he built up a large army, which he maintained very well. Historians tell us that the nation’s Prosperity under Asia was considered to have been a result of the Kings faithfulness to the Covenant God Yahweh. It’s because Uzziah sought to be faithful. But there’s something that happened to Uzziah. We are told that his strength and his brilliance made him arrogant – it made him to become proud, and I’m sure that when he made public speeches he sounded like some people that you’ll see on CNN these days and that led to his destruction. That’s what pride and arrogance always does – it leads to destruction. At one point Uzziah attempted to burn incense in the temple – a Ministry that was reserved only for the ordained priesthood and he wanted to do that and when the priests try to send him from the temple and say you can’t do this, he actually became angry, threw his toys out of the cot. What happened to him is he was stricken with Leprosy and his son Jotham ruled for him until Uzziah died, but he always kept an eye on Jotham. So what I’m saying to you is that he was a good king. Now, people love good kings – people love politicians who actually do what they say they’re going to do. I sometimes wish they don’t want to do what they say they’re going to do. But people like righteous leaders who help them to prosper. We want these children to have a good life, don’t we? We want the older folk among us to feel really loved and taken care of when they old. We want our children, our wives our husbands to be well and to prosper. So when there are good leaders around like Uzziah, we’re very happy, but what happens when the good king dies? It makes people uncertain – they wonder ‘what are we going to do now?’ We are we going to find a king like Uzziah? And today even in our lives, we say to ourselves where can we find good leaders? Somebody said the other day – I won’t say the leaders name – he went from hero to zero in a very short time. I said he went from zero to Nero in a very short time. To find good leaders who actually love the people and who are not just there for themselves is a very difficult thing and all of us are experiencing that. You see it the world over don’t you? The world over! Let me give you one example: There’s a president of the certain European country. I’m not going to say his name. He stands up on a podium and he says to people blasphemy is a human right, it’s part of freedom of speech! So for people to blaspheme is a human right!? He actually says that! But he walks down the street of his capital and some guys shouts an expletive at him from the side of the road. He stops and he says: ‘you need to show some respect!’ So he can blaspheme God, but you can’t shout an expletive at a politician!? That’s the world we live in – very void of good leaders at this time. What do we do? And here’s what I want to fortify my congregation with this morning – every one of you – young and old. What do you do when you can no longer put your trust in people – which you should never have done in the first place! Right? What do you do? We do what Isaiah did, and that’s what this passage teaches us this morning. He did three things. And here’s what we need to do. We need to see God’s Majesty, receive God’s Mercy and pursue God’s Mission – God’s Majesty, God’s Mercy, God’s Mission – that’s what you need. In fact, the Christian life is to see God’s Majesty, to receive His Mercy and to pursue His Mission in times of misery.
- We need to see God’s Majesty
What does that mean?
a. He saw the Glory of God’s Person.
What did he see in the glory of God’s person? He saw God first of all on his throne – on a high place. That’s where God is – that’s who God is – He is on His throne. He’s not on holiday, He’s not roaming around the game reserve – He is on His throne. That’s where He is. That’s where He’s always been, that’s where He will always be – on His throne, and is high and lifted up. It’s a high place. So, what does that mean? That means you want to see God’s glory, see His majesty? You’d better look up! Stop looking down. You need to look up. I need to look up, my family needs to look up, your families need to look up – you need to stop looking down and looking around, because when you look around and you look down, all you’ll see is the mess – you’ll never see the Majesty. You need to look up! You tell me your life’s falling apart, family is suffering, economy is going to blisters and everything’s just falling apart. You know why? It’s because we’re not looking up we’re looking down and we’re looking around when things get messy, you need to see God’s Majesty you need to see Him on His throne – it’s a high place!
b. You need to see God on His Throne and in His Temple
His Temple is a holy place. You need to see God in his Temple and the train of his robe filled the temple -above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings with two covering the face two wings covering the feet and two with which they flew. And they called to one another and said – listen to this worship service. I hope that’s what we are experiencing right now: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!” Those elements set before us, they say: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!” The songs you sang, the fellowship you have, the pain you have inside your heart now when you’re hoping God will just do something and change it to make it better. That’s the train of His robe filling this place and you need to see that robe and you need to see what the seraphim saw. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!
So you need to see Him on his throne and you need to see Him in his Temple – that’s what you need to do. Do you know what we tend to do when times are rough like this? Some people – fear drives them into the church and others, anger drives them out. What we forget is the train of His robe that fills this place. This is not just a little gathering. It’s the place where the Lord’s train of His robe fills us and covers us, and calls for our worship- as it did the seraphim.
c. He saw God’s Majesty in His Territory
Now, what am I referring to what I’m saying ‘In His territory?’ The whole earth is full of His glory – this planet, this country, your backyard is God’s territory – it’s not yours. It belongs to God, and all of it is full of his glory! This Wonder of God!
You see if you want to look around, see the glory. You need to look up, you need to look in and you need a look around and see God everywhere. That’s what Isaiah did in times of sorrow – when the good king died. He saw God’s Majesty in the glory of God’s Person.
He saw Him on His throne in His Temple and in His territory, a high place, a holy place and a healed place. That’s where he saw Him.
d. He saw the Glory and Presence of God’s Power
Notice what the text says: “and the foundations of the thresholds shook”. That’s the glory of God’s power! When God comes around, things start shaking. When God comes around, the foundations of your problems will also start shaking. You need to let Him. You see the glory of God’s Presence and Power in the shaking, the speaking and the smoke. The foundations of the thresholds shook. He saw the glory of God’s presence in the speaking. What made it shake: “at the voice of Him who called”. When God calls, things shake. You need to hear Him calling, so it shakes you up a little bit too. Amen?! Your family needs to hear God a bit so it can shake them up a little bit in the good way. Our community needs to hear God’s voice – the one of Him who calls! The glory of His presence in the shaking, the speaking and the smoke and the house was filled with smoke which was always in the Old Testament a symbol of God’s presence – it said: God is here. So that’s the first thing that we need to do is we need to see God’s Majesty.
- Receive God’s Mercy
Isaiah received God’s mercy. Notice three things about that: He recognized his sinfulness, he recognized his Saviour and he received his salvation.
a. He recognized his sinfulness
He said “Woe is me for I am lost. I’m a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” That every one of us would every day say those words to ourselves. “Woe am I – I’m lost!” How many of you have forgotten that you once were lost, but now you’re found. How many of you are perhaps still lost and you don’t even know it – not made your calling and Redemption sure. You think you’ve been a Christian, but you never really have, but now you blame Christianity for the mess. That wasn’t Christianity – that was fake! You need to realize your own lostness. You need to know that you’re a sinner. What does that mean? You’re blind deaf, dumb and messed up, and other than that, you’re in good shape – lost without God and you need to feel this contrition that Isaiah felt – I’m undone. I’m lost. I’m a man of unclean lips and not only that- when you see that in yourself and you begin to look around you see it with everybody around as well, because you see they never cleaned up the high places in Uzziah’s time – they let all that nonsense go on and when we read further in this chapter, what does Isaiah mean when he says he dwells among a people of unclean lips? Look what God is going to say to him “go and say to this people keep on hearing but don’t understand keep on seeing but don’t see make the heart of this people dull make their ears heavy and blind their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn and be healed”. That’s the people among whom Isaiah found himself. Does that sound to you like our communities? Is that what you see on your TV screens? Exactly like that. You see this world does not realize it sinfulness, but Isaiah realized his sinfulness. That’s what we need to do in days like this when you cannot trust powerful people, which you should never have done in the first place. Recognize your sinfulness; know that in you there dwells no good thing – even when you’re a Christian. Remember what Paul said: “so I find this law at work with me that the good I want to do, I don’t do; the bad I don’t want to do I keep on doing!” Does that sound familiar? Does that describe your life? You cannot take one step without God. You cannot bat an eyelid without God and if you try to, He will make you really dumb. You won’t understand. That’s what it says. It’ll make you blind you’ll keep on looking but you’ll see nothing. He’ll make your heart dull. This world is filled with people with dull hearts. Oh, they want to fill the hole in the ozone and save the dolphins, but they can’t love one another. They’ll abort babies, and do what this famous actress said the other day: “She’s raising her daughter genderless”. That’s a dull heart. That’s a stupid mind. Those are blind eyes and deaf ears. Don’t fall for it. You see any politician who’s pro-abortion or pro the gay agenda, you can know God’s not in his life. God has made him stupid. That’s how he got that way. Do you want to know why some of them look so stupid? God made them that way, because they don’t want to hear.
b. He recognized his Saviour
When you recognize your sinfulness, the next thing you must do is you must recognize your Saviour: “My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts”. You need a see King Jesus! When you recognize your sinfulness, you need to recognize your Saviour. No one else is going to save you – no politician, no king, no man, no woman, no plan, no job, no motorcar, no home – only Jesus! You need to recognize your Saviour. And when you do, you’ll get what Isaiah got:
c. He received his Salvation
Here’s what happens – it symbolizes the Lord Jesus – “and one of the seraphim flew to me having in his hand a burning coal that he’d taken with tongs from the altar” – and look at the wonderful thing that happened – this is a prophet speaking – “He touched my lips.” Why the lips? There’s a book by M. Scott Peck called “People of the Lie”. As a psychiatrist in his career, he tried to analyse the heart of evil and he called it “The Lie”. At the heart of all human evil is the lie. It’s scapegoating and blame shifting – it’s what the devil did – he lied! The fall started with a lie, and where there are lies, our lips need to be touched. See, because the problem is not only with the eyes and the ears and the mind and the heart – it’s with the lips too – it comes out of our mouths. He touched his lips: “And He touched my mouth and said: behold, this has touched your lips, your guilt is taken away and your sins atoned for.” Those are some of the most wonderful words in all of the Bible. The seraphim say: “look, this is touched your lips – your guilt is taken away. Your sin is atoned for!” There can be no atonement for sin without blood. We know that the Lord Jesus atoned for Isaiah’s sin. Also, as the Lamb without blemish, slain before the foundation of the world. In God’s economy, Jesus did not die ±2020 years ago. He died before the foundation of the world. It’s what we read in our Confession – there’s always been one Plan of Salvation, one Way of Justification, and that’s what Isaiah received right here. Now, what have we seen so far? What do we do in times of Misery? We need to see God’s Majesty, the glory of His Person on His Throne, in His Temple, in His Territory, the glory of His Presence and Power in the Shaking, the Speaking and the Smoke. We need to receive God’s Mercy, recognize our sinfulness, recognize our Saviour and receive our Salvation. What is the last thing we need to do? Isaiah embraced God’s mission.
- Pursue God’s Mission
Now He’s given you New Life, your life is no longer yours. You don’t live for yourself and what you want to do. Look what it says: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying whom shall I send and who will go for us? Then I said here am I send me! Now look at the wonder of these words – he heard God and he heeded God. That’s what embracing God’s Mission entails – that you must hear Him and you must heed Him. But look at these wonderful words. Don’t miss it. Sometimes we don’t only read the Bible too little – we read it too fast. You need to read your Bible more and slower. And listen to this – here’s why: “I heard the voice of the Lord saying ‘whom shall I send and who will go for’ – and notice this little word ‘us’ – you and God – us – ‘who will go for us?’ That’s beautiful, isn’t it? And when God sends you, you’re not just going for God you’re not going for… you’re going for ‘us’ – me and God – God and I. Or you’ll you walk alone, even If you’re a Liverpool fan. Us – you and God – God and you – us who will go for us? You need to hear God and you need to heed Him. And he did, he said: “here I am, send me”.
So we live in troubled times – these are times of misery. Not all the time. We see our blessings too. It seems like all the good kings are dead and I can’t see one on the horizon – what to do? See God’s Majesty, receive God’s Mercy and pursue God’s mission in times of misery.