Our Awesome God | 3

Isaiah prophesied during the reign of four monarchs over a period of 60 years. The first of these kings was Uzziah, who reigned a long time and was a successful ruler until he was overcome by pride. God punished him with leprosy for his arrogance. In the year that Uzziah died, Isaiah had a life changing vision of God’s majesty, holiness, glory and power. It is recorded in Isaiah 6. In vrs 1 we read, in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Isaiah is saying, “in the year we lost our human king, I saw the real king.”

Angels are magnificently powerful creatures and whenever humans encounter them in Scripture their first thought is – “we are going to die!” Even these sinless beings however fear God. In vrs 2, 3 Isaiah says, with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” This is the only time in Scripture that we find a threefold repetition. In the gospels Jesus frequently uses the words “truly, truly” (John 5:24; 6:47; 12:24; 16:20 etc). This is called a superlative. In Isaiah 6 we have the only occurrence of a threefold superlative in the bible. God is loving and merciful but nowhere in the bible do we read God is love, love, love or mercy, mercy, mercy. Yet he is “holy, holy, holy.” God’s holiness defines all his other attributes. His love is a holy love. His justice is a holy justice and his kindness is a holy kindness. When we say that God is holy, we mean that His very being is completely absent of even a trace of sin (James 1:13). He is high above any other, and no one can compare to Him.

Notice Isaiah’s response to the holiness of God in vrs 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.” The Hebrew word “unclean” is used in Leviticus 13 & 14 to refer to someone who is ritually unclean because of leprosy. It is used again in Isaiah 64:6 all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. If our righteous acts (the very best that we can do) is unclean in God’s eyes what must our worst acts be like? Exposed to the holiness of God Isaiah comes undone at the seams. Before a holy God Isaiah sees self as moral leper.

How do the angels respond to Isaiah’s cry of desperation in vrs 6, 7. Then one of the seraphs 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.” Isaiah has seen the holiness of God but cannot use his lips to sing along with the angels. He is too sinful. One of the angels takes a live coal from the altar. After the sacrifice for sin had been offered at the altar all that remained was a blood-soaked coal. The angel takes this coal and touches Isaiah’s lips thereby removing his guilt. The only way in which sinful people can be reconciled to a holy God is if someone removes the guilt of their sin. At the end of Isaiah, we are told that what Isaiah feared, Jesus bore in our place. In 53:6 we read, we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. The result of this is (Romans 8:1) therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.