Do seraphs have dirty feet? Did the coal hurt his mouth? Man he got over himself quickly!
These were some of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I read God's commissioning of Isaiah this weekend.
Upon seeing God in a vision Isaiah responds with:
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!”
Before Isaiah’s reaction to seeing God on his throne we're given a sense of God's holiness - the seraphim, created to worship God in His presence, cover their faces and feets in humility as he worships. Isaiah's position hits him - he is an unclean man living in an unclean generation. He is not so different from his world. He is not holy. God is SO holy.
His abject lowliness is complete - he is wrecked with humility.
Isaiah is a man who understands his humanity. Upon seeing God he knows his fallibility, and upon receiving God's forgiveness he knows his identity.
God's forgiveness provokes a fundamental shift in Isaiah. When God asks who he shall send Isaiah says 'send me'. Gone is the sense of inadequacy, Isaiah knows that he can not only address the Holy One, but he can offer himself for His work?! Wait, though, who is he to be sent? He is God's beloved one, redeemed and holy.
So often we feel that our sin makes us ineligible for God's service, or that our service for God earns us His acceptance. Isaiah had it right – our sin gets us nowhere and our works earn us nothing. We are worthless in our sin, but we are God's powerful children through His forgiveness. Our submitting to Him brings us life and His gift of freedom gives us the opportunity to serve His vision of freedom for the world. Freed from sin, we are what we are meant to be – His children, free to serve and work with Him.