In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 The pivot on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 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!” – Isaiah 6:1-8
These first eight verses of chapter 6 describe one of the best known of Isaiah’s prophetic visions. Summoned to the throne of God and surrounded by the awe and terror of the Lord, Isaiah is struck with the realization of his own unworthiness and that of his people. He is not worthy to stand before the Lord, yet here he is in the presence of the Lord. He knows he is unworthy to served, yet what other option does he have here at the throne of God? This is not the time to say no; it is the time, in Isaiah’s words, to say woe. “Woe is me! I am lost.” There is a deep mystery at work here, and it profoundly upsets Isaiah’s equilibrium. But in the upsetting, Isaiah is able to confess his sin, be cleansed of his guilt, and receive a clean heart. Only then can he hear God’s call with clarity.
Isaiah’s vision is intended for earthly readers just like us, and the narrative accentuates at least three characteristics of God’s relationship with us: God encounters us in our historical context, God’s word is revealed in our worship, and God calls us to serve.
Author: Kristen Emery Saldine
As you consider your own life of faith and response to God’s call in your life, how do you see God’s deep mystery at work?
I confess, O God, that sometimes like Isaiah, I feel lost, unprepared for your vision for my life. Continue to reveal your abiding presence to me where I live. Amen.
Credit for this devotion goes to Daily Feast, Meditations from Feasting on the Word, edited by Kathleen Long Bostrom and Elizabeth F. Caldwell, 2011