We are so comfortable with a casual glance and hello, than we are with deep conversations and life stories. It is so much easier to connect with people on a level just below the surface and than to reveal our struggles and inadequacies. And so we move through life, never knowing deep friendship. Afraid that if someone really knew us, they wouldn’t like us that much. Probably because we know ourselves pretty well, and there are times we don’t like ourselves that much either. We put on our soul-coverings – like clothing. We layer them on – even accessorize, so that we look more presentable, more polished.
But there is one who sees our inner parts. One who is not fooled by the layers.
In Isaiah 6:1-5, Isaiah sees “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.”
I can’t imagine standing before that scene. The tremble in my legs, my eyes gazing in amazement. And when the foundation shook, there would be no doubt over who was in control,
And it isn’t me…
Isaiah 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!'”
His immediate response, is to consider himself dead – that he realized that everything he was, everything he did, all of the wisdom he had was dust in that moment. When we are standing before the throne of God, we will only realize our inadequacies,
and there will be no covering, nothing or no-one to hide behind.
And I wonder: In the midst of this realization of the utter depravity of his condition, knowing the love and grace of God,
did he have hope?
Did he know that God could have mercy on him, and draw him close?
“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.”
Without any begging from Isaiah, God, out of his own love and mercy responded to Isaiah’s call of death with life. He initiates the payment, He provides the way out.
He didn’t weigh Isaiah’s life to examine how many “good” things he did, and how many “bad” things he did. He didn’t evaluate Isaiah’s religiosity, or count how many times he went to church. Isaiah also, didn’t bother to point these things out. When you are faced with ultimate power and grandeur, even those things that seemed so significant, are suddenly embarrassing, ridiculous. Isaiah responds in humility, in helplessness, in truth of his position before God.
Out of his repentant heart, mercy prevails, and God tenderly redeems him.
The thing that struck me most about this passage is that we will all stand before the throne one day. And it won’t matter our position, prestige, religion, achievements, or life choices. We will all be filled with holy fear and reality of God.
Some will have a glimmer of hope – they will know the one who shows mercy, and He will call them by name.
But my heart breaks for those who will have no hope. Those who will never have accepted God’s love and mercy in this world, and will be unable to accept it before the throne.
May we be willing to expose our hearts so that others may share in the hope that we have. May we have compassion on those around us, with the ever-present reality of the day to come, earnestly declaring our need for grace and mercy through Christ alone.