6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted,seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
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!”
Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord and the Lord says … “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Is. 6:8a).
I don’t know about you, but as a student in school, and it didn’t matter if it was Sunday School, Confirmation class, junior high, college, or even Seminary … I really didn’t like it when the teacher would ask a question to the class. Now I know it is a part of the whole learning process, but that doesn’t mean I had to like it. You see, when the teacher would ask a question of the class, the other students in the class, myself included, we would do everything we could not to make eye contact with the teacher. If you made eye contact, you were sunk and guaranteed the teacher would be calling on you. We would look at the board, we would look at our notes, the text book, we would look outside, we would look at each other but never ever would we look at the teacher.
Why is that? It’s not like we didn’t know the answer, we just didn’t want to be called on to answer it. I’m still the same way and so are many students and adults. Maybe it is because we are afraid that we are going to say is the wrong thing or we’re afraid that our answer isn’t going to be good enough.
But let’s expand this beyond being called on in a classroom setting. Why is it that when we are asked to do something, it could be the smallest and easiest thing to do … why do we do everything we can to look the other way, why do we work so hard at trying not to be noticed? If the person is persistent of us, we look at them with the crazed look in our eye and are like “Seriously, you want me?”
The World War I poster created by James Montgomery Flagg would say “Yes, I want you!” You can’t help but think of that when you see Uncle Sam pointing that accusing finger of moral responsibility at you and while you read those words “I Want You.” Notice that the YOU is even written slightly larger than the other words and it has the exact opposite color scheme to emphasize, “yes, I want you!”
The same holds true with the World War II poster originally produced by artist J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. The “We Can Do It!” poster was later distributed by the War Production Coordinating Committee as a means to encourage women to take wartime jobs in defense industries. When asked and said they were wanted … the men and women of World War I and II didn’t look away or act in a way in which they wouldn’t be called on. They saw the need, they saw the opportunity, they voluntarily stepped up and took it. They did what needed to be done.
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Is. 6:8a).
In the verses immediately before God saying this, we learn that King Uzziah has died. Since the king is now dead, a new king must now rise up and sit upon the thrown. But the king Isaiah sees is not your normal, run of the mill type of king. He’s different. The king now upon the throne is the Lord, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple (Is. 6:1b). Instead of servants, officials, dancers, or jesters surrounding the throne, Isaiah sees seraph angels proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD Almighty; the who earth is full of his glory” (6:3). Isaiah writes that “at the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke” (6:4).
Isaiah probably thought that he was an okay guy. He is most likely the son of a prophet and thus probably lived in the king’s palace. He probably hadn’t done anything too seriously wrong in his life. So seeing a king sitting on the throne is nothing really new to him. But when Isaiah looks at the angels flying around and how they are covering their faces and their feet with their wings he realizes … they feel as if they don’t belong, that they are unworthy to be in the king’s presences. If God’s holy angels are unworthy to be in God’s presence, then what about him? Quickly Isaiah realizes, he is definitely not worthy to be there before the king, before the LORD God Almighty and so he cries out for mercy, for forgiveness. “Woe to me! 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” (6:5).
I want to pause for a moment … what would be our reaction be if we were to trade places with Isaiah? What would our reaction be if we found ourselves in the presence of Almighty God, the King of all creation? Let’s think of this question a different way … what is our reaction as we find ourselves in the presence of Almighty God this very moment in this very place? As we enter worship, we are not just entering another room in a different kind of building … we are entering into the throne room of God. We come here as poor miserable sinners who have nothing to offer God. We come here not being worthy of being here because of the way we think and because of how we live our lives. And yet, here we are. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Not me Lord … for I am not worthy, for I am one with unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.
But wait! Wait a second! As Isaiah says these same very words, notice what happens. One of the angels, he grabs a live coal from God’s altar and touches Isaiah’s lips. Upon touching Isaiah’s unclean lips with this live coal, the angel says, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (6:7), your sins are forgiven.
Isaiah, being unclean and the presence of Almighty God deserves nothing but death for nothing unclean can be in God’s presence. You and I, as we enter into this throne room of God and stand before Him … we deserve the same punishment. We deserve nothing but death.
But as we come before God, as we confess our sins, as we confess our uncleanliness before Him just like Isaiah did … what does He do? God would have every right to throw us out and condemn us forever, but that isn’t what He does is it? No, instead, God forgives us! He forgives each and every one of us of every single sin we have committed. He doesn’t do it by taking a live burning coal from His altar but instead He cleanses us, He forgives us with the precious red blood of Christ which drips onto us from the altar of the cross. Through the shedding of Christ’s blood, we are washed, we are forgiven, we are made holy, and we are made able to stand before the very presence of the Lord Almighty, both here and now, but also in eternity.
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah says, “Here am I. Send me!” (6:8b). I want you to notice something. When God says, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”, who is He directing the question to? We usually say Isaiah because Isaiah is the one present in the throne room … but notice that God is not directing the question to Isaiah. If He was, God would have probably said, “Whom shall I send? How about you Isaiah?” Instead of directing the question to Isaiah, God addresses the heavenly host.
And even though God is addressing the heavenly host, Isaiah doesn’t try to avoid eye contact and look around with the hope that someone else volunteers. No, instead he says loudly and boldly, “Here am I. Send me!”
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” As cleansed and forgiven by the blood of Christ, we shouldn’t look around, we shouldn’t try to avoid eye contact. We shouldn’t look to God and question Him by saying, “You want me?” No instead, when He calls us, we voluntarily rise up with our living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and loudly and boldly say, “Here am I. Send me!” Amen.
The peace of God, which truly surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus as we willingly serve Him now and forever. Amen.