I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips . . . and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.
Occasionally I burn my fingers on our backyard grill. It’s usually not serious, but it definitely stings. Can you imagine the sting of a burning coal touching your lips? That’s what happens to Isaiah in his vision of heaven.
In the same year that Uzziah the king died, the prophet had a vision: he saw the King, the Lord Almighty, high on a throne, and his robe filled the temple. Hebrew tradition taught that no one could see God and live. Isaiah lamented his own uncleanness and that of the people of Israel. Then a seraph, an angel who attended God’s throne, used tongs to take a live coal from the temple altar. Touching it to the prophet’s lips, he cleansed Isaiah for service.
Purified, Isaiah could now answer God’s call. “Here am I. Send me!” His passion inspires us. But the rest of the passage is bleak. The people, still impure, hear God’s call, but their hearts remain callous and closed.
Still, there is hope for repentance; there is hope for the people to “turn and be healed.” And the holy seed of God’s faithfulness remains, and from that “stump in the land” a shoot will grow. Jesus, coming from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), will restore God’s people.
Do you hear his call today? By the purifying fire of Christ and his Spirit, we can serve and glorify God wherever he calls and sends us.
Purify our lips and our hearts, O God. Remake us to love and serve you, and send us to do your work, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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