5 December 2016

Isaiah 6:1-8

“In the year that King Uzziah died …” (v. 1)

Psalm: Psalm 67


Uzziah had been a once great king and a hero of Isaiah. But when he became great and honoured, he struggled to understand where the boundaries of his authority and responsibility lay (2 Chronicles 26:18-21) and his downfall was assured. He died in 740BC. For the country this would have been a time of great shock and uncertainty, and surely one of the reasons that the Lord chooses this moment to appear to Isaiah is to restate his supremacy over time and space and human rulers.

The nation was mourning the death of their earthly king and in that very hour Isaiah records, "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple" (v. 1).

Human powers rise and fall.

Human nations have their strong times and their weak times.

Human rulers are exalted one day and brought low the next, but our God is "the Lord of hosts" (v. 3) who is seated on the throne - not just today, but yesterday and tomorrow as well.

Though all may change around us, Isaiah helps us see God as eternal, reliable, trustworthy and powerful. Powerful enough to shake the very building in which he is present.

And whatever happens in our world or in your life, your God can be trusted to be there for you!

Isaiah encounters an eternal God. But he also sees a holy God: "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. And one called to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.'" (vv. 2-3)

A holy God.

God is holy: special, separate, different, awesome.

God is holy: powerful, frightening, all-seeing, ever-present.

God is holy: sacred, perfect, sinless, without blemish.

God is holy; and this is who Isaiah encounters in his vision. No wonder that he feels unworthy to be in his presence (v. 5). But the eternal God and the holy God is also the gracious God, ready to remove guilt and to blot out our sin (v. 7). Is it any wonder therefore that as the Lord asks for a servant to do his will, Isaiah's response in verse 8 is "send me"!?

To Ponder

  • To what extent have we lost touch with the 'otherness' of God? How might you regain it?
  • Does worship, in an attempt to be accessible, neglect the 'awesomeness' of the Lord? If so, how might it become more of a feature?
  • Are we afraid to encounter the holiness of God today? Why, or why not?

Bible notes author

The Revd Mark Dunn-Wilson

The Revd Mark Dunn-Wilson is currently the superintendent minister of the Truro Circuit in central Cornwall where he has served for ten years and still going strong. Prior to Cornwall, Mark was a presbyter in the Liverpool District for 14 years.