DayBreaks for 3/02/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #4
Isaiah 6:5-7 (ESV) – And I 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!” 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.”
These verses take place right after the vision of the One who is seated on the throne. It isn’t surprising that Isaiah had this reaction given his description of the Throne Dweller. But as if often the case, if we forget the context of a passage, we miss nuggets that are priceless.
If you were to go back and read Isaiah chapter 5, you’ll hear woe after woe after woe pronounced by Isaiah to his listeners. He was dishing it out with seeming relish.
But now things have changed. He has not just heard the voice of the Lord but has been in the Presence itself. In spite of all the woes that he’d dished out, perhaps Isaiah needed to understand his own place and his own righteousness (which was no righteousness at all compared to that of the Lord) before he would be a fit servant and messenger for God.
When Doug Fell shared this passage, he described an incident with his young son who at the time was still using a pacifier (they call pacifiers “dummies” in South Africa). His son had come to his dad all excited. His dummy was still in his mouth but he told his dad how excited he was. When Doug asked him why he was so excited, he was informed that it was because his son and dropped his dummy but had washed it before putting it back in his mouth. Doug was rather pleased that his son had taken that initiative. Doug asked him where he had washed it and his son eagerly led his father into the bathroom. Doug was a bit perplexed because he knew his young son couldn’t have reached the sink. His worse fears were realized when his young son led him to the toilet bowl, pointed and said, “In there!”, then proceeded to take the dummy out of his mouth, swish it around in the toilet bowl and pop it back into his mouth before his dad could stop him.
That night, Doug said, when he was tucking his son into his bed, his little boy asked for a goodnight kiss. Doug confessed to a peck on the forehead that night rather than on the lips.
I am a man of unclean lips. We are all people of unclean lips, are we not? It is a symbol of our impurity, of the filth that clings to us on this mortal coil and it should be enough to revolt us. But not God.
God touches the lips of Isaiah with a coal from the altar – from the place of sacrifice. It is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ that would cleans not only our unclean lips, but all of our iniquities.
Note one more thing: it is not Isaiah who takes the initiative to be made clean. Isaiah cannot get the coal for himself. It is God who takes the initiative to cleanse Isaiah’s uncleanness.
Why does God do such a thing, not just for Isaiah but for you and me, too? Isaiah 43:25 tells us the answer: I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
God gives us forgiveness not just for our own sake, and indeed, He is under no obligation whatsoever to do so. He does it for his own sake. What can God possibly gain to benefit from our forgiveness? Several things, but certainly it must include these:
FIRST: God’s reputation is at stake. Remember the confrontation between Satan and God in Job? What kind of a God would He be if He created us, knowing we would fall and be great sinners, and not do anything to redeem us? He would be a hateful God, a God who delighted in seeing His creation tortured in eternal flames if He left us hopeless for eternity. But His reputation is at stake and all his claims to be a loving, compassionate, merciful God of forgiveness and grace would be proven to be lies if He just left us as fallen creatures. Praise God He didn’t do that! And praise God that he acts for his own sake as well as ours!
SECOND: God is a God who longs for fellowship and relationship with His creation and creatures. He could not have relationship with us if he were to leave us as unclean people. He is too holy for sin to exist in His presence, so the only way he could have relationship with us was to do something about our uncleanness – so He did do something about it – for His own sake and His own delight so we could fellowship forever as holy, clean beings!
PRAYER: Thank you for acting for your own sake and for letting us reap the benefits of your actions! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.