I have taught Sunday school for older elementary kids for ten or fifteen years now. I love teaching. I’m not always crazy about the choices of material the curriculum writers settle on. More than once, I have abandoned the safe, sanitized stories to guide the kids in grappling with the reality of who God is and who we are as presented in Scripture.
Isaiah 6 is one of those moments of grappling.
In a time of political turmoil, unrest, and uncertainty about the future, Isaiah– a man who was already God-fearing and devout– went to the Temple to pray. He was seeking the comfort and solace of God’s presence. We would do the same thing.
But Isaiah wasn’t met with soft words or sentiments from a grandfatherly deity. He saw the LORD. What he saw was terrifying. The seraphim stood above the throne. We know the word is plural, so there were at least two of them there. The word seraphim means burning ones and when they declared the holiness of God, their voices carried such power that the building shook. Smoke filled the house.
And these were just angels.
Isaiah’s response was hopelessness. He was sinful. He knew it. And he also recognized that response of holiness to uncleanness was to obliterate it. He was a dead man.
Unless there was cleansing. What Isaiah saw, what he understood was that God chose not to obliterate the sinner with his sin, but to offer cleansing. This was an eternal solution, an eternal comfort, not just a temporary easing of the circumstances. It was a message what far exceeded Isaiah’s expectations and questions. Isaiah grasped it with such intensity that God had barely asked who would go, before Isaiah said, “Send me.”
When we soften God, when we explain visions like Isaiah’s away as merely “an Old Testament thing,” when we contend that THAT was God, but now we deal with Jesus, we cheapen the gift of salvation. We remove the compelling need for deliverance. We strip away the urgency of the gospel.
Don’t do that.
When you see this King, this holy, awesome, terrifying God for who He is … then the fact that He comes near, the fact that He invites us to come into His presence, the wonder that He would cleanse our sins is even more amazing. He is even more deserving of our worship and devotion. We leave His presence even more committed to honoring Him with our lives.
Have you seen the KING?