Ooh, Ooh, Pick me!
Sermon shared by Shelly Griffin
Summary: Isaiah’s answer to God’s call.
Audience: General adults
The throne, the angels, and the threefold "holy" all stress God’s holiness. To be holy means to be morally perfect, pure, and set apart from all sin. This time period was one of moral decay, so it would have been important for Isaiah to see God in his holiness.
We also need to understand God’s holiness. Our daily frustrations, society’s pressures, and our own shortcomings reduce and narrow our view of God. At seminary we were encouraged to look upon God as lover, brother, friend, acquaintance, or confidante. God was reduced to what we wanted him to be, something almost equal to ourselves. Our view of God became very small, something we could be comfortable with.
We need Isaiah’s view of God as high and lifted up to empower us to deal with our problems and concerns. God’s moral perfection, properly seen, will purify us from sin, cleanse our minds from our problems, and enable us to worship and to serve. We need to know that God is larger than we are, that God is huge and powerful and omnipotent, and that without God, we are nothing.
Isaiah knows this immediately. Seeing the Lord and listening to the praise of the angels, Isaiah realizes that he is unclean before God, with no hope of measuring up to God’s standard of holiness. In his despair he cries out, "Woe is 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."
Isaiah knows that he and all his people have fallen very far from anything that even faintly resembles perfection. He also knows that he’s seen God, and no one can see God and live. I imagine that at this point he believes he’s going to die. I know that’s what I’d think if I ever found myself standing before God.
But Isaiah doesn’t die. Instead, one of the angels takes a live coal from the fire and flies over to Isaiah with it. He touches this live, burning coal to Isaiah’s lips and says, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
When Isaiah’s lips are touched with the live coal, he’s told that his sins are forgiven. We all know that fire purifies, and this touching of lips with fire is a symbolic cleansing of Isaiah, getting him ready for the job that God has for him. The painful cleansing process was necessary before Isaiah could fulfill the task to which God was calling him.
Now we hear the voice of the Lord for the first time. God is asking the question, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
This reminds me of a little game we’ve all played with our children or grandchildren at some time or other. When we want a child to do something, without having to order them to do it, sometimes we’ll look all around the room, everywhere except right at the child, and say, "Who am I going to get to feed the dog? I wonder who would be willing to do that for me?"
And then the kid starts jumping up and down, trying to get you to look at them, shouting "Me! Me!" And you pretend not to see them. After this goes on for a while, of course, you look at the child and say, "Why, here’s little Jimmy.
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