Summary: What will it be like to see God face-to-face? Isaiah does, and notes a pattern for us: we need to experience God's glory, sense our own unworthiness, receive God's cleansing, and respond to God's call. Then, we walk in fellowship with the God who made us.
Face-to-Face with Your Maker
Prepare to meet your maker! Have you ever wondered what it will be like to see God face-to-face? The ancient prophet Isaiah actually had occasion to do so, and he didn’t die. God gave him a vision that would forever change him. As I looked at Isaiah’s story, I thought, “This is a lot like how we come to God!” Some people think they have to get their life together first, before they ever set foot back in church, or before they consider asking something of God. Yet, Isaiah’s story says, “Come as you are, and be forever changed!” Consider the four steps on your outline . First, we need to ...
1. Experience God’s glory (vv. 1-4)
Isaiah has a multi-sensory experience of God. He sees the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne. He sees this train of God’s robe that fills the entire temple. (It reminds me of the long train on wedding dress worn by Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex. Yet God’s is even larger!) Then Isaiah notes these strange six-winged creatures called “seraphim,” the name meaning “burning ones.” You find them only here in this passage in the Bible. They function as some kind of honor guard for God. Isaiah hears them singing a “Holy, holy, holy” chorus to God, attributing an infinite amount of holiness to him. And Isaiah feels the doorposts shake and smells smoke filling the temple.
Isaiah experiences a God so much bigger than he is, a God more powerful and transcendent and holy than he could ever imagine. When you worship, whether in a church service or in your prayer closet or with your Bible open on your lap, look for a God who is bigger and more powerful and holier than anything you can imagine. Seek out more of God. Jeremiah 29:13 quotes God as saying, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Experience God’s glory. And when you do, you will ...
2. Sense your unworthiness (v. 5)
After Isaiah encounters the greatness of God, he says, in verse 5, “Woe to 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 to see God is to die. No mere human can handle God’s greatness. The more he understands God’s glory, the more he is aware of his own shortcomings, as well as those of his people. He knows that the human race simply does not measure up.
I’m reminded of the apostle Peter, when Jesus tells the disciples to fish on the other side of the boat. They catch such a load that Peter suddenly realizes he is in the presence of deity. Luke 5:8 records the moment: “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
When we spend time with God, we grow convicted of the areas where we don’t measure up. We realize the truth of Romans 3:23, that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. As Micah Wood says, “Before the Gospel heals a man, it humbles a man. It tells him the depth of his need for God.” Or to quote Trevin Wax, “Hell is full of people who think they deserve heaven. Heaven is full of people who know they deserve hell.”
This humility is absolutely essential to have a relationship with God: you must realize that you don’t measure up. As Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18). If you want to connect with the God who made you, who loves you, who sustains you, you have to get honest about your sin. You must realize that you absolutely cannot get there on your own. But don’t despair! In our lowest moments, God meets us. Experience God’s glory, sense your unworthiness, and ...
3. Receive God’s cleansing (vv. 6-7)
What we cannot do for ourselves, God does for us. God cleanses us from all sin the moment we place our faith in his son Jesus. In Isaiah’s story, the moment he cries out that he is ruined, God sends a seraph to cover his guilt. The seraph touches his mouth with a hot coal, which would remind any Jewish believer of the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, when the high priest would bring a live coal into the Holy of Holies. The fire represents both God’s wrath and God’s purification.
Isaiah says, in verse 7, “With [the coal] he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’” The seraph guaranteed two things. First, he said, “Your guilt is taken away.” This is reminiscent of the goat the high priest would figuratively load down all the sins of the nation, and then drive out into the wilderness never to be seen again. This is where we get the term, “scapegoat.” An innocent has to pay for the sins of the guilty.