Summary: A sermon about allowing God to hold a mirror up to our souls.
“Seeing the Lord”
Our Scripture Lesson for this morning begins in verse 1, saying: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord…”
For us it might be like saying:
“In the year that President Kennedy was shot.”
“In the year that Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down.”
“In the year that the Space Shuttle blew up.”
“In the year the planes hit the World Trade Center Towers.”
“In the Year of the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
Or it could be more personal:
“In the year my mother died.”
“In the year we lost our house.”
“In the year our child committed suicide.”
Whatever it is, it is a time we will never forget.
It’s a painful time.
It’s an unusual time.
It is a life-defining time.
It’s one way we mark time.
For Isaiah it was “In the year that King Uzziah died…”
King Uzziah had ruled Judah for 52 years—he took the throne at the age of 16!
During his reign the kingdom experienced economic prosperity, great military power and political influence.
It’s hard to forget when someone that influential passes from sight or when something that dramatic happens.
It’s also scary when someone who has brought such prosperity and stability to your country is suddenly gone.
So, “In the year that King Uzziah died,” Isaiah went to the Temple just like he did every other Sabbath.
Who knows what was going on in his life that day.
Who knows what his week was like.
Who knows if he was even thinking about God and heavenly things.
Maybe he was really, really stressed out over the loss of King Uzziah.
And then something happened that would change his life forever: he saw the Lord.
And with that, Isaiah saw himself for who he was.
A human being.
A person struggling with life and with himself.
A person with demons.
A person who is lost.
A person who has done a lot of bad things.
Have you ever walked into a gym filled with huge body builders and suddenly realized just how weak you are in comparison?
Or maybe you have stood on a basketball court and were surrounded by people who were so very tall.
I remember being 11 years old.
I was waiting to get a basketball player’s autograph.
And he put his hand on my shoulder, only he didn’t have to bend his arm to do so.
That is how tall he was and how short I suddenly felt.
Well, Isaiah saw an incredible sight in the year King Uzziah died.
He “saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne…”
…and there were these angelic creatures called “seraphim.”
They had six wings and they were flying and calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
How would you feel about yourself if you saw this?
Would you suddenly realize just how mortal you are in comparison…just how small, unholy and unworthy?
Would you be scared out of your mind?
That’s how Isaiah felt.
He thought he was done-for.
But that is not how God operates.
God is holy, but God is loving and merciful.
God seeks us out in our distress, in our doom and gloom—often when we are feeling worthless and sinful—and God offers us a part of God’s Self!
The Holy Spirit knocks on the door of our heart and if we open the door the Holy Spirit enters us and we become children born of God.
Behold! All things become new.
In our Scripture Passage Isaiah is confronted with the Holy God and it is like someone is holding a mirror up to his soul.
A light has come on and he sees himself for who he is.
“Woe to me” he cries.
“Woe” means the opposite of “blessed.”
“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.”
But His fear is misplaced.
One of the angelic creatures takes a burning coal, symbolizing the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit, from the altar of God, symbolizing the purification that comes from blood sacrifices…
…In other words, this image represents the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
And the creature takes this red-hot coal and touches it to Isaiah’s lips…to the very part of Isaiah he most identifies with his sin.
Then the creatures says: “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and atoned for.”
Is this amazing or what?
God comes to us in our sin; in our lost-ness, in our unworthiness, in our mess…
…the Light of Truth is turned on in our darkness and we are able to see the things that were hidden before; we recognize our sinfulness and our need for a Savior.