Summary: The amazing call of Isaiah is the story of a defining moment, a turning point, in a person’s life.
In August 1986 – I received Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. One Sunday in 1990 God spoke clearly into my life – calling me to full time vocational Christian ministry. On the ____________________ I married ___________. These were defining moments in my life. Days that changed me forever. I know you’ve had them too - days that changed your life forever. Maybe the day you met Jesus, or your Baptism, or an answer to prayer, or a time when God spoke clearly to you. Or perhaps it was your wedding day, or the birth of your child, or a change of job. Well, here for us today is a story of a defining moment, a turning point in Isaiah’s life. It’s a unique story, because it’s about a Bible Prophet. But it’s also a helpful story. It shows us what happens on those days when we come face to face with God. I invite you to follow with me in your Bibles & we’ll simply walk thru this story together.
1) v1a – We see Crisis in the land
It was about 700 years before Christ was born, that the sad announcement was made, “The king is dead”. King Uzziah, the 11th King of Judah, who’d reigned for 52 years.
They’d been years of national prosperity and stability. And now everyone could smell change in the air. It’s likely that Uzziah’s death had left Isaiah wondering what the future held. Yes, big changes in our personal lives can make us feel uncertain and anxious about the future. Crisis.
2) vv1b-4 – We see Clarity of vision
Isaiah’s in the temple, and says, ‘I saw the Lord’. He has a vision of God. Maybe God wanted to show him that King Uzziah might have gone, but there was still a King on the throne!
Just about every detail in these verses drives home the sheer majesty of God. Imagine with me. See the Lord, the King, the Almighty Sovereign Ruler, seated on a throne, high and lifted up over everyone else, the beautifully coloured edge of his robe fills the entire temple. It’s not his robe that’s filling the temple – it’s only the train or the edge of the robe. It’s as though Isaiah needs binoculars to see God, He is so high and lifted up, he is so huge that he is almost not fitting in the temple! See the Seraphs serving Him – fiery flying serpents, almost dragon-like creatures, covering their eyes for fear, and their feet for respect. Feel the almost entrancing effect that their words have, noisily repeated over and over and over again in a scene thick with awe. Hear the words Holy, holy, holy – 3 times holy for One God in 3 persons.
These days the idea of holiness seems difficult to understand. It basically means ‘other than’. That God is separate from the created order – he is totally different. It also means separate from sin and impurity. So it’s as if the Seraphs are calling, ‘Extraordinary and Pure, Extraordinary and Pure, Extraordinary and pure’. And He is Almighty – literally, the word means Lord of the vast armies of heaven. And although His robe’s hem and his smoke fills the temple, His glory – the shining out of all that He is – fills much more – more than the temple, more than just Israel, His presence fills the entire earth.
And the temple begins to shake, and fill with smoke, reminding us of when the Lord visited Mount Sinai at the giving of the 10 Commandments, when He came in fire and smoke filled the air – the atmosphere gets dark, awesome and threatening. And Isaiah gets worried.
We don’t tend to get worried about being around God, do we? The trouble is, very often we can have more of an all-matey-God than an Almighty one! I don’t know if you’ve ever had a caricature painting of yourself done. They sit you down for 20 minutes and come up with a funny painting of you. They may make your chin a bit pointier than it is or give you a slightly bigger nose, and it’s great! Although you do worry a bit if that’s how people really see you. But at the end of the day, we know a caricature isn’t accurate. It distorts the reality, the true picture.
And we can have caricatures of God. There are many floating around. Two of the extreme ones are the angry tyrant God, who’s just itching to send lightening bolts down on you if you put a foot wrong. No chance of heaven for most of us with this God! And then there’s the impotent bearded old God, who just wants a quiet life, and doesn’t mind too much what we do, but who’s usually ready to bail us out of trouble. He’s much too nice to send anybody to hell!