But here is the beautiful part of this story from Isaiah 6: God makes it possible for Isaiah to be made clean. He makes it possible for the man of unclean lips to be purified. Because the most important question isn’t, “What do you do with a God so holy?” The most important question is, “What does such a holy God do with a sinful mess like me?”
And this is where we find the Good News in this story.
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”Isaiah 6:6-7
We see the heart of God in action here as He acts to purify Isaiah. There is an atonement that takes place as the angel takes a coal from the altar and presses it to Isaiah’s lips. I’m guessing this was somewhat painful for Isaiah. I mean, this coal is so hot that the seraphim uses tongs to remove it from the altar! It seems as if there is always pain associated with atonement. No less is true today — for dying to self can be a painful process for each one of us. And in this way, Isaiah’s experience however loosely anticipates God’s ultimate act of atonement that would come seven centuries after Isaiah.
“Your guilt is taken away, your sin atoned for.” Isaiah hears these words in his vision, and we have the opportunity to hear them, too — when we put our trust in Jesus. At the cross, He takes away our guilt and atones for our sin.
Only a holy God could do this. And only a loving God would do this.
God holds holiness and love in perfect balance. His holiness still allows for forgiveness, for mercy, for grace. This is prompted by His great and enduring love.
You see, we aren’t given a glimpse of the hoy God simply so we would wallow in despair over our lack of holiness. No, we are given this image of God’s holiness so, like Isaiah, we would confess our sin in order to hear these joyful words of forgiveness!
Uzziah is an example of how the Holy God of Israel deals with pride. But Isaiah is an example of how the Holy God of Israel deals with humility. Do you need to humble yourself before the Holy God? If you would confess your sin in repentance and follow Jesus into the waters of baptism, God promises this: Your guilt will be taken away, your sin atoned for.
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In the name of Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Lord who makes all things new, he who has ears, let him hear.