In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
– Isaiah 6:1-5
When you read these verses, you may be amazed that Isaiah actually saw the Lord God seated upon His throne, high and lifted up. You may also wonder about what the seraphim really looked like, as they sang God’s praises. You might even feel trepidation at God’s power when “the foundations of the thresholds shook.” Indeed, the whole scene testifies to the unlimited power of God.
But it also testifies to the mortality of man. Notice that Isaiah realized just exactly who he was: a lost man living among a lost people — a sinner in a nation of unclean lips, just like every one of us. Indeed, the overall picture of Isaiah’s vision is one of holiness and power, and our unworthiness. How can we imagine this scene without being humbled by the greatness of God?
King Uzziah was the tenth king of Judah and a very godly man. He was one of only a few kings who didn’t stray from worshipping God. During his reign, Judah was rewarded with wealth, power and success. And even though this was a remarkable time for Judah, most of its citizens didn’t understand the part God played in its achievements. Nor did many thank God for His blessings, in fact, many didn’t worship God at all. They either took God for granted or thought they alone were responsible for their success. Eventually, King Uzziah became so self-centered that he bypassed the temple priests to offer incense directly to God (2 Chron. 26). He immediately became leprous and soon died. And I think this is the lesson to be learned from King Uzziah — know who you are!
But when bad things happen, good things often follow close behind. Though the people lost their good king and were frightened of what was to become of their nation; Isaiah had an amazing vision of the Lord with angelic beings singing His praises. There was hope for a future and it didn’t rest on King Uzziah, rather it rested on our God, who is powerful and mighty. Isaiah continued to warn the people and share God’s message. No matter what the future held, those who honored and believed in God could move forward in hope. They were assured of who was really in charge and what they had to do to repent. The people didn’t need to be lost anymore.
We live in an uncertain world: with a volatile economy, dysfunctional families and chronic health problems. We are a people of unclean lips, who criticize others instead of encouraging them. We also have unclean lips when we give ourselves credit for what God has done for us, when we don’t speak up for someone who has been wronged, and when we blame God for our troubles.
Many are lost, but God has put us on this earth to reach them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have friends and family that are going through really tough times. I know you do too. Many are unsure of what the next day will bring. But we can make a difference. We can assist them in crises and we can also pray for them.
Furthermore, God gives us His peace. And because God is with us, we can sleep soundly through the night and wake each morning with hope (Romans 8:31-39. We are not lost! We are shown God’s power through Scripture, the Sacraments, and His Son, Jesus. And yet, we too “dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5), a people who often make the wrong choices, with disastrous results.
This is why its good to belong to a church and to gather with God’s people on Sundays for worship. Here we come together to praise God and be strengthened for the week ahead.
But how many people don’t have a refuge, a family to go to? How many families are breaking apart or struggling because they don’t know how to be strengthened in their marriages and child rearing? How many young girls and women choose abortion because they don’t know what else to do or don’t believe they have adults who are willing to help them during their pregnancies? How many older folk don’t ever get phone calls or visits?
Isaiah was lucky, he actually saw “the King, the Lord of Hosts.” Maybe each of us can work to show others the loving face of Jesus during the coming year – the One who can touch us with His forgiveness and hope.
Prayer: Father, we pray, we repent, and we lean on Jesus, who forgives our sins and gives us eternal life. May we pray always — as we wake, as we work, and as we go about our day, continually giving thanks and sending up intercessions for the lost.
Today’s devotion has been adapted by one written by Rosemary Johnson, a member of the North American Lutheran Church.