One of the most awesome events recorded in Scripture is the incredible encounter that Isaiah had with God in Isaiah 6. Here we read about how God commissioned this prophet and called him into his service. As we look at this text, perhaps we can see some similarities to the call that God has for our lives.
Isaiah suddenly found himself in the presence of God. We don’t know if he sought this encounter with the Lord or if it was initiated by God. We do know that the Bible urges us to seek God’s presence, and that we will be rewarded if we do.
When Isaiah found himself in the presence of God, with heavenly beings worshiping the Lord in all of his holiness, Isaiah was stricken with the recognition of his own sinfulness. V.5 says, “Woe to me!”, I cried. “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.”
I think that we often come into the presence of God with an attitude that is far too casual. A true encounter with God will leave us with a sense of our lack of holiness and a feeling that we do not deserve to be in his presence.
It was at this point that a seraphim flew to Isaiah with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched Isaiah’s lips with the coal, and his guilt was taken away and his sin was atoned for.
Just as God made atonement possible for Isaiah, he makes atonement possible for us today through the sacrificial death of his Son Jesus. The blood of Jesus takes our guilt away and our sin is atoned for when we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Acts 22:16).
We tend to think that the story ends with atonement, but that is not the case. V. 8 continues, “Then I heard voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”
Many people seem to be saying to God, “Here am I! Please send someone else!” But Isaiah realized that his atonement came with some responsibilities. Since he had been forgiven, he now had the duty to take God’s message to others who needed to hear it. So he volunteered to go wherever the Lord sent him. This is still the proper response for anyone today who has had an honest encounter with God.
God then proceeded to inform Isaiah that his mission would not be an easy one. He would be talking to people whose hearts were calloused and whose spiritual senses were incredibly dull. If you find yourself frustrated by trying to convey a message from God to the spiritually imperceptive people around you, don’t get discouraged! You are in good company! The prophets and apostles and even Jesus himself often found themselves talking to people who wouldn’t listen. But take heart! Isaiah 6 ends with a glimmer of hope. The seeds of the gospel message will eventually bear fruit. Those of us who know what it is like to be in God’s presence and to worship him must be diligent in trying to convince others that they need to come to God for forgiveness as well. So let’s keep worshiping God and serving him as we tell others the good news about Jesus.