What does it mean to “see the Lord” and what affect does a vision of God have on our lives? In the past few months I have been more committed than ever to go deeper with the Lord, to know Him more and to allow His Word and His Spirit to transform me. I’ve prayed for a higher vision of who He is and as I met with Him early one recent morning, the Spirit drew my heart to Isaiah 6, the account of Isaiah’s commissioning as the Lord’s messenger. I see in verses 1-8, five points to this moment when Isaiah’s life was forever changed and they are essentially the same path that every person whom God has called will travel.
First, Isaiah had a vision of God. Isaiah “saw the Lord,” but notice that he does not attempt to describe the divine presence, but tells us about His robe, the throne, the temple and the seraphs. The Lord told Moses, “No one may see [my face] and live” (Exodus 33:20), but Isaiah declares that he has indeed seen the Lord. Undoubtedly, the sight was too marvelous for human words to ever do justice to what the wondrous image before him. Isaiah saw a throne and a regal robe, evidence of God’s majesty. He heard evidence of God’s holiness as the seraphs flew about calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; The whole earth is full of His glory” (6:3).
This vision and the words of worship drove Isaiah to the next stage of his appointment.
Isaiah recognized his own sinfulness and repented. He declared, “Woe to me! 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.” Why was Isaiah so concerned with his lips? For one thing, Isaiah’s call as a prophet was to be God’s mouthpiece, to speak for the holy One he saw before him. To speak such words from unclean lips would be an affront to God and sure destruction for the prophet. Isaiah also recognized that the words of one’s mouth are indicative of the state of one’s heart. Jesus would later teach the same truth: “What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what come out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’ The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’” (Matthew 15:11, 18). Isaiah saw God in verse 1. He saw himself in verse 5 and the sight of his own sinfulness broke his heart and he threw himself before God in repentance.
After Isaiah’s repentant plea, the Lord provided cleansing. The Lord sent one of the seraphs to fetch a live coal from the altar and touch Isaiah’s lips. “‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for’” (6:7). The old Covenant was all about atonement, about a substitutionary sacrifice to cleanse the people from their sins. But the old system required repeated sacrifices, year after year after year, innocent lambs bore the punishment for the sins of the people. When Jesus came to earth, He offered Himself as the one perfect sacrifice for all sins of all people for all time. He offers us atonement, cleansing from our sins. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confession and repentance before God will always lead to cleansing.
Once he was cleansed, Isaiah received the call. A now purified prophet stood ready to receive God’s command, which came in the form of a question from the throne of heaven.
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
The Lord wanted Isaiah to declare His word, but it had to be of his own free will. Isaiah had to “own” his calling and respond out of his heart, not out of coercion. And that is exactly what he did. Notice the prophet’s reply, “And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (6:8). Put me in Coach! I’m ready to play! How different from Moses’ response when God called him to deliver the people of Egypt. Moses hemmed and hawed and found one excuse after another to wriggle out of God’s call, even to the point of outright refusal. Isaiah stepped into his calling with a fully obedient and surrendered heart.
From the glorious vision, to his contrite heart, the cleansing he so desperately needed, and finally the call, Isaiah is sent out. There is a lot to the message God wanted Isaiah to deliver, (see vs. 9b-13), but the commission is simply three words:
“Go and tell . . .”
Go and speak my words. Go and pronounce my judgment. Go and present my warnings. Go and declare my love. That is the heart of God’s call to Isaiah and the culmination of the extraordinary vision and experience for Isaiah. It is what he was created to do and he did it faithfully, boldly and powerfully.
Isaiah’s experience is the same for you and me today. We must receive a vision of God, of His holiness and majesty. We must acknowledge that Jesus is His Son. We must also see ourselves as the lost and sinful creatures we truly are. We must recognize that we are a people desperately in need of a Savior. We must cry out to God for cleansing and accept Jesus’ death on the cross as our atonement. Then, and only then, will we be able to hear God’s call. And when we do, we must respond in obedience and surrender. We must declare our willingness to do whatever the Lord asks of us. Then we must “go and tell.” We must put feet to our commitment and open our mouths to deliver the message of Life.
God is calling you and me to be His servants in this generation. He is inviting us to participate in His Kingdom work here on earth. He stands ready to make us useful vessels for His glory—a glory that we can only see with a great vision and a surrendered heart.
God you are holy, holy, holy—high and exalted above the earth. Yet you offer us a glimpse of Your glory and a part in Your redemptive work here. Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear, minds to receive and hearts to obey. Here I am. Send me! Amen