Read Isaiah 6:1-8
1 In the year that King Uzziah died,I saw the Lord sitting on a throne,high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces,and with two they covered their feet,and with two they 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 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called,and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost,for I am a man of unclean lips,and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King,the LORD of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me,holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips,your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,”Whom shall I send,and who will go for us?” And I said,”Here am I; send me!” (NRSV)
This call of Isaiah is of the more dramatic variety. But what happens to Isaiah is typical of what happens to anyone who follows God in obedience. First there is the bottom-line reality of the holiness,the otherness of God. He confronts us with his nature,his fundamental character. Isaiah saw it through a vision,we may well see it in Scripture.
Then there is the human response,well expressed by Isaiah. Confronted with God’s holiness makes him aware of his lack of holiness. This is what any true encounter with God will do. It will remind us of our shortcomings. We cannot possibly be worthy of relating to him let alone serving him.
But this holy God is a merciful God. Isaiah knew nothing of Jesus: he only recognised an angelic being declaring him clean. We know it is Jesus who allows our imperfect selves to relate to and then serve a perfect God. An invitation follows: God invites us to get in on his purposes for his world. He does not conscript: he invites. Isaiah’s response is well-known. He is available,he is willing.
And so Isaiah is launched on his mission-which we know from subsequent verses is not an easy one. And so it is with us. A holy and just God confronts us. We are made aware of our inadequacies. God acts to cleanse us and equip us. We then accept his invitation to follow him. This divine chain reaction is at the heart of each and every step we take in Christian living.