Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Prepared to Declare God's Glory

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
  The whole earth is full of His glory!”

And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
(Isaiah 6:1-4)
The seraphim are the fiery beings who minister before the LORD. Their name comes from the Hebrew seraph, which signifies fire. God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24). He makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire (Psalm 104:4). Jesus came to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). Fire is a purgative, a cleansing agent. Fire purifies.

The seraphim are six-winged creatures. With two wings they cover their face, and with two wings they veil their bodies, because of God’s awesome presence. With two wings they hover round about God’s throne to serve at His pleasure.

They cry out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts.” This is no static demonstration. They cry out continually to one another with the holiness of Yahweh, each time with fresh wonder and revelation. Their song is always new.

“The whole earth is full of His glory.” The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod. It speaks of the weight, the abundance, of God’s goodness.

The glory of the LORD fills the earth. This is not a reference to some future event, or when Christ returns. It is a now revelation: Right now, at this very moment, the earth is full of God’s glory. It always has been. There was never a moment when this was not so.

The reason we have not experienced the fullness of God’s glory and goodness in the earth is because of sin. Sin renders us incapable of receiving it. For our sakes, God shields us from the bright fire of His glory, lest we be destroyed by it because of our iniquity.

Each time a seraphim proclaimed the holiness of God, the door posts were shaken, and the temple was filled with smoke. Isaiah felt the weight of God’s glory and became keenly aware of his own unworthiness, his incapacity to bear it. He cried out.
Woe is me, for I am undone!
  Because 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 6:5)
To be undone means to utterly perish, be cut off and destroyed. Isaiah had witnessed this in King Uzziah, who had been cut off and destroyed because of his arrogance before God. The uncleanness of pride in his heart showed forth as the uncleanness of leprosy in his flesh. But now Isaiah was seeing the true King, the LORD of all the hosts of heaven. And now he realized the uncleanness of his own heart, and recognized how that had filled his lips. For just as Jesus said, it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

Isaiah was now in full repentance mode, not only for himself, but for his people, as well. He identified himself with their leprous hearts and corrupt lips, painfully acknowledging that he was just like them. He held back nothing before the LORD, but exposed himself completely. No justifications, no explanations, only repentance.

God, in His goodness, brought forth a solution.
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it and said:

“Behold, this has touched your lips;
  Your iniquity is taken away,
  And your sin is purged.”
(Isaiah 6:6-7)
The seraph, fiery servant of the LORD, took a live coal from the altar of God, the altar which was kindled by God and burns perpetually before Him (Leviticus 9:24; Leviticus 6:12-13). He touched the coal to Isaiah’s unclean lips and burned away all the iniquity. Now Isaiah was prepared to declare the glory of God.

God has a solution for you and me, as well, so that we might know His glory. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). It is the ultimate cleansing, preparing us not only to experience the goodness of God for ourselves, but also to reflect His glory to others.