v.1 – Significant contrast
It was the year King Uzziah died. He was a good king. Even though his ending wasn’t great, by and large his reign was a good reign – he pointed the people of God back to Him and restored Judah to corporate worship. So God’s people were entering a period of uncertainty. But the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord, sitting upon a throne. The earthly king had died. But the heavenly King is always in control.
The throne is a place of ruling. And the Lord sitting on it gives us the sense, He is in absolute control. He’s not pacing and worried. He’s seated and reigning. Think about the world we live in. Can we honestly say God is in control? Things seem so out of control. During the period of Ramadan, there were so many terrorist attacks. Before that, BREXIT, which wiped out $3billion dollars off the market. There’s uncertainty in the EU. Just this past week in America, Dallas, 5 policemen were killed by a sniper. That was in reaction to two cases of seeming police brutality; two black men were killed by police. There is racial tension. And in Singapore? I don’t know what’s the biggest news. Maybe the bank robbery. But the world does seem to be in chaos.
Isaiah reminds us, God is on the throne. He is in control. He knows what He’s doing. And He is bringing all of world history to pass in accordance to His will. We must remind ourselves of this. We must teach our children this truth. We can trust in Him.
v. 3 – Significant attribute of God
Love, love, love is the Lord of hosts? Nope, holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The attribute of God that’s forgotten in this day and age is the holiness of God. We have no problems saying God is love, and people have no problems accepting that. ‘God loves me?’ Of course He does. I’m so cute and adorable, how could He not? We fail to acknowledge His absolute holiness. What is the only attribute of God the angels sing? Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.
There are many things to say about the holiness of God. I’ll mention two. First, God’s holiness, in my opinion, is his chief attribute. Meaning to say, it colours all His other attributes. Therefore, there is no contradiction to say God is love, and God is holy. Because His love is a holy love. His mercy is a holy mercy. His justice is a holy justice. Second, this three-fold holy, holy, holy is called a Hebrew superlative. When Scripture repeats something, it’s for emphasis. So when Jesus says, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you…’ it means, what I say is absolutely, positively, 100% true. God is holy, holy, holy.
v. 5 ‘Woe is me…’ is interesting. In the previous chapter of Isaiah, he had been calling out woes to the wicked. Woe is a term of divine judgement. But when Isaiah sees the holiness of God, he cries out, ‘woe is me…’ He sees his own sinfulness and cries out, I am under judgment!
v. 6-7 “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”” This holy God comes, and surprisingly does not obliterate Isaiah. Instead, the angel pronounces forgiveness and cleansing.
We need to capture for ourselves the holiness of God afresh. And teach our children His holiness. Only then will the good news of the gospel be really good news. God in His awesome holiness has every right to obliterate us sinful, wretched people. But in His holy love, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the Cross, to take away our sins, that we might be called sons and daughters of God.
v. 8 – Significant commission of God
We are saved for a purpose. As praying parents who gather faithfully to pray and participate in the ministry in the school, I think I don’t even need to tell you this. You are already involved. We need to continue to teach our children, Christianity is not, ‘God saved me, I am going to heaven, I want His blessings in the meantime’. There is a mission God has called us to.
But let me share one thought with you that may sound a little strange. Look at what Isaiah was called to. v. 9-10. “Go, and say to this people:“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
It does not sound like a ministry any one of us would like to do. It was a ministry to a largely unrepentant people. Here’s the application. God may call some of us to labor and that labor won’t bear significant fruit. Do it anyway. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t compare. Whether our personal ministry is large or small, be faithful. Because God will always preserve for Himself a remnant. v. 13 “”And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.” Keep on persevering, for the sake of the elect of God!
- God is sovereign
- God is holy
- God is sending us on mission