This article was adapted from the The Gospel Project for Adults: Fall 2016. The Gospel Project takes adults, students, and kids on a chronological, Christ-centered journey through the storyline of Scripture. Preview one month free at gospelproject.com.
God Reveals Himself to Isaiah
Read Isaiah 6:1-8.
In this vision, Isaiah’s experience with the living God shows us that to identify sin, we must have a vision or awareness of the holiness of God. We should then respond to God’s holiness with confession as we recognize our sin. Additionally, Jesus later claimed that in this passage Isaiah had seen His glory and thus the prophet’s words were about Him (John 12:32,41). Like Isaiah, when we see ourselves in light of God’s holiness, we recognize our sinful state and need for salvation.
Notice that the nature of Isaiah’s confession is not a laundry list of things I’ve done wrong. It is recognition of who we are as sinful humans in the light of the goodness of God’s holiness. It is recognizing our hopelessness to simply “pull ourselves up.” People who believe themselves to be “good” or “good enough” cannot experience the forgiveness of God because they will not recognize the holiness of God.
As human beings, we are all aware of the problem of human evil. Even if we are ignorant of human history, we all experience varying levels of evil on a daily basis (pain, suffering, injustice, unfairness). It wouldn’t take long to see that it is humans that have created the problem and thus humans are not the answer. Indeed, when asked why God doesn’t rid the world of all the evil right now, I must point out that if God did, there would be no humans left. Yet the Lord did not reveal Himself to us to bring about such destruction, as we can see from verses 6-8.
The Lord did not intend to destroy Isaiah; rather, He intended to redeem Isaiah, to establish relationship with him, and to use him greatly to serve others. In these last verses, the Lord revealed something more of His intention with Isaiah.
He had given Isaiah a vision of His holiness and glory, from which Isaiah experienced self-despair. Isaiah’s despair produced a confession that brought him the forgiveness of God’s grace and mercy. The forgiveness of God provided an opportunity for service. These experiences came together in a final offering of Isaiah’s life in service to God.
We must first encounter the Lord in powerful ways in our own lives before we can powerfully testify to the Lord. Now, that doesn’t mean that unless we have Isaiah’s type of experience, we cannot testify. But we should take our faith—and investment into our faith—more seriously than we frequently do. When I train on how to have better conversations on belief in God, I am compelled to teach that unless you have a great vision of the Lord, your conversations will most likely feel contrived and/or forced.
As a response to Isaiah’s vision of God’s holiness, we should stand in awe of the glory of God, manifested in all His attributes. Once we see ourselves for who we are in light of who God has shown Himself to be, we are undone in our sin and uncleanness. But thankfully, we serve a God who restores and commissions us through the sacrifice of His Son. The holiness and love of God meet at the cross, where Christ laid down His life for us.
Where does that leave us now? With the forgiveness we have in Christ, we lift our hands and say, “Here am I, Lord! Send me.”
Excerpted from The Gospel Project: Prophets and Kings © 2016 LifeWay Press®. Used by permission.