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Responding to God’s Holiness

 

Isaiah 6:1-13
Related Sunday School Lesson, Family Bible Series, September 12

During the ministry of Isaiah, who is the most noted of all the writing prophets, a great deal of time is spent warning Israel about the coming judgment of God due to their sinfulness. Isaiah is also noted for his emphasis on the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. He tells us, in very majestic language, who Jesus is and about His redemptive work.

In Isaiah 9:6-7, the prophet gives us a wonderful description of Jesus and His purpose and work. Isaiah prophesied for about 60 years, during which time God’s judgment fell on Israel and Judah with Israel being carried away into captivity and Judah coming under attack. What had caused this judgment? They had committed spiritual adultery and demonstrated their unrepentant nature by ignoring God’s pleas for righteousness.

When man comes into contact with the God of this universe he cannot remain the same. We often see people who can recount the day they made a profession of faith. They remember their baptism, but they live as though nothing ever happened. When the God of this universe reaches down in Grace and touches a human being with saving power, those people can never be the same. Coming into direct contact with God produces certain responses from humans.

 

They Realize God’s Holiness, v. 1-3

Man has confused being good with being holy. When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, he suddenly realized that God is truly a separate and holy God. It is difficult for us to envision what Isaiah saw and certainly he would tell us that even he had a difficult time in expressing in words what he actually saw. We can thank the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for giving us a picture we can absorb with our finite minds.

The Lord was “high and lifted up.” He is above and beyond everything we can know, but yet he reveals Himself to us through Jesus Christ. God became one of us so that we could better fathom His presence and eternal Godhead. Man could never dream up what Isaiah saw. Not even the wildest Hollywood antics could produce the reality of the presence of God. But God showed Isaiah just a little bit of His presence and holiness.

The seraphim stood above the throne of God of the seraphim. These are angelic beings who are gathered around the Throne of God. Their major proclamation is, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

While God is the omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent God of this universe, He also has the quality and characteristic of being holy. Scripture reveals that we must be made holy if we are to be able to come into His presence. The only way for man to be made completely holy is for him to come to God through Jesus Christ. So, in order to spend eternity in heaven with God, man must have the holiness of Jesus applied to his life by faith. Isaiah realized once and for all that God is a holy God. This holiness is overwhelming to sinful man.

 

They Realize Their Own Sinfulness, v. 4-7

When he was confronted with this overwhelming holiness of God, Isaiah suddenly realized just how sinful and unworthy he was. Sin instantly became something that condemned him and made him fear what was going to happen. He says, “Woe is me! For I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips.”

When Isaiah saw the King, his own sinfulness became evident and his unworthiness was revealed to him. Notice that God’s redemption was at work with Isaiah also. God had one of the seraphim to cleanse Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal from the alter. His sin was purged and he was equipped to serve the Lord.

It is a fact that a person cannot serve God unless they have had their sinful nature dealt with through Jesus Christ. There are many “good” people in our churches today who think that their goodness is acceptable to God. As long as they go through life being “good,” then things will be all right in the end.

The problem with this is that it is not God’s plan. We cannot be good without being redeemed and we cannot be redeemed without Jesus.

 

They Recognize God’s Mandate to Serve, v. 1-3

When God had equipped Isaiah properly, he called him into service. Verse 8 says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then Isaiah said, “Here am I; send me.” He immediately wanted to fulfill God’s will for his life, and he immediately wanted to serve God in any way He desired.

In Acts 9:1-16, we find the conversion experience of the Apostle Paul. The same elements are found in it that are found in the call of Isaiah. When the Lord revealed Himself to Saul of Tarsus, Saul was immediately stricken with the fact that he was in the presence of Holiness.

After being confronted, Saul did essentially the same thing Isaiah did. He said, “Lord, what would thou have me to do?” This was the same man who, only a few minutes before, had been on his way to Damascus to persecute and kill Christians. What an amazing difference it made in the man when Jesus came on the scene. His name was changed and he spent the rest of his life serving Jesus.

And, people of today say that they can be saved with no visible outward manifestations of it? I don’t think so. Those who come through the same kind of process which Isaiah and Paul came through will be different.