There seems to be a social and cultural phenomenon taking place around the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forced lockdowns, working from home, and not working at all have caused many of us to reassess our lives and what we are doing. Many of us are asking the question, “What should I do with my life?”
This is not a new question. I am reminded of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, and his response to a similar question. In Isaiah 6, we read about the prophet Isaiah and how he responses to the question of what should he do with his life. Isaiah sees God, sees the need, sees the opportunity and responds with a life dedicated to God.
"6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he 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 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for 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!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 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.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, 12 and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 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. (Isaiah 6:1-13)
This vision of God was in the year that Uzziah died. This was one of the low points in the history of the nation of Israel. They had turned their back on God, and through the various prophets, God warned them that judgement day was coming. From a human perspective Uzziah was a good king, however, he was struck with leprosy because of his disobedience to God. Uzziah tried to enter the temple to burn incense, and God punished him with leprosy and he lived out his final days in hiding because of his uncleanness. In the year of the king's death, Isaiah is called to the prophetic office.
In this passage, Isaiah sees a vision of God. He sees the King of Kings, high and exalted sitting on His throne. He sees the angels dedicated to worshiping God. He sees God in His majesty and holiness. By the triple repetition - 'Holy, Holy, Holy', the superlative of God is expressed. God is the all-holy. Holiness is the essential quality of God. God's holiness is his otherness, his utter transcendence, and his complete apartness from anything sinful or merely finite. God is holy. He is not like us.
Seeing the Need
When Isaiah saw God’s holiness he was devastated. He sees the greatness of God and he also sees the depth of his own sin. Isaiah said “Woe is me, for I am ruined!”
This vision of God’s majesty, holiness, and glory made Isaiah realise that he was woefully inadequate before God. Isaiah saw that he was unclean and unworthy. Isaiah was terrified because he knew that if God dealt with him according to the way that he deserved - he was doomed. Isaiah had seen the glory of God and he understood his own sin – he has no hope.
But through the work of one of the seraphs, Isaiah was cleansed by God. The seraph touched Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal from the altar, signifying the removal of the prophet’s guilt and his sin. We cannot understand the need that we have for a Saviour if we do not understand the depth of our own sin, and we cannot understand the depth of our sin if we do not understand what God is really like. Our need for cleansing is just as great as was Isaiah's, and the same God who cleansed Isaiah, cleanses us. Our cleansing comes through the saving work of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for us. Jesus's death on the cross takes away our sin.
Seeing the Opportunity
Once Isaiah is cleansed of his sin, God asks, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?" He now gives Isaiah, cleansed from sin, an opportunity to respond to God, an opportunity to serve, an opportunity to do something with his life, an opportunity to change the world. And Isaiah responds – “Here am I, Send me”. The prophet knew that the entire nation needed the same kind of awareness of God and cleansing of sin he had received. Isaiah was willing to sacrifice his entire life to do what God wanted him to do.
Isaiah responded to the call of God. God provided purpose and meaning to Isaiah. But what about me? What about you? Are we willing to response with the words, “Here am I, Send me” Am I willing to serve the Lord wherever He wants me to be. Am I looking for the opportunity in my family, in my workplace, in my community to serve God.
Am I willing to answer the call of God by saying "“Here am I, Send me”