“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train [glory] filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1-8).
Two men are spoken of in this passage. The first is an earthly king over the small nation of Judah. His name, Uzziah. At the early age of sixteen, Uzziah began to reign, and ruled for fifty-two years. During his long reign Uzziah defended his nation against several foreign invasions, and promoted commerce.
Near the end of Uzziah’s reign, he was contracted the disease of leprosy.
Finally, in the year 740 BC, he went the way of all flesh, and died.
The Bible speaks often on the subject of the brevity of life, and the certainty of death.
The Prophet of old warned people, “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). That is still the ultimate word of exhortation.
When all is said and done, the only thing that will matter is if a person is prepared to meet God.
There shall be a meeting with God for every person, of that the Bible is plain. The Bible says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
No one shall escape the judgment to come. No one shall talk their way out of a just evaluation of both their attitudes, and the actions committed in the body.
The Lord God of the universe shall deal righteously with each person, exposing the reality of the heart.
Some will be found to be righteous. Others will be declared unclean and compelled to be cast into outer darkness.
When the apostle Paul meditated on the coming Divine scrutiny, he trembled “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:11).
Sometimes men forget to fear God. Uzziah did. Pride entered his heart one day. Elated with all of the pomp and ceremony of being a king over men, Uzziah determine to burn incense on the altar of God. He dared to intrude into a holy office to which God had not ordained him.
The godly high priest of Israel named Azariah, and eighty other priests, opposed the intentions of their king, for not even rulers can override the known will of God without rebuke.
Uzziah became absolutely enraged at the resistance of the men of God. He was determined to have his way, no matter what the people of God said, and no matter how clear the Word of God was stated in the Law of Moses.
As Uzziah pressed forward with a look of contempt for the priests who would oppose him, something suddenly appeared on his skin. A white spot could be clearly seen by all. Uzziah had leprosy. The leprosy of his heart was now on his flesh. With a measure of fear and holy indignation, the priests in the house of the Lord thrust Uzziah outside the temple, incense carrier and all. Under the sign of Divine discipline Uzziah died (2 Chronicles 26:16-23).
Once Uzziah had been a good man, and a good king. He had done much for Judah. His credits were numerous, and many people had much to be grateful to him for. But then Uzziah dared to defy the Living God.
Uzziah dared to take the place of God’s appointed ministers, only to be rebuked by them. His life ended in tragedy. Uzziah did not die all at once, but he did live apart from God’s people the rest of his life.
When people went to visit the king, they immediately noticed the sign of divine judgment on him for the leprosy was on his face. Sin and the results of sin are eventually manifested in the face.
Finally, in the year 740 B.C. Uzziah died.
If the ending of life for Uzziah was tragic despite so many years of good deeds, if the ending of life for Uzziah was painful, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned: God will not be mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, he will reap. It may take time for the harvest to come, but those who sow to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.
In contrast to the tragic ending of a once good king was the prophet Isaiah. Very little is known about the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.
We do know that he was the son of Amoz, lived in Jerusalem, married a prophetess, and had two children.
While man is not always the most important thing, the message of the man is when given by God. Isaiah had a message for the kings of Judah in particular, and for the people of Judah in general. Isaiah received his Divine message in the same year that King Uzziah died.
One day, in the providence of God, as Isaiah was meditating on Holy Scripture and on the character of God, the Divine presence overwhelmed him and as the prophet later wrote, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his skirts of robes filled the temple.”
The Bible reveals that there is a spirit world. There is another dimension of time and space, you and I know very little about, except for a glimpse of glory.
To encourage our hearts the Bible speaks of a third heaven, the throne room of God. There holy angels fly about the throne as they cry in unison one to another, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” As the angels cry out in a cacophony of praise, we on earth sing in anticipation that,
“There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way;
to prepare us a dwelling place there.”
When God revealed Himself to Isaiah, the prophet had a glimpse into the holiness of Deity. I suggest that all God’s people need such an exalted view of the Lord once again. The holiness of God refers to the fact He is absolutely free from all sin. Like gold purged from any dross, like a garment cleansed from any spot, so the nature of God is a stranger to sin.
Again, the holiness of God has reference to the fact that there is integrity in His nature. God has never violated His own will, or eternal law. He has never operated contrary to what is consistent with the principles of righteousness. All through the Bible the holiness of God is emphasized as His glory, “Power is His hand and arm; omniscience, His eye; mercy, His bowels (heart); eternity, His duration; His holiness, in His beauty” (2 Chronicles 20:21).
Isaiah saw the holiness of Deity, and then, he also saw something else.
The prophet beheld the inward corruption of human depravity and he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am undone.”
As Isaiah stood next to absolute holiness, as the prophet basked in the sunshine of righteousness, he saw himself as he really was, helpless, corrupt, and defiled. I know such language is not popular.
What minister does not want to stand before the multitudes and say, “Good people, everything is going to be all right. We all have a spark of Divinity in us, and God is not angry with our sin. Therefore, because God is good, we are good. We are good by birth, and by choice.”
These are nice things to say, but such concepts are not true. God demands people have an accurate picture of their fallen nature in order to be converted.
The only way to see ourselves accurately is to stand close to God, as Isaiah did, as Peter did, and as Saul of Tarsus did. The experience of every person who gets next to God is a holy cry of utter despair, “Woe is me!”
Here is a word of emotional anguish. Here is a word of everlasting honesty and the question comes, “Have you ever stood so close to the Holy God that you cry out in despair?” Isaiah is not sprouting forth some theological presupposition of total depravity that he happens to embrace intellectually. Not at all. Isaiah is a man in touch with the essential essence of his nature and he sees the exceeding sinfulness of sin. He is afflicted with the plague of all plagues.
Worse than COVID, more deadly than cancer, the destructive power of sin permeates and corrupts not only the physical body but the eternal soul as well.
For Isaiah, the proof of his inner corruption was what came forth from is lips and he said honestly,
“I am a man of unclean lips.”
This prophet did not minimize sin as is more naturally done. Sin is minimized in individuals by becoming identified with collective guilt. It is easy to look around at other people and think, “Well, I see a lot of wrong things. I hear a lot of bad things. Therefore, I am no different. If I am no better, at least I am no worse.’
This can be called relative righteousness, or, holiness by comparison. But the problem is whom we compare ourselves to. One fallen nature comparing itself to another fallen nature only compounds the sin. When Isaiah compared himself to God he cried out, “I am a man of unclean lips,” and then his sober judgment led him to acknowledge, “and I dwell in the midst of an unclean people of unclean lips.” The lips are mentioned because the lips reveal the inner most being of the heart. If a person could silence the lips for one-year, something amazing would happen in society.
First, the crime wave would decrease tremendously for people would not say terrible words to one another that provoke arguments and anger ending in violence and murder.
Second, people would meditate more. In our modernized society, precious little thinking and meditation goes on. Our minds and thoughts are surrendered to the TV in the morning, a thousand voices during the day, and more TV in the evening.
According to one study, the average American watches over four hours of TV per day. We are amusing ourselves to death. People have lost the ability to concentrate for long periods of time.
The Bible honors meditation in many passages such as Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
In Joshua 1:8 the Divine call is given, “This book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth but thou shalt meditate there in day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein for them thou shall make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.”
When does God promise success to His people? When they meditate on His Word.
Through meditation the heart is sanctified and the lips are made clean in contrast to unclean lips that speak forth curses. Unclean lips speak forth theories of men that dishonor the glory and sovereignty of God. Unclean lips move to protect self from correction by the Lord by self-justification. Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”
Fortunately, the text does not end. In matchless grace, the thrice-holy God sent an angel to initiate a cleansing of the prophet. Since the lips were defiled, the lips would be cleansed (Isa. 6:6). The placing of a live coal seems like a drastic measure and it is for sin is powerful and does not easily leave its place of prominence.
It is significant that Isaiah did not resist the cleansing process which was very painful, for it involved a hot burning piece of coal. Sometimes our souls shrink back at the purifying work of God, and yet when done, it can be said, “thine iniquity is taken away and thy sin purged.” The Bible knows nothing of an easy deliverance from the presence, pollution, and power of sin. Many talk about dealing with sin and the problems of sin but the price of putting it away is costly which is why someone has observed, “You do not have much difficulty getting people to the Cross. The problem is to get a person on the Cross.” But once a person is on the Cross, once there is a co-crucifixion with Christ, once there is a willingness to be cleansed by Christ, there is a Divine deliverance. Iniquity is taken away and sin is purged.
When was the last time, if ever, that you saw the Lord, high and lifted up?
When was the last time you had an insight into your own heart?
An upward sight of Deity.
An inward sight of Depravity.
An outward sight of holiness.
A spiritual sight of helplessness,
Have you eyes to see these things?
If not, it is time to call a prayer meeting. All other meetings are essentially meaningless. They do not deal with the root of the problem, only the symptoms of sin. They will only serve to compound the problem as unclean lips speak unclean thoughts, unless God purges the sin. But God will not work where He is not welcomed.
The question comes. “Can Christians today have such a high view of God.”
Leonard Ravenhill contends that all saints used of God have indeed had a crisis experience of some sort such as D.L. Moody, Jonathan Edwards, and David Brainerd.
We can have an exalted view of God, and we must have it.
How is such a vision captured?
A glorious vision of God does not come by speaking in tongues, or disengaging the mind so that foreign spirits can fill the vacuum. Jeremiah spoke and the Lord said, “Ye shall find me when you shall seek me and search for me with all your heart.”
We find God by searching for Him when the gospel is preached, when the Word is read, when the closet of prayer is entered, when our one great consuming passion is to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection.
Let the Church join Isaiah in the search for the Lord, for there is needed a higher view of God.
Let the Church rediscover the God who can, and will, save according to His own mercy;
the God who can, and will, judge righteously;
the God who is high and lifted up, ruling
over the affairs of men;
the God who works all things after the
counsel of His own will.