Encounter with God’s Holiness: Isaiah 6:1-8 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

The events described in Chapter 6 of Isaiah occur early in the life of the prophet. We read in verse 1 that King Uzziah had died after a reign of fifty-two years. He is also referred to as Azariah. He was a king who walked in the ways of the LORD until he tried to offer incense in the Temple, which was reserved only for the priests. As a result of his transgression, he was struck with leprosy and remained in that condition until the day of his death (2 Kings 14:21, 22, 15:1-3; 2 Chronicles 26:16-22). His son Jotham served as regent and became king after Uzziah’s death.

Uzziah had been the only king most of the people had ever known, and there was some concern about how Jotham would rule. He was twenty-five years old and reigned for sixteen years (2 Kings 15:22-38: 2 Chronicles 27:1-9). He “did what was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 27:2). The kingdom of Judah had gone through reigns of both good and ungodly kings. Isaiah was just as concerned about this change of events. In that same year of mourning for the death of a godly king, he would have a life-changing encounter with the King of kings.

The full text of this encounter reads as follows:

“In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings. With two, he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two, he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the LORD of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the KING, the LORD of Hosts!’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And he touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips, and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.’ Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me'” (Isaiah 6:1-8, NASB).

Note the solemnity of this encounter. Isaiah was in the temple in the act of worship when he received a vision from the LORD in a demonstration of His absolute holiness. The seraphim (angelic beings) do not look upon the face of the LORD because of His perfection and glory. No one can look upon His face and live. He abhors any sin in His presence. God is to be revered, respected, and feared because of His holy character and unspeakable glory.

We should be frightened, especially in our present sinful condition. There is a relaxed, almost flippant attitude as it pertains to approaching the Sovereign of all Creation and the One who holds our lives in His hands (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16). It is bad enough in the world, but it has crept into the church as well. It is an arrogant, foolish individual who believes that he has his life and possessions under their exclusive control (Luke 12:13-21). Without God, we have nothing and are nothing.

How many of us dare to approach God with our lackadaisical attitude as opposed to the attitude of Isaiah? He is absolutely terrified. He believes he is doomed for even glancing at the LORD while he is in his current sinful state. The mercy of the LORD is shown in these verses, along with the description of His majesty. One of the seraphim takes from the altar a white-hot coal and presses it upon Isiah’s lips before commissioning him to do the work of a prophet. This is a representation of the pain of sin and its devastating effect on the spiritual character of Isaiah and anyone who has an encounter with the living God.

Through prayer and interaction with Him by the reading and study of His Word (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:25, 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21), and by the sound teaching and preaching of godly ministers, or even in the quiet of your home, His presence is unmistakable.

In this current dispensation, we now have access to God not by the blood of innocent animals but instead through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross as the payment for our sins. Jesus is our intercessor according to the book of Hebrews, and because of His saving power, nothing will ever be able to separate us from His love (Romans 8:31-39).

Let us all take the time to reassess our relationship with God. He is holy, yet He offers you and me peace that passes all understanding by repenting of our sins and placing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We will see Him one day in all His glory, and what a day of rejoicing that will be. Are you ready?