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Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh

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Meeting the Lord of glory

How would you prepare to meet the king? You would probably adorn your best attire and learn the protocol and you would not need to make an introduction, since you would wait to be summoned. The Queen of Sheba had no more spirit in her, following her visit to King Solomon. How much greater was the reaction of Isaiah when he was undone-filled with fear, reverence and awe, having seen ‘the King’?

In ‘the year that Uzziah died’ was a major turning point. Uzziah became king at just sixteen and ruled well for the most part of his 52-year reign. He was busily involved in farming, building projects, fortifications and preparing army weapons but then his fame grew and so did his pride. We should give the Lord all the glory for anything we think we have achieved. King Uzziah offered incense on the altar of incense. That was the task for the priest and was reminiscent of Saul not waiting for Samuel to offer the sacrifice. Azariah the priest and eighty others withstood him and King Uzziah became leprous. He was subsequently thrown out and cut off from the house of the Lord. Is it possible to be both king and priest? Psalm 110 speaks of Messiah who performs both functions.

We cannot treat that which is holy as something that is ordinary. We should not regard fellowship with the Lord as merely routine or part of a ritual. This passage demonstrates how God is indescribably holy and how we should approach Him. This is not an isolated incident from the Tanakh. Nadab and Abihu were devoured by fire when they offered profane fire (Leviticus 10:1-7) and the Lord struck Uzzah when he was transporting the Ark in 2 Samuel 6 since he failed to follow the protocol of carrying the Ark with poles mentioned four times in Numbers 4 with the warning not to touch a holy thing lest they die (Numbers 4:6,8,11,14-15).

The Lord put Moses in the cleft of the rock lest He saw Him and died (Exodus 33:20-23). How was it then, that Isaiah saw the Lord and lived? Let us compare Scripture with Scripture. John 1:18 confirms that “no one has ever seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John 12:37-41 builds on that, adding that although Yeshua (Jesus) performed many signs they did not believe Him and these things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

What would you wear if you met the King of Kings? At the transfiguration Jesus’ clothes were white like snow and whiter than any launderer on earth could whiten them. Isaiah 61:10 states, “He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Without this, you and I are like Adam and Eve trying to wear fig leaves to hide our sin and nakedness. A sacrifice had to be made since the Lord is holy and the Lord gave them animal skins. “But we are like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).”

The seraphim above the throne have six wings, two to cover their face, two to cover their feet and two to fly with. With four wings they reverence God and two wings they serve God. We would do well to cultivate an attitude of worship, before serving the Lord. Why do they cover their face? When the sun is low and shining powerfully you need to pull down the flaps inside your car to avoid the glare of the sun. How much greater is the glory of God who created the sun? Why do they cover their feet? They acknowledge their lowliness before the Creator. Do you reverence God before serving Him? Are devotional times of prayer and reading Scripture a priority in your life?

These angelic beings cry out kadosh, kadosh, kadosh-(holy, holy, holy), is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3). Why the repetition of this superlative? The late R.C. Sproul used to emphasise that nowhere is God described as ‘love, love, love or mercy, mercy, mercy, but holy, holy, holy. Holy is probably the single most accurate word we can use to describe the Lord. In Revelation 4:8-11 the four creatures similarly cry out holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. Some have also noticed the thrice holy pronouncement in relation to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and also note that the Lord says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us (Isaiah 6:8)?”

The posts of the door were shaken and the house (temple) was filled with smoke. Have we lost the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom? As a boy I once stepped into a room when someone was praying and meditating on the Scriptures and I knew that I had entered something holy and I needed to leave immediately. How would you describe God? God is love, God is just, God is holy, a Man of war and an all-consuming fire.

Isaiah was sanctified

Who did Isaiah see exactly? He saw the Lord of hosts in verse 5, the preincarnate Messiah. The Lord of hosts is a military term and refers to organised battle, soldiers and warfare. In the Song of Moses at Exodus 15:3, Moses tells us, “The Lord is a Man of war, the Lord is His name.” Before Joshua took Jericho, he met the Commander of the Army of the Lord (Lord of hosts-Joshua 5:13-15). Do you worship the Lord, reverence Him and serve Him? Are you on His side?

The Lord purified Isaiah for service. Isaiah was a prophet though he saw the greater Prophet of whom he prophesied about! Isaiah is sometimes referred to as ‘the royal prophet,’ though he saw the King of Kings. Isaiah means ‘The Lord is salvation.’ How apt, Yeshua means salvation and He came to save people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Messiah is Prophet, Priest and King.

Yet Isaiah protests, “I am of unclean lips.” Does that sound familiar? What did Moses say? “How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips (Exodus 6:12)?” Of ourselves we have no righteousness, we need to be sanctified to serve God.

Isaiah was of unclean lips but the seraphim touched his lips with the coal. Do you ever feel like that? Can you identify with Bible characters? Moses was of uncircumcised lips though God would put words in his mouth. Jeremiah objected, “Behold I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” The Lord replied, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth’ , for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak (Jeremiah 1:6-7).” Jeremiah was commissioned from his birth so his only real option was to obey. When the Lord commissions someone to speak, like Isaiah, they need to go where he tells them and say what He tells them.

Isaiah had his guilt removed, his iniquity taken away and his sin atoned for. Have you had your sins forgiven? How can sin be atoned for without a temple and sacrifice? Our sin can only be atoned and guilt removed through the blood of Jesus the Messiah, the sinless lamb of God and though our sin is as scarlet, He can make us whiter than the snow. There is no middle ground, sitting on the fence or partial cleansing. God is of purer eyes than to behold evil and sin is a grave offence against God. Whoever believes in Him and asks for forgiveness can be reconciled to God.

Isaiah’s response must be our response

The voice of the Lord asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” The Godhead from eternity past works in perfect cooperation. Note similar references in Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image,” Genesis 3:22, “Behold, the man has become like one of us” and Genesis 11:7, “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language”. But how will you respond?

Does your response resemble that of Isaiah? “Here I am! Send me?” Someone that would trust in the Lord would also be His disciple and follow Him. Will you go where the Lord sends you, say what He tells you, or serve where and when He calls you?

When we see Isaiah’s vision of God, we become more aware of Him and less aware of ourselves. That is true humility, not belittling ourselves but recognising the glory of God and that He is infinite and we are finite, yet we can know Him. As He is holy, we must be holy and we need Him to cleanse us. Ask Him to speak to you through the Scriptures and say along with Samuel, “Speak Lord your servant hears. And when He responds, say, “Here I am! Send me.”