Wednesday Word 8.07.2019
Isaiah 6:1-8 New International Version
6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
The whole notion of “unclean lips” really struck a chord with me. What an admission of guilt! So much of human weakness is characterized in this phrase. What did Isaiah mean? We know that there were a gazillion dietary laws. These laws had many functions. Many of them were health based in an age when our idea of refrigeration, waste management and sanitation were unknown. There were laws to provide for those who spent their time in religious and scholarly duty, those who were widowed or orphaned, and for the stranger. There were laws to give the very best to our Lord. If you violated these dietary laws, your lips were unclean. There are other, more destructive ways for the lips to be unclean. The Book of James carries a scathing lesson on the evil that can come from our mouths. In 1:26, James says, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” How painful is that to hear? Our words are powerful agents that reveal our true selves. Deceit, boasting, exaggeration, manipulation, gossip, and so on and so on, all reflect the weaknesses of our character. How unclean are our own lips?
The image of a burning coal touched to Isaiah’s lips in order to consume his sin is so powerful to me. It is as though Isaiah’s lips, and his future actions, were consecrated by destroying what had come before. What had made Isaiah unclean had been burned away, gone up in smoke. What has come before in our lives can be dissolved away, too. Our future actions can be made more “clean” by love, not by fire. The love of Jesus Christ can relegate all that was unclean to our past and make us new again. Thank you, Jesus!…something to pray about.
Your sister in Christ, Vicki