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. 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. And one called 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 shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 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!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And 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.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
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.” (Isaiah 6:1-10 ESV)
This vision of Isaiah gives us our pattern for corporate worship. We enter the glorious presence of the Lord and sing with the Seraphim songs of praise, moved by the majesty and glory of the Lord on display. But quickly we are confronted with our own unworthiness to stand in such a glorious presence. But we are not to fear as the Lord takes our sin away and pronounces us clean. Finally, we are called into action so that as we go from this vision we go with purpose.
Isaiah’s purpose is difficult to understand, however. It seems he is called to close people’s ears and eyes from the truth. Jesus applies this text as the reason he teaches in parables. The truth is in plain sight and yet hidden from the eyes and ears of those who are unwillingly to search out their meaning from Jesus. This seems to be God’s pattern as He indicates that they both harden their own hearts and He hardens them as well. There is both fault and judgment in it.
Indeed it would be a difficult call to preach to a people that would not listen or heed the truth. This is still sometimes the result of preaching. It can be exasperating. At the same time we must remember that God’s word never returns without accomplishing its purpose, even when it’s purpose is this kind of judgment…