The Bible shouts loud and clear that God is holy. But God’s holiness is no mere abstract idea. It defines how our lives must be:

Be holy, because I am holy.
(1Peter 1:16, NIV)

Isaiah did not just see the words about God’s holiness written on a scroll. He had a vision which he recorded in Isaiah 6. It had a profound effect on him and on the seraphs surrounding God’s throne, each I suggest for different reasons.

Firstly, the seraphs in the vision are themselves holy in their life and conduct. There is no grubbiness of sin about them. But their reaction before God is maybe surprising. They cover up their faces and feet with their wings. What caused this? I suggest that the gulf between God as creator and them as creatures is so vast that they feel compelled to do so. God is so very ‘other’ than his creatures.

Secondly, Isaiah’s immediate response to the vision is to become acutely aware of his sins. He knows he is “a man of unclean lips”. Well, who knows what “unclean lips” meant! In our day profanity and vulgarity are commonplace and we just live with it. So it might be difficult to imagine such an extreme response from Isaiah. But it reminds us that anyone who comes before God (and we all shall) will become intensely aware of his every moral failure, great or small. God’s holiness makes this inevitable.

The awareness of our sin is not just new interesting information about ourselves, like doing some kind of Myers-Briggs personality test. It carries implications. The consequences of moral failure, having seen God, led Isaiah to cry out, “Woe to me! I am ruined!” He knew he was in deep trouble, and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.

One day we all will see God. We will all sense our impending ruination, unless we are saved somehow.


2 thoughts on “Ruined

  1. David says:

    Ruined – yes! But thanks be to God for his grace. Isaiah is made aware of God’s holiness and his own ruination, but that’s not where it ends. Look at verses 6 & 7:

    ” 6 Then one of the seraphs 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.”
    Isaiah 6:6-7A “live coal” from the alter that atones for sin… Even a theological numpty like me can see this is talking about Jesus and his atoning sacrifice!

    I know this was implied by the final sentence of your post, but it’s worth saying “out loud”: I am a ruined sinner, but I’m saved by God’s grace!


  2. Stephen says:

    Hi David,
    You ain’t no numpty! Well spotted. You are saved by grace as you rightly point out, but not everyone is. I thought it worth focusing on the problem first. That is bigger than just that sin makes the world a poorer place for everyone (especially when the sins of others affect me). Ultimately it affects our relationship to God, resulting in our ruination.

    Anyway, good to see a Christian champing at the bit with the good news!

    How’s the weather up there in the big city? It’s just begun snowing quite heavily down here.

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