“Woe is me for I am ruined
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
and because my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord of Armies” (Isaiah 6.5).
Great terror and fear result when people come face to face with God in the Scripture. A sense of unworthiness, genuine humility, and self-loathing accompany such an experience. The Lord Jesus taught that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted (see Matthew 23.12).
Isaiah was given a vision of God in His heavenly throne room. He didn’t come away from the experience thinking he was privileged and special. He rightly saw himself and everyone around him as unclean and filthy. We are all as an unclean thing. Even our so-called good deeds and righteous actions are as filthy rags before God (see Isaiah 64.6).
That said, those who humble themselves are exalted. God exalts them to a privileged position that they don’t deserve. God also exalts them to a higher purpose. The tongue of Isaiah was purified by the altar of God even as the blood of Christ purifies the life of believers today. We don’t deserve this. We haven’t earned it. What we deserve is condemnation and eternal torment. But God who is rich in mercy sent Christ to die for our sins. I need the mercy of God to share the message of mercy today even as Isaiah needed it in his day. So that I can say with Isaiah this morning, “Here I am, LORD. Send me” (Isaiah 6.8).