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Isaiah was a Heaven-Seeing man who spoke to the southern Kingdom of Judah during the kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.
Isaiah wrote down something very special that happened to him. Do you want to hear about it? He wrote, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord! He was seated on a high throne that was lifted up, up, up. The bottom of His robe was so big that it filled the whole Temple.
“Angels stood over Him; each angel had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two wings they covered their feet, and with the last two wings they would fly.
“The angels I saw called out to one another, ‘Other, Other, Other is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!’ The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the Temple was filled with smoke.”
What did the angels mean when they called out “Other, Other, Other”? It means… Holy, Different. It means “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just isn’t the same.” If I told you that God was the Best of the best of the best of the best of the best of the best… that would still not be a good enough description for Him. He isn’t just the Best of the best. He’s Other, Holy, Different. That’s our God! He’s so awesome, so infinitely beautiful, so pure and separate and OTHERLY DIFFERENT than anything we’ve ever touched or known. And the angels who saw all the wonders of Heaven and all the little wonders of the earth, still couldn’t help but call out “Other, Other, Other” when they saw the Lord of Heaven.
When I saw the Lord I said, “Ohhh, I’m in deep trouble! I’m done for. For my lips are filthy; they’re poisoned by sin, and I live among a people whose lips are poisoned by sin. But, oh, my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
Then one of the angels flew toward Isaiah. In his hand was a burning hot coal he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched Isaiah’s mouth with it and said, “Look! This hot coal has touched your lips. Your evil is taken away; your sin is paid for.”
I know you’re wondering if this burning coal hurt his lips or not. Isaiah actually didn’t talk about it hurting (even though it probably did since the angel had to hold it with tongs). But the pain Isaiah did talk about was the pain of realizing how Other, Other, Other God was from him. The Lord God was perfect and clean. Isaiah was dirty and poisoned with sin, along with all people — starting way back with Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the garden.
Could it be that the pain of seeing how dirty he was compared to God was a worse pain than the burning coal? Maybe so.
But the good news is that Isaiah humbly trusted God’s messenger with that burning coal. Isaiah didn’t run and hide or brace himself and say, “No, please!”
If God’s messenger could take away the pain of sin and brokenness, then the hot coal was probably just that kind of pain that just doesn’t matter.
Then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord say, “Who will I send? Who will go for Me on Heaven’s behalf?”
Isaiah answered, “Oh, here I am! Send me! I’m available. Please send me!”
And the Lord answered Isaiah and said, “Yes, you, go…”
Did you notice that Isaiah offered to go without asking where? His lips were probably still smoking! But he didn’t ask what the job was first so that he could decide if he wanted to volunteer or not. Why do you think that didn’t matter to him? Because he’d seen the King. And when the majestic Lord of Heaven’s Armies said He had a job that needed to be done, Isaiah’s heart cried out, “Pick me, oh, pick me. I’ll do anything to serve You. Anything You want done. I don’t care what the job is. I don’t care where You want me to go. Just please, pick me.” Isaiah’s in love with God, isn’t he?
Do you think the angel would have chased Isaiah with the coal if Isaiah had been running away or yelling, “No, no! That might hurt! Get away!” No, I think that messenger would have just left Isaiah alone.
But, do you think God would have let Isaiah be the one to go talk to the people with his dirty filthy lips? No. God wanted to free Isaiah from those dirty lips, and a popsicle was not going to get that job done.
But, don’t let any of this stuff about pain and suffering scare you. Look to God and Trust! This is indeed one of those Heaven-Seeing things. In fact, I’ll tell you a secret that very few people know: There is a deep joy that comes from having faced that hot coal from God’s altar and from finally being set free, free, free from our unclean lips! If you Trust, you’ll See this for yourself one day.
And the Lord answered Isaiah and said,
“Yes, you, go, and say to this people, ‘When you hear what I say, you won’t understand. When you see what I do, you won’t get it.”
Then God told Isaiah why they wouldn’t understand. He said,
“For the hearts of these people are hard. They have closed their eyes — so their eyes can’t see, their ears can’t hear, and their hearts can’t understand, so they can’t turn to Me and let Me heal them.”
Then Isaiah said, “Lord, how long will it be like this?”
And God answered,
“Until their towns and houses are empty, and the whole land is a waste, until everyone has been sent away…
“But you know how there’s a stump left when you cut down a tree? Israel’s hacked off stump will hide something special — a seed that is other, other, other than anything that has come before.”