Encountering God Face-to-Face

“And I said, “Woe is me! I am ruined; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5

If we are honest, most everyone has a love/hate relationship with Facebook. It is incredibly gratifying to receive so many well wishes and messages on your birthday, but at other times it can be a source of great procrastination, frustration, and even, sometimes, temptation to tell a story about your life that is a “happy, happy, happy all the time, time, time” version.

Facebook allows us to put our best foot forward by showcasing an edited version of our lives that we hope the world will see and conclude that we are deeply witty, cool, fun, and connected. In most people’s pictures they are basically living the dream, always having a good time, smiling as if always in on the joke, visiting entertaining and interesting places, and generally loving life. We are able to place our ideal selves on display for the world to see and believe.

Isaiah is a man called by God to minister to His wayward people. Isaiah is a man who thinks he knows himself and enjoys his privileged position of being one of God’s prophets.

However, when he is transported to the throne room of heaven and comes face-to-face with the Lord Almighty, high and lifted up, Isaiah can no longer put forth the ideal version of himself and his calling. He is confronted with a new vision of God, a new vision of himself, and a new vision of his surrounding world.

He sees God “high and lifted up”. This is a God that Isaiah cannot manipulate with his obedience. This is a God that Isaiah cannot boss around. This is a God who will not be satisfied with empty spiritual behavior and showy acts of religion. This God is three times “holy” - completely other than Isaiah and deserving of all worship and honor.

In catching this renewed vision of God, Isaiah is also confronted with a new vision of himself. He remarks that he is “ruined”, “undone”, and deserving of “woe”. He confesses his deep sinfulness - his “unclean lips” that need to be purified and saved.

While Isaiah has this overwhelming experience of God’s holiness and his own sinfulness, God meets his newfound confession with a dramatic, gracious display of mercy and cleansing. An angel takes a coal from the altar - the place of sacrifice - and purifies the unclean lips of Isaiah so that he enters the world of sin and uncleanness with a fresh appreciation and experience of God’s grace and salvation.

Isaiah is no longer trying to hide his need of salvation with his ideal self being on display. Isaiah no longer trusts his witness to God’s people will be successful because he is a holy man who has learned how to obey; rather, he is able to speak to the world of the redeeming grace of God that met him at the point of his need and brokenness. He is able to testify to God’s holiness cleansing him and restoring him once again!

Today, God wants you to meet him face-to-face. He doesn’t desire to shame you into submission. He desires to free you from your pretense and “best-foot-forward” approach to life so that you can experience his saving grace afresh and have a testimony of his goodness for those who share your brokenness in this world!

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