“It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.” – Isaiah 6:1-4.
A pile of dirty dishes looms in the kitchen. It’s your spouse’s night to wash, but you know he or she has had a long day so you grab a sponge and step up to the plates, literally and figuratively. It’s just one of the minor daily sacrifices you make in the name of love. Sacrifice is often necessary in relationships, but what about in serving God.
Christians frequently talk about making sacrifices to serve God. A church employee remarks, “Secular salaries are twice as much, but I’m sacrificing to serve.” A successful pastor mentions that if he were in the business world he would be earning a six-digit salary, “But, God called me to the ministry so I’m happy to make the sacrifice.” A volunteer says, “Even though I am sacrificing a lot of time, it is worth it to do God’s will.” Is serving God a sacrifice? When thinking about this I was reminded of Isaiah 6 where Isaiah has an exhilarating, inexpressible and unforgettable encounter with God.
The great King Uzziah had died which was a definitive time in the history of Israel. King Uzziah’s reign was comparable to the glory days of Solomon. So what would the nation do now that their revered and respected king was dead. But here’s the scene that’s described in Isaiah 6. Isaiah walks into the temple very sad and very worried about the state of his nation, and maybe his personal safety as well. Or maybe he just felt the need to talk to God. The Bible doesn’t say this but I wonder if Isaiah was saying something most of us would say in times of crisis: “God, I need you. I’m just an ordinary guy with an ordinary job and I want to be able to continue to get up and go to work in the morning, to earn enough to take care of my family, and maybe have some fun and relaxation on the weekends. So I came in here God to talk to you about the death of the good king (or whatever is going on on our lives).”
Suddenly God shows up… in person. Not in a still small voice. Not through an angel or another prophet. But in a mystical and powerful way, Isaiah finds God’s presence filling this gigantic temple. God is accompanied by very powerful angels. It’s such a powerful image to Isaiah that he just starts yelling, “It’s all over! I am doomed for I am a sinful man.” (Isaiah 6:5) !” Not because he isn’t glad to see God, but because when God actually shows up, He is so much more majestic and so much more wonderful than Isaiah has ever imagined, that he just realizes by comparison that he himself is just a speck of dust, and an unworthy one at that.
When God shows up, Isaiah suddenly realizes the larger scheme of things. Isaiah saw God’s glory, and that made him see his own finiteness. Isaiah heard God say what God is continually saying, “Who will go for me?” God called for a volunteer. And Isaiah volunteered. He said, “Here am I, send me!”
It is human nature to worry and focus on the wrong things, depending on the wrong resources and trusting in unreliable things. It is human nature to fret about sacrifices. But all that changes when we see God, when we come to grips with all His glory and grace, because then, no sacrifice will seem too great.
- Do we need to see God as Isaiah did to understand God’s glory?
- How should we view the sacrifices we make for others? For God?
- What can we do this week to make the glory of God more real in our lives?