Isaiah 6:1-9. In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go…”
Advents are for glory, for majesty, beauty, and awe. Advents are for revealing God. The three times holy God.
There are advents because God wants to make his glory known to us, changing us by his presence, and then commissioning us to worship him by serving him.
This is exactly what happened to the prophet Isaiah as he experienced an angelic advent in a vision. Caught up to the throne room of God. Seeing God surrounded by the seraphs. Seeing the seraphim hovering over the altar of God in the temple of God. Hearing them call out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” Finding himself undone by his own sin.
This is the ultimate experience of all humanity. This vision is what we were all made for. This is where all of human history is headed. Like Isaiah, one day everyone will stand before the throne of God. The Lord of hosts. We will see the fiery seraphs surrounding him. We will hear the consonance of their cries of the holiness and glory of God.
And here’s the amazing thing – in Christ this is our ongoing daily experience. Isaiah was brought into the throne room of God. But for you and me the throne room of God was brought into our hearts. Our lives ARE the dwelling place of the fullness of the holiness and glory of God. The Lord of hosts lives in us. The seraph song is now our song.
This is truly amazing, especially when we see what seraphs really are.
The Vision of Isaiah (2006), Luke Allsbrook.
Isaiah’s vision is the first (and only) time seraphim are mentioned as the attendants of God’s throne. But Isaiah’s vision is not the only time seraphim have been used by God to bring atonement. The word seraphim means “fiery serpent.” Besides Isaiah, the only other place in the Bible where we find seraphim or “fiery serpents” is in Numbers 21.
5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents [seraphim] among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
Were these snakes? Were they angelic creatures from the temple of God? Who cares, just get rid of them. But how? God tells Moses to put a fiery serpent, a seraphim, of bronze onto a pole.
Numbers 21:8. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent [seraphim] and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
All who look at the serpent will live. All who enter the presence of the holy seraphim will find atonement. The very thing that was killing them was now the thing that would be their savior. The seraph, representing God’s holiness, went from destroyer to healer. How? By being lifted up on a pole. God’s holiness destroying. God’s holiness healing. But only when God’s holiness is lifted up in place of their sin. Not a gold serpent (the metal of God’s holiness). But a bronze serpent (the metal of humanity’s sin).
How do we go from being destroyed by the seraphim to being in the presence of God alongside the seraphim? How do our screams turn to a song? How do we go from fleeing the holiness of God to worshiping the God of holiness?
John 3:14-15. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. – Jesus
Through his incarnation and sacrificial death on the cross Christ became the bronze serpent lifted up for our salvation. God’s destroying holiness now lifted up in Christ who became our sin in order to destroy sin once and for all. His indwelling life now the burning coal of our atonement. Touching our lips. Making us clean. Our union with Christ placing us into the life changing presence of the three times holy God. The song of the seraphim revealing our unworthiness – woe is me, but inviting us to sing along – “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And then to declare, Here I am! Send me.
Have you looked at Christ in faith and received his life through his substitutionary death for you? How does knowing that God’s holiness will no longer destroy you but will rather transform you impact you today? Have you said “Here I am! Send me” to God?