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Isaiah lived with eyes set on God. This is clear from the opening words of his book: “The vision of Isaiah.” Vision is singular, which tells us that Isaiah is meant to be read as one unified whole. It is not a fragmentary account of Isaiah’s prophecies and life with a few historical narratives thrown in for good measure. Rather, Isaiah is an organized, structured, thoughtful presentation of God’s revelation. His whole message is a single vision because it was a literal vision that formed the basis of his ministry. In the year 740 BC, the year Uzziah king of Jerusalem died, Isaiah records, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up” (Is. 6:1). This vision of God overwhelmed him. He understood, in a way we can only imagine, just how far he fell short of the glory of God. There is only one way to respond to God’s glory: confession. “Woe is me!” Isaiah cries in despair, “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!” (Is. 6:5). But in the midst of his grief and fear, we see the mercy of God—one of the angels, a seraphim, takes a red hot coal from the altar, flies to Isaiah and presses it again his unclean lips. Contrary to what we might expect this does not destroy Isaiah’s lips, it purifies them. The angel declares, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin is atoned for” (Is. 6:7).
Though his lips burned, how Isaiah’s heart must have sung to receive God’s grace and mercy. His guilt removed, his sin dealt with—Isaiah was a new man,...
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