Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Today’s Topic: Clean Lips
Today’s Text: I saw the Lord, seated on a throne, high and exalted… (Isaiah 6:1)
I am easily captivated by the splendor of nature. I am tempted at times to just pull the car over to the side of the road, get out, and walk through the woods. It actually happened last night. My wife and I were blessed to have two of our grandchildren sleep over at our house. After supper we decided to take them out for ice cream.
Okay, I’m back, after a few moments of remembering the pleasure of hand-scooped Olson’s ice cream in Chippewa Falls.
Anyway, on the way to the ice cream parlor, we decided to drive through Irvine Park and show it to my dad, whom we had invited along on the excursion. At one point I was so enthralled with the view of the waterfall and the woods that I wanted to just run into them and get lost in their beauty for the rest of the day. I have paused for extended periods of time at scenic outlooks overlooking what appears to most to be nothing but hills and valleys of farmland. I have stood in silent awe at the edge of Lake of the Clouds in Upper Michigan. I have taken far longer than anyone else in my family to soak up the spectacle of a simple lighthouse on the shores of Lake Superior. I become absorbed quickly in a moment of magnificence in the mountains. I am easily captivated by the splendor of nature.
That’s why it may take several days to get through this passage of Scripture in Isaiah, but we must linger for a time at this spot of incredible beauty. Isaiah has been given a vision of God on His throne in Heaven. How can we pass by it quickly? So forget all of your plans for a few moments and get away to a quiet place where you can absorb the splendor of the King. I am not going verse by verse, but impression by impression, and I am impressed with one thing today as I contemplate what I see.
I am impressed with the contrast between what Isaiah hears from the angelic beings and what he knows to be true about his own communication habits. In the presence of God Almighty there is constant praise and worship. They declare His holiness – which means, if you remember my definition from previous writings, to be without contradiction. To be holy means to be perfectly complete and perfectly pure. There is nothing in God that contradicts itself. Every aspect of His character and His nature are in perfect agreement. How long would it take us to absorb all the splendor of that? And when these angelic beings spoke the words of praise and worship, the doorposts and thresholds of heaven shook. The power of praise is demonstrated.
It is at this point that Isaiah cries out in despair, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
My first impression of this passage is this – Isaiah knew that his everyday communication with God and with people did not possess the power of praise. His speech had become tainted by a critical spirit rather than empowered by a vision of God’s holiness.
It is so very significant that the book of Isaiah does not begin with his vision of God on the throne, but rather with his perspective on society. Even though the words he spoke to the people of his day in those first five chapters were the words the Lord gave him to speak, he now recognizes that he had allowed his heart to become critical and judgmental of the people to whom he was presenting the word of the Lord. He saw himself as unclean. His lips needed to be touched with the holiness of God.
My friends, spend some time at this spectacular scenic overlook. Your words have power – power to hurt or power to help. Your words can destroy a person’s spirit or they can develop a person’s spiritual relationship. They have power to shake the doorposts of a person’s life bringing fear or faith. It all depends on whether or not you have been in the presence of the Holy One and have yourself determined to live your life without contradiction.