Watching in wonder and awe, Isaiah was swept up in the powerful vision God was giving him. The Lord’s holiness is the Lord’s God-ness, in all the Lord’s attributes, works and ways. God is in a completely different category than even the fiery heavenly beings Isaiah saw worshipping God.

Isaiah was left with the lasting impression of God as sacred and set apart, glorious beyond measure, pure beyond imagining, calling God the Holy One of Israel more than any other writer in the Bible.

A Man of Unclean Lips

In seeing God, Isaiah was flooded with a sense of his own earthiness, his sinfulness, falling so far short of God’s glory. All the cries of pain God had given him as an oracle for the people now flooded his mind once again. He realized he was no different!

Woe to those who drag iniquity along with cords of falsehood, he had cried out to the people. From God’s lips to your ears! Now they were words for his own ears as well.

And I said, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:5 (NRSV)

Isaiah was convicted of being a creature of his culture. He was one of the people, who stood with them in national sin. He realized that he, also, had contributed to the wrongs of his nation. He owned the wrongdoing that was truly his, he was on the other end of his own pointing finger.

And Isaiah understood a truth that Jesus—who was sitting on the throne before Isaiah right now—would one day bring home to the temple elite of His own day.

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil, for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

Luke 6:34 (NRSV)

Now Isaiah’s groan of horror rose up within him. How could such unholiness survive in the presence of pure holiness?

God’s Wrath

From the beginning God has always been clear about what sin (all that is unrighteous, that falls short of God’s own righteousness, including our own straying away from God’s word and way) would bring.

God had spoken it to the first human being soon after God had formed him from the dust of the ground. You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, God said to the man, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat. I wonder if God paused for a moment, as the man looked up questioningly. Why, Lord? Why may I not eat of it? To trust God and to heed God was to live.

To transgress God’s instruction was to die, for it would mean having severed himself from the source of life. For in the day that you eat of it you shall die, was God’s somber reason.

Grace and Peace Joanne YouTube Channle

From the moment the man and the woman ate of the fruit, the Lord has seen the evil that mars God’s creation and that destroys the people God loves. God intends to rid the universe of this evil, and has been about that work from the beginning. Not as the opposite of God’s love, but as an expression of God’s love, God’s wrath consumes evil and wickedness. God’s desire is to protect and set free the object of the Lord’s affection, you and me, and all people enslaved to sin.

Grace and Peace Joanne YouTube Channel

This is the purpose of God’s wrath. To consume sin and cleanse the universe.

Why would you or I ever want to hang onto the very thing that is destroying us? Why would we not instead repent at the earliest moment? Why would we want to be consumed by God’s wrath rather than let go of our pride and our wrongdoing?

God’s Mercy

Isaiah’s heartfelt confession was all it took for God to reach out from the mercy seat with atonement from the altar of sacrifice

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.

The seraph touched my mouth with it and said, “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 

Isaiah 6:6-7 (NRSV)
By Antonio Balestra – The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 569354, Public Domain,, 569354 ; ( ); out of copyright

The writer of Hebrews explained that the earthly altar was a shadow, a copy, of the heavenly one. God was the one who started the fire burning on the original altar of sacrifice in the desert tabernacle, by causing fire from the cloud of God’s presence to ignite the sacrifices that had been lain on it. From then on, the entire people of Israel were to bring in wood for the fire, every day, and the priests were to tend it day and night, to keep the fire burning perpetually.

The ultimate sacrifice came when Jesus offered up His own life on the cross.

God’s cleansing, forgiveness, and healing come out of that ultimate sacrifice, represented here in the coal from the altar of sacrifice. Out of pain and death comes resurrection and restoration. Of the nearly twenty salvation motifs in the scriptures, there are four represented in the burning coals.

Justification: To be brought upright and into right standing with God.

Propitiation: To be restored to the fellowship and favor of God through reparation. God made Jesus like the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant, sprinkled with Jesus’ own blood, Jesus’ sacrifice made reparation for all sin.

Atonement:Think of atonement as the phrase “at-one-ment.” Through Jesus, God repairs the damage done to humankind’s relationship with the Lord through sin, for now people may be made “at one” with God once again.

Redemption: To be bought back from enslavement to sin, corruption, and death with Jesus providing His life as the ransom—because Jesus is both fully divine (there is enough) and fully human (the only currency possible).

Jesus became sin and then drank the cup of His Father’s wrath, first becoming the fatal illness of sin, then absorbing the antidote of God’s wrath.

When Jesus said It is finished, it meant this work was completed, so that God may say to you and me today, who have put our faith in what Jesus has accomplished, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.

Français : Consummatum Est, English: It Is Finished | James Tissot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, even in our forgiven state, you and I do continue to sin. And that unrighteousness creates a barrier to fellowship with God. Instead of a life that moves purposefully towards maturity of faith, disregarding God’s word, going against God’s way, sets a Christian adrift.

Knowing this, believers continually seek forgiveness, cleansing for sin and turn away from that sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 

If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

1 John 1:8-9 (NRSV)
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Human plans for salvation usually consist of trying to weight the scales so that our good deeds outweigh the bad. We hope we have stacked up enough on the good side. We console ourselves that we are better than that person over there, so we have got a good chance, but we are never quite sure how many good deeds we need.

So we keep trying to make sure we get the balance right, try to pay off on the bad deeds, then put some interest on the good ones.

But this is not God’s way.

There is no scale system.

Not even one tiny micron of bad or wrong can be on the scale.

God must cleanse completely, so that all unrighteousness is gone. God’s holiness requires this.

Therefore, God has already provided all that is needed and waits for you and me to let go of our pride, be honest about the truth, and like the prophet Isaiah confess we have uncleanness.

3 thoughts on “Isaiah 6: A Burning Coal

  1. Reblogged this on Zero Lift-Off and commented:
    “Woe to those who drag iniquity along with cords of falsehood”

    There is “absolutely” one thing that stands out here in this writing to me today and for good reason, when we observe a sudden lingering in the background which points out how many are using God’s Holy Word for petty and trite self-gain; which as I understand it is “Blaspheming God Almighty!”

    “Why would we not instead repent at the earliest moment? Why would we want to be consumed by God’s wrath rather than let go of our pride and our wrongdoing?”

    “Only a fool or a very prideful arrogant person” would do such a thing; which comes from the father of all lies and who was the founder of arrogance and deception just as we know he deceived Eve in the Garden!

    I quote here to illustrate a wide contrast of God’s mercy as I see it. How it was extended to a prophet and a criminal; as God sees just!
    “Isaiah’s heartfelt confession was all it took for God to reach out from the mercy seat with atonement from the altar of sacrifice”

    The seraph touched my mouth with it and said, “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Isaiah 6:7 (NRSV)

    Isn’t this again the heart that is evaluated, by God seeing what is truly in it? As with Dismas being crucified next to Jesus and upon his genuine heartfelt most humble supplication to Jesus, he quickly heard Jesus’ acceptance and approval.

    Luke 23:42-43 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” 43And Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

    Some say this is all an illusion, and, logically one could surmise that is true to the extent that we don’t have all the answers to the endless questions or especially some of the much bigger questions such as to the Why and What is the Meaning to all of this.

    Of course I believe there is a purpose to everything that is going on especially in light of the fact that we fallible or imperfect limited beings have a glimpse or view through the crack in the door of what is out there in the vastness of existence; and then there is prophesy to add to this equation that was and is long term insightful bench marks of truth if you will that have been provided from God to give us His children the guidance we so sorely need.

    “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2,
    Romans 8:20 says that all creation was subjected to vanity because of God’s curse. When Adam sinned, God cursed all that He had made (Genesis 3:17–19). In other words, perfection was lost. All of creation is now falling short of its original purpose; rather than working in harmony with God and creation, inhabitants of the earth have turned on each other and against God. We still reel from the effects of that curse. Everything meant to be right side up is upside down. The chaos and insanity of the world as we know it are due to the fact that God has subjected creation to vanity until the time when it will be set free (Romans 8:21).

    Yes God’s Wrath is coming and much sooner than most want to believe, especially those who are testing God with their defiance!

    Fearing God is the beginning of Wisdom!

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

    “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain.” -Jeremiah 10:2,3

    Learn not the way of the heathen, and they are rampant on this internet, even this Word Press by those who play games with God’s word and purposes looking for favor and patronizing by others who are just as foolish!

    Now this final bit of my spiel as a lesson to anyone who will listen!

    I previously wrote this about one of the traps in this tumultuous world.
    The blogger continues saying, how in every relationship she, that most radiant beauty, was the victim by men and the world, how she was the one who was used, betrayed, abused ultimately causing her great suffering both emotionally and mentally; yet, the patriarchal world or society looks upon her and addresses her as a sinner! Of course when we look at this circumstance clearly we have to know that we are all sinners, the men, women and the society or, “ways of the world” by which men and women can live by, or not let that become their trap and vicious cycle of try and fail over and over.

    I believe this blogger was seeing this woman too much as a two dimensional being and agreeing with her failures due to seeing it as a matter of depending on self only; not seeking the higher calling for her being alive to begin with. This limiting perspective will only fail each and every time anyone sets themselves against the world and thinks they will find a way to beat it and come out on top by sheer determination or just learning how to fight the world harder, while perhaps learning the ways of the world better and go along for the ride. That will always lead to doom; and here is why in my humble opinion.

    There are lines we must not cross regardless of personal perspective or even upbringing, because God will judge all human beings by what is “truly in their own heart!” What fills that heart is the sum total of all one’s life experiences, but, the great equalizer is “Conscience” and every person has one excluding the exception of a sociopath or pure evil which does exist. One must learn through life to choose carefully what actions or behaviors they display or elicit from others for that can become a pathway to temptation and sin, which are the ruin of humankind from the original fall from grace when Adam and Eve transgressed God, who is God, the Omnipotent always right in all matters, no exceptions. So, that is who we should attune our hearts to nothing else, not worldly fashion or promise nor the allures of fame and fortune nothing will bring everlasting peace and happiness to any soul unless it is through God Almighty the Creator of the universe and we broke humans. It starts with humility and people today lack it sorely putting themselves and some others up on high pedestals, which is complete folly and some stay on that path thinking they are god-like which is what pagan ancient civilizations produced in Greece, the Roman Empire or Mayan among many other empires, which even went as far as human sacrifice in their evil behavior.

    God bless.

    Brother in Christ Jesus,
    Lawrence Morra III

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