In the year that King Uzziah died,
I saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lofty…
It has been over 2,500 years since the death of King Uzziah, so it is difficult for us to imagine the sheer disaster that his death was to the prophet Isaiah. King Uzziah was the only king Isaiah had known, having reigned well in Jerusalem for 52 years. At his death the nation remembered Uzziah as their best and ablest ruler since King Solomon. Having King Uzziah on the throne meant peace and prosperity for the people. But Uzziah was dead, and it felt like it would be all downhill from there. Isaiah experienced a deep sense of loss and fear for his nation’s future. Add to that the new superpower, Assyria, threatening invasion, and Isaiah didn’t know what to do.
Isaiah does not usually date his writings or visions, but he does want readers to know when he heard God’s call: it was in the year King Uzziah died! It was when he began to fear what was happening to his nation that he went into the temple to pray. It was while he was in the temple that he saw the Lord, “high and lofty”. Uzziah was no longer on his throne, but the Lord was on His! Isaiah wants us to know that.
This past week, I had my own King Uzziah is dead moment. I saw our United States as the Divided States. We have just come off a bruising, uncivil election battle that threatens never to end. The fiscal cliff is approaching yet again, the debt bomb is ticking, the Middle East is on fire, and politicians keep on fiddling. News headlines proclaim us a nation divided against itself, 50 percent to 50 percent. Then, just this past weekend, Rita and I were at a wonderful civic event where a United States Senator was speaking, and extra security had to be brought in because of threats to disrupt the event.
It was in not knowing what to do this past week, I sensed what I had to do next. I knew like Isaiah, I had to go into God’s presence and wait on Him. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew God did. So I got up extra early one morning, took my Bible, read, prayed, listened, and read again:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
I knelt there for awhile, resting in the realization that God was still on His throne. I waited and believed that the whole earth shimmers with God’s glory. Then I read on in Isaiah:
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!’
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.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’
I read Isaiah’s words and at the same moment I felt “Woe is me”, I also felt God’s call: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Though woefully aware of my shortcomings, I dared to pray: “Here am I; send me!”
I haven’t yet sorted out what that time with God means, but I do know that when we stopped being a “nation under God” that we also stopped being “one nation”. So here I am Lord, to pray, work, and do whatever I can to help make us “one nation under God”.
I read on in the Isaiah 6 passage and saw that Isaiah would go, pray, preach, and serve, but the people would not listen (Isaiah 6:9-10). But God tells Isaiah to keep right on praying, preaching, and serving because one day “a remnant will return to the mighty God” (Isaiah 10:21). There would be that small group of people, the remnant, who one day would remember what Isaiah had said, and turn the nation back to God.
Like Isaiah, this is a time for us to go into God’s presence, meet with Him in His Word and prayer. We need a fresh, new vision of God on His throne, as we listen for His call to us. God still speaks!
So let’s suit up and show up! We will make a difference for that remnant who will listen. We will make a difference, if not next week or next year, we will for eternity.
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry,
All who dwell in dark and sin
my hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
Grace and peace,