When Isaiah entered God’s throne room, he was struck by the awesome holiness of God. This provoked a sense of doom and desperation.
It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people of filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
~ Isaiah 6:5 NLT
The sense of doom that Isaiah felt was entirely appropriate. It’s the natural response of an unholy creator toward a perfectly holy and righteous Creator. Our rebellion is glaring in light of his glorious perfection. And his authority to judge and power to punish ought to strike us with a sense of trepidation.
But that’s not the end of the story.
A moment later, Isaiah is answering God’s call to ministry.
Here I am. Send me.
~ Isaiah 6:8b NLT
What was it that moved Isaiah from shrinking back in fear to boldly stepping forward to serve this Almighty King?
It’s the altar that makes the difference.
We think of an altar as a piece of furniture at the front of a church, or perhaps as a place where we might kneel in prayer at the end of a church service. But in the Old Testament, the altar was the place designated for one single purpose – to be the place of atoning sacrifice.
So when Isaiah was overcome by his own sinful inadequacy, God reminded him of the source of forgiveness and grace.
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
~ Isaiah 6:6-7 NLT
You can approach our holy God because an atoning sacrifice has been made on the altar. Jesus Christ, the Righteous Son of God, has bled and died in your place so that you might be forgiven and cleansed.
And not only can you approach him and have a relationship with him – he can use you! When you trust Jesus’ atoning work on the cross as the source of salvation and eternal life for you, you can enter into a relationship with God in which he makes your life meaningful and influential for his glory.
It’s okay. One has given his life for you. Jesus has gone to the altar so that you can go to the throne freely!
Thank God for the measureless gift of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. Talk to God like a child who has been forgiven of all wrongs and express your gratitude and love to the Father.