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Isaiah’s vision: seraphim praising God

December 6, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Isaiah 6:1-8

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, the edges of his robe filling the temple. 2 Winged creatures were stationed around him. Each had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew about. 3 They shouted to each other, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of heavenly forces!
All the earth is filled with God’s glory!”
4 The doorframe shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 I said, “Mourn for me; I’m ruined! I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I’ve seen the king, the LORD of heavenly forces!”
6 Then one of the winged creatures flew to me, holding a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips. Your guilt has departed, and your sin is removed.”
8 Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?”
I said, “I’m here; send me.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Uzziah was the king of Judah for 52 years (cf. 2 Chronicles 26:3). No doubt Jerusalem was abuzz with speculation about who would succeed the recently deceased king when Isaiah had the vision he reported in today’s passage. But the prophet didn’t speak to the earthly politics of who might take the throne. Instead, his vision reminded the people of Judah that their true king then, as always, was the God of heaven (verse 5). As we approach an election year, that’s a valuable reminder for us.

  • “Repetition in Hebrew, as in other languages, provides emphasis—in this case, of the superlative holiness of God…. Holiness is not an attribute associated with gods in other cultures of the ancient world.” * In the religions of nations around Israel, gods had power but lacked holiness. People feared them and tried to placate them but did not trust them. What made God’s holiness so important in Isaiah’s vision? Does God’s holiness make you afraid of God, or draw you to love your savior more?
  • This is the only mention in the Bible of “seraphim.” “Seraphim are one of two types of heavenly beings Isaiah mentioned, the other being ‘cherubim’ (37:16). The latter, with a single pair of wings, are associated closely with the throne (presumably as guardians), while the seraphim are flying above it. The term for “seraphim” literally means “burning.” ** How did the meaning of the Hebrew word fit the seraphim’s (i.e., “burning one’s”) cleansing action in verses 6-7?
Prayer

King of the universe, beyond all earthly rulers, I offer you my allegiance. I thank you that, like Isaiah, I can trust your holiness to cleanse and equip me for whatever you call me to. Amen.

GPS Insights

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas serves in donor relations at Resurrection. She’s a Boston native and moved to Kansas City in 2020. Her husband Blake is a provisional elder in the UMC and is a Congregational Care Pastor at Resurrection Leawood. Her favorite pastimes include pottery, hiking, frisbee, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her daughter and their large orange cat, Tuna.

If you’re anything like me, you attribute God (Jesus and the Holy Spirit included) to everything all day long. Yummy lunch? God. No traffic? Thanks, Jesus. Delightful interactions? The Holy Spirit is moving. I am pretty quick to see God in the positive. That’s why I love this sermon series so much. This series on angels is causing me to pause and remember the times I have needed God so deeply in some negative moments that when God showed up, it’s nothing short of a miracle. I know I’ve met some angels, or maybe just people God was using as tangible hands and feet, but to me they’re angels nonetheless.

My first angel interaction did not have wings, nor did they fly. I was in a pretty serious car accident in high school. One of the types of accidents where the first responders were saying things like “one inch to the left and…” or “if she turned one moment sooner…”. The outcome could have been much different than it was for me. For some reason (God?), I turned at the right moment to not lose my life, but just greatly damage my car. It was in my state of shock, looking around myself in the aftermath with an ejected airbag, smoke in the air and the contents of my trunk in my lap, that my car door swung open to a woman standing there. She looked right at me and said probably the least comforting words–“oh my goodness, I thought you’d be dead.” She helped me out of my car, and honestly from that point I hardly remember our interaction. I know she held her arm around me. I know she was there until my dad arrived on the scene. I know that she talked to me until the police arrived. What I’ll never know is what prompted her to pull over. She saw my accident happen and stopped for me. I’ve never done that for anyone. I’ll never understand why she did it, but whenever I share this story, I tell everyone she was an angel. Not because she looked like one or had all the right words, but I felt God’s presence in that crash and in her comfort.

I don’t think you have to be near death to meet an angel, though I know a few of us have similar stories in that regard. Pastor Adam has said that we all can be an angel for someone else. I think about my angel a lot when I consider how I can be someone else’s angel. She made a radical decision to pull over that day for a stranger. It challenges me to be more radical. Jesus tended to make radical decisions and I’d like to be more like him.

On a personal note: There was a special request to include an updated photo of my baby Della in my next GPS. If you’ve been following along, I gave birth to Della this summer and she’s everything to me. Pictured below is our family on Della’s first Thanksgiving. We are so thankful!

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (p. 6021). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (p. 6020). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.