Bible Book: Isaiah / Jesaja
Chapter: 6
Verse: 1
Verse (to): 13

Text: Isaiah 6 and Psalm 138

Is it possible to read the first four verses of Isaiah carefully and remain indifferent towards Isaiah’s confession in verse 5? When you and I become aware of God’s holiness, we will automatically become aware of our own un-holiness. It is almost inevitable that the cries of verse 3, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” will lead to the admission in verse 5: “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips”.
After I wrote the previous paragraph I had to ask myself: Is this really true? Yes, it is true in the sense that this is what is supposed to happen. But is it also true in the sense that this is what normally happens amongst Christians? Are the Christians who confess that they are aware that God is “holy, high and lifted up” the Christians with a contrite spirit?
When I searched my own heart with these questions I saw that my thoughts that God is “holy, high and lifted up” often led me to think about the sinfulness of other people and of the community, and not so much about my own sinfulness. I think what actually happens here is that our hearts tell us that the holiness of “our God” gives us permission to think that we are “holier than the people around us”.
I find it remarkable that two lectionaries instruct us to read Psalm 138 together with Isaiah 6. The first five verses of Psalm 138 correspond with the first verses of Isaiah 6 in proclaiming that God is exalted (verse 2) and that his glory is great (verse 5). The almost surprising message of this Psalm is the explanation in the next verse of what it means that God is exalted: “For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he knows from afar” (verse 6). To quote one commentary: “God’s greatness and wonderful love are in fact seen in his care for the lowly” (Africa Bible Commentary). This is highlighted in Isaiah 57:15 – “For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’”
What a broken world and all the bruised people need (compare Isaiah 42:3 and think about the effects of, for example HIV and AIDS), are Christians who put into practice the love of our holy God who cares for the lowly.
To think about (or discuss): Are “holy” and “love” two words that we often use together?
Author: (Unknown)
Language: English