In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,The whole earth is full of His glory.”
And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. (Isa. 6:1-4)
Isaiah saw the Lord (Adonai) in splendor, reigning as supreme king (v. 5). His expansive robe dominated the temple. Phenomena—quakes and smoke—that were common when God appeared to His people at significant times like the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai engulfed the holy place. This was no ordinary church service, where people are prominent; this was God’s presence concentrated. No one else gets a mention.
Special angels declared to each other part of God’s nature—His holiness. The word expresses that God is set apart from all creation, excelling in every way. The seraphim repeated it three times for maximum emphasis, adding that God’s glory flooded the earth. The name they used, the LORD of hosts, speaks of His command over all created beings and the armies of heaven. He is therefore, “Almighty” (Rev. 4:8).
As far as we know this was Isaiah’s most profound encounter with God. Whether Isaiah sought God, or God initiated the visit is unclear. Whether King Uzziah had just died, or not (as seems likely from Isa. 1:1) is uncertain. Either way, the vision occurred at a pivotal time and launched Isaiah as a prophet. King Uzziah had reigned for 52 years and was one of Judah’s greatest kings. An entire generation knew no other monarch. His death spelled change, in large letters.
God knows what we have come through and what lies around the bend of history. He knows exactly what we need from Him in our crises. He is able to prepare us for the hardest knocks. Meeting God can happen in a church or secular setting, in public or in private. In Isaiah’s case it was the temple. We don’t know whether others were there or not. What mattered was the undistorted presence of God.
When worship is good, we see more of who God really is.
Worship “is the mood of deep admiration, the meek acknowledgement of mystery, the humble and adoring gaze…” Evelyn Underhill, Worship 1936