Dellenbaugh described the scene: “My back being towards the fall I could not see it … Nearer and nearer came the angry tumult; the Major shouted ‘Back water!’ there was a sudden dropping away of all support; then the mighty wavers smote us. The boat rose to them as well, but we were flying at twenty-five miles an hour and at every leap the breakers rolled over us. … canopies of foam poured over gigantic black boulders, first on one side, then on the other … If you will take a watch and count by it ninety seconds, you will probably have about the time we were in this chaos, though it seemed much longer to me. Then we were through.”
Dellenbaugh knew rapids. Rivers and white water were nothing new to him. But something about this river was. The intensity, the immensity – something stole the young man’s breath. He knew rapids, but none like this. He was awestruck.
And Isaiah was face down on the temple floor. Like those explorers, he’d just seen the unseen. But unlike those explorers, he’d seen more than creation – he’d seen the Creator. He had seen God.
About 750 years before Christ, Isaiah was Israel’s version of the Senate chaplain. His family was aristocratic. His Hebrew was impeccable. He was polished, professional, and successful. But on the day he saw God only one response seemed right, “Woe is me, for I am ruined.” What caused such a statement? The answer is found in the words of the seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy.”
To get the full picture read Isaiah 6:2-5. On this one occasion that seraphim appear in the Bible, they endlessly sound the same word. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.” Repetition in Hebrew performs the same job as our modern day highlighter. It’s a tool of emphasis. The seraphim declare that God is holy, holy, holy.
What other description of God receives the same enforcement? Nowhere is He described as “wise, wise, wise” or “strong, strong, strong.” Only as “holy, holy, holy.” The first and last songs of the Bible magnify the holiness of God. Moses and the Israelites sang, “Lord, who is like you among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11) In Revelation those who had been victorious over the beast sang, “Lord, who will not fear and glorify Your name? Because You alone are holy…” (Rev 15:4)
Think about the universe around us. The potter takes something and reshapes it. But, God took nothing and created something. God created everything that exists. He knows the future, the past, the hidden, and the untold. Nothing is concealed from God.
God is so holy that the sinless seraphim cover their faces with their wings; they can’t look upon Him. Isaiah could relate. He falls on his face. Isaiah cries, “Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
This God-given vision is not about Isaiah, but about God and His glory. And Isaiah gets the point. “It’s not about me. It’s all about Him.” Isaiah finds humility, not through seeking it, but through seeking Him.
But God’s mercy makes us holy. Look what happens next. Isaiah makes no requests for mercy or grace. Like a lot of us, he probably assumed that mercy was impossible. But God, who is quick to pardon and full of mercy, purges Isaiah of his sin, and redirects his life. God asks for a spokesman when He asks, “Who should I send? Who will go for Us?” (Isaiah 6:8a)
Isaiah jumps at the opportunity! “Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8b) It was if he had found the source of the wild river, and ridden the rage of the canyon. He’d seen what Moses had seen; God himself. And Isaiah was different as a result. Holy different.
At Sendero Cowboy Church different is not only welcome, it’s pretty much a day-to-day thing. Dress for the current weather. Our pews are the bleachers in the show barn. Expect to be welcomed and enjoy spending some time with us! Monday’s at 7:30 pm.