“Woe to me!” [Isaiah] cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Isaiah was completely overwhelmed when he saw the holy God. But it wasn’t just God’s all-surpassing greatness that overwhelmed him. He also was overwhelmed by the greatness of his own sin.
In the bright light of God’s transcendent holiness, the extent of Isaiah’s sinfulness was painfully apparent. There was no hiding it. There was no excusing it. Isaiah knew what he deserved from the holy God because of his sins. He knew that he deserved to die and fully expected that he would.
But then one of the angels went to the altar, the place of sacrifice in the temple, and took from it a live coal. He flew to Isaiah, touched his mouth with the coal, and said to him, “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Sinful Isaiah could not remove his sins from himself. However, the holy God could. And he did. He bridged the gap between himself and Isaiah and removed from Isaiah all his sins.
In the bright light of God’s transcendent holiness, the extent of our sinfulness is also unavoidably obvious. There is no way we can hide it. There is no way we can excuse it. Like Isaiah, we deserve to die, not just physically but eternally in the hell God has prepared for those whose sins separate them from him.
But God sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, to the altar of the cross to sacrifice himself for all our sins. The blood Jesus shed on the cross has now touched not only our lips but our heads and hands and feet and souls. Our guilt has been taken away. Our sin has been paid for. In Jesus, the holy God has bridged the gap between himself and sinful us. In Jesus, the triune God has removed from us all our sins.
O triune God, I praise you that in Jesus you have removed from me all my sins. Amen.