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.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
This is one of the most striking incidents recorded in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah saw the Lord high and exalted, surrounded by angels and seated on his throne. He was overwhelmed by his sin. He was convinced that he was ruined.
Until God sent an angel with a burning coal from the temple’s altar. In the Old Testament, the altar was the place where sacrifices were slaughtered and burned. What happened on the altar made sinners forgiven.
So the angel touched Isaiah’s lips with the coal and declared that his guilt was gone, and his sins were atoned for. The Hebrew word translated “atone” literally means “to cover up.” Sin is atoned for when it is covered by sacrificial blood and can no longer be seen.
Our holy God does not ignore sins. He atones for them. That is what Christ did on the cross. On the altar of the cross, Jesus gave his life as an atoning sacrifice to pay for your sins and cover them with his blood.
Because of Jesus’ work, that angel could announce that Isaiah was forgiven. The same announcement is still spoken to sinners. Not by angels, but by the people whom God forgives, just like Isaiah. Isaiah was overwhelmed by God’s forgiveness and volunteered to speak it to others.
God continues to use unlikely messengers to announce his forgiveness to you. Whether it was spoken by a Christian friend or family member, a stranger, or even the pastor writing this devotion, know that the holy Lord forgives and welcomes you into his presence. Look at Jesus’ cross. Listen to Jesus’ word: “Your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for.”
Lord, you have made atonement for my sin and let me know about it. Thank you. Amen.