Isaiah 6 is the story of God’s seraphic love.  This vision of God provides us with a visceral account of what it is like for sin-stained humans to stand in the presence of a God who is completely other.  But just when guilt-ridden Isaiah expects to be destroyed by divine holiness, God extends his mercy instead.  Sin is covered, guilt is removed and a prophet is purified.

Seraph properly translates burning one.  A casual reader of the narrative is struck by the inability of these fiery beings to look directly at God (two wings covered their eyes).  As brilliant as these creatures are they are eclipsed by the blinding brightness of God.  His holiness is overwhelming.

While the presence of seraphim in Isaiah’s vision is intended to heighten our awareness God’s holiness by way of contrast, their primary purpose relates to God’s purging ministry towards us.  As heavenly messengers/servants, we tend to wonder about the presence of these angel-like beings in our own lives.  But this is where we need to think more generically. The purging agents of God can take many forms.  How might God be using difficult circumstances – seraphic situations – to cleanse and renew us?  Job loss, illness, athletic failure, academic set-back, loneliness, loss . . . any of these could be God’s means to apply a ‘burning coal’ to our lives.

If we push the symbolic essence of a ‘live coal’ to its fullest implication, no doubt God’s purifying work will sometimes be uncomfortable and at other times extremely painful.  As we experience the searing of God’s renewing presence, it is essential to remember that he does not intend to destroy but to transform and prepare us for participation in his redemptive purposes.

Am I wrong?  Has anyone experienced ‘pain-free’ purifying work in their lives?

Tagged! Part 3 – Mar 11, 2012 Download