If we go back in the chapter a little, there’s another pretty impressive part. Isaiah was in the temple when he was called. According to his account, “the train of [God’s] robe filled the entire temple. (6:1)” Trains on clothes didn’t exist back then, so Isaiah probably just saw the hem of God’s robe. Just the hem, because it filled the temple. Yet he cries out, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips … and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah had a sense of the angels and everything above God’s hem, but all he saw was God’s hem. And that was enough for Isaiah to see how unworthy a sinful man like him is to see God.
Isaiah’s call to prophesying was, well, depressing. As a missionary, or at least a missionary kid, his future is probably to be my future as well. I’ll tell people about God, and some will listen, but others won’t. Isaiah had this same future, except in his situation, no one would listen. His words would fall on deaf ears, and he would continue to prophecy until the destruction of Israel. I feel very sorry for poor Isaiah, finding out that he will have to prophesy for the rest of his life to blind, deaf, and mute people who won’t even listen to him in the first place He would never get to see the fruit that would come from his labors, and his prophesying would, in a way, cause the destruction of Israel, because of the effect it had on the people. When most people say they will go for God and tell the world about him, they are not thinking about all the hardships that will come from their decision, but instead are thinking about how they will be important, and looked up to by the people for doing such a wonderful job. They don’t remember that missionaries are often persecuted, frowned upon, cheated, and made to pay unfair bribes and high prices. Isaiah didn’t complain, he just listened to God and asked for more information. We read that Isaiah was struck with awe at the sight of God, and he only saw the hem of God’s robe! Yet this was enough to strike him with awe and fear. This, along with the fact that the hem of God’s robe filled the temple, is very humbling and at the same time baffling to me. I have a lot of questions about the part where the seraph flies down to Isaiah and touches his mouth with a burning piece of coal. Why doesn’t Isaiah cry out; is it because it’s a holy piece of coal that it doesn’t hurt or something? And how does the coal make him clean when the rest of us had to have Jesus die for us? Why couldn’t God have just tapped all our mouths with holy coal and made us clean? Or does the picture of the burning coal making him clean have some other meaning? Isaiah certainly confuses me, but his call to prophesy is awesome. (The awe inspiring kind) Still, disappointing. Very disappointing.