Kings and kingdoms

Isaiah 6:1-5
Has a celebrity’s death ever touched you? Did you ever feel a connection between an athlete or a musician enough to be sad at their passing? And I don’t mean “Oh, that’s sad.”

I’m talking about a true sense of loss.

Many people do, of course. There are too many examples to mention. In the past week, several cultural icons have died. Each one had their adorning fans or followers. I loved what someone said upon the passing of Betty White. “Live your life such that even if you die at 99, everyone will say it was too soon.”

Like our loved ones, when a legend or hero dies it can be a gut punch. It may not be too much to suggest the prophet Isaiah felt something similar.

Isaiah 6 is where we read of Isaiah’s call into prophetic ministry. This is the scene with the angels declaring God’s holiness. The hem of the Lord’s robe fills the temple Isaiah sees. There, in the presence of God, the prophet responds to God’s question, Whom shall we send?

But it’s the first detail of Isaiah’s vision that catches our attention today.

Of course, he sees God sitting high and lofty on a throne. That’s where you expect a king to be. Before that, though, Isaiah clues us into part of the context of his vision. It’s an important factor in appreciating all Isaiah sees. He says, “In the year that King Uzziah died.”

Uzziah, for the most part, had been a faithful king. He began his reign when he was sixteen years old. That reign lasted fifty-two years. Scripture says of him that he did what was right in God’s eyes. His last years of life, however, were spent as a leper. He disobeyed a commandment of God and that was his punishment.

In a sense, his death was a tragedy to Isaiah. Uzziah had been a good king. He was one of Judah’s more faithful leaders. But he died in shame.

God used his death to spur Isaiah into ministry. The king he admired and thanked God for was dead. But he still sees God sitting on a throne. That reminds me of that line from “There’s Something About That Name.” Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name.

Sometimes, we put too much trust in what people can do for us. When we’re not careful, we elevate their lives in our hearts in idolic ways. Be mindful of how we speak of our leaders (the ones we voted for, of course). Thank God for them. Appreciate how they serve. But don’t speak of them with the devotion that belongs only to God. The same goes for people we admire and love. 

I wonder if that’s why Isaiah first saw God. Was he overly gut-wrenched by the king’s death? If so, seeing God on the throne is even more important because it affirms God’s power.

The glory of the Lord fills the whole earth! No other king can ever say that. God doesn’t rely on rulers. But God will use their position.

And God still calls us into ministry. God still wanted someone to respond to the calling then. And the Lord desires for us to work in tandem with the Holy Spirit now. As we understand what our mission is, we keep a check on our view of ourselves and one another. God is the only one we should see on the throne.  

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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