Sep 01, 2023 Two Kings in Contrast – Words of Grace – September 3, 2023
Built into the well-known vision that Isaiah had of the holiness of God is the lesser-observed contrast between two very different kings. Isaiah 6 begins with the death of King Uzziah as the backdrop for the message that the Lord is the one true and living King of glory. It’s as if Isaiah highlights the perfection of one by mentioning the death of the other.
King Uzziah ruled in Judah in the eighth century BC. His story is found in 2 Chronicles 26. There we read that he started his reign doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, that he sought the Lord, and that the Lord caused him to prosper. But as he grew strong, he also grew proud. He set himself above the instruction of the Lord as he exerted his authority over the realm of the temple where only the priests were to minister. For this, he was punished by the Lord with a skin disease and lived out his days in isolation. Then, he died.
Isaiah 6 simply references “the year that Uzziah died” as the time when Isaiah saw the vision of the Lord on a throne, high and lifted up, with his glory filling heaven and earth while the seraphim called him “holy, holy, holy.”
It should be obvious that Isaiah is doing more than giving us the historical context of his vision. The book of Isaiah is considered a literary masterpiece. Isaiah the prophet is communicating a message by contrasting two kings.
One king lived, ruled, accomplished, sinned, and died. The other King lives, reigns, and is declared by creatures in heaven and on earth to be perfect in all his attributes and ways. The king who is human and flawed is mentioned as a reference point for the other King whose kingdom is forever and before whom all must stand.
This brings up another contrast in Isaiah 6. This one is between two men who faced the Lord as King. Uzziah entered the temple one day to take over. He stood before the Lord in his pride. Isaiah saw the holiness of the Lord and fell before him in humility, crying out “Woe is me!”
Those who see the Lord in truth come to truly see themselves. Isaiah gives us a set of contrasts to open our eyes. Let us pray that the Spirit will use his word to grant us sight to see the Lord and ourselves and give us the spirit of humility to receive his mercy. Then, we will stand before the Lord at peace, and serve him with joy.
Pray about these things this weekend. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.