Monday, September 10, 2007

A Vision of the Lord

I don't know how many times I've read this famous passage before, or heard others teach about it, but the lovely Carol said something about this passage I hadn't heard before:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted...."
from Isaiah 6:1
Isaiah sees six-winged seraphs; he cries, "Woe is me" (6.5); he is cleansed by a live coal (6.7); and receives a commission (6.9) from the Lord to preach incomprehension to the people of Israel. The chapter has inspired many sermons and much puzzlement, but I want to focus on that first verse.

Here's what Carol said: "What was it like for Isaiah when his boss, King Uzziah, died? What was he feeling?"

Uzziah was the first king Isaiah worked for, according to Isaiah 1:1. Why was it at that time that the Lord gave him this vision? (By the way, whether it was 11 months separated from Uzziah's death or just a few days, and whatever else happened that year, the vision struck Isaiah in such a way that he referred to its timing with "In the year that King Uzziah died.")

And was the king more than just a boss to Isaiah? There was surely a transition in Isaiah's life. I am going to guess that this was a time when Isaiah really "needed" a vision from the Lord, to the extent that any of us does -- and that's why the Lord sent it to him at this time.

I'm not ignoring the other stuff in the vision -- Isaiah's consciousness of his own sin (you can be sure he obeyed the ceremonial laws but he must have known that these did not perfect him), his commission, and so on -- but as far as "why now"? -- well, those are my thoughts on that.

Now that I think of it, I had a (former) boss die about a dozen years ago. I had worked for her about five years, and though by then I was living and working in Japan, I felt abandoned. (I'm not sure she ever forgave me for going to Japan in the first place.) I guess I needed a vision from the Lord then, too, though I wasn't exactly in a transition in my own life -- Jean's death didn't disrupt my day-to-day life the way Uzziah's disrupted Isaiah's. And maybe I got one.

I still remember a day, I think around that time, when I was walking to take the bus to work, and I was overwhelmed with the sense of being where I belonged -- for that time anyway. And though I didn't see or hear anything, I guess the Lord knew that sense -- the assurance of being in the right place -- was what I needed at the time.

May the Lord give you and me what we need today -- the intersection of "Give us this day our daily bread" with "Man does not live on bread alone."

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