Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Man of Unclean Lips

Isaiah 6:1-8
Here's another passage with dramatic imagery, Isaiah's vision of the heavenly throneroom. Sure, it's easy for us to get distracted by the six winged seraphs (more like flying snakes than angels) but these are far less shocking for Isaiah's ancient audience. The seraphs are prepared for divine audience: they can cover their faces (for no one is meant to see God); they can cover their feet (possibly a euphemism for genitals, either way it's a symbol of purity); and they still have a set of wings to get their jobs done. But not all tasks can be assigned to heavenly servants - some require the human touch.

Still, Isaiah doesn't feel fit to be in the presence of God, let alone respond to God's call. The reluctant prophet is a stereotype in the Hebrew tradition. Though he doesn't ask for it, he is cleansed by the seraph according to the temple rites of forgiveness. Why don't we hear about burnt and blistered lips? Perhaps God's magic coals come with miraculous healing powers or maybe the story just isn't meant to be locked into such a literal framework.

Isaiah's call reminds us that a human response is often necessary to shape the world towards God's intent. Do we need to be perfect to be a part of this? No, we are made ready before we even ask. All it takes is the will to action.

8 comments:

David said...

Is this the God who made "heavens and the earth", made people and apparently actively intervenes in history? This same God you're now saying has problems carrying out His will, so now requires human assistance? After all these previous achievements, is God now having difficulty carrying out His will?

Pigs arse!

Just let God do His own will. Stop praying, talking, pleading and begging God. Leave Him alone to get on with it. He knows what He's doing. You don't.

JDK said...

You might not like it David, but God working with and through humans is a consistent theme in the Bible. For my current purpose I'm just reporting that. What you do with it is up to you.

Regards, JDK

David said...

You're not just a journalist, Jason. People in the Salvos actually believe they are participating in or carrying out the will of God. Making these type of claims without providing good evidence is another form of deceptive conduct.

The public face of Christians is to step back from direct claims of doing God's will (otherwise they'd look like nutters). In private, at church meetings, it's a different story. The friendly public facade covers privately practised madness like prayer, magic-based belief, and self-delusional wishful thinking.

So delusional, in fact, that some people believe that God really did act historically as portrayed in the Bible.

So delusional that some people believe they really are responding to God's intent.

JDK said...

Agreed that people bent on carrying out what they see as the will of God can be a terrifying proposition at times. There need to be checks and balances, the Bible has to be interpreted in the context of a moderating community in order to nullify extremism. One of my aims here is to illustrate ways of reading and responding to the Bible that are valid alternatives to literalism and fundamentalism. Whether even this itself is delusional is something I'm happy to be judged upon.

Regards, JDK

Nicky said...

Thanks David, you've just proved that you don't have to be religious to be extremist, judgmental, narrow-minded and destructive. It's quite sad actually that you fit into this category. Your only intent seems to be to destroy. If that's what atheism is about then I'll take belief in God any day. What you seem to show in attitude to Jase's comments doesn't seem to be any better than the people and attitudes you are so agressively opposed to. Your rude and aggressive style suggests that maybe you are the one with issues.

What positive and constructive things are you doing to make the world a better place?

I hope you can find some peace somewhere.

Nicky

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JDK said...

Nice one Anon - I'm all for free speech and right of reply (ok with some minor exceptions here but I hope its clear that I edit very little!)

Regards, JDK

Anonymous said...

Hi.
Just wanted to say that I'm enjoying this new format. You shone some new and helpful light on this passage for me. Thanks. Looking forward to next week now!