James H. Zachary was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the first editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.

Isaiah walked through the crowded streets of Jerusalem with a heavy heart. His nation faced great trouble. Storms of war threatened from the north. The young man made his way to the temple and fell prostrate. Before the Lord, he poured out his heart in prayer.

And God answered. He always does.

The veil of the temple seemed to be drawn aside. In vision Isaiah saw the glory of God. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a very high throne. His long robe filled the Temple. Heavenly creatures of fire stood above him. Each creature had six wings: It used two wings to cover its face, two wings to cover its feet, and two wings for flying” (Isa. 6:1, 2, NCV).

Try to capture the glory: the high throne, the Person of God, the robe filling the temple, and the heavenly angels!

Then the temple echoed with praise for God (Isa. 6:3, NCV). “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord All-Powerful. His glory fills the whole earth.” 

Fear clutched at Isaiah’s heart as an earthquake moved the posts of the building and the smoke of God’s glory filled the temple. 

“I saw the Lord.” The power, the righteousness, and the love of God filled Isaiah’s mind from then on.

Like Isaiah, elders need to take time daily to “see” the Lord. Morning by morning we need to look at Jesus’ life by meditating upon the gospels or on His life as described in the book The Desire of Ages. We must stop the rushing flow of life’s duties to learn about the greatest Life ever lived.

Isaiah saw the Lord. Then he saw himself. What a contrast! We cannot truly see ourselves until we see the Lord. With the building shaking around him and the glory of God almost blinding him, Isaiah cried out in agony, “Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure, but I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful” (Isa. 6:5).

I am reminded of another man who came to the temple—Herod’s temple. “The tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even look up to heaven. But he beat on his chest because he was so sad. He said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’“ (Luke 18:13).

God always answers this prayer immediately. The publican was accepted, forgiven, and declared righteous by the Lord Jesus.

We see our spiritual condition most clearly after seeing the Lord. How dangerous to compare ourselves with others! We will come up with false high marks for ourselves when we do. But when looking upon the Lord of glory, the best of us will cry with Isaiah and the publican, “I am a sinner, Lord; have mercy on me.”

Picture the young Isaiah kneeling on the temple floor, weeping in penitence before the King of the universe. Then the Lord summons an angel to take a live coal off heaven’s altar. Swiftly the angel flies to Isaiah’s side and touches his lips. What joy comes to him as he hears the words of the angel: “Your guilt is taken away, because this hot coal has touched your lips. Your sin is taken away” (Isa. 6:7).

When Jesus takes away our sin, with its guilt and shame, peace and joy fill our hearts.

“I saw the Lord.” This experience in the temple transformed Isaiah’s life. There on his knees he heard the call of God, “Whom can I send? Who will go for us?” (Isa. 6:8).

Isaiah came face-to-face with the priorities of his God. All of heaven is deeply involved in a gigantic rescue mission for Planet Earth. This is the work of the heavenly angels and the three members of the Trinity. 

Still prostrate before the Lord, Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8).

Isaiah spent the rest of his life in the service of the Lord. And while the northern nation of Israel felt the severe blows of divine justice, Judah responded to the preaching of this gospel prophet who saw the Lord that day in the temple.

How much each elder needs to see the Lord each day! How much we need to see our great need. How much we need the healing grace of the gospel to bring peace to our hearts. How much we need the vision of the divine task that God has for each one.

May we daily see the Lord!

James H. Zachary was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the first editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.