Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,” he said, “then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance”
Last week we considered the revelation of God’s holy glory to Moses and to Isaiah. Today we need to consider their responses. Notice that when Moses caught a tiny glimpse of God’s glory, he was immediately struck with a sense of his sinfulness and that of the people. He fell to the ground, admitted that he needed God’s favor, and begged God to forgive the sins of the people.
Just so, when God revealed His holy glory to Isaiah, the prophet cried out, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). What stands out here is that the first prophetic oracle pronounced by the prophet is an oracle of woe against himself. When Isaiah saw God in His glory, he saw himself as he really was.
The revelation of God’s holiness, powerfully communicated through His glory, caused these righteous men to feel their utter depravity by comparison. This is the first step in reformation. Almost anyone we meet will readily admit that he does wrong sometimes, that occasionally he sins. Sadly, that does not seem to bother people at all.
There is not one person in a thousand who will claim to be perfect, but there is not one person in a thousand who understands the seriousness of not being perfect. You see, God does not judge us on the curve; rather, the standard is that of God’s perfection. But we are comfortable with our imperfection. We judge ourselves by each other. No matter how ashamed I may be at the sins in my own life, I can always look around and find somebody who is more depraved than I am.
What we need is a vision of God’s holiness and glory, a vision that will bring us back to reality, and start us on the road to true reformation. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), and if we would be wise, we must start by saying, “Woe to me!”
Coram Deo means “before the face of God.” When you before God’s face in prayer, do you perceive His awesome holiness as you should? As your inflated view of self is diminished in His presence, be moved like Isaiah, first to repentance and then to praise.
For further study: Isaiah 42:8; Luke 5:1–11; 9:28–36