and i said: “woe is me! for i am lost; for i am a man of unclean lips, and i dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” [isaiah 6:5]


when we come into the presence of God, one right response is an awe, a fear of God’s power and might–to see the infinite gap that exists between us and God.  but it isn’t just fear we proclaim–there should be something else that we confess when we are overcome by the infinite power of God that overwhelms us.  


over and over in scripture, we see Godly men undone when they experience the real presence of God:


but when simon peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “depart from me, for i am a sinful man, o Lord.” [luke 5:8]

then i turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning i saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. the hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

when i saw him, i fell at his feet as though dead. [revelation 1:12-17a]

in the presence of the holiness of Jesus, both peter and john are faced with their own sinfulness and inadequacy.  in the same way, each time we open the word, each time we pray in the Spirit, each time we marvel at God’s creation, we are faced with how much we need a holy Savior, one that can intercede with us before God the Father’s holiness and power.


in each of the instances above, God intervenes in the ‘undone-ness’ to restore, purify and heal the one who is filled with awe:


to isaiah, he cleanses the impurity and guilt with the refining heat of the coal:


then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. and he touched my mouth and said: “behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” [isaiah 6:6–7]


to peter he calmed his fears and made him his ambassador:


and Jesus said to simon, “do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” and when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. [luke 5:10b-11]


and to john the disciple he restores him and assures him of his victory:

 but he laid his right hand on me, saying, “fear not, i am the first and the last, and the living one. i died, and behold i am alive forevermore, and i have the keys of death and hades. [revelation 1:17b-18].


this is the character of God–when we see him, it should cause fear and awe, and in that fear and awe, we respond with allegiance and obedience, this happens through Jesus, and through the Spirit:


he is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. [hebrews 1:3a]


let us look upon Jesus, let us see in ourselves our great need, and in him our great Savior! let us confess with our mouths and lives that Jesus Christ is Lord over all!