then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. [isaiah 6:6]

God cannot, abide impurity of any kind–any uncleanness: john tells us that-

this is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. if we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. [1 john 1:4-6]

when isaiah confesses his sin–his uncleanness, and he sees the infinite chasm that exists within his own sin and God’s holy perfection, he is in anguish.  when we read scripture it is like a mirror to our own lives–we cannot walk away from it saying “check, check, check–looks like i am doing what i need to earn my way into heaven.” no. when we truly see our need, that is when we know we need the Savior.  we are told;

for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. [hebrews 4:12]

like isaiah, we will feel the sting of the coal upon our unclean lips–God does discipline his children, but he is doing it for a purpose:

in this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [1 peter 1:6-7]

i have mentioned here that ‘rock of ages’ is my favorite hymn; and there is a lyric where this verse becomes vivid:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

let me hide myself in thee;

let the water and the blood,

from thy wounded side which flowed,

be of sin the double cure;

save from wrath and make me pure.

what is the double cure?  first, God saves us from his own wrath by sending his own Son to atone for our sins–in that way he takes away the wrath that we rightly deserve.

but second, God does something else–like the burning coal that burns away the uncleanness, we are washed in the blood of the lamb–now that we live our life in Christ, we love the things we hated, and hate the things we once loved–we can walk in purity because we have been cleansed, refined, sanctified. that sanctification may come from much affliction. those who endure great tribulation will one day stand in the presence of Holy God:

“therefore they are before the throne of God,

    and serve him day and night in his temple;

    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.

they shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;

    the sun shall not strike them,

    nor any scorching heat.

for the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,

    and he will guide them to springs of living water,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” [revelation 7:15-17]

Lord Jesus, come!