Isaiah 6:1-7:9; 2 Corinthians 11:16-21; Psalms 54:5-7; Proverbs 15:22-23
OT: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies; his glory fills the whole earth. The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke. Then I said: Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Armies. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your iniquity is removed and your sin is atoned for. Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking: Who will I send? Who will go for us? I said: Here I am. Send me.” (Isaiah 6:1-8 CSB)
I have served as a worship leader going on twenty-one years. Several years before I began serving in that capacity – when I initially sensed a call to that role – the Lord led me to this passage of scripture and used it to show me what an expected outcome of worship should be.
One important thing to note in Isaiah’s telling of his encounter with God is that Isaiah didn’t see the Lord high and lifted up until King Uzziah died. The story of King Uzziah can be found in 2 Chronicles 26. Uzziah started out well and became a very blessed and successful king. However, in his success, his heart was lifted up and he became arrogant and prideful – to the point that the Lord struck him with leprosy. King Uzziah died as a leper, separated from fellowship with his people – and nowhere in the Bible is there mention of him humbling himself and repenting. Somehow, Uzziah’s unrepentant arrogance had released a spiritual curtain over the nation and Isaiah wasn’t able to see the Lord until that pride and arrogance died. What does that say for our worship experience in the current age? Are we unable to see the Lord clearly? If we are lifted up, or are attempting to lift ourselves up, we get in the way (and get in other people’s way) of seeing God in His rightful place.
After King Uzziah had died and Isaiah was seeking the Lord, Isaiah had, what we call today, an open heaven experience. He had a vision of the throne room of heaven with God sitting on the throne in awesome and frightening glory and splendor. Isaiah’s reaction to that revelation of God is quite interesting. Isaiah didn’t bask and frolic in the God’s glory. He didn’t soak in God’s presence. He was cut to the heart and became acutely aware of his sinful and unworthy state. When Isaiah was free from the blinders of pride and able to see God high and lifted up, God’s glory exposed Isaiah’s desperate need for salvation and redemption. As Isaiah stood there completely broken, undone, and fearing for his life, God responded to Isaiah with mercy and grace. God cleansed Isaiah of his iniquity and atoned for his sin.
Once Isaiah’s sin had been dealt with and Isaiah was able to stand once again as a new and free man, God had a question and a call. God needed someone to go to the people of Judah and speak to them on His behalf, and He wanted to know if anyone would be willing to go. Having seen the Lord in exalted glory – having come face to face with his own sin and inadequacy – having been newly cleansed, forgiven and set free by the mercy of God, Isaiah said, “Here I am. Send me.” The phrase “Here I am” comes from the Hebrew word hineni. Hineni is an offer of total availability. It basically means, “here is all of me, ready and willing to do all that you ask of me.”
Once pride was out of the way and Isaiah was able to see God rightly, Isaiah became aware of his sinful state, responded humbly, received God’s mercy and responded completely to God’s call. That is and should be the outcome of the sincere worship of God. The goal of a worship leader should not be to lead people to a euphoric feeling or an amazing experience. The goal of a worship leader should be to lead people to a high and lifted God. Jesus said, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all people to me” (John 12:32). As a worship leader, I don’t lead people to a feeling – I lead them to the exalted Christ, that they may come face to face with their need for a savior and experience the Holy Spirit’s conviction and drawing to the Lord. If they respond to the Lord’s call, they will be saved, set free, and willingly sent out with a call. That is the outcome that worship leaders should be after as they humble themselves and lift up the Lord.
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the privilege You have given me of leading people to worship You. Help me to never be about lifting myself up or drawing attention to myself. Instead, grace me to lift You up above all that people may be drawn to You and changed forever. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.