Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.” (Isaiah 6:6-7, N.K.J.V.)
When God wills for an individual to do something, He enables that individual to do it. The prophet Isaiah found this out by way of an awesome vision from God. That vision provides us with a scene of God’s enabling on grand display.
In the vision, Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of God’s robe filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1). There is some debate as to whether this temple was the one in Jerusalem or God’s heavenly temple (Revelation 11:19), but I favor the interpretation that it was God’s heavenly temple. Above God’s throne stood seraph angels, each one having six wings (Isiah 6:2). The angels cried out one to another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). The doorposts of the temple shook and the entire place was filled with smoke (Isaiah 6:4).
The incredible scene was enough to cause Isaiah to be overcome with awe, fear, and a sense of his sinfulness. Consequently, he said, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because 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). It was then that one of the seraph angels, holding a hot coal taken off the altar, flew to Isaiah and touched his mouth with the coal. In doing so, the angel said to Isaiah, “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged” (Isaiah 6:7).
While there is a reasonable debate as to whether this was Isaiah’s actual salvation experience, what isn’t debated is that the vision set the stage for God to send Isaiah out to do the prophesying He wanted him to do (Isaiah 6:8-13). The key is found in where the angel placed the hot coal upon Isaiah: the mouth (lips). You see, that’s the body part that gets used in speaking prophecies.
We might say that if God had wanted Isaiah to walk a thousand miles for Him, the angel would have placed the hot coal upon Isaiah’s leg or legs. If God had wanted Isaiah to see visions for Him, the angel would have placed the hot coal upon Isaiah’s eyes. If God had wanted Isaiah to heal the sick for Him, the angel would have placed the hot coal upon Isaiah’s hand (hands). You get the idea.
The lesson is that whenever God desires that a person perform a specific function for Him, He enables that person to perform that function. God doesn’t expect any individual to do something the individual physically can’t do. He doesn’t demand solos from people who aren’t gifted to sing, books from people who aren’t gifted to write, and teaching from people who aren’t gifted to teach. He isn’t a cruel taskmaster.
Let this lesson be a two-fold encouragement to you. First, let it encourage you to decline any job that you simply aren’t capable of doing. Don’t let peer pressure or the old adage “somebody’s got to do it” create a false sense of guilt in you and get you roped into something you honestly can’t handle. And then second, let the lesson encourage you to dive headlong into any job that God has gifted you to do. Listen, the world needs poets, but it also need plumbers. It needs engineers, but it also needs electricians. It needs finance officers, but it also needs factory workers. Isaiah’s role in service to God was that of a prophet. What’s yours?