February 29, 2012

The Year of King Uzziah's Death: An Application of Isaiah 6:1

Below is the final step to my first Isaiah project (for my Isaiah class): 6:1-13, Isaiah's commission. Certain sections of that project were unfortunately rushed because I underestimated the time required for quality work. But not to fret! I would like to share the application, looking at 6:1 in particular, since I was generally pleased with it. Much, much more could and should be said about this passage. Maybe over summer—the next time I foresee myself actually having some spare time—I'll return to it. Please enjoy.

"It was in the year of King Uzziah's death…" (v 1). This verse strikes me. Not because of what it means, but because of what it stands for. The year of the King's death was a time of uncertainty. Things were unpredictable and the future unknown which meant fear and anxiety loomed. Judah had impending threats stirring, making things extremely difficult to manage and control.

This is often how life is on earth isn't it? People die, leaving us with massive gaps psychologically and politically. Family members, religious congregations and national communities lose leaders, an idol, their grounding and their identity. What does this mean? What happens now? We become fearful and anxious about the future, about what could be, about possibilities. Our imaginations run wild so to speak. But the fact of the matter is this—our stress and fearful worrying of earthly matters—does not shake heaven's foundations. According to Isaiah's vision, only the voices of the seraphims, roaring their praise of YHWH back and forth, do that. And such a worshipful choir can only be produced by creatures who understand the throne and who sits there.

It is all too easy, like I am sure it was for those living in Judah during Uzziah's disheartening death, to have a narrow vision and shallow imagination, to cast our eyes on things seen and tangible only. But what would happen if we adjusted our gaze to the sky? What would take place if we were able to "see" him who sits on the throne, high and lifted, whose glory fills the earth? Could worry and fear, stress and anxiety stand among the council of God? Would our trust, again, be fanned to brighter and hotter flames?

Now, this kind of "seeing" may call for a redeeming and resurrection of the imagination. Because chances are we aren't being caught up in a chilling scene of YHWH himself. Such an event would leave an unshakable memory. So unfortunately we aren't afforded such a luxury, or terror. We are left with having to "work up" images to remind ourselves of earth's true king. If our imaginations can be applied to ill purposes (i.e. worrying), than surely—maybe through the pressing of the seraphim's purifying coal—the application toward godly ends is not only justifiable but good.

So what is this to me? What represents the year of king Uzziah's death in my life? What is it that causes me to worry, fear and become undone so much so that lifting my eyes to heaven's throne takes all the energy I have? To be quite frank, life for me in this season has been incredibly enjoyable. But this does not mean that I do not sense fear looming as I think about the future. I am after all graduating from college in May.

This means that in a few short months my life, my identity—since Fall of 2005—will be utterly removed from beneath my feet. The anxiety of separating from friends and nourishing community often springs up in my heart. The fear of the unknown and what could be roots itself deep in my being. This is my year of king Uzziah's death. But, with courage, I lift my eyes to the hills of heaven. I no longer stare into the eyes of the tangible and earthen, but instead the unseen. By faith I "see." I orient myself around YHWH, who remains, in being and essence, unmoved by the "massive" events and changes in my life. I gladly give my life over to him whose glory fills the earth, like his robe in the temple. Amen.