“Woe is me! 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 knew he was a dead man. That’s what “woe is me” means. I’m dead. He had been in the temple, minding his own business, and suddenly He sees the LORD. The invisible becomes visible – and Isaiah can only conclude that he is dead. Done for. Toast.
He has a very good reason for thinking that. He knows that He is a sinful man. Sinful man gets blotted out in the presence of the Holy God. That’s what happens. And every statement he says it utterly true and accurate. He is sinful. And frankly, if God had wished to blot Isaiah out, He’d have been totally justified in so doing.
But that’s not what happens. The goal of the LORD’s appearing was not to bring death and destruction, but to bring about cleansing and forgiveness. The angel brings the coal, Isaiah’s lips are touched, and guilt is removed, sin atoned for, and Isaiah can be safely in the presence of God.
This is precisely what Jesus does and why He comes. He does not come to condemn the world, but with His death and resurrection to remove guilt and atone for sin. He comes to us in His Supper and places His own Body and Blood upon our lips so that being forgiven we may enjoy in presence now and eternally. Indeed, we even sing with that angelic host that Isaiah beheld “Holy, Holy, Holy”. While we deserve death, Christ Jesus is determined to be our Savior. This is His great love for us.