Seeing God’s Holiness
The Wizard of Oz is a great story. Dorothy has been blown away in a tornado to the magical land of Oz. In her quest to get back home, she is directed to the wizard. He is “great and powerful” and can surely get her home. As she arrives in his palace, she is greeted by a terrifying and magical presence. As she makes her request, the wizard demands that she first accomplish a quest. When she succeeds and arrives back she discovers that there is a simple man behind the curtain who has manufactured the great and powerful image of himself to strike terror into the people.
Like Dorothy, Isaiah and the people of God knew God to be “great and powerful” as he had revealed himself in the mighty acts during the time of the exodus. And like Dorothy, Isaiah got to see the one behind the curtain. But here is where the stories diverge. Whereas Dorothy discovers the plain and ordinary man from Kansas, Isaiah sees God on his throne. As great and powerful as Isaiah may have thought of God before, the true presence of God is completely overwhelming. He is terrified, crying out, “woe is me, for I am lost!” More literally, he cries, “woe is me, for I am undone, as in disintegrating or coming apart at the seams.