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  • Benjamin Sherrill

Isaiah's Proposition to Solve the World's Problems

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

The year is 2023, the people of the world are suffering from utter hopelessness, the seas of chaos and terror run deep, the nations are raging. The streets are filled with the blood of the innocent, everyone searches for justice, truth, and meaning. Yet these things are nowhere to be found, no one can seem to define them. Despair on the other hand, can be found in every family’s cabinet alongside the salt and pepper. School shootings occur, “we need more gun control!” the masses shout. Militant transgender laws in Canada are passed, “we need more equality!” and “no justice, no peace!” the masses demand. The finger is being pointed in all directions: the system is broken, politicians are the issue, not enough health care, guns are the problem, capitalism is destroying families, and the white-man is to blame for all racism. The world is acting like a couple of teenage brothers fighting over everything, waiting for dad to waltz in and say, “What in the world is going on here, huh?!”


Well, what in the world is going on here? There is no shortage of answers being given. And as previously stated, everyone seems to be pointing the finger in every which direction, except one. Let me explain by retelling a famous story I once heard. The brilliant G.K. Chesterton and other famous thinkers of the day were asked by The Times, to answer the following question, “What’s wrong with the world today?”, the thinkers mailed in their lengthy answers addressing all sorts of issues and problems. When it came turn for Chesterton to respond, he sent in the most theologically robust answer one could produce, he wrote a letter which simply stated:

“Dear Sir, I am. Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

Brilliant, isn't it? “What’s wrong with the world today?” I am. This is the resounding answer of the Christian faith. The problem is not the world, the devil, the pandemic, the climate crisis, the inflationary markets, the racism occuring, etc. (these are serious issues), but they all point to one common denominator: me, myself, and I. As Taylor Swift sang in her recent hit, “it’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me!” Once in a blue moon, God certainly can use balaam’s ass to speak truth. But let’s leave donkey-talk out for a moment and consider the issue through a biblical lens. The prophet Isaiah’s vision in the sixth chapter speaks potently to the issue at hand:

1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim were standing above Him, each having six wings: with two each covered his face, and with two each covered his feet, and with two each flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of armies. The whole earth is full of His glory."
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke 5 Then I said, “Woe to me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of armies.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away and atonement is made for your sin.” (Isa. 6:1-7)

Here is laid out for us a blueprint, a roadmap, the only path forward to humanity’s great struggle against itself. We find a three-part answer from the Almighty:


Step 1: We Must Recognize Who God Is

In this glorious vision, the uniqueness of the Christian message is presented. Verses 1-4 remind us that the world is filled with momentary and ever-changing solutions to all of life’s problems, but Isaiah is not interested in that. Rather, he is concerned with identifying the root issue at hand. Here the blueprint begins with a first step: to recognize, as Isaiah did, who the primary character of the vision is. It is not man but the One on the throne, none other than the King of the cosmos, the Lord God Omnipotent. The seraphim declare “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of armies. The whole earth is full of His glory.” Dr. R.C. Sproul reminds us that “this is the only attribute of God that is magnified in Scripture to the third degree of repetition.” [1]


Even the inanimate thresholds of the temple tremble, the angels have to cover themselves, when encountering, the holiness of God. This holiness from the Almighty shines forth throughout the heavens and the earth radiating a wholly–otherness (Gen. 1:1), this is often described by theologians as the aseity of God (Rom. 11:36), He is the only self-sustaining being, dependent upon nothing and upon no one, life is found within himself, He is life, we are reminded that he is qualitatively distinct from the created order in every conceivable way. Many see God as the biggest, greatest and strongest individual within our universe, a Superman-like figure. However, this passage highlights the contrary. The Lord is unlike his creatures in that He is infinite and eternal in His being wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. He is the great I AM (Ex. 3:14).


Step 2: We Must Recognize Who Man Is

Continuing in verse 5, Isaiah the messenger is given a glimpse of the holiness of God resulting in an awakening to the gravity and dread of his current state which leads him to declare “Woe to me, for I am ruined!” Isaiah is very intentional about his words here. The prophets are known as God’s covenant-lawyers who pronounce His judgment upon covenant-breakers. Oftentimes this is done by utilizing the word woe. We see this in Ezekiel 16:23-27 as God’s anger is poured out upon Israel due to their spiritual whoredom, “Then it came about after all your wickedness (‘Woe, woe to you!’ declares the Lord God)” (Ezek. 16:23; Isa. 33:1; Jer. 48:1-2; Zeph. 2:5, etc.) Again, we observe Jesus as the last prophet bringing judgment language upon that wicked generation who crucified Him (Matt. 16-24). Therefore, Isaiah is clearly pronouncing cursing upon himself “Woe to me, for I am ruined”! The righteous messenger is keenly aware of the majesty and transcendence of the Holy One! If the angels must cover themselves, how is he to stand unmoved before the One who holds the universe together. Other translations say “for I am undone” or “I am lost”, hence, Isaiah is communicating the utter despair of his people, and himself.


One can hear the dreadful tone in his response. Similarly to what occurred to Peter in Luke 5. Jesus had finished teaching and tells his disciple Peter, an experienced fishermen, to cast his nets out in a particular spot, to which Peter reminds Jesus that they had already tried fishing but could not catch anything, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing”, but seemingly so Peter gives Jesus the proverbial shoulder tap and says “but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” (v.5) Then, the same One who was sitting on the throne in Isaiah’s vision and who created that ocean where they were fishing, overflows the nets with fish, so Peter falls on his knees and proceeds to give a remarkable answer, one that resembles Isaiah’s realization, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (v.8) Isaiah caught a glimpse of what Peter saw, the Holy one, the transcendent one, the splendor, the glory, and the perfect image of the Father, the only begotten Son, the living Word by which all things hold together (Jn. 12:41; Heb. 1:3). Realizing who God is, reveals who we truly are and this ought to produce in us the same response Peter and Isaiah had: trembling, dread, terror. God is holy, and we are not.


Step 3: We Must Recognize What the Answer Is

Logically, the follow up question should be, God being infinitely holy, and man utterly unholy, how can the chasm be reconciled? How can darkness reside where there is perfect light? In other words, how does man clean his uncleanable sin-stained lips? Here is the simple answer: you can’t. The verdict is clear. Because no man stands innocent before the eyes of a holy God, His wrath is poured out to all humanity because they actively reject his truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-20). Mankind loves his state of filth, scourging down the poisoned fruit, and having no desire to wipe the uncleanness away from their lips. Yet here lies the distinguishing factor between Christianity and all other man-made worldviews. There is no climbing the ladder up to God. The ladder was shattered at the very first step. There is no “trying to be a better person so I can go to heaven one day”. Isaiah goes on to say later that “all our deeds of righteousness are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6). It is in this deep, dark, hole that every man and woman on earth is found, and yet, in the darkness, verses 6-7 break forth with the brightest light possible to declare to us, a sinful race, the best news we could ever possibly hear, the only truly good news:

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away and atonement is made for your sin.”

The great chasm between God’s infinite holiness and man’s utter sinfulness is impossible to bridge by human efforts. But the Lord, in His kindness and grace shows mercy remembering His covenant-promises to heal the nations (Rev. 22:2) and to bridge the gap (Lk. 4:16-19). The transcendent, infinite, all-powerful Creator condescends to meet His creation to provide the foreign-righteousness that is needed to find redemption and forgiveness (Phil. 2:5-11). The Savior-King came to Earth and lived the perfect life that we could never live, was unrightfully murdered, and rose from the grave three days later so that the infinite gap between God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness could be met. This is what leads the Apostle Paul to say, “It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:26). Because God is just He must judge sin. And because God is merciful and loving, He became the God-man who pays for sin so to be “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”


Brothers and sisters, all of the secular solutions, be it wokism, or communism, or transgenderism, or feminism, are empty systems of thought attempting to calm the storms of “societal unrest”. They attempt to soothe evil to no avail. The nations are still raging like waves uncontrollably bashing into each other. Fear still fills the heart of man, just as it filled the disciples' hearts 2000 years ago in the midst of a terrible storm. In anxious desperation they went to wake up Jesus, who was sound asleep, and said to him, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” (Matt. 8:25) The disciples thought their biggest problem was the waves raging against them during the storm. And what they most wanted, in that moment, was for Jesus to stop the storm so everything could go back to normal. But Jesus’ answer was unexpected. You see Jesus, unlike the moderns’ attempt to resolve the world’s problems by slapping a bandaid on a bullet hole, goes to the heart of the storm. He goes directly to the cause of the storm, sin, and offers his life for ours, providing peace. A true heavenly, earth-altering, other-worldly shalom with God and man.And thus, Jesus responds to his worried disciples by saying, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” (v. 26)


The Apostle John reminds us that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 Jn. 4:18) The fear the world has is related to punishment. Death is an enemy and sin has produced unrest in our minds and souls. But Isaiah, Peter, Paul, John and all the other biblical writers, remind us of the same answer, “perfect love casts out fear”. The embodiment of perfect love is found in none other than Jesus Christ, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). The societal challenges might look a little different from generation to generation, but as the great preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones once said, “...humanity's problem is still the same, God is the same, and the solution of the problem is the same: Jesus Christ.” Jesus is the true answer to the world’s true problem of sin. So come and welcome to Jesus Christ!

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1 See The Holiness of God, for a life-impacting study on the character of the triune God.

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