The prophet Isaiah cried this out when he had seen a vision of the Lord and had seen and heard the angelic response to God’s holiness and glory. Upon hearing the voice of one crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory,” and seeing the shaking and the house filled with smoke, Isaiah says, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6)
His feelings were that of one who was destroyed and cut off. “Why so?”, one may ask. The answer is simple, yet so profound. The shaking and the smoke symbolized God’s presence and His holiness as it coincides with His wrath and judgment upon rebellion and sin. And this vision had made Isaiah aware of his own sin and wretched estate. This was immensely painful to him and it broke him. What could he do? Here he was beholding the very presence of God and His holy angels and the acute awareness of his sinful nature caused him to fall prostrate before the Lord.
Isaiah confesses, “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.” The acknowledgment of unclean lips is merely a recognition of the true condition of the heart of all men. And this vision reminds Isaiah of his own pitiful estate that deserved God’s judgment.
This recognition prepared Isaiah for cleansing and for the commission the Lord would give him. The hot coal which the angelic being took from the altar to touch Isaiah’s lips is symbolic of God’s purifying work. To put it bluntly, repentance can be painful!
Isaiah may have felt “undone”, but God Himself is the only One who could put him together in such a way as to make him acceptable.
True repentance is always the result of personal brokenness and sorrow over one’s real spiritual condition. And of such a one….God will not despise. (Psalm 51;17)