The prophet Isaiah when he came before the throne of God despaired because as he said:Woe is 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 Hosts.
But God gave him clean lips, taking away his iniquity and forgiving his sins. And while Isaiah’s prophecies begin with judgment on the nations, more than any other prophet he is the prophet of the Messiah- the one whose words ring with the clearest understanding of the suffering servant. Here is the promise of God that reaches even down to this time of having unclean lips and being in the midst of a people who have unclean lips:He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face he was despised and we did not esteem him.
Surely our griefs he himself bore and our sorrows he carried; for we ourselves esteemed him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was pierced through for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our wellbeing fell on him. And by his scourging we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; each of us have turned to his own way; but the Lord caused the iniquities of us all to fall on him. (Isaiah 53:3-6)This was part of the scripture text that the Court official to the Queen of Ethiopian was reading when Philip, one of the first deacons of the Church, joined the eunuch as he traveled home from Jerusalem. With this he led the man to Christ. “He preached Jesus to him.”
In the midst of a people of unclean lips, Philip preached Jesus to the Court official. He preached Jesus the God-man who was despised and suffered for the sins of the people. Jesus was humiliated and he was “led as a sheep to slaughter.” And a Court official came to know him—to be redeemed by him.We are in the midst of a people of unclean lips. They are at the moment unwilling to let go of their sin and give their lives to Christ. But we are united to the Lord of life; we are, perhaps, set to walk a lonely path such as his. To be despised, to face humiliation. Yet, this may open God’s door for those who will be given new life and transformation.
This is often God’s pattern, to change his people who feel the sting of their own sin, and through them in their union with Christ, with proclamation of the good news of redemption, to change the wandering sinner.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)