Isaiah 6:5 (ESV) … “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; 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!”
After declaring eight woes upon the nation of Israel, Isaiah then sees himself in the presence of God. This experience brings a woe upon himself as he sees himself as unrighteous in the presence of God’s holiness.
In the presence of God, we feel so unclean and small, but when we are around people of this world we feel comfortable in our sins. This is because in God’s presence we see the true wickedness of our own hearts and minds in this corrupt body. Isaiah has experienced a true encounter with Almighty God. His response is similar to the words of others in the Scriptures when they had an encounter with God.
Gideon felt this way in his encounter with an angel:
Judges 6:22, “And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.”
Samson’s father felt this way in his encounter with an angel:
Judges 13:22, “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”
Job had an encounter with God and felt this way:
Job 42:5, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Agur, the author of Proverbs 30 had an encounter with God and felt this way:
Proverbs 30:2, “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.”
The apostle Peter felt this way in his realization of the divinity of Jesus Christ:
Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
The apostle John had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and felt this way:
Revelation 1:17, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:”
Illustration—In 1990 I was sitting in my apartment meditating. I had just finished lunch, and was about to go back to work. I worked at the apartment complex as a maintenance man. I suddenly saw in a vision, the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ descending upon the Mount of Olives. I then felt the fear of God come upon me. I began to shake and tremble inside. All I could say was what Isaiah said in this passage, “Woe is me.” I then cried out “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty.”
In the years before, I had experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit coming in my room as a sweet anointing, a place where one would want to enjoy the presence of God. But in this experience, the uncomfortable fear of God was filling my room and my heart. I finally got up and went back to work, but the presence of God continued with me for several hours before completely lifting.