Sunday, April 1, 2012
Isaiah Chapter 6
Isaiah Chapter 6
- “It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven's Armies! The whole earth is filled with His glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.”
- For history on King Uzziah, read II Chronicles 26.
- My dad did a sermon on this a couple months or so ago. So some of this may be taken from that...
- Okay... The Lord is sitting on His throne, high and lifted up. He is above the rest. He is exalted in the heavens. For He is worthy of praise and adoration and His essence demands our obeisance.
- His train fills the Temple. His presence cannot be denied. He is everywhere. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says that a flowing train was a “badge of dignity in the East.” This wasn't just a little train... this one filled the entire Temple.
- The only thing I have to relate this to is a wedding dress with a really long train... There are trains that are like a foot long... and then there are trains that flow the length of the aisle and require assistance in managing...
- God's train wasn't a little one. His dignity demands a HUGE train. Something that shows just how much honor He deserves.
- Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says this about the seraphim : “Above the throne stood the holy angels, called seraphim, which means burners; they burn in love to God, and zeal for his glory against sin. The seraphim showing their faces veiled, declares that they are ready to yield obedience to all God's commands, though they do not understand the secret reasons of his counsels, government, or promises. All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory.”
- “Seraphim” literally meant to burn... they were literally on fire for God. As they circled the throne, they called out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven's Armies (or the Lord of Hosts)! The whole earth is filled with His glory!”
- Now, yes, these were created beings... and yes their job may have been to circle the throne... but these created beings... could not help but cry out at the holiness of God.
- Now, when dad did his sermon, he used a picture that my brother had done. It was a pencil sketch of the Mona Lisa... done entirely with doodles. So the shading etc. was all done with doodles. Every part of the picture... was made up of hundreds of other little pictures. There were animals, and food, and people... all kinds of things hidden within each other.
- Dad had one of the kids come down and walk around the picture. He was to explain what he saw each time he walked past... And every time, he saw something new in the picture...
- The seraphim were the same way. As they circled the throne... they continually saw new aspects, or facets of God. As they saw God's glory revealed in the earth, they couldn't help themselves! They just had to cry out in amazement! “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is this God! Look at all that He is! Look at all that He has done! WOW!!!!!!!!”
- They just kept circling and calling out to each other in amazement and awe over all that they saw and perceived.
- They called out so much and so loudly, that the whole Temple was shaken to its foundations and was filled with smoke...
- Smoke is usually perceived as the presence of God, or His Spirit...
- This just gives me such a picture of God's awesomeness and power. The Temple is shaking to its foundation and is completely filled with the presence of God. That just sounds like it would be scary to witness first hand. Can you imagine? And here stands Isaiah... what's his response?
- “Then I said, “It's all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven's Armies.”
- Despair. Hopelessness. Sorrow.
- I was thinking a lot about the unclean lips thing. When the seraphim comes with the coal here in a second, He doesn't say, “now you can go speak to the people.” And I always thought it had to do with Isaiah being a prophet and speaking to the people.
- But then why would he say that the rest of Israel was also of unclean lips? Could none of them speak of God?
- Have you ever seen a movie where someone goes to meet the king or queen and they bow down before them and kiss their ring or their hand?
- Well, in idol worship, kissing the idol was a type of worship.
- In Job 31:26-28, it says: “Have I looked at the sun shining in the skies, or the moon walking down its silver pathway, and been secretly enticed in my heart to throw kisses at them in worship? If so, I should be punished by the judges, for it would mean I had denied the God of heaven.”
- In I Kings 19:18, God is talking to Elijah and He tells him that He has kept 7,000 others in Israel who haven't bowed down to Baal or kissed him.
- And in Hosea 13:2-3, it says: “Now they continue to sin by making silver idols, images shaped skillfully with human hands, “Sacrifice to these,” they cry, “and kiss the calf idols!” Therefore, they will disappear like the morning mist, like dew in the morning sun, like chaff blown by the wind, like smoke from a chimney.”
- One of the commentaries I was reading said that sometimes the ground was kissed as a sign of the fullness of submission.
- So here stands Isaiah... and all he can think of is... “how unworthy am I! Here I stand... not even worthy to kiss the feet of this God I serve! For I have sinned!” Whether that meant that Isaiah had at one point kissed an idol... or if that means simply that he was struck with the gravity of his sin...
- I am reminded of John the Baptist when he said “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much great that I'm not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of His sandals.” (Mark 1:7)
- And the rest of the nation! Not only is Isaiah a man of unclean lips... so too is the nation of Judah!
- In II Chronicles in the story of Uzziah and his son Jotham, it remarks that although the kings were godly... the people did not follow their example and continued in their idolatry.
- Have you ever felt like that before God? Unworthy. Presumptuous. Fearful. Dismayed. Hopeless.
- Isaiah is standing in the throne room of God, completely surrounded by this awesome display of power and holiness... and in the presence of that holiness, Isaiah finds himself sorely lacking in his own...
- And yet... here he stands in the presence of God...
- “Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
- When we fall before God and ask for forgiveness for our sins... It is freely given... but then begins a purging process. This walk is not a one time commitment... This is a day in, day out walk that requires constant resubmission.
- This is not a simple or painless process. That coal probably hurt like crazy... But it was worth it.
- When God accepts us as we are... He then asks us to become more like Him in all our ways. Yes the initial acceptance is unconditional. He will take you as you are. You don't have to fix yourself up before you come to Him... however, you do have to allow Him to work in you after that point.
- Isaiah was letting God do a work in him. He saw the need in himself, and accepted the Father's work in changing something about him.
- Just as we should. When you find yourself faced with your sin... and the fact that you are guilty beyond repair... That's when you too should fall on your knees before an almighty God, crying out, “Woe is me! For I am doomed! I have sinned against a holy and righteous God!” Then allow God not only to take your sin and guilt and cleanse you from it... but also to start to work a change in who you are.
- “Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” And He said, “Yes, go, and say to this people...”
- God starts a change in Isaiah... and the first thing He asks for... is for Isaiah to go speak to the people. A hard task in and of itself... but wait until you see what God tells Isaiah to SAY!
- Isaiah doesn't hesitate. He jumps at the chance to do something for God.
- When we have accepted this God, and we have seen our unworthiness... and still have been accepted and cleansed from our sins... we owe a debt to God. He could have let us die in our sin... He didn't have to provide a way out... but He did. And freely.
- Now when God asks us for something... what is our response? Do we sit and mull it over trying to think about how we can do this with as little effort as possible? Do we see if we can figure out a way to have somebody else do it and we still get the credit? Do we ask God not to make us do it? Do we try and bargain with God to see if we can do something more in our comfort zone?
- Or do we step up and say, “Yes God, I will go. Send me. I will do whatever You ask of me. No matter what it is... Just lead and guide me and I will trust that You will provide me with the answers, the strength, the wisdom, that I need to fulfill the purpose You ask of me.”
- That's a hard question. Sometimes God asks us to pick up and go somewhere new. Leave all we know behind. Sometimes God asks us to say hard things to people we love. Sometimes it means that we're probably going to be persecuted in some way for our words or actions.
- But it's not about us... it's about God... And it's about being obedient whenever He asks us to be.
- The purging and growing processes are not easy... but they are necessary for us to be healthy, growing, thriving Christians. If we're not growing and changing for the better... we're not letting Christ work in our lives... and if we're not letting Him do a work... we are growing stagnant, apathetic, or we are spiritually dying... None of which are great options...
- So what does God ask Isaiah to tell the people?
- “Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.” Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, not hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing.”
- WHAT???? Aren't I supposed to lead them to You? Aren't I supposed to heal them? Make them better? Teach them to follow You? Why do You want to harden their hearts? Why do You not want them to turn to You for healing? Are they not Your people? Are they not Your children whom You love?
- “Then I said, “Lord, how long will this go on?”
- No arguments. No holding back... just... “okay, so how long will I do this? What comes next?”
- Surely there's hope here somewhere. Surely God wouldn't just leave them stranded with no hope. Surely there's more.
- “And He replied, “Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland; until the Lord has sent everyone away, and the entire land of Israel lies deserted. If even a tenth—a remnant—survive, it will be invaded again and burned. But as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel's stump will be a holy seed.”
- footnote- “When would the people listen? Only after they had come to the end and had nowhere to turn but to God. This would happen when the land was destroyed by invading armies and the people taken into captivity. The “tenth” refers either to those who remained in the land after the captivity or to those who returned from Babylon to rebuild the land. Each group was about a tenth of the total population. When will we listen to God? Must we, like Judah, go through calamities before we will listen to God's words? Consider what God may be telling you, and obey Him before time runs out.”
- The people had so hardened their hearts towards God... that He finally decided that drastic measures were in order... If they could not depend on Him in times of prosperity... or even times of a little persecution... then... they would learn to depend on Him by losing everything and having ONLY He to cling to. Nothing else would be available. He was giving them no other option.
- In order to do so however, He had to harden their hearts completely. Stop up their ears so they could not hear... and allow them to get to the place that He needed them to be... secure in and dependent on themselves. And then... He would rip out their foundations. He would take everything away so that they HAD to turn to Him.
- But... just as a tree leaves a stump that produces shoots after it is cut down... so would Israel become a holy seed. They would once again grow up to be a holy people. They would once again truly become His people... heart, mind, and soul.
- The means to the end... is not pretty... but the end... is very worth the struggle to get there...