Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

04/01/18 - Wonder at God's Grace

“Wonder at God’s Grace”

Isaiah 6:1-8

As we continue to read through the book of Isaiah, today’s Scripture reading gives us a glimpse of what the resurrection of Jesus Christ offers those who believe and receive God’s gift of sins forgiven. In chapter 6, Isaiah gives an account of what he saw, the year King Uzziah died.

What a year that must of been. I’m going to give you a bit of a history lesson here. King Uzziah was king for a long time, he began his reign at the age of 16 and he died 52 years later. Now if you know anything about the kings in the Old Testament, the majority were nasty, but Uzziah was actually one of the more decent ones. 2 Kings 15:3 says, he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done.  In 2 Chronicles 28:5, it says, during the time of the prophet Zechariah, King Uzziah sought after God and as long as he sought after the LORD, he prospered.

He managed to prosper on the battlefield and led Israel in military victories. He prospered in building, planning and in general. But, there always seems to be a “but,” but Uzziah’s life ends tragically. Pride became his downfall and he started to think he was the best king happening and so he could do anything he wanted. One day he decided he would be the one to enter the temple of the LORD to burn the incense on the altar of the incense. Oops! God struck Uzziah with leprosy and he remained an isolated leper until his death. All this to say, that when Isaiah writes that it was the year King Uzziah died, what was most likely going on in his mind was, “In the year that a king who had spent the majority of his life being great and wise, dies so tragically, how discouraging, where are you God in all of this?

The following verse answers that very question. Isaiah sees the LORD sitting on a throne.

God is still in heaven and He is still in charge. He is sitting on His throne and being sovereign over the universe. For any of you who may be interested, this is a fact of heaven.

There is a throne, not a chair, a throne, in heaven, and like all thrones, where kings and judges sit, God sits as sovereign, and as judge in proper authority over all. The reason I can claim this as a fact, is that Isaiah is not the only one who tells us about seeing this throne. We have Job, David, the Sons of Korah, Ethan the Ezrahite, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Apostle John. In fact, the book of Revelation mentions God’s throne more than 35 times!

The idea of a throne, or a place where authority and power over the universe exists, is the defining difference between atheism or materialism and Christianity. Christians believe there is an authority, God, who is not only ruler over the universe, but interested and personally invested in human lives.

When it comes to humanism, well, they believe in a throne, but they have humans sitting on it, not God. But the Bible makes it clear that there is a throne in heaven, the divine sits on it, not any humans, and God is still in charge. This was the answer to Isaiah’s depression as he lamented the death of a great leader of Judah, who was no longer on the throne. God was reminding Isaiah, that he did not need to worry, because the LORD was still on His throne, and was still involved in the lives of the Israelites.

Another part of this vision that demonstrated that God is the one in charge was that the train of His robe filled the temple. Long trains on robes of kings, which were difficult to maneuver in, was a sign that kings were important and didn’t have to work. They were persons of dignity and honor and needed others to work for them. God was so honored and so important that the entire temple was filled with the train of His robe. Can you imagine? Imagine God sitting on this chair and the train of his robe filling this room.

God wasn’t the only one in Isaiah’s vision. Isaiah saw seraphs surrounding the throne. Seraphs are angels, others called them cherubs. The word seraph means “burning one.” Ezekiel described them like this, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning. Sounds like burning angels to me.

 

These seraphs had six wings. Two wings covered their eyes, to demonstrate they are too lowly to to look upon the LORD, two wings to cover their feet, to hide this humble area of their body from the LORD’s presence and two more wings to help them fly. When you think about it, seraphim have a balanced existence, they use four of their wings to express their humility and two of their wings to express their willingness and ability to serve God.

 

Well, that is what Isaiah saw, now we read what he heard. The seraphim were crying out to each other, Holy, Holy,Holy, is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory. What Isaiah heard was so loud and strong, the door posts were shaking and the temple was full of smoke!

 

Okay, we have all seen enough movies to try and imagine this scene in our minds. It’s kind of a cross between the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz and Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea. In the midst, Isaiah is experiencing a smoke show like he’s at some rock concert. Then check out his response,


Woe to me! I am ruined!



Why does Isaiah think he is ruined?


We are given the answer in the next verse.

For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.


Isaiah sees the angels, in their holy humility, praising God and he immediately realizes that not only is he not like God, he is not even like the angels. He hears them cry out Holy, Holy, Holy and praise God so beautifully, that it puts him to shame because Isaiah knows that he is unworthy. Upon seeing the LORD, Isaiah knew what kind of man he was. There was no comparison, and he was as good as dead. Upon seeing the LORD and his glory, Isaiah saw more clearly just how bad his state was. Turns out, should you read any account in the Bible where people came into the presence of the LORD, a sense of depravity prevails, take Job, Daniel, Peter or John.  


But God has an answer for the repentant.


A seraphim takes a live, hot coal, from the altar, with a pair of tongs and flies over to Isaiah and places the hot coal on his mouth. Ouch! That must have been painful!

We don’t read anything about whether Isaiah reacted in pain, maybe God’s holiness allowed it to occur without pain, or maybe the pain wasn’t as powerful as the realization of the majesty of the surroundings and the power of the goodness in the cleansing. Isaiah had to go through a fiery cleansing in order to be cleansed.


The seraphim tells Isaiah now that his lips have been touched by the live coal, his guilt was taken away, his sin was atoned for. Isaiah claimed his sin, and the fire of judgement was applied to the place of his sin and his sin was purged, gone, no more.


The same principle works for us today. Easter! Our sin was placed on Jesus and He was burned with the fire of God’s judgment.

Yet, because He was holy and righteous Himself, the fire of God’s judgment did not harm Him, it only burned away the sin, our sin.


But Isaiah’s vision doesn’t end with the freeing of his sins. In fact, this is where things really begin. It is now, that Isaiah is able and ready to serve God.


Isaiah heard the LORD’S voice say, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?


Notice Isaiah’s response, Here am I. Send me!


Next week we will read what God had Isaiah do in his response to asking the LORD to send him, but this week as we remember and celebrate Easter, the foundation of which Christianity is built, let’s review what Isaiah went through in order to be cleansed of his sins.



First Isaiah had to see God clearly, then he had to see himself clearly. The two go hand in hand. Isaiah wouldn’t have been able to see God clearly if he hadn’t had a clear vision of his own humanity. Let’s face it, as long as we think our human solution to our problems will suffice, there is little chance we will even look to God. There is also little chance we will serve God until we truly understand Him. As long as we think we can solve our own problems,

with a little help from God of course,

than we are the ones in charge and God is serving us.


Isaiah saw the LORD and realized instantly the power and authority God had, and how much sin Isaiah had. Unfortunately Christians today have lost this vision. Today Christians think of God as their “good buddy” someone who loves them and takes care of them. It’s like God is the old grandfather type, sitting in his rocking chair in heaven and says, “Oh, that’s okay, honey. We all mess up, you’re forgiven.”

Instead of the LORD Almighty who in His authority over the universe blazing His holiness through heaven. The God Isaiah saw was greater than the entire universe, and a white hot moral of perfection. Yet, when Isaiah recognized his sin, grace abounded, and his sins were burned away. God didn’t owe Isaiah a hot coal on his lips. Neither does God owe us forgiveness of our sins, but because God is love, He has found a way to satisfy both his holiness and his love. Through the pain of the cross, holiness can now be attained by humans.


We need to recognize who God is and who we are, accept our fallen state, repent of it and receive God’s grace of eternal life. Let’s follow Isaiah’s example and come to the foot of the cross today.


God in his perfect plan, at the Last Supper with his disciples, gave us a simple method to remember the extent of His grace. Today, as we come forward to receive the bread and the juice, let us do so in humility and awe.   

The Lord’s Supper.