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Isaiah’s vision of the Lord
Text: Isaiah 6:1-5
6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.5 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, theLord of hosts!”
Notes from the introduction- John Piper: (this) happened to many people, a complete and new understanding of God, though already saved with an inadequate view of God. It happened to Job. Do you remember how the book begins? “He is blameless and upright. One who feared God, turned away from evil”… I mean, what more could you want? He was the best man in the land. And then, because God is merciful, according to James’ interpretation of Job; suffering broke over his life like a tidal wave and he wrestled with God chapter after chapter, until God speaks to him.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
9 Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?
10 “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and splendor.11 Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
12 Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
and tread down the wicked where they stand.
And Job had a completely new grasp of God and he said-
Job 42:3 – 6
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”
It happened to Job and it happened to Isaiah. It happened to me between the ages of 22 and 25 in Pasadena, Caifornia- a new understanding of God. Saved when I was six, a taste for the majesty of God that has never, ever gone away and did not exist in the same way before and my prayer is that God will do it for you as we look together at this vision.
There are 7 glimpses of God in the first 4 verses of Isaiah 6:
- God is alive.
- God is authoritative. You don’t give God authority in your life; He has it! You can either pretend He doesn’t and perish, or you can own it with joy. He has, in the universe, absolute authority. Sometimes, our little flaunted fist shakings need some strong words to be put in their place.
- God is omnipotent. The throne of His authority is not one among many. It is high: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up”, meaning ‘over every other throne’ and thus, superior in power, superior in authority, superior in rule and control, over every other throne. It is not just authority, it is authority with supremacy of rule, supremacy of power and control. “My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose”, Isaiah 46:10. “He does according to His will in the host of heaven, among the inhabitants of earth. None can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What are you doing?’” Daniel 4:35. This omnipotent God, this sovereign and omnipotent God is a refuge for holy women (this message was given at a women’s conference) who hope in God.
- God is resplendent. So He has a robe and it has a train… He is lavish in His beauty, lavish in his creativity and lavish in his splendor.
- God is revered. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. No one knows who these beings are. They never show up again in the bible, under this name. We grope for meanings of what it would be for God to have in His presence beings, who, when they speak, shake heaven.But, these magnificent creatures cannot look directly upon God. They take their wings and they cover their face. These are sinless beings; they’ve never fallen and their ashamed of their feet before this God. So, they can’t see Him straight on and they’ve got to cover their feet and they kind of keep moving around Him… God is revered, He is always revered. Though we may look at this world and weep at how many millions give Him no reverence at all, God will see to it that He will always be fittingly revered with these seraphim angels; day and night doing what one ought to do always in life.
- God is Holy. What these beings are saying in this vision- one called to another “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts”. Language is pushing its limits with the word ‘holy’. What does holy mean? In one sense, when you are done trying to define holy, you have said, “God is God”. But, we should try. The language was not used for nothing. Now, many of you have studied this and you know that the root meaning of this word ‘holy’ is to cut or to separate. So, a holy thing is cut off from or separated from something else and usually devoted to something else. So, the holiness of it consists of – it’s not part of the common, it’s not part of the profane, the impure. It’s devoted unto God. So you read about holy ground, holy assemblies, holy sabbaths, holy nations, holy garments, holy city, holy promises, holy men, holy women, holy Scriptures, holy hands, holy kiss, holy faith. Almost anything can be separated unto God, devoted to God, consecrated to God, separated from the common, the profane. But, notice what happens when we try to apply this definition to God. Separated… unto…? The Godness of God means He is separated from all that He made. There is a infinite qualitative difference between God and everything else that is. All of that is made and dependent by His second by second upholding it and being. He is who He is. “What,” Moses asked, “shall I tell them is your name?” “Tell them I am who I am”. “Tell them ‘I am” sent you. That’s my essential being. I am and I’m not dependent on anything outside of me. All of you are totally dependent on Me. I am not dependent on anything, I am separate. ” Which in the end means we’ve said- His holiness, in this respect, is His Godness, and that’s not wrong. That’s a right thought. God is absolutely unique in this regard. The other side of holiness is holy things are devoted to something, not just cut off from, separated from; they’re devoted to… What are you going to devote God to? There is nothing above God to which He should be devoted. It’s blasphemy to think that God’s holiness consists in His conformity to something other than Himself. Which means that if there’s anything like holiness in the world, it is God. It just starts there. That’s what it is. God isn’t good ’cause He conforms to a law above Him- He wrote the law. He is not holy because He keeps the rules- He made the rules. He’s not holy because He keeps the law- The law is holy because it reveals God. God is absolute. Everything else is derivative and dependent. So what then did they mean: “Holy, Holy, Holy” thrice Holy? I think they meant (doing my best with language) His holiness is His utterly unique, one of a kind, in a class by Himself, pure essence, which therefore has infinite value. The more rare a diamond is, the more value it has. And if there’s only one of this kind, it’s valuable. God is infinitely valuable. Determining the value and the goodness and the truth of everything else. I can’t think of anything that would have a greater impact in your life than for you to believe that. The most important value in the universe is not you and not your family, and not 7 billion human beings and not billions upon billions of galaxies. They are, we are as nothing, a drop in the bucket compared to the value of God. And, the main problem in the world is the failure to feel that. God is infinitely valuable. He has infinite worth. All other value has value in proportion to its reflection of His value. That changes everything, absolutely everything. John Piper at 23 waking up to a whole new experience of God and a taste for His majesty and experiencing a copernican revolution where the value, the supremacy, the majesty of God goes square to the center of everything. There is no questioning anymore whether He has any rights. We have NONE! And we had none before we fell. Humans and angels don’t have rights before their maker. God is right and has all rights. He defines right, He is right and holy. You will know that you have experienced something extraordinary when that is sweet to you. When we speak of holiness it feels very far away, very distant, very unexperience-able and I am just saying, “You haven’t gotten there yet”. It is sweet.
- God is glorious. We said He is holy and the last glimpse is God is glorious. The silence that’s coming, the shaking of the house, the all concealing smoke that is going to descend upon the house… before that happens, these blue angels seraphim say, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory”. Why ? Why didn’t they say, “Holy, Holy, Holy , the whole earth is full of your holiness?” Because, this is my best effort to understand, the glory of God in God’s mind and Isaiah’s mind and most places in Scripture, I believe, is the manifestation of the holiness of God. God’s holiness is His incomparable perfection, his intrinsic infinite worth. When that goes public, when that goes on display, it’s called in the Bible- the glory of God. God is glorious means God’s holiness has gone public. His glory is the open revelation of the secret of his holiness. Here’s Leviticus 10:3 ”I will show you myself. I will show myself holy among those who are near me and before all the people I will be glorified”. Interesting. “I will show them my holiness,” and their response, “Glorious!” because in the move from the intrinsic, infinite, eternal worth and perfection and purity and transcendent wonder of God; in the movement out what we see is the radiance of God and that’s called glory in the Bible. The glory of God is the radiance of His holiness. When God shows Himself holy, we see glory. The holiness of God is concealed glory and the glory of God is revealed holiness.