Isaiah 6:1-7 says, “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. 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. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 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!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
See Isaiah’s response to the scene unfolding before him in 6:4-5. “And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost (ruined, undone); 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!” Immediately we see the foundations of the heavenly temple shaking in response to the vibrant worship happening before the King. Their worship was intense, their worship was deep, their worship was white-hot!
Do you shake? Do you tremble when you worship the King? Is there a reverent fear when we worship? We need to be rebuked.
Nowhere throughout the whole of the Bible do we see anyone coming into contact with God and leave that meeting feeling bored as if they were unaffected! The whole temple shook with worship, it filled with smoke, and yet we sing “Holy, holy, holy” in our churches and what do we do? Stand here unmoved by the glory of God, think about checking facebook, take a sip of coffee, give a tip to God in the offering plate, start itching to leave early to see the game? Far too many of us are duped into thinking that God’s glory, God’s holiness, God’s perfections, beauty, majesty, and awe are not practical – so we avoid these things and deprive ourselves the richest resource to feed our souls! Pragmatist’s do not linger over the glory of God, only those who’ve seen it and savored it linger on this the greatest of all things. Jonathan Edwards once said, “One new discovery of the glory of Christ’s face and the fountain of his sweet grace and love will do more towards scattering clouds of darkness and doubting in one minute than anything else.” God is ultimate reality, there is no One more real, there is no reality more practical than Him.
But did you notice that we don’t only see the foundations of the temple shaking?
We see Isaiah shaking too. When Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up, shining forth in all the beauty of His infinite and incomparable glory, Isaiah gained knowledge of two things: a) a clear knowledge of God, and b) a clear knowledge of himself. For the first time in Isaiah’s life he found out who God was, and for the first time in Isaiah’s life he found out who Isaiah was. As opposed to the angelic beings pure worship of God Isaiah knew he was utterly different, opposite even, being a ruined man of unclean lips dwelling among a people of unclean lips. See here friends, that there is nothing that reveals the unholiness of man like the holiness of God. It’s like comparing the brightness of a small match to the blazing light of the sun.
We see from this that a realistic view of God is a high view of God and when one has a high view of God one will gain a high view of sin. The opposite is just as true. When we have a low view of God, we’ll have a low view of sin. John Calvin said it like this, “We see men who in God’s absence normally remain firm and constant, but who, when taken before the manifest glory of God, are so shaken and struck dumb as to be laid low by the dread of death…man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty.” Want to know how to recognize true spiritual life or true repentance? It is seen most clearly in an increasing awareness of one’s sin and fallenness, AND the awareness that their sin is directed against God Himself.
If someone treats sin as a light manner and does not see it as cosmic treason, they are not spiritually mature. I don’t care how holy they sound. The first oracle, or prophetic announcement Isaiah delivers as the prophet of God is not delivered against Babylon, Moab, Egypt, Philistia, or even Israel – the first oracle the prophet Isaiah pronounces in his ministry is against himself. We can be sure that some modern psychologist would say this is an example of someone with low self-esteem and that this is a bad thing for us to emulate. I am 100% positive that Isaiah lost all self-esteem when he gazed upon the Lord of glory, and that it was a best thing that ever could’ve happened to him – for in that moment he gained God-esteem that could never be taken away from him, and would prove to be the foundation of all his life and thought regardless of what life’s circumstances threw his way.
I wonder, what do you believe about yourself? Does it bother you to see Isaiah act like this? What would you do if it was you standing before God in all His splendor?
The exact same thing…