Title: The Vision of Isaiah: Our Incomprehensible God
Text: Isaiah 6.1-13
CIT: The Author desires we see God in all of his authority and power choosing to accomplish his work through a man. In order to do this, God claims him and calls him and commissions him with this grand task.
CIS: My heart’s desire is that you would be overshadowed by his glory, overwhelmed by his love, and overcome by his call.
Introduction: Isaiah is a beautiful book of God’s sovereignty. When I say, Sovereignty, I mean the one with absolute power and authority. He accomplishes what He desires. Period. We begin today with the call of Isaiah in chapter 6. It’s pretty unusual to wait this far into the book to see his call. Jeremiah is called in Jeremiah chapter 1. Ezekiel has the same experience. He sees the Glory of God in Chapter one and is called in Chapter two. We wait for chapter two because God’s glory takes precedent. So, why do we see the delay in the book of Isaiah?
I think Isaiah is laying a foundation for this call of his. Jerusalem and Judah had become too complacent in their security to heed the call of God and they had become too corrupt in their prosperity to escape His judgment. Added to this, their relatively good king for the past 52 years had just passed away. Uzziah was stricken with leprosy in the last years of his life because of his pride and arrogance in the Temple. He was another example of one who did not finish strong. You can read that part of his story in 2 Chronicles 26.16-21 Rd Isaiah 6.1a: In the year King Uzziah died…Like I said, he was a good king that sought the counsel of Zachariah the prophet during the days of his reign.
The year was 740 B.C. Isaiah’s ministry was just beginning. It makes sense that he would go to the Temple to pray. He was seeking a king – little ‘k’. But what he found blew him away. Rd 6.1;
John tells us in his gospel that this vision sustained Isaiah in his ministry of preaching. In John 12.41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. This moment would change him and sustain him for his whole life. I’m not so sure we can wrap our wimpy minds around this idea in its entirety. We see this again in Ezekiel and Daniel and the list goes on. We eventually see this again in Revelation. John shares a few times what he depicts God on his throne. And I just don’t think we can get it.
In doing my best to present this story today, I’ve divided this message into 4 separate categories. The 4 categories will carry us through the next month in a sermon series on Evangelism. I will share this pulpit with men in our church who will bring you a message from their heart on each topic. Here are the 4 topics:
- The Holiness of God
- The Sinfulness of Man
- The Atonement of our Sin
- The Great Commission
We will see all four of these topics today, because they are what consumed Isaiah. Let’s begin in the 1st topic: the holiness of God, and continue reading in Isaiah;
1. The Holiness of God (1-4)
exp.: The 1st attribute I want you to see in this passage comes from who He is and where He is; rd v 1-2;
Attribute #1:The Authority of God. He is adonai, and he is seated where the ruler and king should be seated – on his throne.
These creatures, I hope I’m using that term correctly, are flying about God and they are serving him. In this moment, we are overcome at who He is. He is Yahweh – God, Sovereign Lord, Master, and Creator of all things. We breathe in this moment because of Him. We are sustained in life because of his will. We exist for him and for his good pleasure. Period.
There is no way to describe him to you right now. I cannot begin to verbalize the strength of his might, the power of his will, the fact that we are reduced to nothing in comparison to him. He alone commands the universe and everything moves and exists by his design. A snap of his finger, a nod of his head moves his servants to do his bidding. He speaks and worlds are created. He breathes and life comes into being. He wills and whatever he wants – happens. He is eternal, immutable, ever-present, ever-strong, all-knowing, perfectly merciful and just in all his ways. He is perfectly independent. His desire for a relationship with you is because of you and me, and our need for him – not the other way around.
Psalm 102.25-27: 25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.
Attribute #2: The Holiness of God. Look at what these seraphim are singing out, calling out, repeatedly over and over again: rd v 3; the thrice repeated word holy is the Hebrew way of saying this One on the throne is the holiest, most perfect One in existence. So perfect is He, that Revelation doesn’t even give him a form, but tries to describe Him simply in beautiful colors.
Attribute #3: The Reality of God. rd v 4; One calls out this phrase of praise and the very foundations of this gigantic Temple shake. Then, the other Seraph echoes in praise and the Temple shakes again. The Temple itself is filled with smoke. I don’t know if this is the Shakina Glory of God – as in the pillar, the cloud of smoke that guided the Israelites from Egypt to the Holy land. The Hebrew word is just the simple word for smoke – as in smoke that comes from a fire. Which in this case makes perfect sense as we read on through the text and read about a burning coal on the altar. At this point, we begin to see and feel some very real parts, making this more than just a vision, but an experience grounded in the reality of thresholds and foundations and a fiery smoke.
app.: his position, his perfection, his power… His position of all authority is declared as King and Lord in v 1-2, His perfection is declared through his holiness in v 3, and His power is displayed in the reality of a shaking of the Temple filled with smoke.
t.s.: and this brings us to the 2nd topic,
2. The Sinfulness of Man. (5)
exp.: rd v 5; I think what is being taught here is what happens to us when we catch just a glimpse of the Glory of God.
- His Anguish: Wow is me – I am lost! We see ourselves for who we really are. When we see the holy character of God, we feel anguish for our own sin. KJV reads I am undone. That’s probably what most of you learned. The NASB reads, I am ruined. The ESV – I am lost. Young’s Literal reads: I am silent with the idea that I’ve come to my end. The word means to cease or to cause to cease – to cut off. It’s not to say that he dies, but in some sense maybe – that is he has come to the end of himself. 2 Cor 5.17
We sit here today breathing, existing. But, if we could see God like Isaiah sees him here in our text we would be reduced to nothing before him. Insignificant isn’t a big enough word. There would be an agony of the soul – a feeling of anguish. Anguish because there is nothing we can do to save ourselves from this state. We are lost without his intervention!
- His Acknowledgment:
- I am a man of unclean lips.
ill.: I love to hear or read the testimonies of people who came to know Christ. Each one is laced with similar stories of “the agony of the spirit” – very much like Isaiah is describing here. You remember when Peter meets Jesus. Jesus has just finished preaching from Peter’s boat and asks him to put out into the deep and let down his nets. Peter had caught nothing all night. Now wasn’t the time to fish. But Peter did, because the Lord asked him to do so. As the nets fill and the boats fill with fish to the point of sinking, Peter realizes who this is in the boat with him. Maybe he doesn’t know for sure, but he knows there is something quite different about him. And, in comparison, Peter feels dirty. He falls to the knees of this one who is different than he and says: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
- And I dwell among a people of unclean lips.
exp.: Listen to David McKenna: Here is another hard fact. Isaiah accepts his responsibility as a leader for the sins of his people. He who pronounced “woes” upon leaders in Judah and Jerusalem for betraying their trust now confesses the same sin in himself. He knows firsthand the truth that, just as the sins of the father are visited upon the children, so the sins of the leader are visited upon the people. And McKenna cites King David as a classic example of when he sinned against God by ordering a census. David confessed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” (1 Chr. 21:8).
app.: most people disagree; most people in today’s society and culture think that their sin only affects them, but as no effect on others. David knew what Isaiah knew.
t.s.: So Isaiah acknowledges his sin, he confesses it before God. But there is more in his statement. It’s as if he knows he deserves to die because he has seen God: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” I wish we more time to develop this, but we must move on to the 3rd topic: The Atonement for sins.
3. The Atonement of Sins (6-7)
exp.: rd v 6; The seraph does the work and the speaking at the Lord’s bidding; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for. Wayne Grudem explains that for those who have sinned against God (and that’s everyone), we find 4 areas we know live in as sinners:
- We deserve to die as the penalty for sin.
- We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin.
- We are separated from God by our sins.
- We are in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan.
Grudem then gives four terms used to describe the atoning work of Christ in meeting these needs:
- Sacrifice: we deserved to die, but he was sacrificed in our place. (debt was owed/a penalty was paid)
- Propitiation: We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin – but Jesus bore that wrath. (wrath)
- Reconciliation: We were separated from God by our sins, but have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
- Redemption: We were in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan, but have been set free from those chains. Satan no more has dominion over us.
app.: This is a beautiful story, no? Here is the problem: most believers end their story here. We acknowledge God and his holiness. We acknowledge our sin and rebellion before him and our deep need for forgiveness. Furthermore, we confess that sin and are grateful for the atoning sacrifice of Christ who paid the debt and satisfied the wrath of God against us. It’s what we sing about!
t.s.: But most of us fail to take this last step: the 4th topic in our study of evangelism.
4. The Call to Respond (8-13)
exp.: Now before we read this I want to say that I see two main parts to Isaiah’s calling. 1st, there is the call to go. Really, he volunteers. 2nd, there is the call to persistence in resistance. rd v 8-10; You’re gonna go tell them what I say and they’re not gonna listen. The truth of this message will be too hard for them and they will stop up their ears and cover their eyes, and harden their hearts to it.
Ok, then. How long do I have to keep this up? For Isaiah, it will be his whole life long. During his ministry, he will see the northern kingdom fall. But even then, the people won’t listen; Look at his response; rd v 11-12; How long O’ Lord?
app.: I think the same two actions in Isaiah’s life are in ours, too. Both Acts 1.8 and Mt 28.18 tell us that it is by the authority of Christ that we’re sent to the nations.
Acts 1.7, picking up to verse 8: 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Mt 28.18 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
We call this a commission, because we have been sent by someone with the authority – all the authority. We have no right to refuse this command of God – to be his witnesses and to make disciples. So, what are the limitations – as in comparison to Isaiah? For how long, O’ Lord.
- To the ends of the earth
- To all nations – ethnos
I love that we’ve taken this to heart and have embraced a UUPG. And even more, I’m so proud that we as a church will bond together to make this a financial possibility. But what about in Tyler? I know many think that there is no need, but I don’t think that’s the case. You and I have been commissioned to go – not just to send others out.
We have a tremendous responsibility to share this message with those who will listen. So, to help you with your understanding, we’ll focus on this task of evangelism over the next month. Just what is this that God has called and commissioned us to do?
Conclusion: the goal of my message, my heart’s desire is that you would be overshadowed by his glory, overwhelmed by his love, and overcome by his call. Think about that for a moment.
- Overshadowed by his glory: Like Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, John and anyone else who has ever encounter the Lord like this will be changed forever. No more will you live life in a hum-hoe way. This one experience would move you to see yourself in light of Christ.
- Overwhelmed by his love: That you would see how much he loves you and that you could comprehend the lengths he went to save you by love. That the Cross would have a greater meaning for you.
- Overcome by his call. That you would hear him ask: Whom shall I send and who will go for us?
If you are, then you’ll go – as Isaiah went. Maybe you’re in the early stages of all this right now. You would recognize that there has never been a time when you’ve committed your life to Christ. Would you, today? Let’s pray.
If you have never committed your life to Christ, and you want to know more, with every head bowed and every eye closed, would you please just slip your hand up in the air. I want to pray for you.
For others, as you’re thinking about being more evangelistic in your lives, Would you pray that God would reveal to you someone you could begin reading Scripture with on a regular basis? If you’ll make that commitment, will you just simply slip your hand in the air where I can see it? I want to pray for you too.