The genesis of this series of articles began back in February of this year as I began thinking about the many pictures that the Bible presents of people of faith encountering the Lord. As I considered these biblical episodes, I thought about how these experiences are often shared by many modern-day Christians. Yes, we will not experience all of these encounters with the Lord and we will not experience them to the same degree, but if our life is devoid of these types of encounters with the living God, then at some point we must question whether we truly know the Lord. In other words, these types of encounters are part of the very fabric of what it means to be a Christian. The Lord relates to His people, not only in the next life, but also in this life. He delights to be with His people and we delight when we experience Him in an intimate and personal way. This is the second of these articles.
The prophet Isaiah had a personal experience with the Lord that is recorded for us in Isaiah 6, and this experience determined the course of his life. “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple (Isaiah 6:1).” The seraphim are covering their face and covering their feet and are calling out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” The foundations of the thresholds of the temple trembled and the whole temple filled with smoke. With a cry of abject misery, Isaiah cries out (6:5), “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the LORD of hosts.”
No doubt Isaiah was as morally pure as anyone in Israel at the time. No doubt his friends would have called him ‘blameless’ and would have considered him a righteous man. But that would be just comparing one sinner with another sinner. When we measure our righteousness by other sinners, there are some who will stand out as pretty good. But Isaiah was not in the presence of another sinner. Rather, he was in the presence of the thrice holy Lord of all the earth, and in that place, Isaiah could only cry out in woe, seeking some shelter or some covering to hide his filthiness. The blazing glory of the LORD rendered all of Isaiah’s most righteous deeds as filthy rags (64:6). In the presence of the holiness of the Lord, all of Isaiah’s sins were open and laid bare and were exposed for all to see in all their vileness and their wickedness. Isaiah the sinner was fully exposed by the dazzling light of the LORD and all he could do was utter a plea for mercy.
Have you ever encountered the Lord in this way? That is, has there ever been a time when you saw the dazzling glory of the Lord and His pristine, perfect holiness and fell on your face in utter misery? When you have contemplated the power of the Lord and the beauty of the Lord and the holiness of the Lord, has there been a time when you felt your own sin in the depth of your soul and longed with all your being to be cleansed and purified and to have your filthiness and your sin washed away as far as the east is from the west? This is a normal experience for the Christian to have. You could go so far as to say that this is an expected experience in a believer’s life, for this is what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. The life of the believer is marked by both an acute awareness of my own sin and unworthiness and, simultaneously, an experiential knowledge of the LORD’s absolute holiness.
And so this is what it means to see the Lord on His throne, lofty and exalted. So I ask you again, “Have you see the Lord in His temple, lofty and exalted?”
Soli deo Gloria rmb 9/4/2019