Week 28 – Our Glorious God
Prayer -Our Father, we love You. You are so worth our lives. May Your name be exalted among our local and global communities. God, do exceedingly and abundantly more than anyone in this room has thought to pray for. We delight in making much of You. Fill out hearts with a bigger and grander vision of Your redemptive mission for all nations. May we all receive a fresh, authoritative Word from You. In Jesus Great Name. Amen.
If you have your Bibles please open to Isaiah 6
and as you turn there let me give you some historical background on the passage we are about to read as we continue the journey of reading the whole Bible in a year. One of the better kings the southern kingdom of Judah had was Uzziah. He ruled for 52 years and for us as Americans we cannot grasp that for our presidents only serve 4, maybe 8 years, but after Uzziah’s death the Jews went into crisis mode wondering what the future held? And it was during this time that Isaiah the prophet was gripped by a vision of God: the real King is still on the throne. May that encourage you today. Perhaps you will make a mental note or ask God to engrave on your heart to read Isaiah 6
anytime you get fearful of the future. Leaders, presidents, senators, businesses come and go but the real King will always remain on His throne. Let’s read v. 1.
Isaiah is saying I got to see God one day and He wasn’t a little old man on a rocking chair but instead God is so huge that the train of His robe filled the temple. Now Isaiah before this encounter already had a bigger view of God than most Jews of his day but God wanted to expand, increase the size of Isaiah’s view just like He wants to do that today with you and me. Perhaps God will use this message to do that for you. Isaiah continues in v. 2. Read. So we have seraphs, who literally are angels who live and burn to worship God. Personally, I wonder if Isaiah recognized that God was being worshipped before he showed up at the temple to do that very thing – worship God. I don’t know but do you know that? I imagine most of us today came with a mindset to worship God but do we know that as we were getting ready this morning, driving here, angels were and continue to praise God. God is being worshiped 24/7 whether you or I decide to worship Him in song, prayer, service, mediating on His Word, or resisting a temptation. What does all that mean? It means God never says, “I sure hope they sing me some songs because I really need some worship.” So the angels sing and their song selection is found in v. 3. Read v 3. (say it in a reverent voice). First of all, that wasn’t the tone. V. 4 reveals they sung so intensely the bldg shook. In fact, all of us here could sing loudly and I don’t think this bldg would shake so what Isaiah is experiencing firsthand is intense. Isaiah is seeing a glimpse of God’s holiness which by the way is the only attribute that is mentioned in succession like this anywhere in the Bible.
Isaiah’s response to the holiness of God is not ‘wow, this is awesome,’ but “woe is me.” Read v. 5. The word ‘woe’ is not commonly used today but in the Hebrew it meant cursed or damned. Add to this Isaiah’s words of, ‘I am ruined’ and you clearly get the idea Isaiah thought he was going to die, even though he is a prophet. Isaiah could have reasoned, “God needs me. I am not perfect but I am more faithful that most people around here. I am a good person.” I wonder how many of you deep down believe that? You think your efforts to help out, your accomplishments, or how you try to serve God and conclude while I am not perfect but I do think I am basically a good person. Yet despite the number of people who thought Isaiah was a faithful godly man and he was yet according to Isaiah’s own words he thought he was toast with the holy, glorious, living God. Then in that moment God surprises him.
Let’s continue to read in vv. 6-7. Some of us today know how beautiful those words are: “your sins have been atoned for and your guilt has been taken away.” Now what is interesting is that Isaiah did nothing except to acknowledge the obvious: I am broken to the very core, cursed before God because of my sins. This may be farther than some of you have gone, definitely farther than most people in our culture would go. Our culture separates being a sinner and being cursed by God as two different things but you won’t see that distinction in the Bible. You don’t see it here with Isaiah’s words. Also, did you notice who paid for Isaiah’s sins? It was not the angels or Isaiah’s but God. So even in this passage where God’s holiness dominants; God’s forgiving nature is there as well. So (show slide 2) Have you ever been rescued by God’s grace before? I realize this is a Bible-believing life-giving church but no one here should assume all of us here in this room have been rescued. If you have not or are uncertain then talk to someone, talk to me after the service. Whatever you do – don’t treat God casually.
Now for those of us who have said yes to that question then I wonder when and how often you hear the question Isaiah overheard the Trinity asking themselves. Let’s continue to read v. 8. Who knew the Trinity was looking for people who recognized their complete brokenness that leads to tasting His grace to respond. To be clear Isaiah was not the first person who heard this question and is not the last. Have you heard God asking that question? If not, consider today the first time because God is still asking the question. You cannot be near to God’s heart and not hear it. This world is messed up on a magnitude that is staggering. People are lost, communities need transformation, and God cares. God, you are sending somebody? You have a message that needs to be shared? Here am I. Send me. I love Isaiah’s immediate answer of yes. He did not say well, let me go home and pray about it. And so Isaiah says yes to the question the Trinity asked and still is asking without knowing his role and even the message God wanted him to share. The rest of Isaiah reveals the incredibly tough message God wanted Isaiah to share yet Isaiah did not change his answer just the question how long do you want me to share hard message?
Now I want to back up a few steps and reflect on the One who is asking the question. The God who is the Creator of the heavens and earth and yet invites people who have tasted His grace to join Him in His mission to win back people and communities. God’s mission is clear. We are saved for a purpose that has both local and global implications. There is no option to pick one over the other. Christians are not at our leisure anymore. Instead, you are under marching orders to display God’s grace to a hurting world. This is why you exist.
Now to help us grasp a glimpse of the staggering magnificence of this God let’s look upward to the heavens. Up on the screen is a picture of the Vela Pulsar (show slide 3) A pulsar is basically a star that exploded but then collapsed back on itself where it rotates on its axis. This pulsar is 1000 light years away. A light year is how far light travels in 1 year and light is super fast. It travels 186,000 miles per second so light in 1 year travels 5.88 trillion miles. A trillion is almost pointless for us to talk about. It’s beyond our ability to grasp. But if you go 1000 light years in the right direction you get to the Vela Pulsar. It rotates 11 times per second and gives off this sound Let’s listen to it Now what does this sound mean? No one knows for sure but perhaps Psalm 148:3
gives us insight when it says, “praise Him, all you shining stars.” The psalmist is just not writing great poetry. It is really happening. Stars just don’t shine, they sing too. So the Vela Pulsar probably is saying something like, “if anyone is listening I am doing what I was created – to praise God.
The next slide is of the Ring Nebula (show slide 4). It is 2000 light years away. A nebula is a dying star that is giving up its life by emitting massive amounts of gas (hot is the blue color a little bit cooler is yellow and little bit cooler is orange and red is the coldest out on the edges). A star is dying but it is going out in a blaze of glory. It is a glorious death. Is that not what Jesus’ ask of anyone who is considering following Him? Take up your cross which means death to your desires, dreams, and agenda so that Jesus’ desires, dreams, and agenda can prevail in you and me. So just as the Ring Nebula is breathtaking it does not come close to the decision that we are asked to make daily, ongoing really to die to ourselves so that God’s glory can ablaze within us. Now the next picture is called 47 Tuc (show slide 5) It is 16,700 light years away and looks like God shoved thousands of diamonds together in a pile. Let’s listen in to what they are singing. Let’s listen It sounds like strings in an orchestra but it is not just any orchestra it is God’s never ending symphony of praise going on. You and I can be a part of all this depending on how we answer the question the Trinity is asking: (show slide 6) whom shall we send, who will go for us?
Now you may have at some point thought or had a conversation with someone if there is life on other plants, other galaxies. Some scientists are spending lots of time on this because they reason the universe is way too supersized to only house humanity on one planet called earth. The universe is estimated to be around 156 million light years wide, that’s 156 million times 5.88 trillion. You lovers of numbers can do the math. However, here is a thought: what if the universe was not created to house humanity but to magnify its Creator. Christians should not be surprise when scientists keep realizing the universe is larger than what their instruments tell them. God has His angels and a whole universe worshiping Him 24/7. Every time a rose blooms. Every ocean wave that crashes to shore. Every snowflake that falls to the ground. Every birth. All of it is God’s symphony of praise that says He is glorious, He is great, He is worth it and this is the God who is asking the question.
So who knew that the Creator of the universe who doesn’t need anything, like you and me, but out of His kindness and generosity invites His greatest creation to join Him in the very thing He has been doing and will continue to do until Jesus comes back - to make His greatness known throughout the world. As a pastor, sometimes people come and say I don’t feel close to God like and want to know why. This could be a number of different reasons but one is trying to spend time trying to get Jesus to join their own thing instead of joining God in what He is up to. May God grant you the wisdom to discover, fine tune, and live out the significant role in which you were made for - to blaze for His glory. A glory that is good enough to satisfy those who have heard and those who have yet to hear Jesus’ name. God’s mission is not complete because people keep hearing and responding to the same question Isaiah heard. So what is your response? I invite ? to come up to pray for us.