(I had to take a break from 2 Peter since I spent the day preparing for preaching at a tent revival evening. So, I thought I would post my manuscript instead. I will continue with 2 Peter tomorrow.)
Introduction: There are special moments that we can experience in worship. Moments where God manifests His glorious presence in such a powerful way, that are hearts are moved. These are life changing moments.
Many years ago. I was an elder in our church and our pastor had just resigned. It meant that I would step in until we called a new pastor. That next weekend, I attended a men’s retreat. The retreat lasted three days. In those meetings, God manifested His presence in a powerful way, an overwhelming way. I remember tears flowing down my face in every meeting. At the end of the retreat, I was renewed but also emotionally drained. It was a moment that transformed my life. It was a glorious moment. It prepared me for pastoring my home church.
When we experience a powerful manifestation of God’s presence. When His glory falls upon us, our lives will be changed. We will see ourselves as we truly are, broken and sinful creatures who fall infinitely short of God’s glory. It is only then that God can transform us.
Some of the most vile smelling things in this world are used to make the sweetest smelling perfumes. When we experience the manifestation of God’s glory and we see ourselves as we really are, He can transform us vile creatures into a fragrant aroma, pleasing to him.
Prayer: Tonight, I pray that we might experience the manifestation of God’s glorious presence. Oh God, cause your indescribable light to shine upon us. Cause us to see our sin in the light of your glory. Do so that we may turn from our wicked ways and be transformed. In Jesus’ name. amen
Background: Tonight, we will look at a familiar passage of Scripture to many. We will see a man transformed by a powerful manifestation of God’s glory. His name is Isaiah, a prophet of God. If we, like Isaiah, will understand the powerful presence of God, we will leave this place much different from when we entered.
I want to share three vital things with you tonight.
1. An experience of God’s glorious presence exposes the darkness in us and prompts confession. (v1-5)
“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.” (Isaiah 6:1–4, ESV)
It was the year of Judah’s king Uzziah’s death. Isaiah the prophet has a vision. He sees something so powerful. He sees something so magnificent that it changes his life. He sees a manifestation of God that transcends anything earthly. He sees the glorious light. John declared that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” The light refers to the infinite perfection of God in all His being.
A. We need to consider the magnificence of God. (v1-4).
Isaiah sees the Lord sitting upon a throne. This speaks of His Sovereign authority over all creation. He sees Him high and lifted up. This speaks of His supremacy. There is no one higher or greater than our God. He sees the hem of His robe filling the temple. This speaks of His majesty. He hears the Seraphim angelic being calling, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.” This refers to His infinite holiness. He alone is perfectly holy. He further hears them calling out, “the whole earth is filled with His glory.” Referring to the glory of God. He feels the foundations of the temple shake. This refers to God’s infinite power. He sensed the entire temple filled with smoke. The smoke referring to the Lord’s infinite righteousness.
Isaiah saw the Lord having sovereign authority over all, as the supreme most high God, majestic, infinitely holy without any hint of sin, with glory unspeakable, infinitely powerful, perfect in righteousness.
Perhaps the reason we do not see God the way Isaiah saw Him is that we do not seek God like he did. Jeremiah stated, that we will seek and find God when we seek with all our heart. The problem is that we rarely seek Him with a whole heart, with full devotion.
B. When we see God in all His splendor, we will see ourselves as we really are. (v5)
In the light of God’s glory, Isaiah cries out in confession, “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!”
Woe is a passionate cry of grief and despair. Isaiah sees how far short of God’s glory he truly was.
He understands his hopelessness. Sin has separated him from God. He exclaims, “I am lost.”
The problem we have is that of comparing ourselves to others. When we do, we can think that we are not too bad. Consider the best person on this earth you know. Even that person still falls short of God’s glory. When we understand God’s holiness, we will see our own sinful condition the way it really is and we will confess our sin to God.
C.S. Lewis stated, “We only learn to behave ourselves in the presence of God.”
When we see ourselves in the light of God’s holiness, we will see ourselves as we truly are.
2. An experience of God’s glorious presence opens our eyes to see the world around us as it really is. (v5b)
Following his personal cry, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” Isaiah goes on to say, “and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Having seen the Lord, Isaiah sees himself as a man who was unclean. Then he stated that he lived among people of unclean lips also.
There are two things here.
First, Isaiah saw that he was no different than others of his day. He was sinful just like everyone else.
Second, he saw the sinful nature of others also. He was disturbed by his own condition and that of others around him.
A.W. Tozer wrote, “Until we see ourselves as God sees us, we are not likely to be much disturbed over conditions around us.”
Here is a truth. The world around us is unknowingly influencing what we do. It affects all of us. Some of the things we watch on television today, we thought were very sinful 20 -years ago. The world system has unknowingly changed every one of us. It has changed the way we think.
We need to see ourselves in the light of God’s glory and then we will see the culture in a different way. And we will be saddened by what we see.
3. An experience of God’s glorious presence will transform our lives (v5b – 8)
A. Confession is the first step in being transformed (v5)
In the light of God’s glory, Isaiah is brought to confession. “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.” In the Bible, the word confession means to speak the same thing. It is speaking in agreement with God’s holy standard that our action is wrong. Isaiah agreed with God that he was a man of unclean lips.
But the problem here is deeper than just using profane language. What comes from the lips is an indication of the corruption of the heart.
Jesus stated, “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:18–19, ESV)
Each of us could say it like this. “Woe is me! I am a person of unclean speech. I have hurt people with my words. I have disrespected others. I have gossiped. I have slandered. I have boasted about myself. I have lied.”
Yet, the problem is deeper. We could say, “Woe is me. I am a person with impure thoughts. I have hated another in my heart. I have an issue with pride. I think I am better than others. I harbor bitterness toward another.”
“Woe is me! I have been apathetic towards God. I have not spent time in prayer. I have not spent time seeking Him in His word. I have skipped out on worship. I am devoted more to other things than God.”
“Woe is me. I have lusts in my heart. I look at things with desires that are wrong. My passions control my life.”
We need to agree with God regarding our wrongful actions. We need to confess our sins.
B. Purification is the second step (v6-7)
True confession will always result in purification. John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness.”
We see this pictured in the action of the Seraphim and the piece of coal from the altar.
“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.”” (Isaiah 6:6–7, ESV)
The Hebrew word translated Seraphim is from a verb that means to burn. It can mean that they glowed or they ministered the instrument of purification.
The coal was from the alter of burnt offering. The altar and the coal from the altar represent the purification of God that is made available by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for us.
John wrote, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7, ESV)
Jesus offers to you cleansing from your sin.
C. Commissioning is the third step. (v8)
Isaiah then hears the voice of the Lord.
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”” (Isaiah 6:8, ESV)
God has a mission for every person who believes in Jesus for eternal life. That mission is to reflect God’s glory in this darkened world. This through the demonstration of the transformed life.
Here God calls Isaiah. “Who will go for us?”
Isaiah responds, “Here I am! Send me!”
Christ wants our all. We cannot hold anything back. He wants our all. We need to respond to His call in our lives.
Conclusion: When we enter a place of worship, we often do not experience the glory of God. We need God to let the glory fall upon us. When we do, when we can grasp how awesome He is, we will experience a change in our life.
A young man once came forward at a worship service. I did not even give an invitation. He had resisted God. Yet, when I asked him what he wanted, he just stated, it was not well with his soul. His cry was something like this.
“Woe is me. I am a man with whom my soul is not well, and I live among a people whose souls are not well.”
That day, that confession began a change in his life. God moved. He experienced the purification from sin that Christ made available to him. His life changed and God turned him from an unsettled joyless person into a man who glorified God in every area of life.
- Will you experience the transforming power of Christ in your life today?
- In our time of prayer, examine your life in the light of God’s infinite standard of holiness.
- Realize that God is holy and we are not. We all fall short. Yet Grace is available.
Prayer of Invitation
God, you are above all, the ruler of all creation. There is none greater than you. You are the infinitely holy one. No one compares. We all fall short.
Reveal to us your holiness. Shower as much of your glory on us that our mortal bodies can handle.
Open our hearts to understand the wickedness that lurks within.
Do we have impure lips, saying things that we should not say?
Do we have impure thoughts and passions, that we should not have?
Are we doing things that are displeasing to you?
Have our hearts grown cold towards you, so we do not seek you as we should?
Lord, we need renewal. Renew our hearts.
Many need your salvation, to put their trust in Jesus. Save them this evening.
While all our heads are bowed and eyes closed. If God has touched your heart tonight. . .
Showing that you need renewal in your heart, please raise your hand.
If you have never placed your faith in Jesus to save you from your sins, raise your hand.
Father, we thank you for the sacrifice of you Son, Jesus. For His death which provides cleansing from sin. For gloriously raising Him from the grave and giving us hope. We love you, Lord. In Jesus name, Amen