Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the terrible temple and the throne of grace

God is a god of glory. Unbelievable, immense, awe-inspiring glory that makes your hands sweat and your heart race and your knees quiver. To think that standing before God would do anything other than make us burst at the seams is to think of the wrong god. God's very presence is enough to make a mountain shake (Exodus 19.)

This is the same vision that we get in Isaiah 6 in the year that Uzziah (the king) died. First, a little background on Uzziah from 2 Chronicles 26 and 2 Kings 15.

He was, for the most part, a good king. He did a lot of things right but then his pride took over and he decided to enter the temple and light the holy incense instead of letting Azariah and the priests handle it. He went in and desecrated the earthly temple of the Lord God and was stricken with leprosy until he died. He messed with something declared holy on earth and God was angry enough to curse him with disease and shame.

Now, in the year that Uzziah died, Isaiah is swept up in a vision to the very throne-room of heaven. He is put in the very temple of God in a place that is not declared holy, but it is holy because it is where God is. And Isaiah knows that on earth, if you enter the temple of God unclean, you are usually cast out of Israel, or even killed for some offenses. So, now Isaiah is in the heavenly temple and is, rightfully, scared out of his mind. Trembling in fear. Sweat pouring off his hands and face. Finding it hard to swallow. Fighting back tears.

And he cries out "WOE IS ME! WOE IS ME! I'M A MAN OF UNCLEAN LIPS AND I LIVE AMONG A PEOPLE OF UNCLEAN LIPS!" He is afraid because he knows he is guilty and is standing in the presence of a righteous and holy God.

This is the God that rules the world. This is the God of Christianity. He is still seated on his throne and his robe still fills the temple. The seraphim still call in loud voices that he is "holy, holy, holy" and their voice still shakes the temple thresholds of heaven. He is to be feared. He is great and powerful and mighty.

Then, after Isaiah declares his own guilt, God mercifully sends a seraph to cleanse his lips so that he can endure the voice and presence of God.

In the same way, Christ has done this for anyone who believes in Him, that he died for their sins so that they can stand in God's presence without fear of death. In Hebrews 9 and 10 we read that Jesus spilt His blood as an eternal sacrifice to purify us of our sins and evil conscience. His sacrifice gives us confidence to enter the most holy place of heaven without fear because we are wiped clean and look righteous in God's eyes.

Therefore, we should have a full assurance of faith because He is faithful. He died for us to save us from Himself. To save us from our certain death in His presence because of our sin. Because He has done that, we can draw near to Him in faith. He is gracious. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from the terrible temple of God so that you can enter boldly the throne-room of grace.

And, if you are a believer and have tasted the sweetness of His salvation, then declare it boldly to save others from His presence. This is what Isaiah says when, after reading off many prophecies of Christ and many condemnations of God's justice, he says in chapter 12:

Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.


(this is the first lesson of a series I am doing called "The Mission of the Gospel: A Call to Evangelism." I hope to reduce the lessons into a readable format each week so that you can be spurred on toward a greater diligence to preach the Gospel.

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