How we must respond to God’s revelation of Himself to Us
God has revealed Himself to us in nature and in His written word, the Bible. Each time that we read the Bible, we read about God’s revelation of Himself to us. We get to know about God’s Holiness, who He is and what He expects from us. As important as knowing who God is, it is equally important to know how we must respond to God’s revelation of Himself to us, and how we must respond to His Holiness. Our sinfulness shines brighter when we realise how Holy God is.
God revealed Himself to Isaiah, Isaiah saw God’s Holiness and Isaiah’s response to this revelation, is a great lesson to us that I want us to look at. How did Isaiah respond to God’s revelation of Himself to him?
Isaiah 6:1-8 (ESV Strong’s)
The vision of God
1 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. 2 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. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
In the above verses 1-4, Isaiah gives us the contents of his vision that he had in the year King Uzziah died. We know that the king died because God struck him with leprosy, after being angry at the priests who advised him not to burn incense at the altar in the temple, the work only a priest could to. This is a person who completely ignored God’s holiness and suffered as a results the rest of his life until he died.
In the year this king died, Isaiah had a vision and he saw the Lord sitting upon His throne. High and lifted up, meaning high up, elevated. In my view indicating the highest authority. The Lord’s robe filled the temple. Isaiah also saw two angels each with six wings. One angel shouted “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory! Holy, Holy and Holy, indicating the extent of God’s Holiness, after that the whole temple shook and smoke filled the temple. This is what Isaiah saw.
The Response to God’s Revelation and God’s Holiness
5 And I said: “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!”
Isaiah’s response was completely opposite to how the king responded to God’s holiness. When Isaiah saw this vision and realized how holy God is, he immediately realized how sinful he is. Isaiah responded by saying “Woe is me! For I am lost;. The New living Translation puts this phrase much better in my view and they translate it as (NLT) “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. Realizing God’s holiness immediately made Isaiah realize his own sinfulness and how justifiable is it that he should be destroyed and that it should be the end for him.
Isaiah goes on to explain why he sees himself as a sinful man after seeing how holy God is. He says the reason why he is such a sinful man who deserves to be destroyed, it is because he says he is a man of unclean lips living among man of unclean lips. In other words, he is completely sinful to the point that nothing holy ever comes out of his mouth. Similarly, the people he lives with are no better than him. He concludes by saying, he realizes all his sinfulness and the sinfulness of those among whom he lives because he has seen the King, the Lord of Hosts. This is what opened his eyes to how sinful he is and how sinful are those he lives among. Again, he realized how holy God is and that made him realize how sinful he is and how sinful everyone else is among whom he lives.
God’s Grace against Sinfulness
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Based solely on His own sovereign will and not on anything Isaiah did, by His mercy and grace, God decided to forgive the very sins that Isaiah saw in himself. God forgave all of them. This was represented by an angel flying down to him with a burning coal from the altar and touching the very mouth Isaiah said was unclean. After this the angel told Isaiah that his guilt had been taken away and his sin atoned for. This statement is a sermon on its own but I will not talk about it in this message. By God’s grace, Isaiah’s guilt was taken away and his sins atoned for.
The Response to God’s Grace
8 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.”
Once Isaiah’s guilt was taken away and his sins atoned for by God’s grace, Isaiah’s response was completely different from his initial one. Once he received God’s grace he immediately went from being ashamed and afraid, to wanting to serve God. When the Lord said who will I send, before he even heard the details, he answered by saying Here I am! Send me.” As you can see these words did not begin with Hugh Masikela as many think but, they began with Isaiah. This is a man who initially felt he deserved to be destroyed, who is now ready to serve God.
Let’s summarize. God by His sovereign will, without Isaiah doing anything to deserve this, God decided to reveal Himself to him. Isaiah saw how holy God is, and he immediately realized how sinful he was and how sinful were the people among whom he lived. God again by His own sovereign will, based on nothing that Isaiah did, decided to forgive Isaiah and to take his guilt away. Once his guilt was taken away and his sins were forgiven, Isaiah’s response was that of wanting to serve.
Now, how is God revealing Himself to us today? The answer is very simple, God reveals Himself in nature and through His revealed word contained in the Bible. In your church, how is the Bible used to reveal God’s holiness and to assist people to correctly respond to God’s revelation? Is God’s holiness being revealed to you through scripture and how does it affect people with regards to how they respond to God’s revelation? How does your fellow congregants respond to God’s revelation? How do you respond to God’s revelation? The way you respond to God’s revelation, how does it compare to the response of king Uzzaih or of Isaiah? Remember Isaiah realised how sinfulness he is and how much he deserves punishment, while King Uzzaih became angry and continued with his sinfulness.