Study Guide August 21, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
How many have gone to the Cherry Point Airshow? It is a great event…the kind that makes you want to see it again and again. What a fantastic display of our military proficiency, as well as just some really cool machines, right? No doubt you have some favorites, from the Harrier Jets to the Blue Angels and the acrobatic planes and so on. But I know, for guys, one of the coolest machines is that Shockwave Truck, with the flames shooting out all over. It’s a combination of a Peterbilt truck with Jet engines. You talk about power…It has over 36,000 horsepower, and can go from 0 to 300 mph in 11seconds…and then ends up going over 400 mph. I can’t imagine what it feels like to ride down the air strip in that thing. But again, there are a lot of powerful machines at the airshow.
And the thing is, when reading the Scriptures, we need to realize that there are a lot of powerful passages in the Bible. And we may not realize just how powerful they really are. Of course the Bible starts off with the Creation of the Heavens and the Earth. There’s no power known to man to even compare with any of that. Even man’s atomic bombs are like black cat firecrackers compared to the power of the energy used in Creation.
We’re going to be looking into some of those powerful passages in the Bible. And we’ll do so with the purpose of letting the ‘power’ of these Biblical realities make deep impressions on our hearts and minds and thus, have powerful impacts on the way we live. And we’ll begin with one of the most powerful visions ever experienced by any human being. It was Isaiah’s vision of God in His present temple in Heaven.
Isa 6:1-5- “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. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out 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 trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “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 King, the Lord of hosts.” NASU
What a vision! And one powerful point we need to make right away is that whenever the Spirit of God has one of His recorders of Scripture share with us the vision that he had with God, well…God intends for us to share in that vision as well. And we don’t mean that we experience the event itself, but we are to experience the life changing truths of it ourselves. The prophet Isaiah, our spiritual brother in the Lord, saw the Lord, along with the Lord’s powerful Angel attendants, and then Isaiah told you and me what he saw. And thus, through sharing his vision with us we are to share in the vision ourselves. This experience was an unveiling of the spiritual curtain that hangs between our present Earth and the present Heaven, and Isaiah saw the Lord in His temple, and therefore, so have we. This passage is the picture of that; in verbal form, yes, but still a reality. And even though this picture is now veiled to us, we are to be seeing by faith what Isaiah saw by sight.
Look up…the Lord is still on the throne. The powerful Angelic Seraphim beings are still around the throne. And these beings themselves are so powerful that their very voice can shake temple foundations. And they are still worshiping and serving their God and King because they know how awesome and how powerful their God and our God really is. And they also know how holy their God and our God and Isaiah’s God really is. And that’s why Isaiah’s first reaction was not “Whoa! Check it out!” but “Woe is me!”
Isn’t it interesting that for many Bible characters, who really were very godly and honorable followers of God, when they met God in a very personal way, their first reaction was something like Isaiah’s… ‘Woe is me. I’m a man of uncleanness. I’m not worthy to be with You, O God.’ Remember John the Baptist; when he was asked who he was in relation to the Messiah he said, “I’m not even worthy to be His slave and untie the straps of His sandal.” John 1:27 NLT Or how about when the Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she was favored to bear the Christ child she says ‘O my God, my Savior. I am but a lowly servant girl.’ And others, too, like Daniel and Peter and John…all when they had a close personal encounter with ‘Who’ God really is, they realized who they really were, and they reacted with a sense of unworthiness.
The powerful point from this is that no one can have a close encounter or close relationship with God and go away a proud man or proud woman. Remember what James said about that? James 4:6-7- “God opposes the proud but favors the humble. So humble yourselves before God.” NLT You see, Experiencing the holiness of God produces the experience of humbleness in man. Anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ’s who also exhibits self-pride in their character has not walked very closely with Christ at all; because the closer you walk with the Holy God the more humble you become, like Isaiah, like Mary, like John the Baptist, and others. They were not impressed with themselves…they were impressed with their Savior, and therefore they were empowered by their Savior to serve God and people in amazing and powerful ways.
And that’s just another wonderful thing about our loving God. Whenever anyone does humble themselves before Him, He exalts them before others. He lifts them up, forgives their wrongs, makes them right with Him, and then tells them it’s all right between them. God loves to show mercy to those who humble themselves before Him and before others. He delights in forgiveness and then assuring the humble of how proud He is to be their Heavenly Father, and then loves to use them in His will and service.
Just think about it; like later in the vision when Isaiah is assured that he is forgiven and everything is all right between God and him and then he hears God say this: Isa 6:6-8- “Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” NASU And there’s Isaiah. Outside of the Angels, he’s the only one right there. And now feeling all forgiven and refreshed and blessed and now wanting to do something to bless His Lord in return he says, “Here Lord, I’m here! I’ll go. Can I do it? Send me!”
It’s like with a Dad or Mom, feeling all happy with their child, and they want the child to feel wanted and needed and to sense how important they really are to them. So in order to make their child feel that closeness they give their child an opportunity to help Dad and Mom with something special. And even though there isn’t anybody else around they say something like; “You know, we really need some help in doing this. It would really mean a lot to us if we had someone to help us out just about now. So I wonder who could help us…who could we send?” And there stands their child. And the little guy or girl is about to jump out of their skin they are so excited to be that one to help, and so they say…. “Oh…oh…here I am ! I’ll help you! Send me!”
God wants us to know how important we are to Him, to know how wanted we are as His children…to know how pleased He is about our relationship with Him as His own family. And to help us sense that He arranges service opportunities for us, He provides privileges for us of getting to join Him in His work, of joining our Heavenly Father in doing Kingdom service together with the King of kings and Lord of lords. And although He doesn’t need to, He even promises rewards for every good thing we do to honor our God and bless others, because that’s just the way our God is! But you see, A powerful point we need to understand from this is that until we come to understand the whole issue of serving God in terms of something that we ‘get to do’ rather than just in terms of something we ‘ have to do’ we will never really understand what God is trying to do for us in our service for Him, nor of what a privilege that God is actually giving to us in doing service for Him. What we need to see in His instructions and commandments to us and in His service arrangements for us is that He’s trying to make us feel included and important, and to realize how much pleasure that He, as our God takes in having us, His children, working alongside of Him in preparing for His new Kingdom.
Think about it: Remember those Seraphim Angels? You talk about impressive beings! Their name means ‘burning with brilliancy…exalted beings’! Their power is beyond anything a human could even imagine. The strongest human being would be a mere weakling compared to a Seraphim Angel. They are guardians of God and also worship and praise leaders, particularly about God’s holiness, as well as of the perfection of God’s character and attributes. And really, Just to know that there are personages like this just beyond the spiritual veil should cause us to be awestruck every day about it…about the fact that we are soon going to be living with and interacting with and doing life together with these amazing beings.
But now, here’s the thing. God could have chosen to use His Angels to do any or all of the work that needs to be done in preparing for His coming Kingdom. Think about the Great Commission. Can you imagine if Seraphim Angels went around doing door to door evangelism? It wouldn’t matter if people didn’t answer the door or not! A Seraphim Angel could just appear in their living room and say, “I’m here to talk to you about your need to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.” Wow! And after the people woke up off of the floor, they would talk more…Wouldn’t you love to just go along with a Seraphim while he went around witnessing to people! Or basically, just anything that God has called for His people to do, called for His church to do, or instructed His human family to do, the Angels could do it all so much better and with so much more power.
The point is: God doesn’t need us to do in service what needs to get done. A few of His Angels could do it all. So, again, what God is doing as He calls us to serve Him and serve others is that He is giving us these opportunities to work with Him. Just like that child who realizes what a privilege and blessing it is to do something of importance to help his or her parents, and how it blesses both the parents and them, God is giving us the privilege to take part in the most important work and service in the Universe; helping Him build His church and prepare for His coming Kingdom.
Until you understand that an instruction from God or a commandment from God or an offer from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit like: ‘Whom shall I send; who will go for us?’ is actually something you ‘get to do’ for God rather than just something you ‘have to do’ for God, you will never understand what God’s intentions are in letting us join Him in doing His work and His will, nor understand that serving God is the greatest privilege anyone can have on this side of Heaven. Another reason we know that this is the case is because in Heaven, serving and pleasing the King will be the very thing we will want to do the most. And of course, that’s another reason for the Judgment Seat of Christ, the family judgment; it’s to evaluate how God’s children did serve Him on Earth when they had other options…other choices, like about just pleasing themselves instead of their Heavenly Father. Choose wisely…like Isaiah: Realize that serving our loving God is a great privilege, and it even carries the results of receiving more privileges in the coming Kingdom. God loves to reward His children for joining Him in His works.
But one other powerful point from Isaiah’s vision that we also need to know is that even when we do get all enthused about serving God and sharing with others about the things of God, we are to understand that there will be a considerable number of others around us who aren’t that enthused at all about what you’re trying to do for God and them. In fact, They are not going to appreciate at all what you are trying to share with them nor the service you’re trying to do for God and them. Take a look at what God said to Isaiah about that. Isa 6:9-10- “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” NASU
What God is telling Isaiah is that, of course, God desires for people to see, and to hear, and to understand His truths, and turn to Him and be healed in their soul. Remember, that’s what He had the Apostle Peter remind everyone about: 2 Peter 3:9- The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” NASU The repentance and salvation of all people is what God prefers in His will, but what God has also done is given people the freedom to choose their own will against His will. God permits them to choose to not see and not hear and not turn to Him. God permits what He does not prefer, because salvation is for ‘whosoever will’. The problem is that there has always been and will continue to be so many people who choose to remain among the ‘whosoever won’t’!
And that’s a disheartening reality about our world. But the point is, like Isaiah learned, we are to not lose heart in doing God’s will in our world regardless of what the world does about it. Remember, the smile of God upon us overshadows the frowns of people around us. That’s why we need to not only see Isaiah’s vision in the Bible, but we also need to keep seeing it in our everyday life, because God is still on the throne. And those Seraphim Angels are still proclaiming “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole Earth is full of His glory”. And it is. And that’s also part of what we are to see, along with what Isaiah also saw…if we will have eyes to see it, and then live out our lives based on this powerful passage of God’s Word.
So remember: God doesn’t evaluate your faithfulness by other people’s response to your service and witness for God, and neither should you. God evaluates your faithfulness by your response to Him about your service and witness for Him, and therefore, so should you. Like a loving parent; our Perfect Parent, our Heavenly Father appreciates your attempts and even your intentions and especially your willingness to join Him in the sharing of His Word and in doing the service works that He has instructed us to do in His Word. Plus, God loves to hear us say, “Here am I Lord, send me…use me.”