I saw the LORD
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 12, Nov 2019
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
Isaiah is most likely related to the dead king Uzziah. It is possible that ‘iah’ may have been a royal ending to names. Uzziah had a long and distinguished reign. Overall, he was a good king. He did what was right in the sight of the LORD. He sought the LORD, had good understanding in the visions of God and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. But in the midst of his reign King Uzziah offered incense which only Levitical priests could do and was struck by God with leprosy. He interfered with the religious setting of the temple. It is similar to our day. Practically all the countries of the world tried to force change the law even in the church. Uzziah’s death is mentioned because it is a bad period in Israel’s history. It is a dark, sickening and sad period. When leadership of the country turned from good to bad and tried to interfere with the belief of the church, it is definitely a dark day. So to say that in the year King Uzziah died is to say a lot. It is to say, ‘In the year a great and wise king died.’ But it is also to say, ‘In the year a great and wise king who had a tragic end died.’ I see this in our society. I see this in countries. I see leaders turned from good to bad. I see leaders changing laws that is abomination to the Law of God. Recently in Quezon City a transgender woman filed a complaint against a shopping mall for violating a 2014 city ordinance, which makes it illegal for business establishments to discriminate people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. I think all of you heard about the SOGIE equality bill. SOGIE stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression. I like Senate President Vicente Sotto’s response to that transgender complaint on the debate whether or not transgender people should be allowed inside the ladies’ restroom. He said, ‘You have a penis, then go the men’s restroom.’ But the fact that all these has to be debated is definitely a sad and dark day in our world today. Actually we are living in a very bad, sad and dark days. In Singapore it is practically impossible to share the Gospel to strangers; that will be considered racial discrimination. So church growth in Singapore has become transfer growth or biological growth. The day is coming that if as a church refused to officiate a gay marriage, you will be put in jail and the church closed. You are not allowed to discipline your child and if you do it is considered child abuse. One time I was in New York. I will never forget an incident when Timothy was a very small boy and he was misbehaving in public and Christine the mother had to look around to see if any people were watching and she pinched him (discipline him) in an inconspicuous way. The bible says, ‘Spare the rod and you spoil the child’. You cannot pray in the school. You cannot place the bible in the school. We should be like Isaiah having a great reason to be discouraged and disillusioned at the death a good leader and more so if that great leader’s life ended tragically. Where is the LORD in all this?
1. Isaiah Saw the LORD
Isaiah saw the LORD sitting upon the throne. There is a throne in heaven, and YHWH ELOHIM sits upon it as the sovereign ruler of the universe. This is a central fact of heaven: that there is an occupied throne in heaven. It is said that this throne is so gigantic in size that 100 million angels could be at the throne room. We are told that this throne is lifted above, extending high in the air, of imposing height and towering like a mountain. God does not sit on a chair in heaven. Anyone might sit on a chair. But sovereign kings sit on thrones. Judges sit on thrones. Those with proper authority and sovereignty sit on thrones.
YHWH’s throne is lofty extending high in the air. It is lofty and exalted. I need to have a vision of the LORD. Because only a vision of the LORD can help us to see that YHWH is in control of history and even in control of world affairs.
You remember that the leprous King, that King Uzziah who had thrust himself into the priests’ office, and was smitten of leprosy, and shut up in a separate house during the rest of his life. In the year that he died Isaiah saw a greater King, whom no defilement can ever touch, a King that reign and lives forever though Uzziah dies. Isaiah made the discovery that the true King is not dead. Many times we get discouraged and disillusioned by evil President, Prime Minister, who is destroying a country that they ruled and we feel so hopeless at the abuse of law, authority and the general populace suffered greatly. But then YHWH comes in and say that He is alive and in control.
He is present and active in His creation. In the Old Testament we learned all causality (kaw zal li ty) is attributed to YHWH. All cause and effect is attributed to YHWH. YHWH is affirmed to Isaiah that there is only one God; a monotheistic God. Exactly how, when, where He acts is often unknown but He is around. There is a few truths we need to know in life. In all that YHWH is doing, he has:
a. An Eternal redemptive plan
b. A covenant people
c. A coming Messiah
d. A heart for the nations.
That is why YHWH says ‘do not fear the Assyrian’ in Isaiah 10:24. The Assyrian represents the leadership, evil people and system of the world but rather ‘Fear YHWH’ instead who will bring judgment on them. Isaiah is trying to tell us to ‘put no confidence in man’ or ‘do not fear man’, whose breadth is in his nostril. When man exhales, he doesn’t know for sure that he will ever be able to inhale again. A man can have a heart attack and die, just like that. I remember that I was referring to a lady who without understanding was giving trouble to the church. I said, ‘it is so easy for God to humble you. Just a snap of His finger ad you are no more.’ The next moment the person just died. Don’t put confidence in man or be afraid of man. Rather fear YHWH who is alive.
I was very convicted by Vernon McGee who says this: ‘This is the vision that God’s people need in this day. I see no reason for being pessimistic. This is the greatest day in the history of the world. I would rather live right now than in any other period of time. Somebody says, ‘Oh, look at the terrible condition of the world. Look at our nation and the deteriorating condition in our cities.’ Well, the LORD said it is going to be that way. He said that tares were going to be sown in among the wheat (referring to the church). And He was going to let them both grow together. My business today is sowing the seed of the Word of God. I know that It is going to bring forth a harvest. And it is heading up today – there is no question about that. We don’t need to be disturbed. God will take care of the harvest. Our business is to sow the seed, that is to get the Word of God out to needy hearts. What we really need is to see the LORD, see the throne of God. God told me recently. Concentrate on studying the Word of God. It will be the most powerful tool to accomplish the purpose of God. And when you are so well versed with the Word of God, you will be used by Him mightily.
Isaiah saw the LORD. It is a common belief that to see God meant death. This is what YHWH said to Moses in Exodus 33:20 , ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’ So it was a very traumatic moment for Isaiah. But there are also some Old Testament texts which imply God can be seen. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the seventy elders all saw the face of God and yet live. Isaiah did not die. Apparently, Isaiah saw God’s throne and long dress, but not His face. So the real question has to do with the consequences of a sinful person in the presence of a holy God. It is also a question of intimate personal fellowship. Apparently, sight is not the key, but a relationship initiated by God. We have a relationship with God. We have the opportunity to see the LORD. What I am trying to say is that we need to see the face of God, initiated by God because we are living in such a bad, dark period in our society. Pastor James gave a specific download to one of you. He asked that person, how long that person has been a Christian and YHWH is inviting that person to go to the throne of God. I think we need to see the LORD and for a purpose. Isaiah saw the LORD sitting on a throne. When Isaiah who was so discouraged by the death of Uzziah saw the LORD, invited and initiated by God it changed his perspective in life. His missions changed. His outlook on life changed. His faith changed. Isaiah who had a crisis in life, when he saw the throne of God it brought him into the prophetic office. His ministry changed. Prior to this we have no record of Isaiah’s life or relationship to God. But after seeing the LORD on His throne, he became an anointed person. I think of all the books of the bible, Isaiah is my favorite book. Isaiah became one of the major prophets because He saw the LORD sitting upon a throne.
The train of YHWH’s robe has some significance. Kingly robes were of very long length. I remember I saw the movie ‘Elizabeth’, the Queen of England. On the day of her coronation, her robe was lengthy and majestic. Many commentators have seen this long flowing robe as a way to hide the features of God’s face (as also the smoke in the temple). The long robe and the smoke in the heavenly temple function as a covering, something like the Shekinah Cloud in the Wilderness Wandering Period. Recently for two consecutive Sunday, I felt a midst in our church especially during the altar call. We have to pray that YHWH will let Etab be filled with his glory.
Isaiah 6:2-4 says, ‘Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”
The Seraphim stood above the throne. They are the mighty angels of fire and they are called the ‘burning ones’. Each has 6 wings. They cried out that the whole earth is full of God’s glory; implying that God is in control of the affairs of earth. Again the house was filled with smoke. It seems that this house is the heavenly temple. Why the smoke? This refers to either:
a. A symbol of God’s judgment
b. A reference to the Shekinah cloud that hid God’s presence because if we see God, we die
c. Smoke from the incense altar so that God could not be seen.
In the book of Revelation it seems that Seraphim and Cherubim are combined. They are known as ‘the beasts’ and sometimes are known as flying serpents. We are reminded that Satan is also known as a snake. So it is likely that he was a powerful angel like the Seraphims who are closest to God. The meaning of Seraphim means ‘chief, noble and lightning.’ It is interesting what their wings are used for.
a. To cover the eyes. God’s glory is overwhelming even to the throne angels
b. To cover the feet. Often feet are euphemistic of the genitalia. This may be a sign of humility in the presence of holiness
c. To fly to do God’s bidding quickly.
The Emphasis here is YHWH is Sovereign, in control of the affairs of Earth and the emphasis of the Seraphim is YHWH is Holy.
I want to talk about the holiness of God. God will not compromise with evil. I thank him for that. He will not compromise with evil in your life, nor in my life, because evil and sin have brought all of the sorrows in this world. Sin is that which put gray in the hair, creates the tottering step and the stooped shoulder. It is the thing that breaks up homes and lives, and fills the grave. I am glad that God does not compromise with it. God says that He hates sin and He intends to destroy it and remove it from this universe. Today our God is moving forth uncompromisingly, unhesitatingly, and undeviatingly against sin. He does not intend to accept the white flag of surrender from it. He intends to drive sin from His universe. This is what God say, He is high and lifted up. My friend, you and I are going to have to bow before Him. When Isaiah saw God on the throne, it brought him down upon his face. OH how desperately the church needs another vision of God., not just of His love, but of His holiness and righteousness. Because God is holy, He moves in judgement against sin – and He has never asked me to apologize for Him. So I won’t. God is angry against sin and He will punish those who engage in it. He says He will.
2. Isaiah Saw Himself and his Society
Isaiah 6:5 says, ‘Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Isaiah saw himself and exclaimed, ‘Woe is me’. We need to have a vision of God to see our true self. ‘Woe is me’ means I am undone. My doom is sealed. I am a ruined man. I am as good as dead. Every word I have spoken is tainted. It denotes the destruction of someone, the silencing of someone. Isaiah saw that he was headed for destruction and he could not defend himself. The holiness of God informed us of our lack of righteousness accompanied by the biblical demanded response of judgment. This is where Grace comes in. Grace is given to Isaiah. Grace is the key but holiness is the goal. One cannot remain the same person after contact with God, yet this is exactly what God’s people did. We are in contact with God and yet we are defiled. The answer is still to see the LORD, have a vision of YHWH. Isaiah said he is a foul-mouthed sinner, a man of unclean lips. Human speech reflects the heart.
I believe that if you have a vision of God or see the face of God, you will acknowledge your own sin, like Isaiah, Daniel, the Apostle John, Paul the Apostle. There is the individual covenant responsibility but also the sin of your community which is corporate covenant responsibility. Both individual and church responsibility have consequences and benefits. God’s people are to reflect YHWH’s character to the neighbors, but we have been corrupted by society. Hillsong’s upcoming 2019 Christmas show is planning to hold it in a place called the Mayan Theater whose walls are adorned with depictions of child sacrifice to Molech. So why hold services at the Mayan Theater? Holding church services in a theater built to honor pagans who sacrificed children, when they could afford to do it anywhere shows where the heart of Hillsong church is. It’s firmly on the glitz and glamor of the world. A concerned Christian who recently attended Hillsong Church for the sake of evangelism has reported that they are now beginning to meet periodically for worship at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles, It is said that this year they’re throwing in some child sacrifice decorations for the festive occasion. The Mayan Theater is a nightclub in downtown Los Angels and was built in 1927 in keeping with the Mayan theme, the facility boasts of wall decoration, sculptures and statues that include depiction of priest sacrificing children. I think the world is sick and the church is also sick.
Again the need to see the face of God. Again Grace is the key and Holiness is the goal. We are living in the midst of very arrogant, foul mouthed, unclean lips people and we are a member of these people. We must see society as what it is today.
3. Cleansed to Serve
Isaiah 6:5-7 says, ‘Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”
The Seraphim with a live coal, laid it upon the mouth of Isaiah and touched his lips. Iniquity is taken away and sin purged. Isaiah is cleansed to serve. YHWH says, ‘Now you are pronounced ‘not guiltily’ because this coal has touched your lips. Your sins are all forgiven. This verse is a very detailed imagery. Isaiah was having a vision of the heavenly temple, the abode of Deity. Whether he was in a vision of literally being taken up to that heavenly temple is difficult to tell. It is always hard to know what is real and what is imagery when one is in a vision and see God face to face. We see through a fog into the spiritual realm. We are not meant to develop a detailed understanding of heaven and what is important is we are caught up in a vision and given general impression and truth that is crucial for us. The amazing thing is that God has initiated revelation with fallen humanity like us. He
A. Reveals himself
B. Reveals His plans
C. Continuing, as well as future rejection of His people
The general society and even the general church refuses to hear and see but here Isaiah, who admits his sins, is cleansed and is available. Isaiah’s commissioning was for a special task or mission.
4. Ready to Go
Isaiah is now ready to receive the divine message, or at least to overhear the deliberations in the divine council and to deliver it to God’s people. The mark of a true prophet is that he had stood in the divine council and received his mission directly from God.
Isaiah 6:10 says, ‘Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.’
Interestingly God orders Isaiah to make sure the people do not repent and thus avoid judgment. The prophet is essentially being asked to allow the people to continue along the same path of disobedience they have been on. Acceptance of God’s message and true repentance only comes if God wills it. The passage is quoted numerous times in the New Testament to support the general lack of positive response among God’s people. Essentially judgement is now inevitable. I think the judgment on the world has become inevitable. God will follow through on the punishment they deserve. Destruction and exile are instruments of God’s judgment.
Our Job is to take a message of light to the people. Light merely reveals the blindness of the people. In darkness they do not know if they are blind or not. A pastor gave this illustration. He says, ‘When I was a boy in Oklahoma, I used to have to milk a stubborn old cow. When it grew dark early in the evenings, I would have to take a lantern out to the barn with me. When I reached the corncrib two things would happen. The rats ran for cover – I could hear them taking off – and the little birds that was roosting up in the rafters would begin to twitter around and sing. The presence of light caused one to flee and the other to sing. Now did the light make a rat a rat? NO. He was a rate before the light got there. The light only revealed that he was a rat. On the other hand did that light make the little birds, birds. No. The light will cause the birds to embrace the light and to sing. When we deliver the Word of God, the light will reveal the rats and the birds.
There was a big explosion in a mine in West Virginia, and many men were blocked off in the mine because of the cave-ins. After several days a rescue party dug through to the trapped men. And one of the things they managed to get through to them was a light. The trapped men went towards the light. After a light came on, a fine young miner said, ‘Why doesn’t someone turn on a light? The other miners looked at him startled, suddenly realizing that he had been blinded by the explosion. But it took a light to reveal that he was blind.
We thank God there is a hint of a small group of people that will hear and survive. From that remnant , God will rebuild His people. But they will still experience and suffer trials.