Summary: The contrast of God’s Holiness with our sinfulness brings us to the place of forgiveness.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
February 8, 2004
A World Shaking Experience
INTRODUCTION: Today’s scripture describes a world shaking experience for the prophet, Isaiah, that he never forgot. (See Isaiah 2:10-22; 37:16, 40:12-26; 57:15). The vision that made such an impact on him happened in 742 B. C. the year that King Uzziah died. This was a very significant event in history because this king had reigned for 52 years and for the most part was a person who did what was right in the sight of the Lord just as his father, Amaziah, had done. As long as he sought the Lord he had success. Judah was stable and prosperous under this king, but his success went to his head. He became proud and arrogant to where he walked into the temple and offered sacrifices in spite of the priests’ protests. As a result of this sin, he got leprosy and died (II Chronicles 26:3). A change was to take place in the administration, but Isaiah didn’t know if it would be good or bad. He feared that prosperity would cease, Israel would be taken captive, and that a depression and famine would also come.
Many people felt that things would be so bad through the change of administration that the glory of God would not be able to be seen or sensed by the people. Uzziah’s death meant an uncertain future. People were anxious and afraid. This was a dark and dangerous time. However, just because Israel’s King died, the God of Israel still lives.
It is true that Isaiah was living in a critical time in history. A young aristocrat, he was probably a little self righteous looking down on King Uzziah for his sin of arrogance. He was probably a little proud. He was married to a prophetess and his ministry was primarily to the southern Kingdom of Judah.
Although Isaiah was already a prophet, he was being called to a more difficult mission and this world-shaking vision had such an impact on him that he never deviated from his work.
Let’s see what we can get out of today’s scripture.
1. His Encounter With God: He went to the temple and had a different experience than he had ever had before. It was awesome and earthshaking for him. Can you think of a time that you have had such an earthshaking, awesome spiritual experience that even today you look back and can describe it in detail? Was it a moving, unsettling experience? It may not have been as spectacular as the vision that Isaiah experience that day, but it has stuck with you all these years. We might describe it as an “aha” time in our lives when we exclaim, “Aha, I see what the Lord is trying to tell me. This is awesome!”
STORY: A student in seminary was going to spend the next year at Emory Hospital in supervised ministry. She wasn’t sure this was what she was to go into. As she walked down the sidewalk she was a bit anxious and upset. She said a calm came over her and a voice saying, “Learn all you can because I have a plan.”
She said, “I felt startled and thought ‘Where did this come from?” This was an “Aha” experience she never forgot and it carried her through the difficult year of supervised ministry.
What are your “aha” experiences? You have probably all had something that you could identify as an encounter with God. It has helped to shape you in your spiritual walk more than you realize.
In Isaiah’s world shaking experience he said several things happened:
1. I saw the Lord
2. He was seated on a throne
3. He had a huge train on his robe that filled the temple (a badge of dignity in the East)
4. above him were seraphs with six wings:
a. 2 wings covered their faces--could not gaze directly on the glory of God.
b. 2 wings covered their feet--reverence and respect
c. 2 wings to fly--to minister
5. the door posts shook and smoke filled the temple (the presence of God in the smoke)
If you had seen such a vision, how would you have felt? Where do you think Isaiah was in his relationship with God?
Indications from his response show that Isaiah had probably become accustomed to the sin around him. He went about his work probably desensitized to what all was going on in the country. I think he may have been somewhat complacent just like we are today. Maybe he felt, “I am not shocked by anything or anybody. Sin is just a part of everyday life. People are people. We do what we have to do to get by. Everybody does--kings included.”
Story: A woman was driving through a school zone when a policeman pulled her over for speeding. As he was giving her the ticket, she said, “How come I always get a ticket, and everyone else gets a warning? Is it my face?”