Summary: What the church needs more than anything else is a dramatic encounter with the holiness of God to arouse us from our sin induced slumber.
WORSHIP: ENCOUNTERING THE HOLY
August 25, 2002
Raccoons go through a glandular change at about 24 months. After that they often attack their owner. Since a 30-pound raccoon can be equal to a 100-pound dog in a scrap, a zoo keeper felt compelled to mention the change coming to a pet raccoon owned by a young lady named Julie. She listened politely as he explained the coming danger. He never forgot her response. “It will be different for me . . .” And she also smiled as she added, “Bandit wouldn’t hurt me. He just wouldn’t.” Julie underwent plastice surgery just three months later for facial lacerations sustained when her adult raccoon attacker her for no apparent reason. All too often sin comes dressed in an adorable disguise and so we play with it. How quickly we find ourselves saying, “It will be different for me.” However, the results are predictable. (Gary Richmond, View From The Zoo)
There is nothing the church needs more desperately today than a fresh encounter with the holiness of God to make us aware of the dangers of playing with sin. When Isaiah experienced his encounter with the Holy he was in the temple seeking God. So those of you who have come to church today with hearts hungering for the holiness of God have come to the right place. Please follow along in your Bibles as I read Isaiah 6:1-8.
1. We Must Rediscover the Holiness of God.
Alfred the Great was the ninth-century king who saved England from conquest by the Danish. At one point during his wars with the Danes, Alfred was forced to seek refuge in the hut of a poor Saxon family. Not recognizing her visitor, the woman of the house said she had to leave and asked Alfred to watch some cakes she was baking. But the king had other things on his mind and did not notice that the cakes were burning. Upon her return, the lady unknowingly gave her sovereign a hearty scolding! (Today in the Word, April 9, 1992) This lady showed no respect for the king because she didn’t know who this man really was. In many ways 21st century Christians are just like this 9th century woman. We show no respect for God because we do not know who He really is.
Just as this woman viewed her king as a mere common man so we today have brought God down to our level. He is now no more than the “big guy up stairs.” Or perhaps we view Him as being “a jolly good fellow.” A young man was once asked by a pastor if he’d ever given any thought to what would happen to him after he had died and what he would be doing in eternity. This young man confidently replied that he would be lying around with a smile on his face just thinking about God. The Bible teaches something drastically different. The manifest presence of the God of the Bible struck terror into even the holiest of hearts and the Scriptures reveal that great men of God trembled and fell to their faces when they found themselves in the presence of mere angels. You may do many things in eternity, but entering into the presence of the Holiest Of All with a silly smirk on your face will never be one of them.
This dumbing down of God has negatively effected every area of our lives. This dumbing down of God has had such devastating effects because it is just as prevalent inside the church as outside. Steve DeNeff in his book Whatever Became of Holiness lists six side-effects of what he calls “God-shrinking.” I want to share these with you before we get into Isaiah.
The first side-effect of God-shrinking is that there is no law. If we are to impose laws on our society we must first have the understanding that there are certain absolute truths that apply to all people, at all places and during all times. Such absolutes must be based on a standard and that standard is God. If God is dumbed down to our level then He is less like a standard and more like us. If God cannot be relied on as a standard then there can be no moral basis for absolute truth and thus no foundation for any law of any kind. As a result those in power have the right to make laws they like and eliminate laws they don’t like. We are guilty of this in the church all the time. We like to here sermons that condemn horrible sins such adultery or murder or drug abuse, but we would likely squirm in our seats if such condemnation were applied to gluttony or gossip cleverly disguised as prayer requests.