Summary: A look at how Isaiah’s encounter with God can provide us with principles to find hope in the new year.
Many of you in this room remember exactly where you were and what you were doing the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. And for many people that day was not just the end of the presidency and the life of John F. Kennedy, it was also the day that hope died. The young, energetic president and his administration which was often referred to as “Camelot” ceased to exist. The entire nation mourned and was in despair.
Today, over 30 years later, our country seems to be in a similar condition. We face a new enemy – one without a country or uniforms, an enemy that is committed to destroying our country and our way of life. Our borders have been overrun by people who don’t share the values of our country or have any desire to be assimilated into our culture. Our politicians fight and call each other names. And in spite of scientific advances heart disease, cancer, AIDS, the West Nile virus, the bird flu and other deadly diseases continue to spread sickness and death.
As a country, we’ve lost our moral compass. Actors and actresses live together and have children and then decide whether to get married later – and then if they do wed, it’s only a matter of time until they find another partner and divorce. Our sports heroes make millions of dollars and then act like spoiled little children. We’re told that we need to tolerate behavior that the Bible calls sinful and yet we can’t even say “Merry Christmas” to someone else because that might offend him or her. We’ve taken God out of every area of our lives.
It’s no wonder that our culture is full of people who are without hope. But as we enter into a new year, I’d like for us to take some time this morning to renew our hope. We’re going to go back to a passage that’s probably quite familiar to many of us. If you have your Bibles go ahead and turn to Isaiah Chapter 6.
For Isaiah and his people, this was also a time of lost hope. King Uzziah had died, and much like the death of John F. Kennedy, his death meant the loss of hope for his people and for Isaiah, in particular. King Uzziah was the 11th king of Judah. His reign began when he was only 16 years old and it had continued for 52 years. Although he had his shortcomings, Uzziah was the greatest king since King David. Under his reign, Judah, the southern kingdom had prospered greatly. We can find the story of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26, but this one verse sums up his reign pretty well:
He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done.
2 Chronicles 26:4 (NIV)
Uzziah was not only Isaiah’s king, he was his friend. So Isaiah was particularly devastated by the death of the king. But Isaiah has an encounter with God that allows him to renew his hope and to go on to a life that produces much fruit for the kingdom of God. So my prayer this morning is that as we get ready for the new year, we can take and apply some of the same principles that Isaiah applied in order to renew our hope for this coming year.
Read Isaiah 6
This morning I want us to see 5 principles that we can apply in our own lives so that we can have hope in the new year.
HOW TO HAVE HOPE FOR THE NEW YEAR
1. See God’s holiness
When we lose hope, we tend to turn to many different people, places and activities to try to regain that hope. Some turn to family members and friends. Some turn to some hobby or activity. Some turn to food. Some unfortunately turn to alcohol or drugs. And I suppose that in some way all those things can appear to restore our hope, at least in the short run. But we soon find out that none of those things can really give us lasting hope.
When Isaiah had lost his hope, he went to the one place where he knew he could find lasting relief – he went to meet God. Before the death of Uzziah, Isaiah knew God. He was already a prophet and he undoubtedly spent time with God. But this time, God allowed Isaiah to see Him like he had never seen Him before. And although Isaiah probably learned several things about the nature of God in the vision he had that day, the primary thing he was exposed to was God’s holiness. As Isaiah sees God seated on His throne I the Temple, the seraphim are singing praises to God for his holiness: