Scripture reading for July 18th: Isaiah 5-8
In the presence of the Lord there is an awesome awareness of God’s holiness and glory and of our sinfulness and need of cleansing. The stories of encounters with the Lord in Scripture have very humbling effects on those so blessed to experience a personal visitation. It is always by God’s initiative that He reveals Himself to a man or woman. We can’t command a visitation although we can ask humbly. Job asked to have an audience with His maker and found himself unable to answer and repented in dust and ashes for words he had said. (Job 42:2-6) Isaiah had a visitation and saw the Lord in the year that King Uzziah died. (about 740 B.C.)
The first thing Isaiah experienced when he saw the Lord was a vision of the throne room in Heaven. He noticed the Lord on a throne and his robe filling the temple. Above and around Him were heavenly being called seraphs, or “burning ones”. They had six wings and used these to fly and cover their faces and feet. They were calling to each other “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) When they spoke, their voices shook the doorposts and thresholds of the temple and smoke filled the house. It wasn’t a fire-like smoke but was the glory of God Almighty!
The next thing that happened was that Isaiah himself began to cry out in terror of judgment in the presence of this Holy One and His burning angels! He immediately knew his ruin and sin would bring judgment and death. He understood that all people among whom he lived were also sinful and were in danger of judgment! Seeing God’s great white throne would spell disaster! (Revelation 20:11-14) God saw his heart and repentance and heard his confession. He sent one of the seraph’s with a burning coal from the altar. The seraph took the coal and applied it to the prophet’s mouth and told him that his sin was taken away and atoned for. All sin has a cost and must be paid for. Death is the payment unless someone dies for us!
After cleansing, Isaiah heard the Lord asking a question. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for me?” Isaiah quickly responded with “Here am I, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) God told Isaiah that He was sending him to a people whose hearts were calloused and their ears were dull. They had become hardened and would become harder from not listening to God’s prophet give them God’s Word! (Isaiah 6:9-10) Jesus quoted these verses as he spoke to the religious people of His day. (Matthew 13:13-15)
In summary, the encounter Isaiah had with the Lord brought revelation of God’s glory. This led to recognition of his sinfulness and confession. Repentance and confession brought cleansing by God’s grace through fire from the altar. After cleansing he heard God’s call and willingly obeyed! This is a pattern for all disciples of Jesus Christ!
Scripture reading for July 17th: Isaiah 1-4
The book of Isaiah is a rich resource of prophesy and New Testament truth. Jesus Christ said of Isaiah that he “saw my glory and spoke about it.” (John 12:41) Jesus quoted from Isaiah a number of times and began His ministry quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2 as recorded in Luke 4:18-19. Isaiah was a faithful prophet of the Lord during over 50 years of ministry under four different kings of Judah. His book is considered by some to be a miniature of the Bible as a whole. The first 39 chapters record Isaiah’s messages of judgment on the sins of a backslidden and lost people. The last 27 chapters contain a message of hope and consolation to those God has disciplined. It is said that Isaiah was sawn asunder by Manasseh, the wicked son of good king Hezekiah. As we study this amazing book of prophesy, ask the Lord to show you His glory as well!
The first chapter contain a pattern of preaching that many of the prophets used and one that Isaiah used repeatedly as well. He had a four-point sermon outline that goes something like this: (A) Charges of accusation of sins, (B) Threats of coming judgment, (C) Call to repent and return to God, and (D), Promises of healing and restoration if they repented.
The charges against Judah sound familiar with other prophets and in the church today! The people of Judah were raised and delivered by God himself, but willfully did not know God. They were sinful people who had actually turned their backs on God and rebelled against their own Maker! (Isaiah 1:2-9) The results were sores and infection, a land under judgment and drought, and cities burned with fire! God likened them to Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities He had destroyed by fire because of their gross wickedness.
God was fed up and threatened judgment! He was sick of their hollow religious meetings and meaningless offerings. He hated their festivals and was burdened by their show with no substance. He promised to hide his face from them and would not respond to their prayers. (Isaiah 1:10-15)
God asked them to turn from their sins while there was still time. Their hands were full of blood and needed washing. They needed to turn from evil and learn to do right. They should seek justice and righteousness and begin to encourage the oppressed and help the fatherless and widow. God was concerned with social justice and particularly with the needy and weak who were being exploited. (Isaiah 1:16-17) He tried to reason with them about the stain of their sins. As red blood stains a white garment and is difficult to remove, God promised to blot out the stain of their sin and make them white as snow or white like a clean wool garment! (Isaiah 1:18-19)
The final section promises more blessings and healing. He promised that if they were willing and obedient, they would eat the best of the land, but if they refused and rebelled against His advice they would be devoured by the sword. What a deal! God will get revenge on the wicked rebels and afterward He will restore the godly judges and counselors. He will have mercy on those who are penitent but will punish those who are evil!