Sunday, January 12, 2014

TorahBytes: The Devastating Truth (Yitro)

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory! (Isaiah 6:3 ESV)

Isaiah had a heavenly vision. His reaction may surprise you: He cried out, "Woe is me! For I am lost" (Isaiah 6:5; ESV).

I always thought that I would love to have such an experience. Seeing something like this would forever rid me of any lingering doubts I may have about God's existence. It would change my life for the better. I would live the rest of my life as a modern day Bible hero!

Not having had such an experience, I cannot say for sure what its effects would be. But if Isaiah is any indication, then it would be quite devastating. And he is not alone. If you are familiar with the other dramatic revelations of God in the Scriptures, then you know that Isaiah's reaction isn't all that unusual. Seeing heavenly things is actually pretty scary.

This section of the Book of Isaiah begins by telling us that this occurred around the time of King Uzziah's death - a time of uncertainty for the nation of Israel. King Uzziah had been a great king who came to a sad demise due to pride. Times of uncertainty tend to cause us to question the things that we hold dear, including our belief systems.

It was in the midst of such a time that God’s reality confronts Isaiah: As we already read, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3; ESV).

Look at the second part of this statement: "The whole earth is full of his glory." The term "glory," "kavod" in Hebrew, refers to the outward manifestation of one's character and ability. Someone may claim talent, intelligence and other internal attributes, but when those things are outwardly demonstrated in life, they are that person's glory. God's glory is the tangible evidence of his invisible attributes. When the creatures called out, "The whole earth is full of his glory," they were proclaiming that God's reality was being evidenced throughout the entire world. But this was not how Isaiah was seeing things. His belief in God may have been intact, but it is likely that he had trouble accepting that God's reality was affecting the entire world, let alone the situations around him.

It is even possible that he had been expressing his doubts to others, which could explain his confession: “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5; ESV).

He knew that it was the heavenly creatures who spoke truth - not himself or his people. Isaiah was devastated by this truth, yet he accepted it, which prepared him to serve God in the days ahead.

From that time on Isaiah would speak out the truth as God would reveal it to him, no matter how contrary it seemed from what was going on around him. His understanding of the great contrast between heaven’s perspective and his own enabled him to confront lies just as he had been confronted.

That same perspective confronts us today. Each day we have a choice as to which perspective we will believe, which version of reality will guide our speech, and according to whose word we will live.

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