Hello Project Ezra. This post is our 100th Project Ezra post! It still amazes me that God has chosen to use this weekly blog to encourage others. The process of writing it has certainly encouraged me. Thanks to Tony Miano, who started this group, for giving me the privilege of taking the reigns over a year ago, and all glory to God for the things He has accomplished through it. I hope many of you will continue to follow Project Ezra and, if you find the material Godly and encouraging, please share it with others who may also be encouraged.
Appropriately, the chapter we will be reading this week is very focused on the glory of God, as I pray this group is and will be. The beginning of the chapter recounts Isaiah’s vision of standing in God’s presence, in His throne room. Above Him Isaiah saw the seraphim, angelic beings of unimaginable power. The chapter says that the mere sound of their voice shook the foundations of the temple, as they called out to each other, praising the Lord. Yet even the seraphim, powerful and glorious beyond our comprehension, covered their faces and their feet in the presence of God. They were still created beings, like us, and standing in God’s presence, had a much better grasp of who they are and who He is, and how to appropriately express that. They knew they were unworthy.
This is the world’s biggest problem with understanding God, and I think ours as well much of the time. We don’t really think about or understand who God is. We don’t think about His majesty, His glory, or His holiness. Think of Isaiah’s reaction. Isaiah, likely the holiest man of his day, was overwhelmed almost to the point of despair at being in the presence of God. How often do we think about God in that light? I know I don’t enough. It is very true that God is our father and our friend, as the bible also expresses, but He is also holy. And for the unbeliever, this misunderstanding or ignorance of who God is makes the gospel absurd, and the idea of eternal punishment unreasonable.
But think of this analogy. Look for a moment at just one aspect of God’s law, bearing false witness (lying). If you were to lie to a small child, it would be wrong, but the child couldn’t punish you. If you were to lie to your husband or wife you might end up sleeping on the couch. If you lie to your boss at work, you could lose your job. If you lie to a judge in court you could end up in prison. The offense is the same in all cases, put the punishment is not. The punishment increases based on the position and status of the person against who the sin is committed. As David said, all sin is ultimately against God (see Psalm 51), and any sin is infinitely sinful before an infinitely holy God. As Isaiah said, we are all men of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.
Because of this fact, we should not only have love for God, but have holy reverence and awe of Him as well. And it is this kind of response we are hoping Isaiah 6 will spark in those we read it to this week. The second half of the chapter speaks to this as well, talking about God’s just punishment of the rebellious nation of Israel, and only reinforces the fact of God holiness, shown here in His justice and righteousness. And His reaction is completely justified in light of His character.
So, this chapter, although it does not proclaim the good news of the gospel directly, makes that bad news of our sin and the judgment more reasonable in light of God’s glory and holy character. But we still have a wonderful transition, because just as God’s justice and righteous are extensions of His character, of who He is, so are His love and mercy. So I would encourage you, in your personal witnessing, as well as in your open-air reading, to tell people about God’s holiness, and how that holiness is reflected in God’s mercy and justice. If the Holy Spirit moves in their hearts and they begin to grasp the enormity of that, they will despair as Isaiah did. Then it will be that much sweeter to them when they hear about how God’s justice and mercy were both satisfied, at the cross of Christ.
For the praise of His glory,