We live in a culture—as others before—that are not easily wowed. We pack arena’s chanting our favorite songs from our favorite band. We wait in line to see the next biggest summer blockbuster. We swarm sports stadiums to cheer our beloved team.
A few years ago, I had a bucket list item come true. I went to my first ever Packers game at Lambeau Field. Growing up in Wisconsin only a 50 miles from the Frozen Tundra is was my dream to see the Cheeseheads play live. Before the game began I almost teared up as I walked from the concourse into the stadium seats. It was cold and loud and the Packers blew out the Vikings. I was wowed by the experience.
What are you wowed by? Chances are what wows you is what you worship.
It is not easy to define worship in a culture that readily worships anyone or anything. Yet worship is about what you live for. Every day, all day, everywhere you go, you worship. It’s what you do. It’s who you are. You can’t stop it nor live without it. Worship is a way of life. It is a whole-life response. You are a worshiper before you are a sister, brother, father, mother, student, employee or boss. Worship is simply about value. Worship is your response to what you value—what wows you most.
Isaiah was wowed.
“In the year that King Uzziah died” (Isaiah 6:1)
Uzziah is different than Isaiah. Isaiah is Israel’s prophet, but Uzziah was Israel’s king. He was revered because he brought peace and stability to his nation. 52 years he reigned, which is longer than most Israelites in his day lived (think Queen Elizabeth II; 63 years). Imagine your entire lifetime one man was president or king, everything’s running smoothly, then you hear the news “the king is dead.” Although he was king, he was still human. Note the reason for his death (2 Chronicles 26:15-21; 27:2). Uzziah grew proud in his old age. He thought of himself as superhuman. And God has a way of humbling monarchs with a god-complex. God struck Uzziah with leprosy and he died. And just days after his death the nation of Israel began to unravel.
So in the same year a human king dies, Isaiah gets a vision of the Great King who lives. While Uzziah isn’t, God is. And this is what Isaiah sees of God—the God who is. What unveils are some spectacular truths about who God is. Get ready, put your seat belt on, and be wowed (vs.1-4) by God as Isaiah sees him.
God is alive.
“I saw the Lord”
Uzziah may be dead, but God still lives. It’s as David said, “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God” [Ps. 90:2]. God isn’t dead. Isaiah sees him. God doesn’t have to prove it, but he often does. He was alive when the universe began. He was alive when the Buddha and Muhammad walked the earth. He was alive in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He is alive today. And He will be alive ten trillion ages from now when all the puny powers of the earth like the Kardashian’s and Donald Trump are long forgotten. God always has been and always will be alive, even right now, He lives.
God is in control.
“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne.”
You will never see a vision of God taking a nap or out of the office for vacation or scrambling to figure out what he’s going to do tomorrow or stressed out by all the work he has to do. He sits. And he sits on a throne. He is in control and never out of control. Heaven and earth are not falling apart. He holds it together. He keeps the rules and writes the rules. Whether you like it or not. Whether you allow him to or not. He is sovereign. Who are you and I to question his authority? Uzziah is peanuts compared to God. He’s a pawn in God’s hand. It’s a humbling yet hopeful truth to know that God is in control.
God is incomparable.
“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up.”
God’s throne highest, biggest, and better next to any other earthly throne. God’s throne stands above all other thrones. Other thrones are not even in the same stratosphere. God is the supreme and he exercises supreme authority. What God purposes, He accomplishes. Later God says to Isaiah, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” [Isaiah 46:10]. Many have tried, but no opposing authority or earthly king or powerful person can nullify the decrees of God.
God is majestic and most important.
“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his robe [train] filled the temple.”
Why do kings adorn themselves in robes and crowns and extravagant clothing? It is because they want to separate themselves from the subjects they rule over. It’s to stand out or to appear majestic and important.
When Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation at Westminster Abbey the train of her robe was carried by a dozen ladies in waiting, but God’s robe made the queen’s robe look like a baby blanket. It’s like a bride on her wedding day dressed to impressed and her gown covers the aisle, the steps, the platform, the chairs, the lights and all. That God’s robe fills every inch of the heavenly temple is to show us that his beauty and majesty and importance are incomparable. God loves to wow us. Just look at the stars, mountains, patterns of nature, and intricate details of the human body. If the world God created is so majestic, then he—the Creator—is so much more so.
God is revered.
“Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”
What earthly king or mortal man has these kinds of servants? Say it? “No one!” No one knows what these strange six-winged creatures are (certainly not some chubby winged angel babies) nor do they appear again in the Bible. When one of these angels speaks the foundations of the temple tremble (v.4). If you caught a glimpse of these angels you’d be wowed, but notice, God wows them. They cannot look at God. They feel unworthy to be in his presence. They revered God. How much more so should we?
God is holy.
“And one called to another, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!”
God is in a separate category. He is in a class by Himself. No one is like him. Nothing compares to him. We would say, God is awesome, unbelievable, or unfathomable. He is beyond words. We are speechless trying to come up with a word to pin him down. That is the essence of holiness.
- “Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, They have despised the Holy One of Israel (27x in Isaiah), They have turned away from Him.” (Isaiah 1:4)
- “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.” (Isaiah 40:25) “There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides You.” (1 Samuel 2:2)
- “I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.” (Hosea 11:9)
- “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20)
God is glorious.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Glory is God’s holiness visualized. One cannot put words on what holiness means, but you can put eyes on it. God’s holiness goes public in His glory. When God shows himself to be holy, what you see is His glory. In Leviticus 10:3 God says, “I will show Myself holy among those who are near Me, and before all the people I will be glorified.”
If you want to know was God’s glory looks like with skin on just look at Jesus. “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” (Hebrews 1:3) Jesus never turned down people worshiping or praising him, yet he often deflected glory to his Father.
The greatest barrier to being wowed by God is me. I want to wow others. I seek glory from my fellow man. One day God will blow away and chase away every competing glory—the other things that wow you more than God. The truth is as you live wowed by God you too reflect his holiness and glory to the world around you.
Like Isaiah, maybe you have been wowed by him. But for many of you maybe you still need more glimpses of God. Draw near to God. Look upon him. Be in awe of him. Let him wow you. When you spend time with Him, He will point it out to you (Exodus 33:18-19). And when you do God’s will, you show God’s glory to others (John 17:4, 1 Peter 2:12). And God promises, “You will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me (go hard after me) with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12–13).
Coming up next: Isaiah’s response to God and the result of obeying God.
Before Isaiah’s vision, who died? Why was that a big deal? What emotions do you think Isaiah was feeling before the vision?
How did the vision refocus Isaiah? How might the vision of God had calmed Isaiah’s fears or worries? What does fear and worry usually show our hearts are trusting in?
Why is knowing about God so important? How does knowing God help you when making decisions? When facing temptations? Which truth about God in Isaiah 6:1-3 wows you most?
Image from the Science Blog.