God is…

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!”  chubby angelNo 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.

 

DOWNLOAD QUESTIONS:

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.

the God who speaks

The first information we have about God is obvious, God is [Genesis 1:1]. There is not a long argument, just a statement of fact, “In the beginning, GOD.” He is. God exists as He is. He always was and is. God simply is.

Shortly after God’s statement of existence we hear from God Himself, “Let there be light” [Genesis 1:3a]. God speaks. God speaks His creation into existence with the power of His words. God said and it was. He speaks first.

God is verbal. He is a God of language. God uses language to communication with His creation. It is clear that God uniquely gave language for mankind. Since God spoke we can understand Him, relate to Him, and plainly know is purposes for man. But what God intended to be a beautiful expression of His character man abused. Instead of praising their Creator with their lips, man curses Him with their lips.

But God in His creative redemptive plan entered our soil as the Word in flesh [John 1:1]—Jesus—God with skin on. If we want to see and hear what God is like, look at Jesus. When Jesus’ ministry began God spoke from the heavens, “This is my son in who I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:17; 17:5] Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [John 8:12] With words He was mocked, scoffed, scorned, and slandered, but from the cross with three simple words He redeemed sinful man, “It is finished.” [John 19:30]

All this is written about in the Word of God—the Bible. From the beginning to end the Bible records the written words and spoken words of God. It opens with “and God said” and closes with “I, Jesus have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.” [Revelation 22:16]

Stop to reflect on the wonder of having a God who speaks—not just a distant deity who thunders orders from heaven, but one who actually wants to speak with you! Why would the God of all creation go to such lengths to communicate personally with each of us?

In our wordy world, it’s easy to take for granted the invaluable privilege of communication with God. If we are too busy or distracted to hear, His voice will not stop—but we’ll miss out on the riches of an intimate relationship available only to those with receptive ears.

If God has speaks then your highest aim must be to hear what He has said. You can hear Him today through His Word by His Spirit. Be still and listen.

Father, anoint my lips with praise. Use my words as an anthem of worship. Use me as a light to the nations drawing the darkened to the glory of Christ. I anticipate the day when I will gather before your throne hearing your beautiful voice and the voices of redeemed from every tribe and language and people and nation, praising your name.

 

the beginning word on God

The theme Genesis is God, “In the beginning, God.” The book is about God. All the books of the Bible are about God. All of history is about God. Everything is about God. Genesis is not exhaustive; it does not tell us everything about God. The book of Genesis covers about 2,000 years of human history. It covers as much history as all of the rest of the Bible combined.[1] Genesis is a selective telling of history by Moses. He gives the things that you need to know because they are most important and most related to our understanding of God. This leads you to what Genesis tells you about God.

The first information we have about God from Genesis is obvious:

God is [1:1]

There is not a long argument, just a statement of fact, “In the beginning, GOD.” He is. God exists as He is. He always was and is. God simply is.

However, God is not just simple, He is also complex. God is One [1:1, 26]. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is that there is one God,[2] and this one God is three equal persons—Father, Son, and Spirit [cf. Isaiah 48:16; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:18-20]. Although Moses might have understood the Trinity concept completely because of progressive revelation, therefore, the rest of Scripture teaches that each member of the Trinity was involved in Creation: the Father created 9Psalm 19:1; Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 8:6], the Son created [John 1:1-3, 10, 14; Colossians 1:16-17], and the Spirit created [Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13].

God did not keep silent about His creation and plans with creation. God is a talker [1:3a]. God spoke His creation into existence with the power of His words. God said and it was. God created light, stars, planets, plants and animals all by saying so. He spoke to His creation and charged them on how to live. God is verbal. If God talks, you must listen.

God make everything [1:3-25]

The question is not often whether God created everything [Hebrews 11:3], rather how did He create everything. For the sake of time and space, I will not indulge in a scientific treatise of Genesis and creation. Yet I will give you a few thoughts to chew on. First, there are differences in opinion among Christians as to whether God created a young earth [7 literal days] or old earth [i.e. gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2]. There are tensions because in Genesis 1-2 there is a mixture of history and symbols. Second, there are even more differences in opinion in the claims of science. Scientists have wrestled with the origins of the universe and human kind for millennia’s [i.e. Darwinism, atheism, intelligent design, irreducible complexity, etc.]. The theories and hypothesis among scientists come in all shades of colors, sizes and textures.

Let it be known, Genesis is not a scientific textbook, but what Genesis does tell us is enough—God created everything. This must be clear or Genesis 2 and following do not make any sense. Galileo said it well, “The Bible is not preeminently concerned with telling us how the heavens go. The Bible is, instead, most concerned with telling us how to go to Heaven.”

When God made everything He made it good [1:25]. God openly says, “Let there be this, and let there be that,” not half-heartedness or with reckless speediness. He did not make cheap trinkets that would easily fall apart. He created everything good. In the beginning there was no need for a policeman, fireman, garbage man or handy man. Everything was created good—without death, defect, or decay.

God rests after making everything [2:1-3]

Why did God rest? Did He get tired from using all His creative juices? No God is limitless in His creative powers. He does not need a break because of tiredness or vacation from stress. He rested the seventh day because He knew in His infinite wisdom that His created man would need this as an example to live by. Man is a finite creature and needs to rest weekly in order to remain sane and Sabbath. Rest is something God models and makes for man. Rest is best for mankind.

God gets glory for His greatness

Every molecule, ameba, moth, mosquito, Madagascar hissing cockroach, muskrat, monkey, moose, mouse, mountain lion, manatee, and man were created to give back praise to their Creator. God made creation to glorify Himself [Psalm 19:1]. God made creation to pour forth His love [Psalm 136]. God made creation for Himself [Colossians 1:16]. God made creation to show you His attributes [Romans 1:20]. And God made creation to worship Him [Revelation 4:11]. Everything was made by God and for God. Only “the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” [Psalm 14:1]


[1] Just Genesis 2, 3, 4, and 5, alone covers 1,656 years in a couple chapters.

[2] Cf. Deuteronomy 6:4; 2 Chronicles 15:3; Jeremiah 10:10; John 17:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 John 5:20-21

God Is

Part 1 of 3 Why Worship Matters

We live in a culture [as others before us] willing to worship anyone and anything. We will pack arena’s to sing our favorite songs from our favorite band. We will be first in line at the movie theatre to see the next biggest summer blockbuster. We will pack sports stadiums and worship teams and players with loud cheers and waving our banners. Last December Sarah and I went to our first fridged Packer game at Lambeau Field. There was some worship going on that day! Later we thought, as great as the game was, “Heaven is going to be awesome!”

We are about all worship. It is not easy to define real worship in a culture that readily worships anyone or anything. Worship is about what we live for [who we are]. Every day, all day, everywhere you go, you worship. It’s what you do. It’s who you are. You can’t stop it or live without it. Worship is a way of life. It is a whole-life response to God’s greatness and glory. You are a worshipper before you are a father, mother, sister, brother, boss, employee or student. Worship is simply about value. Worship is our response to what we value most.

Why does worship matter? Why must worship matter to me? Why is it so important? Worship matters because GOD IS and His character demands my worship [Isaiah 6:1-3].

God is alive.

Isaiah says, “I saw the Lord.” Uzziah is dead, but God still lives. “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God” [Psalm 90:2]. God has no beginning or end. He does not depend anything or anyone to exist. God was alive when this universe banged into existence. He was alive when the Buddha and Muhammad walked the earth. He was alive when JFK was shot. He was alive when a tsunami sweep away Indonesia, and earthquakes rocked Haiti and Chile. He will be alive ten trillion ages from now when all the puny people in power are long forgotten. But not God, He always has been and always will be alive.

God is authoritative.

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne.” He is the Supreme Court, the Legislature, and the Chief Executive. Heaven is not coming apart at the seams. He holds it together. He sits on a throne. He rules with peace and control. He has authority over our lives even though we may never acknowledge Him.

God is omnipotent.

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up.” God’s throne is higher than every other throne signifies God’s superior power to exercise His authority. No opposing authority can nullify the decrees of God. What He purposes, He accomplishes. “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose” [Isaiah 46:10].

God is majestic.

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and the train his robe filled the temple.” You have seen pictures of brides whose dresses are gathered around them covering the steps and the platform. What would the meaning be if the train filled the aisles and covered the seats and the stage, woven all of one piece? That God’s robe fills the entire heavenly temple means that he is a God of incomparable splendor and honor. His creative fullness spills over in excessive beauty. God loves to wow us.

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.” No one knows what these strange six-winged creatures are [not some chubby winged angel babies], and they never appear again in the Bible. When one of them speaks, the foundations of the temple shake [v.4]. These are magnificent creature that most of us would be wowed by, but God wows them.

God is holy.

“And one called to another, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!” God is in a class by Himself. When asked for His name in Exodus 3:14, He said, “I am who I am.” What is God’s holiness? [Hebrew Qadesh, Greek Hagios, separate/different] 1 Samuel 2:2, “There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides You.” Isaiah 40:25, “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.” Hosea 11:9, “I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.” And repeated throughout the Scripture is the theme: “YHWH alone is God” [Ex.22:20; 34:14; 20:5].

God is incomparable, unfathomable. It determines all that He is and does and His ways are not determined by anyone. His holiness is what He is as God, which no one else is or ever will be. Getting a glimpse of God’s holiness will rock your world to the core. There is no way to scale mountain and heights of God’s holiness [not even in this message or our lifetime]. “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.” The glory of God is the seen of God’s holiness. God’s holiness has gone public in His glory. When God shows himself to be holy, what we see is 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.”

Worship matters because GOD IS. His character demands my worship.