October 24, 2014

Seeing His glory

A favorite chorus often pops into mind. It contains the request, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord . . . I want to see You . . . high and lifted up, shining in the light of Your glory, pour out Your power and love, as we sing holy, holy, holy . . . .”

Reading Isaiah this morning, I’m thinking that if God answered that request when I sing this chorus, my life would never be the same. Isaiah describes what happened to him . . .
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 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. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.”

This prophet was totally undone. He said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for 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!”

At that, one of the seraphim flew to him with a burning coal in his hands. He had taken it with tongs from the altar and touched Isaiah’s mouth saying, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:1–7)

I know Christ and the threat of God’s wrath is gone, but that does not mean I treat Him or His presence with less awe. John walked with Jesus, even called himself the disciple whom Jesus loved, but he also had a vision of the exalted Christ and describes this experience using Isaiah’s terms . . .  

“At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian . . . . From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God . . . a sea of glass, like crystal . . . four living creatures . . .  and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’ And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’” (Revelation 4:2–11)

Seeing God “high and lifted up” is not like looking at a giant oak, a majestic mountain, or the Grand Canyon. His glory goes beyond all sunsets and spectacular displays of northern lights. His holiness is incredible, His presence never relegated to a mere buddy-buddy, BFF class.

Even though my Lord and God bids me call Him Abba, “the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy” also says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15)

That means if I am going to sing that request of wanting to see Him — and mean it —I’d better be prepared to fall on my face. I am forgiven, but also exposed by His majesty. If I am not contrite before seeing Him, then the burning coals of His glory will surely change my heart.

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