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When God Comes Down

By Mike Milton | Chancellor/CEO Elect of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jim Kennedy used to tell me, "Michael, to be a minister you must love God, love people and love His Word. Without any one of those things, you never will be useful for the Lord." Isaiah seemed to have all three working. In Isaiah 64, he has looked upon the godly foundations of Israel crumbling under the increasing weight of sin and neglect of their faith in God. So he began not by trying to change laws, but trying to change himself into a praying man. He called down God. He believed that without God there's no hope.

Our nation needs hope. Our churches need hope. So we do. In 1961, then actor and GE spokesman Ronald Reagan said that if government intrusion went unopposed, we could find ourselves in our sunset years telling our children what American used to be like when men were free. We are already there in telling our children what it was like when biblical Christianity was a primary presence in our nation. For we see our nation at a point when many of us don't recognize it. Many are concerned the foundations, erected by our forefathers, are crumbling under the weight of secularism and relativism, increasingly antagonistic relations between unbelievers and believers, and worse—apathy among those who claim the name of Jesus.

Isaiah 64:1-12 describes what I need to do and what God will do in this nation today to see the spiritual foundations restored and have a realistic hope for a real recovery.

We Need a Holy Dissatisfaction

"Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence" (Isa. 64:1, ESV).

When I read God's Word in its whole, I come to understand the Word of God begins with a burden. The burden is God's burden for His own creation. Man was unable to keep God's law and fell away from his Creator. This grieved God. According to Ephesians 1, God saw this before the foundation of the world and took steps to remedy the problem. After the fall, the rest of Scripture is a record of God working out His covenant of grace. That is, God, by grace, doing for man what man could not do for himself. It is a record of God ordaining that He would come down to fulfill the requirements of His own law and pour out His divine wrath for sin upon Himself as a propitiation for the sins of man. God was burdened for His own creation.

So the vision of the Bible begins with a burden. Therefore, I would say that if it is to be biblical, any outline for a church's vision must begin with a burden. When we come to understand that burden, when we have a heart and a passion for something that grieves us, that pains us, that creates desire, we then have a vision. A biblical vision is a divine solution that lifts the burden.

I turn to Isaiah 64, for Isaiah was a man with a burden for God's glory in his own generation. In this passage we may first come to understand the definition of this burden. We see this when we encounter the prophet's words, "Oh, that…" Job used this phrase more than anyone in Scripture. He cried out from the deepest part of his soul: "Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!" (Job 19:23).

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