Series: A New Normal
Debbie and I were married on March 15, 1986, and we had our first baby, Jill Marie, on June 9, 1987. And any of you know that when a baby comes into your home everything changes. You have a new normal for sure, but it’s a great new normal because you have a little baby that you’ve longed for and prayed for and God blessed you with. And we had such an awesome time parenting Jill. And it was two years later, roughly, on December 22, 1989 that we had our second child, Amy Elizabeth. She was our Christmas baby, and she blessed our home and was so special and is so special. And then, just a couple of years later on November 6, 1991 we had our third little girl, Sarah Michelle. Sarah Michelle is Debbie shrunk down. She’s just like her mother. And for the next 23 years we were in this thing called parenting, and we were raising up girls. Don’t know anything about boys; just know about girls. And we were raising up girls for 23 years. And then, in August of 2010 our baby, Sarah Michelle, 18 years old, she moved out. Wow! Empty nest syndrome hit. And Debbie and I had prayed with Sarah before she left the house and to see her drive away she only moved across on the Arkansas side it’s not like she’s way far away but she was out of the house and she had her own place. And Jill was married. And Amy is in Austin at school. And so, when she left, Debbie cried, and I was hurting and mourning. And, and Debbie said to me, ”Our baby is gone. We’re so old!” And I said, ”I know. ” I said, ”We’re going to have to have a new normal.” She said, ”Yeah, but I like the old normal.” Can you relate to that, to having things change, things that had been the same for so many years and now all of a sudden everything is different?
Isaiah could relate to that. Isaiah had a cousin. His name was Uzziah. He was king in Judah. He was king for 52 years. And he was a good king over all. He messed up toward the end of his life. He did something the Lord didn’t want him to do. Did something terrible, and was stricken with leprosy because of it, because he assumed the office of priest and he offered a sacrifice in the temple. Wasn’t supposed to do that he was king he wasn’t priest. But over all, when God looks at the record of Uzziah, He says he was a good king. He walked in the ways of the Lord. He sought after the Lord. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord. And king for 52 years, and he had a good reign, because under King Uzziah, man, the nation of Judah prospered, and things were going good. And they were defeating their enemies. And there were building programs and the nation was expanding. And, man, they were all playing that car song from the 1970s, ”Let the Good Times Roll.” And money was working. And the Dow was up. And everything was going well under King Uzziah. But the year is 739 BC. It’s in the year of King Uzziah’s death. King Uzziah died, Isaiah’s cousin, Isaiah’s friend, the king of Judah. He was now dead.
What’s going to happen? Everything is going to change. See, when a king dies, everything changes because you have a new king. You know, there’s that phrase – have you ever heard that phrase – ”The king is dead; long live the king?” The first time I
ever heard that phrase, I thought, Well, how goofy is that? The king is dead; long live the king. It’s like you’re kicking the guy when he’s down. You’re kicking his coffin. If he’s dead, how’s he going to live? That phrase, it comes from the French in the 1400s, and it means the king is dead and now we have a new king, and long live the new king. And anytime you have a change in king, you have a change, and a change that affects not only people like Isaiah, but it affects everyone. It affects the whole nation. And, see, change is something that we tend not to like for two main reasons. Change brings with it sadness, especially when it’s death, as it was in this instance. Change brings sadness; sometimes intense sadness. And change brings uneasiness because you’re uneasy and you’re saying, ”Well, what is this new normal going to be? Am I going to like this? Am I going to be able to adjust to this? I don’t know about this change. The verdict is out. The jury is out on this change.” And there’s a big question mark that comes with change. So there’s sadness and there is uneasiness. And, doubtless, Isaiah was wrestling with that during the time of the king’s death. But you know what Isaiah came to realize? The king was dead, but wait a minute. Is Uzziah really the king, or is there another King?
Isaiah chapter 6, verse 1: ”In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above him, each having six wings. With two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out 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 trembled at the voice of him who called out while the temple was filling with smoke.”
Isaiah went to the temple and he saw in the temple the Lord, the Lord. The King is dead? No, Uzziah was an earthly king, but the real King of God’s people has not died. The real King is the Lord God Almighty.
I want us to look today at the real King. See, when you read about, ”In the year of King Uzziah’s death,” you can use that as a euphuism for change because everything’s going to change when Uzziah dies. And in the year of your change, in the time of your change, in the time of our change, what do you do? Hey, when the king is dead, you get your eyes on the King. The king is dead; long live the king. Long live the real King, and the real King is Jesus.
Now I want to share three wonderful encouragements from this passage of Scripture, a great passage of Scripture, one of the greatest passages of Scripture in all of the Bible, Isaiah’s vision of the Lord.
Encouragement Number One: The King is alive and well. Uzziah was king for 52 years and then he got sick and then he died. But God didn’t die. Fifty-two years is a long reign. Uzziah reigned longest of any good king. He reigned longer than David. He reigned longer than Solomon, longer than any good king. The only one is Judah who had a longer reign than Uzziah was a wicked king named Manasseh. Still haven’t figured out why the Lord let him reign for 55 years. But Uzziah had the longest reign of any good king, 52 years. But the real King, the Lord, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, He reigns forever and ever and ever. From everlasting to everlasting You are God!
Psalm 29, verse 10 says this: ”The Lord sat as king at the flood; yes, the Lord sits as king forever.” Forever and ever and ever. During the flood of Noah, the Lord was King. During the time of Abraham, the Lord was King. During the time of Isaac, the Lord was King. The time of Jacob, the Lord was King. The time in Egypt for 400 years, the Lord was King. Even when they were slaves, the Lord was King. When God raised up Moses, the Lord was King. During the reign of Joshua and the time of Joshua, the Lord was King. During the time of the judges, the Lord was King. During the time of Saul and the monarchy in Israel, the Lord was the real King. He was the King during the exile in Babylon. He was King in Rome during all the Caesars. The Lord is King today. He sits as King forever.
And, you know, as good as Uzziah was, he got leprosy and he got sick and he died. But the Lord never gets sick. And the Scripture says, ”The Lord never gets weary.” Isaiah chapter 40, verse 28 says this: ”Have you never heard? Have you never understood, the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding.” God is God forever. And Psalm 121 says He never sleeps and He never slumbers. Wow! That is God. Never has to take a break. Never gets tired. The King is alive and well.
Listen. In the midst of death, of change, of transition in your life, in my life, in our life together, you remember the King is alive and well. ”In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord…”
Second Great Encouragement: Not only is the King alive and well. The King is in complete control, in complete control. ”I saw the Lord….” Now you notice that the Lord is capital L, small case ord. In the Old Testament, when you read Lord, it’s the Hebrew word Adoni. When the Bible speaks of Yahweh, and that’s used here when the Scripture talks about the Lord of hosts, you’ll find lord all in caps. Anytime LORD is all in caps that’s the special name of God, Yhwh, the four letters, the Tetragrammaton is what it’s called in seminary, and that’s the name Yahweh or Jehovah.
Well, when he says, ”I saw the Lord,” he says, ”I saw Adoni, Adoni sitting on a throne…” Adoni means Master, Owner. Isaiah says, ”Hey, the king was dead, but I saw the real Master. I saw the real Owner. I saw the King of kings, Adoni.” He is in charge, and He’s sitting on a throne. It doesn’t say, ”In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sweating on a throne, I saw the Lord fretting on a throne, I saw the Lord wringing His hands on a throne.” No! He saw the Lord sitting on the throne. He might have seen the Lord with His feet up on an ottoman. He might have seen the Lord with one hand tied behind His back. How does God rule the world? He rules it with His feet up. He rules it with one hand tied behind His back. God is so awesome and so great. And He’s in charge of everything. ”I saw the Lord sitting on a throne,” the throne of the universe.
We can’t remind ourselves enough that God is in control, because so often we look around and we think, Well, man, all this stuff that’s going on in our world, all the stuff that’s going on my life, maybe God’s not in control. Surely, if God really loved me like He says in His Word that He loves me, this wouldn’t have happened to me, and that wouldn’t have happened to me. And maybe things are too big for God. And maybe my problems are too big for God. And maybe He’s not in control. Hebrew word – write it down – baloney! He is in control! He’s in control of everything! A sparrow, Jesus said, doesn’t fall to the ground except that God allows it to come to the ground. It doesn’t even hop on the ground unless God says, ”Yeah, that’s okay. You can do that.”
Do you remember in the Scripture where Jesus, He and Peter were coming to Capernaum, and they were demanding of them in Capernaum the temple tax? And the officials said to Peter, he said, ”Doesn’t your Master pay the temple tax?” Well, that would be wrong to not pay the temple tax. And Jesus said to Peter, He said, ”Peter,” He said, ”Who normally pays the taxes? Do the sons of the kingdom pay the taxes, or do those who are conquered pay the taxes? And Peter said, ”Well, it’s normally those who are conquered, Lord.” He said, ”That’s right.” He said, ”But, lest we give them a reason to take offense, this is what I want you to do.” He said, ”Peter, I want you to go to the Sea of Galilee.” Capernaum’s right there at the shores of the Sea of Galilee. ”Go to the Sea of Galilee. Take a hook throw it into the Sea of Galilee and then the first fish you pull out of the Sea of Galilee you take it. Look in his mouth. There’s a silver coin in his mouth. And you go and you pay our tax with that silver coin.” And so Peter did that, and threw a hook in the Sea of Galilee. BAM, got a hit. Reeled it in, pulled it in, whatever they did. And it’s a fish; he looks in the fish’s mouth. There’s a silver coin. Wow! Takes it and pays the tax.
Now what does that tell us about the Lord? He’s in charge of everything. He was in charge of some poor fisherman out on the Sea of Galilee one day, fumbling through his pocket. All of a sudden a coin, a silver coin fell out of his pocket. And he tried to get it, and it went into the Sea of Galilee. And he saw it go down, and he’s like, ”Oh, crud.” But he couldn’t do anything about it. He tried to fish it out, but it went down, down, down into the deep blue sea.
And then the Lord spoke to a fish. He said, ”Hey, you over there. Yeah, I’m talking to you. You, you little cod. Go over and get that.” And he sends that fish over to grab that coin.
And then He somehow communicates to that fish to go to Peter’s hook. How in the world would that fish find Peter’s hook? But he found Peter’s hook. And it was the first hook he threw out there, and that fish jumped on it and BOOM. And the Lord knew it all. And the Lord is in control of it all.
Man, if He is in control of that, don’t you know He’s in control of everything? And this is the amazing thing about God is, He is so incredible that He can know everything about everyone all at the same time. And He can deal with you and deal with me like we’re the only people who lived. I mean, you think about all the things in your life. Scripture says that God is intimately acquainted with all your ways. He knows everything about you. Every person in this room, every person watching on television, every person listening on radio, God knows everything about you, everything! Wow! And He deals with us like we’re the only people around, we’re the only ones. And He’s doing that for billions and billions of people. He sits on a throne. He is in complete control. So what does that say to you and me? You can trust Him with the changes. You can trust Him with the changes.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, ”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” In all your ways acknowledge Adoni, who is Master and Owner. ”In all your ways acknowledge Him…”
Now when the Scripture says ”Trust in the LORD with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding,” it doesn’t say that it’s wrong to have understanding. God just says, ”Don’t lean on that. Don’t trust in that. You trust in Me. And when circumstances say, ”No way,” you trust in Me. And when the king dies and your heart is broken and you don’t know what to do, you look to Me and you trust in Me.”
Malachi chapter 3 says that the Lord sits as a smelter and purifier of silver. He sits there and He watches the pot as the silver ore is melted and is boiling in the pot. And He sifts out the dross. And God’s doing that with you and with me. He is refining us as a refiner would refine silver. And you know what I’ve found? It’s in times of change, in times of transition, in times where the king dies that all the kind of stuff that was in your heart starts to bubble up to the top. Things that are not good often bubble up to the top. And God puts us in situations of change. Why? To refine us. He knows what He’s doing. He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. He sits on the throne. He is in charge of it all. You can trust Him with the changes. The King is alive and well. The King is in complete control.
And, Encouragement Number three: The King is the Most High God. In the Scripture, the name for the Most High God is El-Elyon, God Most High. And that’s who we’re introduced to here. ”I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, high and lifted up…” And Isaiah tells us about this one. And this is the guts of this message as we see God for who He really is.
See, first of all, the Scripture makes it clear that God is great and glorious. ”…the train of His robe filled the temple.” Now a king in Isaiah’s day, his greatness was displayed through the length of the train of his robe. And if you were a great, if you were a so-so king, your train was going to be so long. But if you were a really big-time king, your train would be really long. Well, how long is the train of the Lord’s robe? It fills the whole temple because God is so great.
Now you think about the temple. In the temple, in the Old Testament, the temple wasn’t all that big. And you had the holy place where the priest would come and the priest would have fellowship. And then, you had this thick, heavy veil, and on the other side of the thick heavy veil was the Holy of Holies. And inside that area was the Ark of the Covenant. And the Ark of the Covenant was the box that was overlaid with gold that had the angels who covered their faces before the Lord over the mercy seat. And in the Ark of the Covenant was Aaron’s rod that budded, a jar of manna and the Ten Commandments. It was just a box. And, see, that box symbolized and represented the presence of God.
Now it’s easy to think that God is in that box. You know, that box was only about 4′ long. It’s about 2 ¼’ high and 2 ¼’ wide. It wasn’t that big a box. It was overlaid with gold. Somebody did some calculations, and they said the box probably weighed 180 lbs. You know, they carried it on poles on their shoulders. Well, is God just so small that He can fit in a box that’s about 4′ long and 2 ¼’ high and 2 ¼’ wide? Well, God’s not very big if He just fits in that little box.
The train of His robe fills the temple. Solomon said the heavens, not even the highest heavens, can contain God. Don’t ever get the idea that God is small. God is great, and God is glorious.
Science tell us that the universe, the known universe, they argue about how big it is. But one of the websites I went to just this morning said the universe is at least 156 billion light years wide, 156 billion light years wide. One light year is 6 trillion miles. You can 6 trillion and times it by 156 billion and some of you brainiacs have already figured that out in your head how much that is. No, nobody has. It’s, you’d really be weird. Go on Jeopardy if you got that right answer because you’d be amazing. But it’s 9.36 times 10 to the 23rd power light years. Wow! And the Scripture says that God measures the heavens from the pinkie to the thumb, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Can you fit that God in a 4′ box? No way! God is huge. He’s a whopper. He’s gigantic. He’s jinormous. God is so great. The Scripture says in Psalm 47, verse 2: ”For the Lord Most High is to be feared; a great King over all the earth.”
The train of His robe filled the temple, and the angels, who attend to God, the seraphim, only once used in Scripture and they’re around the throne of God. And there are more than one, because if you just had one, it would be a seraph. Any time you add im it means it’s plural. So there are seraphim. We don’t know how many there are, but there are a plural number of these burning ones, because that word means to burn. And they’re around the throne. And they have six wings. And with two they cover their face. And with two they cover their feet. And with two they fly. And they say, ”Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Now get this. The mighty angels, one angel in the Old Testament, one angel on one night killed 185,000 Assyrians, one angel. Now here’s a group of them, the seraphim, the burning ones, around the throne and they hid their face from God. Can’t look upon God. Don’t look upon God. He’s too holy. He’s too glorious. He’s too great.
You know, when you’re in the presence of greatness, you bow in the presence of greatness. I don’t want to look because God is too great. It’s like looking at a billion blazing suns. And the holy, mighty angels, they quake in the presence of God. They hide their face in the presence of God. You know what we do in our nation today? We thumb up our nose in the presence of God. We say with Pharaoh, ”Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice? I’m going to do what I want to do.” People run into problems, and they’re like, ”Well, God better explain to me why He’s doing this and that and the other.”
I had a neighbor one time years and years ago, and he was homosexual. And his partner died of AIDS. And I was talking to this man, and I was expressing my condolences because he was hurting so. And I shared with him about the Lord. And I remember him telling me this: He goes, ”Well, God better do some explaining to me, and He’d better hurry up.” I was like, ”Wow! Who are you to talk to the King of kings, to have that attitude toward the King of kings?”
Remember Pharaoh thought he was a big shot. ”Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” And the Lord God turned him into fish food in the bottom of the Red Sea. God is great and awesome and mighty and powerful. And you know what I pray for our church? That the fear of God would fall, I pray that for my life that the fear of God would fall, that we would see who He is. And He’s glorious. The word for glory is cabod. It means weight. It means honor and splendor. He’s a consuming fire, and He has such weight. And see, when you fail to see who God is, you miss out on His glory and you become a person who says, ”Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” And there are churches like that. And they’ve gotten away from God. And they’ve gotten away from His Word. And they don’t lift up the standards of God. And they don’t lift high the Word of God. And they don’t say, ”Bow before the King of kings and Lord of lords.” And you can write Ichabod over the door of that church. The glory of the Lord has departed. There are people who come to church, and if you could see with spiritual eyes and you and I would see Ichabod, the glory of the Lord has departed. Why: because they’re not giving God His rightful place as King in their hearts. He is great, and He is glorious, and He is holy, and He is righteous. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. Holy, holy, holy. He’s the thrice-holy God of Israel. He’s the thrice-holy God of Judah. He’s the thrice-holy God of the universe. Holy is the Father. Holy is the Son. Holy is the Spirit. I think the holy, holy, holy speaks of the Trinity, and I also think the holy, holy, holy speaks for emphasis. God is holy!
Now the Scripture says that God is love. But if you were to come up with one word to describe God, just one, love doesn’t trump holiness. Holiness trumps love. God, more than anything else, one word to describe God is holy. He’s holy. He is totally unlike us. You and I are unholy. God is holy. Now what does that mean? That God is perfect in righteousness. He is holy God. He’s too pure to look upon sin, the Scripture says in the book of Habakkuk. He can’t entertain sin. He can’t have sin in His presence. When Jesus died upon the cross and took all of your sin and all of my sin upon Himself, the Father had to turn His back on His Son. And Jesus prayed, ”My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” It’s because I’m holy. And right now, My Son, You’ve become sin, not Your own sin, but You’ve taken all the sin of all the world upon Yourself. And I can’t have fellowship with sin. And God the Father turned His back on God the Son. God is a holy God. Now what does that mean to you and to me? It means you need to bow before the King, the great King, the glorious King, the holy King. Bow before the King.
When Moses met the Lord at the burning bush, and he was trying to figure out, ”I don’t understand. This bush is on fire, but it’s not being consumed. And I’m going to go check this out.” And as he got close to the bush, the Lord says, ”Don’t come any closer, Moses. Take off your sandals, Moses, for the place on which you’re standing is holy ground.”
You’re coming before a holy God. Get as low as you can as fast as you can. Don’t even have an inch of shoe leather to boost yourself up before this great and holy God.
When Joshua met the Lord before the battle of Jericho, he saw a pre-incarnate vision of Christ and an experience with Christ. And he said, ”Are You for us or are You for our adversaries?” And He said, ”No, but I come as captain of the Lord of hosts. I didn’t come to take your side. I came to take over. Now take your shoes off, Joshua, because the place on which you’re standing is holy ground.”
And in America, we’ve forgotten that God is a holy God that God is a great and glorious and mighty God, and we just think we can treat God any way we want. And we can sin as much as we want. And, ”Oh, you know, God, He’s just a God of love, and, and that’s okay. You can, you can live with your girlfriend. You can live with your boyfriend. You can sin over here, and you can sin over there. And you can say homosexuality is good and right and that’s just the way you are. You can do anything. You just bring it before God and He’ll just accept you, and He’ll just rubberstamp ‘Yes, that’s good.”’ That’s not God! That is not God. God is a holy God.
Scripture says in the book of Revelation, Revelation 15: ”And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished. And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mixed with fire and those who had come off victorious from the beast and from the image and from the number of his name standing on the sea of glass holding harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the bond servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name, for Thou alone are holy.” Who will not fear? You stand before God. How can you not fear?
Did you know in the Old Testament in the early chapters in Samuel, they, the Philistines won a big victory over Israel. Israel had brought in the Ark of the Covenant. They had it on the shoulders, you know, like they were supposed to carry it. They brought in the Ark of the Covenant for a battle because they said, ”This is God in a box. Surely we can’t lose this battle if we have God in the box, in the 4×2 ½’ box, 2 ¼’ box. And here’s God. We brought God into the box.” Well, God’s nobody’s lucky rabbit’s foot. He’s not going to be used like that. So he allowed Israel to get wiped out. And then, the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant. And God gave them all sorts of pain with the Ark of the Covenant. They thought they could, ”Well, we can have God. We can put God in a box.”
They put God in their god’s house, Dagon, the fish god. He’s half man, half fish. And they had the Ark of the Covenant there before Dagon, the fish god. Dagon fell down on his face before the Ark of the Covenant. The priest said, ”Man, we can’t do that.” So the priests of Dagon, they propped him up. The next day, ”Dagon, quit falling down.” And so the next day he fell down. He was broken in pieces. It was just a torso there. His arms were gone. And they’re like, ”Man, we can’t keep this Ark of the Covenant.” They send it back after plagues hit their cities. They sent it back to Israel. And it came to a place called Beth-shemesh. And the citizens of Beth-shemesh looked into the Ark to see if the Philistines had taken anything out of it. BAM. The Lord killed many of those people. A great slaughter came upon the people in Beth-shemesh. Why? Because they say, ”Oh, He’s just old God. You can treat old God any way you want.” No, you can’t! And they said this in 1st Samuel chapter 6 and verse 20: ”Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God?” Wow! You think about that.
Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up. His train filled the temple. He’s great. He’s glorious. He’s holy. He has burning angels that attend to Him day and night. Revelation chapter 4 says, ”They do not cease to say, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.” And how are you going to approach a God like that? Who can stand before this holy God? I can’t. You can’t. In and of ourselves, there’s no way we can.
But not only is the Lord great and glorious. Not only is He holy and righteous. He is gracious and forgiving. Isaiah saw the Lord. In verse 5: ”Then I said, Woe is me, for I am ruined because I’m a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And he touched my mouth with it and said, Behold, this has touched your lips, and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” Isaiah saw the Lord for whom He really was. Some of you come to church Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. You never see the Lord. You never see the Lord. Isaiah saw Him for who He really is. And then, he saw himself. And he saw God in His beauty and glory and majesty and holiness, and he said, ”Oh, I am sunk. Woe is me. I’m undone. I am a sinner before a holy God.” And he cried out, ”Lord, I’m unclean. God, have mercy.” And he found that God was a merciful God, was a forgiving God, a God who washes away sins, a God who removes sins as far as the east is from the west, a God who covers Isaiah with the blood of His own dear Son. That’s God. He’s gracious and He’s forgiving.
And let me tell you something. In order to get in on God being gracious and forgiving to you, really important, really important, you must see your sinfulness. If you don’t see your sinfulness, if you never get to ”Woe is me,” you die and go to hell.
Did you know that religious people never do verse 5? They don’t ever say, ”Woe is me.” They don’t ever see their need. Why? Because they think, ”I am okay. I’m a good person. I’m a church person. The gospel is for the drunk and the thief and the murderer and the prostitute, but I’m good.”
Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son. One boy knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that he was filthy and dirty. He was living at the pig sty, longing to fill his stomach with the pig food. And he had sinned so greatly against his father. And he came to his senses and he returned to his father and said, ”Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired men.” And he was received back with a hug, with a kiss, with a ring on his finger, with shoes upon his feet, with a big party. But now notice his brother. When he heard about the party, he said to the father, he was so angry. He wouldn’t come in to the party. He said to his father, ”Look. For so many years I have served you and I have never neglected a command of yours. I am righteous, and I’m not going to say woe is me because I’m good.” That’s the spirit of a religious person. ”I’m good, and I haven’t sinned. This person sinned. That person sinned. This other over here has sinned. Sin in others I can see, but, praise the Lord, there’s none in me.” That’s the motto of a religious person. That was the motto of the Pharisees. And would they ever say, ”I’ve sinned.” No way!
Now let me show you something in the Word of God about people who are religious but they’re lost and they never say, ”Woe is me.” First John chapter 1, verse 6. It says, ”If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” And then, in verse 8 it says, ”If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. Ah, but if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us.”
You see the progression? First, I’m going to tell you that I’m walking with God, yet I’m walking in darkness and I’m lying, and I know that I’m lying. But I’m going to lie to you because I want you to think that I’m good. But then, the lie goes deeper, and now all of a sudden I deceive myself. I don’t even know that I’m lying. I have convinced myself that I have not sinned. And then, I go to the third stage where I call God a liar. For even the thought that I would be a sinner how repulsive is that? That’s the progression of a religious person. They need to get to the place in verse 5 where they see the Lord in His holiness, and they see themselves in their sinfulness, and they say, ”Woe is me.” Have you said that lately? Man, I’ve said that this week, ”Woe is me.”
I love what Adrian Rogers said one time. He said, ”You know, when it comes to this thing of human goodness and individual righteousness,” he said, ”apart from Christ, I would not trust the best 15 minutes of my life, the best 15 minutes I’ve ever lived in my whole life to get me to heaven.” Not 15 minutes! When you know about sin, and when you know, you can sin with your actions, with your words, with your deeds, with your attitudes, he said, ”I wouldn’t trust the best 15 minutes.”
I need Jesus because, ”Woe is me. I am undone.” And Isaiah talks about his lips. ”I’m a man of unclean lips. I live among a people of unclean lips.” Now what do unclean lips reveal? Dirty lips reveal a dirty heart, because the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart. And one of the things that I thought about this week is, when you go through times of change and times of transition, when the king is dead, so to speak, watch what comes out of your mouth. Ephesians 4:29: ”Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, no rotten word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Watch what you say because death and life are in the power of the tongue. And when you say things that are mean and cruel and hurtful and faithless, words that destroy, words that, that tear down, not words that build up, it just reveals you’ve got a rotten heart. You got a rotten heart. Sometimes people with rotten hearts are confronted.
I talked to this one person and said, ”You know, you need to look at your heart.” This person said to me, ”You know you deal with your own heart. Your heart, Jeff, is dirty. My heart is fine.” Wow! Okay, okay. You know, if you say that you have no sin, you deceive yourself. Fine. Watch what comes out of your mouth. You must see your sinfulness. And when you see your sinfulness and say, ”Woe is me,” you can experience His love and forgiveness. That’s the beauty of it. The moment you cry out and say, ”I’m a sinner. Woe is me,” then the angel comes. In Isaiah’s case, he took a burning coal from the altar with tongs and he touched my mouth with it. ”Behold, this has touched your lips, and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” You can be forgiven. Wow! How awesome is that? Before a holy God, before the great King, the God who marks off the universe with His pinky to His thumb, before that God I can be forgiven? Yes! Yes!
You know, in this passage, the one on the throne that Isaiah saw was not God the Father, although most of us probably think that. It’s not. God is spirit. You can’t see God. Not God the Holy Spirit. Isaiah saw Jesus Christ. Put down John 12:41 in your Bible because the Scripture says that Isaiah saw the Lord’s glory. He saw Jesus’ glory, and he wrote about it. And he sees Jesus here on the throne. And when you talk about forgiveness, you talk about the great God who sits on the throne, who one day took off His crown, and took off His robe, and laid aside His scepter and stepped down, down, down, down, down, down into a virgin’s womb. He was born in a barn. He lived on this earth as a man. And He was laughed at, and He was mocked, and He was ridiculed. And men balled up their fists and hit Him. And they spit at Him. And they nailed Him to a tree. And they hoisted Him up between heaven and earth. And they said, ”Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days, save yourself if You’re the Christ.” And the Father turned His back on the Son. And Jesus died and shed His blood for you and for me so that we could be forgiven. Wow! Amazing love. He did all that so that the holiness of God would be satisfied, because God is a holy and righteous God. And God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And the amazing thing – as great as God is, and He is far greater than your mind, my mind can ever comprehend – you and I can get so close to Him because of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Hey, listen. When you go through times of change; when the king dies, so to speak, in your life; when everything changes; when the kids all move out and things happen in your life and change before your eyes; and things that you knew that were solid for years and years and years, now they’re not solid anymore, get your eyes on the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Martin Luther was a great reformer in the 1500s. Martin Luther went through a struggle in his life, went through a down time in his life. You know, everybody hated Martin Luther that was part of the Catholic Church because of what he was preaching and teaching and doing. And he had lots of people coming against him. And there was a time that things were really going wrong for him, and he fell in deep depression. And he was in this deep dungeon day after day after day. And one day his wife dressed up in black in her mourning clothes and came before Martin Luther. And he said to her, ”Who died?” And she said, ”God.” He said, ”What?” She said, ”God died.” He said, ”God! God didn’t die. Why are you telling me God died? God can’t die.” She said, ”Well, based on the way you’ve been acting, I was sure He had.”
Have you been acting in your change, in your transition, as if God were dead? He’s not!
”In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord…” He’s alive and well. ”I saw the Lord….” And He’s in control of everything. ”I saw the Lord…” And He is the Most High God.
Hey, when change comes, will you look to the King and will you trust Him.
Father, You are holy and righteous and powerful and awesome beyond words. Lord, we bless Your name, and we thank You for being our King and our Friend. And, Lord, although You’re so great beyond anything that our minds can comprehend, Lord, just to think that we can draw near to You. And the one who comes to You in brokenness and in faith, You will by no means cast out. God, I pray that there’d be many people that would cry out in their hearts and say, ”Woe is me. Have mercy on me, Lord. God, there have been so many rotten things coming out of my mouth, so many faithless things coming out of my mouth in my situation of change. And, Lord, I want to look to You. I want to say with King Jehoshaphat, who said, ‘We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”’ Lord, I thank You that You’re holy God. Have Your way in each heart, that there would be decisions made today to enthrone You as King inside; that You’d be glorified within us, within this church; that You’d change people and speak to people at the point of their need. Thank You that You’re in charge. Thank You that You’re Adoni, Master, and Owner, that we can trust You with all our hearts.