God is Holy.
God is Glorious.
God is robed in Splendour.
All facts. All true.
All hard for me to wrap my finite human mind around.
And maybe that’s the point.
Maybe we simply aren’t supposed to understand this aspect of God. At the same time. Our knowledge and understanding of God has incredibly direct implications for our worship and discipleship.
How I understand God has incredible relevance to how I orient my life and ministry in this world.
And a statement like “God is glorious” can often be ambiguous to me. What does it mean? Have I experienced it?
In conversations with other Christians, I have discovered that I am not alone. There are some experiences of God’s glory that seem commonplace.
Most often people will say that they experience God’s glory in creation. This comes as no surprise.
Isaiah 6:3 reminds us that “All the earth is filled with God’s glory.”
So for those with eyes to see, God’s glory is clearly evident all around us. Others will speak of God’s glory revealed in times of music and worship singing, in prayer, or in other interactions with other Christians. Perhaps this is enough.
I still wonder though, what about an experience like Isaiah has before the living God? There is something so powerful and marvelous that happens there. What would it be like to have an experience like that?
In Isaiah 6 I see three at least three things happening.
#1 THE PERSONAL ENCOUNTER
First, Isaiah has a personal encounter with the LORD sitting high and exalted on his throne. The the temple is shaking and filled with smoke. It reminds me of God’s appearance to the people of Israel in Exodus. Smoke, thunder, shaking, power and majesty on full display.
Yet, there is also this personal encounter with God. God is drawing the people of Israel, and Isaiah into personal experience of himself.
#2 GROWING SELF AWARENESS
Secondly, as Isaiah stands before God he comes into a greater awareness of himself and the myriad of ways in which he falls short of the character and nature of God. Isaiah’s response to the gracious revelation of God is, as the King James puts it, “Woe is me, I am undone.” The Hebrew word (דָּמָה – Damah) is used in other places to say, “brought to silence.”
Isaiah has nothing to say before this God.
His character and his deeds stand exposed before the Holy God, he recognizes he does not measure up.
#3 THE REVELATION OF MERCY
Finally, God moves in mercy and cleanses Isaiah. He makes him clean and commissions him to speak a message to the people.
As Isaiah encounters the glory of God he sees the LORD as King, exalted on his throne, but intimate in allowing Isaiah to see him. He sees his sin and then finds healing and cleansing.
It is a powerful story. And one that recently become infinitely richer and more meaningful for me. This happened when I followed the footnotes in my Bible to John chapter 12 where the Apostle John references Isaiah 6 in one of the most incredible ways.
JESUS IS THE GLORIOUS GOD
He speaks of the message Isaiah was appointed to speak and then in John 12:41 John adds his own commentary and writes, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.”
Did you catch that? The glory of God as depicted is the glory of Jesus! Jesus is the one whom Isaiah saw and worshipped! Once I saw this, I began to see that it was everywhere in the gospel of John.
Over and over John is dropping hints for us that the glory of the Almighty God is standing right in front of us. Jesus is God’s glory. Just go and look through the Gospel again and see how many times Jesus and glory show up together (hint John talks about it twice as much as any other Gospel).
For me this was transformational. It made me aware that everything I need for an Isaiah like moment is right in front of me.
As I study the life of Jesus in the gospels I discover the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, exalted and seated on His throne, but also near and close, calling me into intimacy and fellowship with him.
As I stare at the life of Jesus in the gospels I am reminded of my sin, and of all the ways in which by my actions and my inactions I fall short of the character of Christ who models for me the way of living in God’s kingdom. Jesus perfectly models the life of surrender and worship to God here on earth.
I am reminded over and over again that I need a new heart, I need the Spirit of God to fill me and to clothe me in Christ so that I can live in the same way.
And finally, as I contemplate the cross of Christ I experience the gracious, loving mercy of a saviour whose death and resurrection make me clean, restore our broken relationship, and ransom my life. Not because of something I have done, but the pure goodness and graciousness of God.
Isaiah saw God’s glory for a moment, but I think it’s safe to say that we actually have an even fuller, richer revelation of that same glorious one. I hope that the next time you pick up your Bible and read you will be struck at just how glorious and marvelous is our God.
*This article originally appeared in the MB Herald January 2017
Author: Nathan Mccorkindale
Nathan McCorkindale (M.A. Theology) has pastored in various rural communities in Western Canada for 9 years. Currently he and his family (wife and 4 children) find themselves following God’s leading into a new cross cultural ministry with MB Mission… And yes, there isn’t a single photo on his computer in which he doesn’t have at least one child in his arms…