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Blazing with Glory

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2021 12:01 am

Blazing with Glory

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 10, 2021 12:01 am

When Isaiah saw a vision of the sublime glory of God, it changed his life forever. Today, R.C. Sproul explains what the prophet witnessed when he gazed into the throne room of the Holy One.

Get the 25th Anniversary Edition of 'The Holiness of God': https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/1633/the-holiness-of-god

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A vision of the true and living God changed Isaiah's life forever. He sees a vision of the One who is absolutely sovereign. He sees Him after His coronation. He sees Him occupying the throne, high, lifted up, images of exaltation.

What Dr. R.C. Sproul is describing there is found in Isaiah Chapter 6. This is a passage that had a profound impact on Dr. Sproul, and today here on Renewing Your Mind, we are continuing one of the most important teaching series R.C. produced, a theme that propels us for it as a ministry today.

We're glad you've joined us for a lesson titled, Blazing with Glory. As we continue our study of the holiness of God, we turn once again to the experience that is recorded by the prophet Isaiah in which he speaks of the circumstances of his call, of his moment of consecration to this divine task that God laid upon him. We recall that Isaiah begins his testimony by giving us the historical setting, saying that it was in the year that King Uzziah died, a year when a ruler who had reigned for fifty-two years had passed from the scene, leaving the people of the land in a sense of fear and uncertainty. This was an epic moment in the time of Israel. In fact, some look back and this is a watershed where from this day forward the decline of national prosperity, national faith, national hope began to accelerate, and Israel's destiny as a nation was beginning to fall apart. One of the oddities, the coincidences of history is that in the same year that King Uzziah died, the same year that Isaiah was called and consecrated by God to become a prophet, a village was founded and established on the shores of the Tiber River in Italy. It was the birth year of the city of Rome.

It would be interesting just to trace the movement in history of the decline of Israel that coincided with the rise of the great Roman Empire. And at that crossroads in history was the moment that God appeared to Isaiah. He says, in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on the throne high and lifted up and the train of his robe filled the temple. It's significant that when Isaiah speaks of this visionary experience, he says, I saw something. I didn't just hear something. I didn't just imagine something.

I didn't just read about something. I saw something. I saw the Lord, and I saw the Lord in a specific context.

I saw Him enthroned. I saw Him occupying the seat of cosmic authority. John tells us in the New Testament that the vision that Isaiah had was not a vision of God the Father, but it was a vision of the heavenly presence long before the incarnation. It was a vision of the heavenly presence of the exalted second person of the Trinity. Before Mary bore the child, before Simeon held him up and declared that he was witnessing now in the flesh the consolation of Israel, Isaiah was privileged to peek behind the veil, to look behind the curtain of God's destiny and God's plan for history, to see seated in heaven, in the heavenly Jerusalem, in the heavenly temple, the King of the Kings, the Lord of the Lords.

He said, in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. If you look in your Bible, you'll see that that word Lord is printed with this manner. It's capital L, little o, little r, little d. Now if you look in your Scriptures and move down to verse 3 where we read, Holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. You see the word Lord there appears in all capital letters, capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D. It's not because the printer has made a mistake here. The reason why one is in all uppercase letters and the other one is in lowercase letters is to give us a clue from the printer of the English edition of the Bible that even though the same English word Lord appears both in verse 1 and in verse 3, there are different Hebrew words that are being translated. Whenever you see the word Lord all in capital letters, you can assume that in the Hebrew text what is found there is the sacred name of God, Yahweh. But when we see Lord in lowercase letters as we do here in verse 1, the Hebrew behind it is the Hebrew word Adonai, which means simply the sovereign one, the one who is vested with absolute authority.

In fact, the title Adonai is higher than the title king because even the king in Israel was subject to Adonai, to the sovereign God of heaven and earth who raises up kings and who brings down kings. And now the year that this most popular king, Uzziah, had died and the vacuum set in in the nation, Isaiah sees the Lord. He sees Adonai. He sees a vision of the one who is absolutely sovereign, and he sees him in his investiture.

He sees him after his coronation. He sees him occupying the throne, high and lifted up, images of exaltation, images that bespeak the glory of God, the glory of the Lord's anointed, the glory of Christ. So it's in this context that he has this vision in the inner chambers of heaven itself. He says of this that the train of his robe filled the temple. Let me work backwards on that verse, that he speaks of the garment of the sovereign Lord is all-encompassing, completely filling the temple. What temple? Isaiah doesn't tell us, and perhaps that Isaiah is having this experience in the earthly temple in Jerusalem.

That's a possibility. But most Old Testament scholars agree that the vision that Isaiah is having is not something that simply takes place. It may have taken place in the earthly temple, but he is seeing inside the heavenly temple, the ultimate temple of which the earthly temple is but a shadow or a pattern. And as he gazes now into the inner chambers of heaven itself, into the throne room of God, he sees the deity established on his throne where the train of his robes fill the entire heavenly temple.

Now, what's the significance of that? Well, you know, kings today and kings then were very much concerned with their status symbols. How big was their throne?

How large was their domain? How glorious was their scepter? How many gold vessels could they boast of owning? There was a sense in which all of the status was focused on the luxury of their garments. There was a royal dye, a purple that was reserved only for monarchs. But not only the color of their robes distinguished their status, but also the kind of material that was used.

Some had mink, some had chinchilla, some had sable, some had ermine, and one's greatness was related to the kind of precious fur that was used. But in addition to that, the size of the robe was everything. I remember that one of the first internationally televised events in broadcast television in America was the coronation of Princess Elizabeth to become the queen, the monarch of the British Empire. And the pomp and circumstance that only the British can bring to bear was magnificent on that occasion. And the commentators were speaking about the regal stature of the princess as she came to Westminster Abbey and approached the throne. And as she processed down the aisle, she was wearing this glorious dress and magnificent robe whose train was so long that it required pages to walk along behind her holding up her gown, her robe, lest it be soiled from the ground.

I don't remember the exact length of that train of her robe, ten feet, twelve feet, who knows. I remember my wedding day, and I remember the tradition in America that the groom is not allowed to see the bride on the day of the wedding until she processes to the bridal march the beginning of the service. I had gone with my wife for eight years. For eight years we planned this wedding. She went out with her mother and bought her wedding gown. I didn't lay eyes on it.

I wasn't allowed to see it. And I remember coming out of the side of the church and walking to the front of the chancel steps with the best man and the minister and standing there listening to the organ music in joyous anticipation and then going through the whole process of the procession of the bridesmaids and their beautiful dresses. And then finally the strains of the organ changed into full diapason, and the sound of the wedding march was announced. Her mother stood up, the congregation rose, and my wife appeared at the back of the church on the arm of her father standing beside her, and she marched down the aisle, and I began to beam like a little kid, and I was overcome with awe at this magnificent dress, the bridal gown.

And I just grinned from ear to ear, and it's still something that we treasure on our 25th anniversary. We got our pictures taken to commemorate our marriage, and I went out and rented a tuxedo. My wife just went upstairs and opened the box and got out her wedding gown and got right into it.

I couldn't get into the tuxedo that I was married in, but we make such a fuss and celebrate such matters of appropriate and proper dress for special case. But the robe that Isaiah saw furled down from the shoulders of the king, spilling out over the sides of the throne, and then in gigantic folds came down into the sanctuary, moving across the floor and up the sides of the wall, completely engulfing the whole of the heavenly temple. There's never been a robe like that on earth. The image and the symbolic significance of what Isaiah gazes upon here with the outfit of the king calls attention to a kind of majesty that knows no parallel on earth. It is a transcendent majesty that he observes, for the train of his garment filled the temple. And then Isaiah describes the accompanying beings that surround the king. He says, and above him stood Seraphim. Each one had six wings, with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. Isaiah takes the time to give us a detailed description of the anatomical structure of these heavenly beings, these angelic beings that are mentioned only here in Scripture.

We hear throughout the Bible of various kinds of angels and archangels and cherubim that the Renaissance painters depicted as sort of like baby angels. But here we have the description of the Seraphim, creatures created by God with six wings. Why six wings? They didn't need six wings to fly. Are the other four wings just unnecessary appendages, vestigial remnants that were useless?

No. There was a purpose for these wings. With two wings they covered their face. With two wings they covered their feet, and with two wings they flew.

Why did they cover their face? Well, you see the purpose and the function for which these creatures were made was to serve in the immediate presence of God. The Seraphim are an integral part of the heavenly host, angels who attend God at every moment. And these angelic beings are so equipped by their Creator to be able to adapt to their environment. That's the way God makes things. When He creates fish, He gives them fins, He gives them gills because their natural habitat is the water. When He creates birds, He gives them feathers, He gives them wings because they are designed specifically for an environment in which they can fly through the air.

But what is the habitat? What is the environment of the Seraphim? It is the immediate presence of God.

And so God equips them with appendages that are designed to cover their faces. Now we know that in Scripture that it is said of human beings that no man can see God and live. We remember how Moses earnestly sought the beatific vision to be able to gaze directly into the unveiled face of God. He had experienced the presence of God. He knew the power of God.

He was an eyewitness to tremendous miracles of redemption in the battle with Pharaoh. But Moses wasn't satisfied with that. When he went up to Sinai, he said to God, oh God, show me Your glory, and it will suffice me.

And you remember what God said? He said, Moses, I will speak to you man to man, face to face as it were, and I will come over here, and I will carve out a hollow space in the rock, and I will place you in that niche in the rock, and I will allow my glory to pass by, but I will cover you, and I will allow you to see in literally what it says in the Hebrew, the hindquarters or the backward parts of Yahweh. But Moses, my face shall not be seen. For no man can see God and live.

It's not because he's invisible that we can't see Him. It's not because there's a deficiency with our eyes. It's because there's a deficiency in our character.

There's a deficiency in our heart. We are not pure in heart, and because of sin, we are not allowed to gaze on the unveiled presence of God. Well, I'm not suggesting that the seraphim were fallen creatures, that they were sinners, but even these unfallen, spotless, heavenly beings are equipped to shield their eyes from the blazing, burning glory of God. Think of it. Even the angels must shield their eyes from the light that is brighter than the noonday sun, and they are given two more wings to cover their feet.

Why? Again, Moses, when he entered into the presence of God, when God appeared to him in the Midianite wilderness and spoke to him from the burning bush, said to him, Moses, Moses, put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the ground whereon thou standest is holy ground. It wasn't holy because Moses was there.

It was holy because God was there. And our feet are the feet of creatures, feet of clay, and our feet indicate our being bound to earth. And Moses is called to take off his shoes, a symbolic gesture to acknowledge that now he, as a creature, stands in the presence of Almighty God. Even the angels, whose natural habitat is heaven itself, are creatures. And when they come into the presence of God, they must cover the sign of their creaturely. They cover their eyes to shield them from the blazing glory. They cover the feet to acknowledge in humility they are creatures before the living God. But, beloved, the purpose of this description of the seraphim is not to tell us so much about their anatomy, but rather to tell us of their task, to give us a message of the nature of God. That's the heart of this experience, where the angels cry an antiphonal response one to another daily in the presence of God, holy, holy, holy. It's the message of the seraphim that we will explore in greater depth tomorrow.

We do hope you'll make plans to join us. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb, and we are pleased to feature this week Dr. R.C. Sproul's classic series, The Holiness of God. R.C. believed that if we're able to catch just a glimpse of God's perfection, it changes the way we live our lives.

And that was the focus of R.C. 's ministry for nearly 50 years. Our resource offer today will help you gain that perspective. It's the 25th anniversary edition of the book by the same title, The Holiness of God. It's a beautiful silver hardback book with black embossed lettering, and it's yours for your gift of any amount when you call us at 800-435-4343. You can also make your request and give your gift online at renewingyourmind.org. We are a listener-supported ministry, and your gifts truly do make a difference. They help people around the world have access to this kind of clear biblical teaching.

So we are grateful to you. Well, so many people have been influenced by the series as well as the book over the years, Dr. Stephen Lawson being one of them. He was a longtime friend of Dr. Sproul's, a student of his at one time, and of course he's one of our teaching fellows.

Dr. Lawson, as we hear R.C. teach this lesson, what are your thoughts? Well, I think about how that message which I first read in his book, The Holiness of God, is what drew me to sit under his teaching in seminary. I had never met Dr. Sproul, had never seen Dr. Sproul, but I had read The Holiness of God, and I distinctly remember the portion of the book that is covered in this message that we heard today. And like a moth to the flame, I was just drawn to get in my car and drive to where he was teaching, so I could sit under this influence.

And it wasn't just what he said, but it was how he said it. As Dr. Sproul preached and taught, there were such deep convictions in his soul, and it came out with such passion that it literally just grabbed me by the lapels and just drew me up in my seat to give more careful attention to who God is. And just hearing his voice in this message today, it just still continues to resonate with my soul. And I will be forever grateful that this influence has been placed upon my life, and it continues to this day. Thank you, Dr. Lawson, I agree. It had a profound impact on me as well. I remember sitting in an adult Sunday school class in a church that we had just begun attending 31 years ago, and they were featuring this teaching series, and my life has not been the same since. So we invite you to request a copy of Dr. Sproul's book, The Holiness of God. You can call us with your gift of any amount at 800-435-4343.

You can also reach us online at redoingyourmind.org. And before we go today, let's hear a final thought from Dr. Sproul. In our quorum deo thought for today, I want us to think about some of the words that we choose in our language to express things that we consider extraordinary or wonderful or great, words that are used so often that they become for a while the catch words, the buzzwords of a generation until they simply die, the death of triteness and staleness, words like in the 40s that became popular like swell. And then in the 50s, it was the word cool.

And it seems like every generation has one of those words, doesn't it? Today, I think the stale word of the decade is the word awesome. When we see the Michael Jordans of this world perform in uncommon greatness, we say he's awesome. We hear a remarkably gifted singer and say she or he is awesome. If ever a word was misused, it is the word awesome. Awesome is that which provokes by its sheer being a sense of dread, a sense of reverence, a hushed stillness, a sense of awe. Properly speaking, only God deserves that epitaph. Only God is truly and ultimately awesome. And what Isaiah sees and what Isaiah feels is a joining into the awe of the angels themselves as they contemplate the presence of God. And we hope you'll join us tomorrow as we will hear what the angels are singing around the throne of God. That's on the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind. We hope to see you then. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-17 06:34:15 / 2023-12-17 06:42:27 / 8

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