Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Making it Personal



In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is YaHWeH of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, YaHWeH of hosts.  Isaiah 6:1-5

This is one of my personal favorite texts of scripture.  It is one of those passages that truly magnifies the glory of God.  But to get the full effect of this text, it is important to remember what the New Testament reveals about it.  As John says in the 12th chapter of his Gospel when speaking of Jesus: “These things said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. (John 12:41) The surrounding verses in John 12 make it perfectly clear that this passage in Isaiah 6 is where the prophet Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus. In other words, when Isaiah says he saw YaHWeH on the throne, John clarifies that though Isaiah recognized him as YaHWeH, we would recognize him as Jesus. It is very interesting to note that in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament which was in use during the apostle John's day) there is a textual variant found at Isaiah 6:1 that says "his glory filled the temple" rather than "his train filled the temple." 

That John would equate Jesus with YaHWeH should not surprise us since in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, he points out that, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 

John of course goes on in the same chapter to clarify that the Word who was in the beginning both God and with God, and who made everything, is in fact Jesus Christ. Armed with that knowledge, when we read the passage in Isaiah we can only marvel at the power of Jesus as he sits on that throne.  If the voice of the Seraphim, who are merely creatures created by Jesus, is mighty enough to literally shake the door posts of the temple, then how much more powerful might we expect the voice of the one who created them to be?

My point here is that, as I read another text of scripture that magnifies the glory of God, the name YaHWeH refers to Father, Son, and Spirit; the trinity; not just to the Father.  

Psalm 97:1-6  YaHWeH reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. 
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. 
A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. 
His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. 
The hills melted like wax at the presence of YaHWeH, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. 
The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. 

I don’t know about you, but this does not sound like the description of one who should be trifled with.  Not someone to be ignored.  If, as the Psalm tells us, a fire goes before him and burns up his enemies, then I really don’t want to be counted as his enemy!

Just how powerful and glorious is this Jesus?  In Hebrews 1:1-3 we learn that it was through Jesus that the Father created the world and, what’s more, that it is through the word of his power that the universe is held together!  That is the power and glory of Jesus!

So, let’s just consider a few of the things that modern-day science and astronomy reveals about the power and glory of Jesus.

There are about 7 billion people on our planet today.  Each of them, like everything else in the physical universe is made up of atoms too small for us to see.  If I understand that passage from the book of Hebrews properly (and I’m not entirely sure that I do), should Jesus remove the “word of his power” which upholds the universe, then all of those atoms of which we consist would either disintegrate into nothing, or maybe just separate into a cloud of disorganized meaningless particles. But Jesus holds it all together.  That is the power and glory of Jesus!

Now seven billion people is a number that I can’t even begin to comprehend, but if we can’t comprehend that number then just try to consider the size of all things that Jesus created.  If all 7 billion of those people on this planet were put into the state of Texas, there is room for 1000 square feet per person. That’s how big just the state of Texas is.  But that doesn’t even begin to give us an idea of the power and glory of Jesus as displayed by the size of his creation.

Texas is tiny compare to the size of the whole earth, and yet our sun is so large that 1 million planets the size of earth would fit in it. But again, that doesn’t even begin to give us an idea of the power and glory of Jesus as displayed by his creation. 

Our sun is just one among an uncounted number of stars and it is far from the largest.  Jesus created them all and they are held together by his power!  There is a star named Betelgeuse (love that name as it sounds much like beetle-juice) that is only the second to the largest star that we are aware of; it is as wide as 1,180 of our suns, in fact our sun would look like a speck next to it.  But even that doesn’t begin to give us an idea of the power and glory of Jesus as displayed by the sheer size of his creation. 

How about this?  If our sun was the size of a period on the page of my Bible, then the Milky Way galaxy, which our sun is a part of, would be the width of the United States in comparison.  Jesus created it all and holds it together by the word of his power!  But that’s just the beginning; the Milky Way galaxy is only one of a countless number of galaxies, and by countless I mean millions of other galaxies with billions of stars. The vastness of God’s creation through Jesus Christ is truly beyond our comprehension.
Genesis 1 verse 16 says: “God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also” In Jehovah God’s great display of power and glory, it is almost as if these billions upon billions of stars that are so large and numerous that we cannot begin to comprehend the size or number of them, were created as an afterthought.  How can we do anything but cry out along with David as he did in Psalm 139: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. 

Switching gears now so that we don’t come away with a view of Jesus that he is so high and glorious that we think of him as being impersonal and unreachable, consider this; Yes, he is incomprehensibly powerful, and yet he not far away as we might imagine such a being might be.

I have a John Bunyan quote from about 300 years ago which I think does a wonderful job of focusing on what Jesus has done for us, but before I get to the actual quote, I’d like to give a few of the scripture texts which I believe Bunyan had in mind when he wrote the words.  As you read them, try to consider how these words from the Bible apply to you personally.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 The apostle Paul says this:  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 

Jesus tells us this in John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

In Jude 24-25 we read this written about Jesus: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. 

Hebrews 4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Philippians 3:9  And be found in him [that is, in Christ], not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Hebrews 7:25  Wherefore he [speaking of Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

There are other scripture passages as well, but let’s get to the words of John Bunyan, writing in his treatise titled “Doctrine of the Law and Grace.”  If this quote were to have a title I would call it “Making Salvation Personal.”

Quote: “…. This glorious doctrine of the new covenant, and the Mediator thereof, will serve for the comforting, and the maintaining of the comfort, of the children of the new covenant this way also; that is, that he did not only die and rise again, but that he did ascend in his own person into heaven to take possession thereof for me, to prepare a place there for me,  standeth there in the second part of his suretyship to bring me safe in my coming thither, and to present me in a glorious manner, “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing;” that he is there exercising of his priestly office for me, pleading the perfection of his own righteousness for me, and the virtue of his blood for me: that he is there ready to answer the accusations of the law, devil, and sin for me.”  End quote.

Jesus Christ is high and glorious and powerful beyond our comprehension, and yet as the apostle Paul tells us, he.... showed his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  And that is as personal as it gets.

3 comments:

St. Lee said...

BTW, if anyone is confused by the unusual rendering of LORD/Jehovah/Yahweh (depending on the translation you use) I started to write a piece on this very subject several months ago, but was sidetracked by other matters. My thinking is simply this: We know that the actual Hebrew is YHWH, rendered LORD by many translations, Jehovah by one, and Yahweh by some. My thinking is that since no one can be certain that the a & e are the proper vowels to be added, it makes sense to leave them in lower case, much like the KJV puts words not in the original text but added for clarity, in italics. I feel strongly that it is too easy to read the Old Testament without getting the full impact of the text when the proper name of God. YHWH is rendered LORD (all upper case)while Adonai means and is translated as Lord (only first letter capitalized). Other than that change,the passages quoted are from the KJV.

Brad Cramer said...

So often we lose the true meaning of the magnitude of God. In your writing of the size comparisons of Earth in relation to the universe,it sort of brings it all home. Having just returned from a 4500 mile bike trip through the northwestern US I was in amazement after every turn that God had created this place for us. But the thing that boggles me is that there is a very large part of humanity that thinks this all,us included, is some sort of cosmic accident. Thanks for the post,and how did you do at the Meltdown?

St. Lee said...

Thanks Brad, it really is hard to put into words just how awe inspiring God's creation is, isn't it? Just this morning walking back from the mailbox I could not help but admire the size and majesty of a Weeping Willow tree in our yard; just a microscopic spec of what YaWHeH hath wrought.

The Meltdown was great fun with ear drum splitting exhaust roar and throat choking tire smoke that only an old gearhead like me could appreciate.