Tony Reinke shared his annual Advent Bible reading plan. Along with the reading plan, he has an ongoing Twitter discussion via #IsaiahChristmas sharing some thoughts and themes along the way. It's an awesome way to see Jesus in the Old Testament, look forward to celebrating Advent, and get some rich insights into the text along the way! Let's join him for a look at Isaiah 6:1-7.
A Life-Altering Vision
What did the 25 year-old Isaiah see? He saw a glimpse of infinite glory. His eyes beheld what few men will ever behold until Jesus returns on His second glorious Advent. Too often, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and fail to sit still and ponder the glory of God. Isaiah saw God’s throne—grander and more spectacular than anything David or Solomon could dream of. The train of God’s robe was so vast that it filled the entire temple. There's no greater glory to behold than the LORD in His glory!
What else did he see? He saw a King sitting on His throne. This isn’t some earthly ruler who would take over the world by brute force only to be surpassed by a greater king a few hundred years down the road. He didn’t just see some messianic figure that would return only to get vengeance on Israel’s enemies and let life continue as usual but with a hint of Jewish clout. That isn’t enough. He saw the King of the universe. The whole earth is His. Every bit of it.
What more did Isaiah see? He saw worship. Not like the vain and God-forsaken worship of Israel and Judah (Isa. 1:12-15). His eyes beheld unfettered worship untainted by sin, sorrow and shame. “Holy, holy, holy”, they cried! Against the backdrop of utter wickedness and contemptible sinfulness, he heard an earth-shattering truth: “the whole earth is full of his glory!”. God is glorious despite Israel's sinfulness. He's glorious despite ours, too.
What else did this young man see? He saw the holiness of God. He felt the presence of God in such a powerful way that it shook the foundations of the temple's threshold. When God spoke, he felt the fear of being in the presence of a King. This wasn’t that butterfly feeling of meeting a hero or the president of the United States. No. This was fear. This was terror. This was reverence and awe. He could've died in the presence of such holiness—God's appointed priests weren't even able to enter the throne room except for once per year. He was in the presence of pure, unadulterated holiness. This thought should sent a shiver down Isaiah's spine. It should do the same for us.
How did he respond? He trembled as he spoke the words we must all acknowledge sooner or later: “Woe is me! For I am lost; For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” In other words, I am broken! I am sinful! I am undone! He was in the presence of the most awesome and awe-inspiring sight in the entire universe. He saw the King, the Lord of hosts! At this confession his sins were immediately atoned for by God Himself.
The Coming Messiah
Isaiah's prophecy paints some of the most vivid pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament. Here in Chapter 6 we get glimpses of the future Messiah he would prophesy about. We get to look back and see how Jesus would show up in the flesh to do the work God promised so long ago!
We see a picture of King Jesus on the throne. Though Isaiah didn’t fully grasp the Trinity, he saw the Lord of hosts. He saw the throne that is forever and ever (Psa. 45:6). He saw the throne of the Father and Son (Heb. 1:3). In speaking of Jesus, the apostle John says that “Isaiah....saw his glory and spoke of him” (John 12:41). This is amazing and should remind us that when we encounter the Son of God, we must humble ourselves, confess our sinfulness, and proclaim His holiness.
We see the glory of God in Christ. Isaiah saw the glory of God. This is undoubtedly true! How could he have seen God when John 1:18 says that no one has ever seen God? Perhaps it was because God allows us to see His glory in His Son: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known" (John 1:18) . Jesus makes the Father known to us. Christ enables us to see the glory of God and live. Whether Isaiah saw Jesus Himself or a glimpse of God similar to others in the Old Testament, it is clear that in Jesus we see the fullness of God’s glory in bodily form (Col. 2:9, Heb. 1:3).
We see a foreshadow of Christ’s atonement. Isaiah’s sins were forgiven and his guilt removed when he confessed his sinfulness to God. Jesus came precisely to bring forgiveness and wash sinners white as snow (Isa. 1:18, Isa. 53:5). This same prophet would proclaim the message of God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, Christ’s suffering and atoning work, and repentant faith throughout. The gospel is on full display in Isaiah!
As we celebrate the first coming of King Jesus, Isaiah is a wonderful portion of Scripture to dwell in. What Advent devotional are you using? What has God been showing you?
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