Our last post we left our not-so-plucky hero trembling in fear before the weighty and tangible majestic glory of God’s holiness. And just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, one of those dreadful seraphs starts flying his way! When he awoke from this vision, he probably had to change his PJ’s and his bed sheets! He knew for sure that there was no hope for him, only the wrath of God for this poor wretch. Until…
Then one of the seraphim flew to me,
having in his hand a burning coal
that he had taken with tongs from the altar.
And he touched my mouth and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips,
your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
– Isaiah 6:6-7 –
This amazing worship experience teaches us another profound truth: True worship is a response to God’s glorious work of redemption .
Notice in the text that God is the one who takes the initiative. Isaiah simply stood there in utter fear because of his sin. This is the way redemption always works: “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). If you’re redeemed, you owe everything to God for your redemption. He is the one who drew you (John 6:44). And he didn’t draw you because you were oh-so-pretty or oh-so-smart. How chiseled your jaw is makes no difference. His redeeming love is what transforms.
The most significant word in this entire passage is the word “altar.” This little word teaches us a profound truth: Redemption is not free. One of my favorite new hymns, “How Rich a Treasure We Possess,” by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, contains this glorious line:
So for us, redemption is free. Yet redemption is the most costly purchase ever made. It was bought with the priceless and precious blood of the Son of God . Thank God that he is the one who purchased our atonement, initiates our salvation, and seals us until the day of redemption! Thank God that salvation is free! This is why later Isaiah preached,
Come, everyone who thirsts
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy, and eat!
– Isaiah 55:1 –
The coal that touched Isaiah’s lips was taken from an altar. An altar is a place of sacrifice. And this was not any altar. The temple where Isaiah’s redemption was purchased and this vision took place was not any old temple, or even the temple in Jerusalem. This was the heavenly temple of which the temple in Jerusalem was just a shadow and copy. This temple was the temple where our Great High Priest, Jesus, appeared before the throne of God to purchase our redemption. This altar was the altar where Jesus offered up the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of himself, the spotless Lamb of God (Hebrews 9:11-14, 23-28). This vision is our pulling the curtain back and seeing a glimpse of what was going on in the heavenly temple when Christ was on the cross.
True worship is our appropriate response to Christ’s work on the cross to purchase our redemption . True worship is our adoration, thanksgiving, gratefulness, confession, love, praise, and blessing poured out to a God who lavished his grace, mercy, love, and peace upon us through sending his Son to purchase our salvation through the cross. True worship is Jesus-driven.
My plea to you is three-fold:
True corporate worship: Corporate worship must be Jesus-driven.
When you gather together with the people of God, if Christ is not preached and the gospel is not proclaimed, you are not worshiping the true and living God. Join and worship with a church that is gospel-centered and Christ-exalting.
True individual worship: Individual worship must be Jesus-driven.
You need the gospel. The gospel is not magical prayer that saves someone and they never need it again. The gospel is the power of God for those who are being saved (I Corinthians 1:18). You need the gospel every day. Preach the gospel to yourself daily. Chew on the truth that Christ died for you on the cross and has redeemed you for his glory ! Make you private devotions gospel-centered and Christ-exalting.
True family worship: Family worship much be Jesus-driven.
Leading your family well in family worship involves three things: reading Scripture together, praying together, and singing a song in worship together. The most important element is Scripture, and a helpful tip when leading a discussion about any text of Scripture is to do what C.H. Spurgeon did in his preaching. He said, “I take my text and make a beeline to the cross.” Make your family worship gospel-centered and Christ-exalting.