Have you ever seen God in a vision? Don’t worry, visions are not the normative way in which God has ever spoken to his people. When Isaiah received this vision, it’s because God especially chose Isaiah to receive this revelation. Through this special revelation of God, Isaiah 1) received his calling, 2) was then to preach this message to God’s people, 3) and was then to pen this vision down so that future generations of God’s people could benefit from this vision of God. Even today 2,800 years later, here you are reading a blog article about this experience of God.
In the year that King Uzziah died
I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Above him stood the seraphim.
Each had six wings:
with two he covered his face,
and with two he covered his feet,
and with two he flew.
And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook
at the voice of him who called,
and the house was filled with smoke.
The most important thing we learn about God from this vision is his complete and utter holiness. God’s primary attribute is his holiness. Many would say that God’s primary attribute is love. Doesn’t the Bible even say, “God is love? (I John 4:8)” God is love. But his love is a holy love. In fact, all of God’s attributes are defined through his holiness :
- God’s love is a holy love
- God’s justice is a holy justice
- God’s judgment is a holy judgment
- God’s wrath is a holy wrath
- God’s grace is a holy grace
- God’s mercy is a holy mercy
God’s holiness is demonstrated in the vision through his perfect and exalted royal majesty. He is King. This is one of the great themes of Isaiah. The reason many people have a hard time reading through the book of Isaiah is because of all the “woes.” “Woe to you Damascus…woe to you Tyre and Sidon…woe to you Israel…woe to you Judah.” They can’t find the profitability of reading these today (II Timothy 3:16). But the reason the Holy Spirit inspired those woes for us to read even today is to show that God is not just the God over his chosen people. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the sovereign ruler over all the earth. That is what the throne signifies. This ruler sits on a high and exalted throne over all the earth.
But this vision took place not on an earthy throne, but in the heavenly temple of God. It’s interesting that this temple has a throne. Or should I say that it’s interesting that this throne is in a temple. God is so high and exalted that no one deserves to approach him. However, he desires, yea even commands, worship. His throne is in a temple for the purpose of worship.
The seraphim in this passage that worship God are mysterious creatures that we don’t know too much about. We know they are holy…yet even they cover their faces before this thrice-holy God. We also know that they call out to one another in worship:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
This structure of three ‘holy”s in a row is the Hebrew version of the superlative. It’s similar to us saying “really, really, really, holy” or “the most holy.” God is so holy, that the entire temple is trembling and bursting with the glory of God.
What we learn from this experience when it comes to worship is that worship must begin with revelation. Worship at root is our rightful response to all that God is . For us to respond with worship, we must be exposed to who God is. As stated before, a vision like this is not normative, so if you are waiting 4 God 2 reveal himself especially 2 you, don’t close your eyes and wait for a vision, open a Bible .
True worship begins with the Bible. We encounter God through his revelation of himself. And that happens through his Word. Therefore here are three points of application with regard to corporate worship, individual worship, and family worship.
True corporate worship: Worship with the church must begin with the Bible.
The church must keep the Word of God central in all that she does, especially worship. Paul commanded Timothy something that we need to hear today more than ever:
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture
– I Timothy 4:13
True individual worship: Individual worship must begin with the Bible.
Each time I begin my private devotion, I start with a short prayer of illumination (something like Psalm 119:18) followed by the reading of Scripture. Only after I’ve spent time meditating on the Word do I then pray and sing a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16).
One other encouragement I have for private worship is to ensure that you are meditating on Scripture and not just reading it shallowly. One way to do this is to underline a particular verse or set of verses that you want to come back to to pray through or spend a few minutes studying. I can’t say reading the Word without meditation is useless because God’s Word never returns empty (Isaiah 55:11), but if you just read and don’t spend any time thinking about what you read, it’s close to worthless.
True family worship: Family worship must begin with the Bible.
Perhaps family worship is not something you have thought about much or even heard of. It is not a new concept. In fact, it was a part of regular life for the Christian family back in the day to have both morning and evening devotions every day. Men would open their Bibles and lead their family in family worship. When was the last time you opened your Bible and led your family ?