Post-Election Encouragement: Thoughts from Vietnam, part 2
I need some encouragement. Maybe you do too. It doesn’t matter if you’re pro-Hillary or pro-Trump. We all need a little bit of encouragement today because there were no real winners in this election season. I think we all lost. We all lost a little bit of perspective, decency, and hope.
It doesn’t matter who you are, this election has touched you deeply in some way. This election has probably divided or at least strained some of your relationships. I bet that you have a few people on Facebook that you would like to “un-friend,” or at the very least “mute.”
I couldn’t sleep at all last night. It’s 3:46 AM right now as I write this. I couldn’t sleep because God reminded me of one passage of Scripture that I couldn’t get out of my head. So I thought I would get up and write a word of encouragement to myself, and hopefully it would serve to be an encouragement to you too.
Isaiah 6:1 says, “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a thron, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
Isaiah went through a situation that was far more difficult than the one that we Americans are facing right now. Israel was in a situation of panic. The Great King Uzziah had just died in disglorious fashion. He was one of the few good kings of Israel, and reigned over Israel for 52 years!
For much of his life, Uzziah honored and served God and God blessed him and the nation under his reign. But that is not how Uzziah ended his life. Uzziah stopped serving God and God removed his hand of blessing from Uzziah and from Israel. Uzziah received leprosy and spent his last few years in medical isolation because of his infectious disease. When he died, the whole nation was in a state of panic because they did not know what would happen next.
But it was in this dark time that the Prophet Isaiah saw clearest vision of God. It was this vision that encouraged him and helped him maintain perspective during a difficult transition. As I was stumbling online to research the background of this text, I found an old sermon from a pastor named Max Alderman. He made 3 points from Isaiah 6:1-9 that encouraged me that I would like to share with you.
1. SEE THE HOLY ONE ON THE THRONE
“In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…” It was during the darkest time of his life that Isaiah got the clearest picture of God. Isaiah saw God “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” This was not a vision of a small and puny god, but One that was huge and immense. He was so big that His robe filled the whole Temple.
Isaiah was encouraged and took hope in the fact that even though the king was dead, the Lord was still on His throne in heaven.
If you are discouraged or distraught today, I was to encourge you with this vision of God sitting on His throne high and lifted up. No election can cause God to be removed from His throne. I would encourage you to not look at who is or is not on the thrones of men here on earth. But look and see that God is still on His throne in heaven.
2. STRUGGLE BEFORE THE HOLY ONE
Isaiah’s vision of God made him struggle with himself. The vision that he saw of God wasn’t “Buddy Jesus” from the movie “Dogma.” Far from it. Verses 2-4 describe this terrifying vision of the greatness of God.
Flying around the throne of God were 6-winged angels that were ablazed with terrfying fire. They covered their faces and shouted out to each other in terribly loud voices that shooked the whole Temple. Smoke and fire filled the whole room.
These fiery angels were so filled with fear in the presence of God that they couldn’t even look upon God, but covered their own eyes and shouted to each other, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of the Angel Armies; the whole earth is full of His glory!”
At this point Isaiah fell on His face before God in fear. He shouted “Woe is me! For I am lost!” Isaiah struggled with his own sense of depravity and sin in God’s presence. He thought God would punish him for his sin right then and there.
But as he struggled with this vision of God and humbled himself, something amazing happened. One of the fiery angels came to him with a burning coal of fire and used it to cleanse Isaiah of his sin and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” In that moment, Isaiah was radically changed because he was radically forgiven of his sin.
Wow, that is a wonderful picture of the Gospel. It reminds us the Bad News of our sin, and the Good News of God’s grace and forgiveness. Just as Isaiah struggled with God until the point of resolution, I encourage you to do the same. Go humbly into God’s presence with your discouragement, doubt, fear, and shame. And don’t leave until you find hope, healing and resolution from His presence.
3. SUBMIT TO THE HOLY ONE
In verse 8, Isaiah hears the voice of God asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” God seems to be asking a rhetorical question in the presence of Isaiah.
Isaiah, whom had just had his life changed by being forgiven by God, tries to get God’s attention by jumping up and down with his hands raised saying, “Here am I! Send me!”
God replies, “Go.” Isaiah submits himself to God and volunteers to serve God. Submission to God is the end result for Isaiah. And I believe it is the place where God wants to bring us too.
There is a simple but life-changing progression here. Seeing God leads to struggling before God. Struggling before God leads to finally submitting to God. Submission leads to being used by God to make a difference in the world.
It was through this process that Isaiah’s life was changed. God used Isaiah in great ways to make a difference. It is my hope and prayer that we all can see God a bit more clearly today. I hope that we could wrestle and struggle with the culpability of our own sin in God’s presence. And that it would lead towards forgiveness and a clear calling upon our lives.
So please take a deep breath. Remember, nothing, especially not the will of man, can remove God from His throne. He is the “Holy One of Israel,” high and exalted. And he has a wonderful plan for your life.