The Invitation of a Sending God – Isaiah 6:1-8

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-vq3py-920d26

Next week our series that will run through November 2019 begins – Love Letter from God: A Journey through Scripture. We hope you will join us for this series that will start in Genesis and end in Revelation and give us a picture of the Love of God as written in every book of the Bible. 

 

Link to the video referenced in the message:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQLfgaUoQCw

 

Transcript:

Please stand together for the reading of God’s Word:

Isaiah 6:1-8 New International Version (NIV)

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted,seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King,the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Let us pray

Hide me behind your cross, Lord. Let the words I say be the thoughts of your heart articulated by my voice to your people. May they with the power of the Holy Spirit guide us into greater understanding, deeper faith, and abundant, fruitful lives that point only to you. To the glory of the father, the majesty of the son, and the power of the Holy Spirit be given all we offer. Amen

There are some things that you can use an analogy to describe – things that are otherwise hard to understand, you can take this thing or that thing that is easier to describe and help someone understand a difficult topic. In the Forrest Gump movie, we all learned what an analogy was: Life is a like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get.

We use analogies to help us understand church things, too. We talk about sin and how it is like a captor – it holds us prisoner and keeps us away from a relationship with God.

But it is not only difficult, it is heresy to develop an analogy for one theological concept.

Watch this… [play video of Lutheran Satire Irish Twins]

At the very end of that video, Patrick said this:

The Trinity is a mystery which cannot be comprehended by human reason but is understood only through faith and is best confessed in the words of the Athanasian Creed which states that we worship one God in trinity and trinity in unity neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance that we are compelled by the Christian truth to confess that each distinct person is God and LORD and that the deity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is one: Equal in glory, co-equal in majesty

Which is a very fancy way of saying we can’t say anything about the Trinity without saying a bunch of words, if we want to avoid heresy.

The trinity is a mystery – we will never understand it completely. Aside from describing it with a lot of words as Athanasius did, we can also understand it (a little) in terms of the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus says it best:  In John 16:7-15:

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

 

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Clear as mud, right?

Jesus is telling us that the Holy Spirit is sent from both the Son and the Father, and that the Son is sent from the Father. The relationship between and among them is continuous and involves both being sent and going out. Each person of the trinity is moving and working together and they work independently, but only in this way: according to who they are in the Godhead. They are so connected as to be inseparable and yet so individual as to require distinction.

I set this stage so that you might know what it was, exactly, that Isaiah saw.

On one hand, what he saw was likely just a snapshot, a vision that didn’t exactly equal the throne room.

On the other hand, Isaiah was overwhelmed with a sense of his own otherness – his own sinfulness – his intrusion on someone else’s space where he did not belong

He knew where he was and Whose presence he had encountered, but he certainly did not understand what was happening:

I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;

    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

As a vision, this has physical ramifications – shaking buildings and filling them with smoke are actual results of heavenly creatures speaking!

Isaiah is aware of his own limitations as he is in the presence of a holy God.

Isaiah recognizes that he is here but is unworthy of admittance because holiness points out sinfulness – it always does.

You know that  – if you’ve ever visited someone who has a white carpet and white furniture and there are no spots on any of them – you know that person has no children and probably still spends a ton of time cleaning and washing and getting rid of dirt. Why? Because even the tiniest spot would stand out in a space that void of color.

In the same way the holiness of God highlights every unholy thing about us, to the extent that we, too, are unworthy of standing in God’s presence without his intervention.

For Isaiah, the piece of coal touches his lips as a symbol of purification. For us, the same happens at our regeneration in Christ and later in our sanctification: God intervenes to create holiness where before there had only been sinfulness.

But God doesn’t stop there: not with Isaiah and not with us.

Isaiah’s purification has been done for a reason, and it is the invitation for him to participate in the very work of God. You see, the beauty of the trinity is that as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit work together to redeem the world – they invite us to join in the work: The sending and sent God sends US to be messengers and ambassadors. The sending and sent God ASKS us to join in the work.

This invitation to Isaiah:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

Is an invitation to a man who has been touched by the divine, who has been spared the wretchedness of his sin, and who has seen the very God who would invite obedience in the way of holiness.

It is, indeed the invitation we live with today – the invitation to live and work and love and give and be according to the holiness God has given us. It is the invitation to be included in the work of the Trinity, to be SENT, just as the Godhead sends God. It is a wondrous mystery and it is one that is as real for us as it was for Isaiah, who stood in a shaking building and responded as we all can, as hopefully we all want to:

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

 

As we celebrate communion this morning, we do so remembering that every instance of participating at the table of God is a renewed invitation and sending. We are invited to participate and we are sent to be Holy men and women of God in the world where we are. May you always respond with “Here am I. Send me!”

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