Have you ever given thought to the greatness of the universe? Various estimates have been offered as to the number of stars and galaxies that exist, but no one can be sure — except God, that is! We rejoice with the psalmist as he contemplates:
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
But yet, by His resounding grace He is mindful of us! In the book of Hebrews we are granted a glorious invitation into His very presence:
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
This call to enter into the throne room of God is not one to be taken lightly, for without grace and mercy, we could not even begin to approach His presence. It has been stated that grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve, while His mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. What would we do without either? While there are many things that we find in the presence of God, I would like to focus on three things in particular that will begin to show us the awesomeness of the God we serve.Isaiah’s Vision
“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” (Isaiah 6:1-4).
Much like the apostle John in the book of Revelation, Isaiah was “in the Spirit” on this day. (Revelation 1:10); meaning that he was in such a spiritual state whereas he was able to receive that which the Spirit of God desired to reveal to him. In essence, Isaiah was in the presence of God; the results of which would change his life forever!
In chapters 1-5 we read as Isaiah begins prophesying immediately, but this was not the beginning of his ministry. In chapter 6, as a flashback of sorts, Isaiah speaks of the vision that would transform his life, and propel him into one of the longest, and most powerful prophetic ministries in Scripture. One of the most striking features of his vision was the absolute holiness of God; it is in the presence of this holiness that his transformation begins.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Joshua Newton1. We Find Personal Revival in God’s Presence
“So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because 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’” (Isaiah 6:5).
How should we respond in the presence of God? Should we break out in song? Or praise Him with the timbrel and dance? Or simply worship Him in the beauty of His holiness? All of these responses are warranted, however, there are times that when we enter into His presence, we should remain silent, and simply bask in His presence, waiting to hear from Him. Mary understood this type of silence as she sat at the feet of the Lord, waiting to hear from Him:
“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word” (Luke 10:38-39).
In contrast to her sister, who was overwrought and distracted, Mary quieted herself in His presence, anticipating a word from Him. She understood that her highest priority at this time should be hearing His voice. Placing ourselves where He is ensures us of receiving renewal and revival as we surrender ourselves to Him.2. We Find Abundant Pardon in God’s Presence
As Isaiah is transfixed by the magnified holiness of God, he is struck by a revelation of his own sinfulness. When Isaiah states that he is “undone,” he means that he has been cut down, and utterly brought to silence. Likewise, when we are confronted by all that we are able to take in of who He is, we are left speechless; we can say nothing in defense of our sin. Centuries later, Peter, the outspoken disciple of Christ, was left speechless after an encounter with the miracle working power and presence of the Lord:
“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken” (Luke 5:8-9).
Faced with the awesomeness of who Jesus was, and coupled with his previous remarks that subtly displayed his own pride, Peter, like Isaiah before him, was seized by a sense of his own inadequateness in the presence of the holy Lord and had to surrender to Him.
When Isaiah acknowledges his sinfulness, it is then that pardon is introduced. We read of God’s desire to pardon us, in two places:
“Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
These words, offered to those who don’t know the Lord, also apply to God’s people, because we sin too:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
When we recognize our sin, mercy and pardon is what we need most, and God takes the initiative and offers it freely as we enter into His presence.
“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’” (Isaiah 6:6-7).
Photo credit: Pexels/Victor Freitas3. We Find Our Purpose in His Presence
Once God reveals Himself to us (i.e., His holiness, which is His predominant attribute), and has begun the work of revival in our heart, by releasing His pardon to us, then we are ready to partake of His will; our purpose awaits.
“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!’” (Isaiah 6:8).
Isaiah was now ready to embark upon his life’s mission:
“He said, ‘Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed’” (Isaiah 6:9-10).
In this seemingly perplexing call, God told Isaiah that as he went forth with His Word, that the people would reject it. Even so, Isaiah was obedient to God’s call, and remained so. Several Jewish traditions state that he died a martyr’s death and was sawn in two. One Scripture in particular from the book of Hebrews, may corroborate this, though no one is sure:
“They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—” (Hebrews 11:37).
Whatever the case may be, Isaiah remained faithful to God’s purpose for him, and it all began in the presence of God. Lord, as we enter into your presence, help us to see you, that we may see ourselves.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Toby John Varhaugvik
Michael Jakes is an Associate Pastor, Bible teacher, and writer. He is co-founder of That’s The Word! Ministries, a distinctly Cross-centered outreach. He has also been active in youth ministry for over 30 years, and hosts four live weekly podcasts: ‘The Sunday Sermon Series’, ‘The Line By Line Podcast‘, ‘The Bible Speaks Live’, and ‘The Cutting It Right Bible Study’. Michael is also the author of, The Lights In The Windows, a book focusing on the need for the Church to evangelize. You can follow him on YouTube and on his Facebook page at: That's The Word Ministries | Facebook. Michael and his wife Eddye have been married for 40 years, and reside in New York.