ROBERT >> I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, my dad put the fear of God in me with that little black, skinny belt of his. Oh, I always loved my dad, but it was that fear that kept me from getting into trouble, and it caused me to want to please my parents. And the same thing ought to be true when it comes to our relationship with God.
>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> Today I want to talk to you about a proper reverence for God. I’m talking about fearing God, about being in awe of God. I’m not just talking about respecting him. A proper reverence for God is much, much more than that.
The Hebrew writer says in Hebrews 12:28-29, Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
Now, this is something that Isaiah learned long ago when God called him to go prophesy to Israel. And I think we, too, need to learn this lesson. So I want us to look today at Isaiah chapter 6, where you remember of course God is calling his prophet to go and to warn Israel about the coming judgment. And I think if we’ll look at Isaiah closely, we’ll see that a proper reverence for God will cause us to see him for who he really is.
Let’s read together the first four verses of Isaiah chapter 6. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
This was Isaiah’s vision. In this vision, Isaiah got a glimpse of the glory of God. And the imagery here is taken from royal majesty as displayed by the monarchs of the east.
The scene is from the temple. God is seated on his throne above the ark in the most holy place, where the glory of God appeared above the cherubim. And there he was sitting as a royal king on his throne. But I want you to notice that the veil that normally separated the holy place from the most holy place, that it had been taken away, and the entrance into the temple is filled with the train of the robe, which speaks of the spreading and the overflowing of the divine glory.
And then above were the seraphim, literally, the burning ones, these angelic creatures that appeared as flames of fire. And they were covering their face and covering their feet as a great mark of respect, exalting the holiness of God and the glory of God. And the posts shook, and the house was filled with smoke. Our God is an awesome God.
And I wonder, have we almost reformed God into a little buddy or someone to pal around with? Have we forgotten that God is such a fearful and holy God that to be in his presence is to be filled with wonder?
You remember Moses, who saw the burning bush, and he went to it, only to hear the message from heaven, Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground, Exodus 3:5. And when Moses was aware of God’s presence there in that burning bush, Moses was afraid.
Forty years later, Joshua stood just outside of Jericho, and he was there in the presence of the Lord. And the Bible says if you’ll look in Joshua 5:14-15, it says, What does my Lord say to His servant? Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy. Just imagine how these men felt, Moses and Joshua. Sense their awe, sense the reverence of the moment.
When Jacob had a dream of a staircase, a ladder into heaven, he woke up, and he was with afraid because he said, Surely the Lord is present, and I didn’t know it. There at the top of that ladder was the glory of the Lord. The angels were ascending and descending on that ladder, and it frightened him. And the Bible says he was filled with awe.
Time and time again when people are aware of the presence of God, the Bible describes the experience as one of awe and even fear. Yes, a proper reverence for God will cause us to see him for who he really is, awesome and powerful, holy and glorious. That’s our God. But I want you to notice also that a proper reverence for God will not only cause us to see him for who he is, but it will also cause us to see ourselves for who we really are.
Let’s read on in Isaiah chapter 6, and let’s take a look at verse 5 and verse 7. 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. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it and said, Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.
You see, when Isaiah saw God for who he really is in all of his magnificent glory, then Isaiah began to see himself for who he really was. He was immediately struck with a horrible sense of grief and sorrow over his sinfulness. It was as though he was going to perish, he was going to die.
He didn’t deny it. He didn’t try to hide from it. He didn’t run from it. He confessed it. And once Isaiah acknowledged his sin, he was forgiven.
This was symbolized in the vision as we just read it a few moments ago when one of the seraphim took a coal from the altar of burnt offering near the door of the temple, and he brought it to Isaiah and he placed it to Isaiah’s lips.
And when you think about that altar there in the temple and the fire burning upon it, I want you to go back to Leviticus chapter 9, because in Leviticus chapter 9 we see the beginning of the tabernacle worship and the use of that altar of burnt offering. There the tabernacle was erected, the furnishings had been placed there in the tabernacle, and God in all of his glory came down upon the sacrifices that were given to him there on the altar of burnt offering. A fire came down from heaven according to Leviticus 9:24.
And many years later when the tabernacle was replaced by the greater, more permanent temple in the city of Jerusalem, in 2 Chronicles 7:1, once again fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
The fires of that altar were always burning. Every morning, every evening, sacrifice was made on the altar, and those fires were never to be put out according to Leviticus 6:12-13.
But now I want you to notice something. I don’t want anyone to miss this. We have an altar. Today we have an altar. The tabernacle has served its purpose, and the temple has served its purpose; but now the greater temple of God, his church, we have an altar. I want to read to you from Hebrews 13:10-13, where the Hebrew writer reminds us of this very thing. He had already talked in great lengths about the passing of the old law, the old covenant, the old temple and the tabernacle and all of its services, including its priesthood. But here in chapter 13 he points us to a greater altar, a greater temple, God’s church, a greater priest, our high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has provided sacrifice for us.
Hebrews chapter 13, beginning in verse 10, We have an
altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Yes, the Hebrew writer says we have an altar. Not the altar of burnt offering in the old tabernacle, in the old temple where the blood of animals was spilt; but no, he points us outside the camp, outside the city to the cross of Jesus Christ, where the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world was slain for us all.
In 1 Peter 2:24, Peter reminds us how, He bore our sins in His own body upon the tree. Yes, we have an altar in Jesus Christ. It’s he that provides atonement for our sins. He does what the blood of goats and bulls could never do.
I look back in Hebrews chapter 10, and I notice here in the first few verses where the Hebrew writer says, For the law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
You see, for hundreds and hundreds of years, the people were bringing these sacrifices and laying them upon the altar. The blood of those animals was poured out there upon the altar. But none of that blood could take away sin. It could only point to the greater sacrifice of Jesus Christ that would once for all provide atonement for all of our sins. According to 1 John 2:2, he is the propitiation, or the atoning sacrifice for our sins; and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.
What Jesus did in paying the price for our sins enabled us to be forgiven by God. So that God could be righteous, so that God could be just in forgiving our sins, a price had to be paid for those sins.
Turn back with me if you will to Romans the 3rd chapter, where the apostle Paul elaborates on this and explains it to us more fully. We’ll begin in Romans 3:23. Here the Bible says, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified, that is, made right with God, freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Here we see that Jesus Christ provided our redemption. That is, he paid the price for our sins. And the Bible goes on to say in verse 25 of Romans 3, Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of one who has faith in Jesus.
Yes, we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ our Lord, Ephesians 1:7. Because of what Jesus did for us at the cross, we can be reconciled to God, we can be brought back together with him. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself according to 2 Corinthians 5:19. That’s possible when we come to Christ for forgiveness.
In Acts 22:16, the Bible teaches us how we can become Christians, how we can have our sins forgiven. The Bible says, Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. As Christians, we must not forget the forgiveness of our sins. We must not begin to think that we’re now somehow above sin; but that we live before the holy God in the sight of his holy word that we be honest about who we are so that we might continue to be cleansed in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Listen to these words from John’s first letter in chapter 1 verse 5 through 9. Here he writes, This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Do you see that what happened to Isaiah here, it’s very similar to what happened to the fishermen, Simon Peter, when he was called by Christ to become a fisher of men. We read about this story in Luke 5:1-11. It was here that Jesus sought to preach to the multitudes, and they were pressing on him until he had to step off the shore of the Sea of Galilee there into a boat to teach the people. And he told Peter to go and to cast his net. And though he had been fishing all night, because the Lord told him, he cast his net.
And you remember his net became full, and the entire boat was full, and his partners’ boats were full of fish. And at that miraculous catch of fish, Simon Peter fell to his knees and he said, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.
You see, when Peter came to see who Jesus Christ really was, when he was awed by his wonder and by his greatness and by his power, he began to see himself for who he was.
Every one of us are sinful. We are vile creatures. We deserve to die, not only physically, but spiritually, to be separated from God forever, but for the grace of God. For yes, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and yes, the wages of sin is death, that is what we’ve earned, that is what we deserve; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Oh, God’s marvelous grace towards us, a proper reverence for God will cause us to see ourselves for who we really are: Awful sinners in desperate need of a savior.
But now I also want you to notice before we leave the lesson this morning that a proper reverence for God will cause us to worship and to serve him. Let’s read from Isaiah 6:8.
The Bible says, Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? And then I said, Here am I, send me.
Now, Isaiah was ready to do the Lord’s bidding. He had seen the Lord for who he is, and he began to see himself for who he was. He could not do anything else but to give his life to the Lord. His life and his ministry from that point forward were forever changed. And that’s what a proper reverence for God will do.
It will change our lives. It will change our hearts. It will change the world around us.
To my brothers and sisters, I might say what a difference it ought to make in our worship together. We’ll never say we don’t want to come to worship. We’ll never complain about worship being boring or that we didn’t get anything out of it, that we’d let distractions in worship cause us to lose our focus and our concentration to keep us from worshiping. We’d never fail to participate in every act of worship if we came to see God for who he is. We wouldn’t just be going through the motions of worship. We wouldn’t be doing these things certainly to be seen of men.
We’d never offer any unauthorized worship, but only what Jesus would have us to do. Our only purpose would be to please him and to never give anything less than our very best performance of worship.
Yes, the Bible says God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the
saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him, Psalm 89:7.
By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy, and before all the people I must be glorified, Leviticus 10:1-2.
But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him, Habakkuk 2:20.
How reverent we should be. How focused we must be. We’re in his presence. We stand on holy ground. Let’s remove our shoes of irreverence and worship God, and let’s go out and let’s serve him and let’s live for him and let’s show him to others.
Let’s say with Isaiah, Here am I, send me. You know, for the prophet Isaiah, he was sent out to speak a message to the people. But what are we sent out to do?
What is God calling you to do this week?
Who is it in your life that you need to love a little more? Who is it in your community that you need to reach out to a little harder? Who is it that you know of who’s not coming to worship, who needs to be invited, who needs to hear about the Lord, that you can sit around the table and open your Bibles and speak to them about Jesus? Who is it that’s listening today who needs to come to Christ for forgiveness?
Our purpose in life is to glorify our creator. And we can only do that by living for him. In doing that, we will find our fulfillment in life.
Hear these words of the wise man who wrote long ago in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Hear the conclusion of the matter, he writes. Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For He will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or bad.
Don’t lose your life in sin. Let God cleanse you, let him make you whole today, and let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven.
>> Unto the hills around to do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid, from God the Lord whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul, from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out, thy coming in.
Above thee watching, he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth, yea, for evermore.
>> Years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified, knowing not it was for me he died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great and grace was free, pardon there was multiplied to me, there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan.
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man.
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
Mercy there was great and grace was free, pardon there was multiplied to me, there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.
ROBERT >> I want to thank you for watching our program today, and if you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you’d like more information about the lesson today or if you’d like to order it on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form or any other lesson, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.
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>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace. From the toils that bind me it will bring release. Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so, showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall. Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all. Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go. When my heart is weary, when the day is long, sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song. Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam. Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall. Sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.