1 Chronicles 15:1–6; Isaiah 6:1–4
Samuel Lesson #131
May 8, 2018
“Father, it’s just a fantastic privilege beyond anything we can ever imagine that we can come into Your presence as a corporate group of believers here at West Houston Bible Church to worship You, to submit ourselves to You and Your Word, to the teaching of Your Word that we might recognize that You are the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. You are the Creator of all things, and therefore, You and You alone are worthy of worship.
“As we study Your Word and we think about this concept of worship and what it means, and what it means for us individually—service with our lives, as well as corporately—that God the Holy Spirit would drive home the truth that we are studying in Your Word that we may be reminded that we were created to serve You. Because of sin, that relationship was breached, but because You are the God Who provided perfect redemption, that can be restored, and we can continue to serve You. It is beyond our imagination and our understanding that You would make it possible for fallen creatures to serve You in this way. And for that we give You glory, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
The core of what we’ll be covering is in Isaiah 6, the revelation of God to Isaiah, but I want to review a few things from last time that we taught.
I started off with several quotes, observations from Dr. Allen Ross in his book on Recalling the Hope of Glory. But one of the things that he said that I want to keep foremost in our minds is the fact that we often are so busy in life that we just fit Bible class and the worship of God in—it belongs there between 10:30 to noon on Sunday, 7:30 Tuesday and Thursday night— and we come in and spend time, then move on; whereas, this is supposed to be the focal point of our lives. He writes in Recalling the Hope of Glory, “Our attention to the Lord must not be an ordinary part of life.”
I just think that’s a statement that needs to be highlighted. When we talk about God as a holy God, that He is distinct and set apart and unique, then that which relates to God is said in the Old Testament to be holy. Therefore, that which is used to worship God in the Old Testament was not to ever to be used for anything else. There is this distinction made between everyday use of things and that which is set apart to God. Therefore, on Shabbat, it was set apart to God. It was a day to focus on the Lord and to rest and trust in Him.
Now, Sabbath is not for today; that was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant, but there is an implication there that we are to take time to focus on the Lord, that this is to be set apart. It’s not supposed to be like other times, other activities, and other events in our life. Therefore, when we come together corporately on Sunday morning, it should be different from anything else that we do in life. The problem we have today is that the idea has just captured the modern evangelical church that what you do on Sunday morning has an evangelistic purpose; therefore, it should be like everything else that we do in life, so that the unbeliever doesn’t feel uncomfortable.
That just runs counter to everything we read in the Scripture. This is a time that is to be set apart to the service of God. That which takes place then is distinct for that purpose. So, the things that are part of our everyday life—and we think about for example, that we live in a world today that is dominated by entertainment—we are entertained way too much.
Now that we have all of these smart phones, smart devices, iPads and iPods, and iPhones and everything else—and I am, as much as anybody else—we are distracted by entertainment. We’re not thinking profoundly about the issues of life anymore because it's boring. So, we’re coming together to be quiet before the Lord. And in church services, I remember many times that I have been in churches, and once the prelude music began, people got quiet. This is our time to prepare for worship, not a time to continue chattering until somebody stands up and starts talking. We need to recognize that worship is not part of ordinary life.
That as Allen Ross says, our worship of Him should be the most momentous, urgent, and glorious activity of our lives.
He asks, as part of his introduction, “How then,” in light of what the Bible says about worship and Who God is, “how then can we talk casually of this Lord?” If we understand what God has revealed about Himself in the Scripture, how can we talk casually about Him? Second, he asks, “How can we merely slot Him into our fully scheduled lives?”
We think about the fact that sometimes we get a little bored—we sing these same hymns over and over again. If, however, you look carefully at the Scriptures, when we look at Isaiah 6:3, the seraphim are singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” Then 1,000 or so years later, when John has the vision, but his vision is focusing on what is happening after the Rapture and before the Tribulation. He has a vision of Heaven, and they are singing the same hymn before God [Revelation 4:8, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.”]. There’s no boredom because the words have meaning and significance to the people who are singing it.
That’s not something that can be manufactured although there’s an attempt to do that in many churches. The song leader, the choir director, the pastor can’t manufacture it; it has to come from the worshiper’s internal focus, his relationship with the Lord. You can’t make people worship; that is a matter of personal focus and personal volition.
Then when we look at the fact that these angels, the angelic choirs continuously sing praise to God in the throne room of God in Heaven, how can we think that there are more important things for us to do in life than to worship Him? That doesn’t mean we should be in church 24/7, but that corporate worship is the outworking of an individual worship and that individual worship is how we look at what we’re doing 24/7 as we recognize that God has saved us, He’s redeemed us, He’s bought us with a price for the purpose of serving Him in this life.
Then I started to track through some of the things that we observe when we get a glimpse of the heavenly scene. Job 38:4–7 where God is asking Job these rhetorical questions, and He is focusing on His creation at the foundation of the earth in Job 38:4.
He says in Job 38:7 that at this time, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” My point was that the angels, united before the fall of Satan, are singing. There’s music in Heaven, and that tells us that this is a music that is totally in conformity with God’s righteousness, that there is a perfect music. Therefore, there is an everlasting standard for what makes good music—that there is such a thing as good music and bad music, and recognition that music is a language, and it communicates.
There are passages in Scripture. Psalm 89:5, “The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord.” Here we see that there is a parallelism. There’s an internal chiasm, it starts with “heavens will praise your wonders”; that’s the second idea. Then “Your faithfulness,”—see “faithfulness” and “wonders” relate to each other—and then the last term in the second line is “the assembly of the holy ones.” The “holy ones” are the ones that inhabit the heavens. “The heavens” in this verse, are not talking about the literal stars and galaxies that make up the universe, but that which inhabits the heavens are the angels. That which inhabits the earth are human beings.
So, when Moses calls upon two witnesses when he’s reestablishing the covenant with Israel in Deuteronomy, he calls for the heavens and the earth. According to the Law, you have to have two witnesses, so he looks at two groups. Those who inhabit the heavens are the angels; those who inhabit the earth are human beings. These two collective groups he calls upon as witnesses to the covenant that God has made with Israel.
So here, we see when it says [Psalm 89:5], “The heavens will praise your wonders,” it’s talking about the angels will praise your wonders, and that’s parallel to God’s “faithfulness.” His character is what is the focal point; His essence, who God is as a person, not just qualities.
See sometimes we reduce God’s essence to a pedagogical tool like the “Essence Box”; I’ve heard people just read that like a grocery list as they’re praising God. That’s pretty simplistic and superficial, and that doesn’t quite get the point of this. They all blend together in the one Person of the Almighty Creator God, and we worship Him because He possesses all of these attributes and they interact with each other.
Psalm 89:6. Now remember, Psalm 89 is a meditation on God’s faithfulness in giving the covenant to David. Psalm 89:6, “For who in the skies is comparable to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty,” that is another term for the angels, “Who among the sons of the mighty is like the Lord?”
In other words, God is incomparable; God is unique; He’s one of a kind; He’s distinct. There’s nothing you can compare Him to. And Psalm 89:7, “A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones …” These are the angels. So, they sing, and they praise God.
Then we look at Ezekiel 28:12 and following, not for its angelology or Satanology, but to point to the fact that prior to his fall, Lucifer had a role and responsibility similar to a priest. His garments are described with these various precious stones. Nine of the twelve are on the breastplate of the high priest of Israel.
So, if you were Jewish, you’re an Israelite, you’re thinking, “That’s like the high priest.” And then there’s the line that I’ve underlined, [Ezekiel 28:13] “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes,” and this is where we were bringing things to a close last time. This indicates that he is a musician. Lucifer was the master musician; he’s the greatest, most intelligent, most beautiful, most incredible creature God ever created. He was the master musician, and as part of his responsibilities, he would have led these heavenly choirs.
As we look at this and study through this, we understand that there is a standard that is set up here: that before there was any fall or any judgment or corruption, there was perfect music. It was harmonious music among the angels; it held to a standard of divine perfection.
When we come to a further study, and I’m wrapping up what we did last time, we understand that music has its source ultimately within the thinking of God, ultimately within the Godhead. It’s not something the angels invented. It is something, an ability that God created within them, but music itself originally existed in the mind of God. If you don’t agree with that, you have a problem because you’re saying that somehow music has an origin apart from God unlike anything else.
You find today that you have many thinkers in this area of contemporary worship that think about music as being totally neutral. Nothing in this world is neutral. Everything in this world has been corrupted by sin. So, if there is a heavenly music, if music originated in the mind of God, then there is an absolute reference point, which means there is an absolute standard for evaluating music.
There are also differences in the kind of music that we hear. It tells us that music is not something that is simply a matter of personal taste. Some people like really horrible art. Some people like really horrible, ugly fashion. Personal taste has no bounds in terms of bad taste. But there are standards, standards that have been recognized by people who are thoughtful, who have observed things, who understand these issues related to color, related to texture, and related to form—related to sound.
They understand that there is good music, mediocre music, and poor music, and if we are going to worship the incredible God of the Bible, then we should do the best we can to have good quality music. By that, I mean that there have been hymns, time-honored hymns, which have been recognized through the history of the church.
We need to think of the body of Christ, not just in terms of those who are alive today, but the body of Christ is made up of all of those who go back to the first century, to those who were first saved on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Throughout this whole body of believers, there have been those who have been gifted and talented by God in this particular area, and we need to listen to them and their understanding of music.
For example, by way of a simple analogy, there are many of us that may not really understand what goes on in the world of virtual reality and the Internet. Even though we may not understand it, we have to function with it. So, in order to function with it well, we have to find somebody who really understands computers, and the Internet and virtual reality and all of those things, and whether we agree or like whatever it is they say, we need to follow them because they understand that which we do not understand.
There are many of us who have, to be honest, rather mediocre tastes in music. We have tastes that are shaped by pop culture, but we lack appreciation, and we don’t hear the things that, for example, a Mozart would hear or a Bach would hear or a Handel would hear. We don’t hear those things. That doesn’t mean we need to just opt for mediocre music; it means we need to let the people who hear the things we don’t hear and understand the things we don’t understand guide and direct us, so it elevates us to a higher level and not a lower level. This is one of the things we learn from our study in these passages that emphasize music.
Now, if we go on to what is described in Ezekiel 28:14–15, we’re introduced to this particular angel. He’s identified as an anointed cherub, who covers. So, the word mimshach is employed; that simply means he is anointed to a particular task, and he was on the holy mountain of God, which means he had very close proximity to God. He was perfect in all of his ways, which means he had perfect music. And he’s a cherub.
I want to talk a little bit about this because when we get into our next passage, which is in Isaiah 6, we’re going to talk about seraphim. So, we need to pause, and identify these three classifications of angels that will show up in our study.
We have references to the Lord of hosts. The term “hosts” refers to the armies of the angels, and this is called the “hosts of God” and sometimes the “chariots of God.” So that refers to the entirety of the angels.
There are cherubs that are mentioned. They have four wings. The singular is cherub; the plural in Hebrew is cherubim. The plural in English is “cherubs.” They are not chubby little babies with chubby little faces and pink cheeks and little wings floating around in the air around God. They are fierce creatures.
I want you to turn in your Bible to Ezekiel 1. I don’t want to go through an in-depth study here, but these are powerful creatures, awesome creatures. Ezekiel 1, I just want to read through the description for you. [Ezekiel 1:5] “Also from within it,” that is he’s seeing this vision of this thing that is the moving throne of God that he describes a little bit earlier, “within this comes the likeness of four living creatures.” Now, he calls them living creatures here; he doesn’t identify them as cherubim, but he does when you get to Ezekiel 10. He references back to these living creatures and identifies them as cherubs.
So, you have these living creatures. [Ezekiel 1:5b] “And this was their appearance: ‘they had the likeness of a man’.” Each one had four faces. Think about this. [Ezekiel 1:6] “Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings.” Now we’re going to look at seraphs, seraphim in a minute; they have six wings. These have four wings and four faces. [Ezekiel 1:7] “Their legs were straight and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet.” You know what a calf’s hoof looks like; that’s what their legs and their feet look like.
[Ezekiel 1:7b] “They sparkle like the color of burnished bronze.” Just think of something almost gold color, just bronze, just brilliant and flashing incredible light surrounding the throne of God. [Ezekiel 1:8] “The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides.” Four sides, we can’t comprehend a four-sided creature like this. This is a finite creature we ought to be able to comprehend in some way. If we can’t comprehend a four-sided creature, how do you think we can really comprehend God?
We see the magnificence of God in His creatures like this that tells us something about how incredible He is and the way He can create. Just look at creation sometime. That’s one thing I do like about watching a lot of video pictures that National Geographic does is that it points us to the complexity of God’s creation.
[Ezekiel 1:8–11] “The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings. Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies.” They’re covering themselves because they’re in the presence of God. We see the same thing with the seraphim. That’s the next class.
Seraphim have six wings. You should be in Isaiah 6 [Isaiah 6:1–6] by now, if not we’ll turn there. This is the thrust of our passage tonight thinking about what happens as God reveals Himself to Isaiah, and the response that it engenders. He sees these seraphim. They have six wings. Then there’s another group that’s described in Revelation 4 [Revelation 4:6–9], and we’ll get there later, that also have six wings. But they’re not quite like the seraphim.
So, are these all variations within one order of angels or are they three distinct orders of angels, which is what I think—three distinct orders of angels each with similar roles and responsibilities?
We’re in Isaiah 6. As we’ve talked about worship in the past, I’ve revised the definition of worship that we’ve had the last couple of weeks, basing it on the definition that Dr. Ross put forth; I modified it a little bit.
“True worship is the celebration of being in eternal fellowship with the sovereign and holy triune God.” Now we think of celebration as having a party, but the idea of celebration is the idea of honoring somebody. It can be very sober; it can be very serious. It is not necessarily going out and just having a New Year’s Eve-type party and having a wild time. It is where you are honoring somebody and showing your respect and reverence for somebody. That is the meaning of the term “celebration.”
We celebrate being in eternal fellowship with the sovereign and holy triune God. We are in fellowship with God. We talk about this a lot. We talk about being in fellowship as if it is just sort of a status, and in some sense it is, but it is also more than that.
The word for fellowship in the Greek, KOINONIA, has the idea of a partnership in some cases; it involves an intimacy and interconnectedness that we can’t quite grasp as we think about how we are related to this eternal, incomprehensible, glorious God. So, the next part of the definition focuses on Who He is. He is sovereign; He rules over everything. He is the sovereign Lord.
We see in Isaiah 6:1, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw Yahweh sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.” Now that’s a good translation. There are some translations that translate this and will add “the sovereign Lord.” That captures the significance of what’s being said here. We read Lord, we use it a lot in everyday language, in everyday worship talk and talking about the Lord Jesus Christ, but when it is used in this context, it is emphasizing His elevated, distinct status as the Ruler of the universe and the Creator of the universe. He is the sovereign God.
For worship to be worship, we have to understand that the One Whom we worship is the sovereign Lord, and He is the Triune God. We’ll talk a little bit more about this as we go through it, but this is the triune God on the throne, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one God. Remember God is one; He exists in three Persons, but He is one God in an indivisible unity. So, when Isaiah is looking here, he is focusing on the triune God. That is the focus of our worship.
Now how do we do this? How do we celebrate? That’s the next question, that’s the mechanics, the means—how do we do this? There are three elements here that are important. There is a reverent adoration. There’s also a reverential fear, and I’ve been going through passages dealing with the fear of the Lord that there is a tension that occurs in these episodes.
We’re going to go through several of them as we go through the study. As people come face to face with God, it is a terrifying experience. I’ve been in various films and movies that are scary movies; I don’t like scary movies; I never have. I’ve seen one or two of them. But they are designed to just terrorize people, just to create fear and anxiety, and some people just love that.
But this terror that people experience when they see the presence of God doesn’t end there because when they see the terror of God, they have this fear that overwhelms them, and they see exactly who they are. They want to shrink from God because they know they’re unworthy. That’s what we see in Isaiah.
But what happens at the same time is that God reaches out to them and draws them in using His love and compassion. So, there is on the one hand, this desire to shrink back from this holy, righteous, just God, but on the other hand, He draws us in. That is sort of the contradiction that we see in this term “the fear of the Lord.” That’s why it’s difficult for us to really get our arms around that. In one sense it is a sense of terror, and on the other, it is a sense of awe and attraction.
We have this “reverent adoration that can result in just a spontaneous praise of God’s character and works.” As I read this, we have to express this in these words; it almost seems too weak in the expression of it. We’re not just praising His character, but we’re praising God for all that He is; that’s His character. But we have to understand that. Probing that with our finite minds is the challenge, and understanding His works, all that He has done. That is why teaching creation—I think that some of the work that creation scientists have done in exploring science from a vantage point of what God has done and how He has created these incredible creatures—is so important.
Some of you may not be aware of these, but there’s a set of videos. I think they’re called Creation Proclaims by Dr. Jobe Martin—that’s J-o-b-e, and you can order them online. They’re just incredible. I’ve known Jobe for about 30 years now, and he is a trained scientist; he became a dentist, and he wasn’t a believer. In fact, he was Lyndon B. Johnson’s [LBJ’s] dentist when LBJ was president.
It was after that, when he was teaching at the Baylor School of Dentistry in Dallas, and one of his students was a devout, focused believer, who is a creationist, and challenged him in terms of his teaching by pointing out, “How can you look at the design of a mouth and the teeth, and all that goes into the make up of man’s oral cavity, and think that this just happened by chance?” The more he challenged Jobe, the more Jobe began to question his evolutionary presuppositions, and this eventually led him to trust in the Lord.
When he was in his 40s, he left the profession of dentistry, and he went to Dallas Seminary as a student. That was back in the 1980s. That’s when I met Jobe. He has filmed these incredible videos about different creatures, and how God’s intricate design of those creatures just defies the whole logic of just accidental, by chance, evolution.
So, we understand God’s character, we must understand His works and that should be sort of a reflexive action just as Isaiah does in this episode—we just fall down on our faces to worship Him, maybe not physically, but mentally.
Second, the way in which we do this is “through the expressed commitment of trust and obedience to biblically revealed responsibilities.” We are to respond by trusting God. That’s what happens with Isaiah. When he recognizes who He is, there’s a recognition of his own sinfulness, his unworthiness, and there is the cleansing of sin. Then after this, God asks the question, [Isaiah 6:8] “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” In other words, who will serve Me? And Isaiah says, “Here I am! Send me.” That is the response of the worshipful mind, to respond in that way. “How shall I serve You? My life is to be in service to You.”
The third means is through “the remembrance of God’s gracious work of salvation and spiritual growth through divinely prescribed ordinances.” This is what we do with the Lord’s Table, with baptism, is that we are remembering what God has done for us. All of this is focused on the future; this focus on hope, this confident expectation of what God will do when He fulfills His promises in glory.
So, this passage begins [Isaiah 6:1], “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.” Here we see a picture of the majesty of God. When we look at the structure of these verses as we look down through Isaiah 6:8, which is the focus of our study, what we see first of all is that God reveals Himself to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1–4. Then we see Isaiah’s response in Isaiah 6:5–7. And then we see the challenge of God in verse 8 and the response of God in verse 9 in commissioning Isaiah.
So, he begins in a very significant passage, [Isaiah 6:1] “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.” As God reveals Himself in a direct way here to Isaiah, we must recognize that this is rare in Scripture.
There are very few people who have had a vision of God that is this direct and this personal. We read about it in Job. In Job 38 and following, God is revealing Himself to Job, asking him a series of questions. Then in Job 40 and Job 44, Job just recoils, he can’t say anything before God.
We see this with Jacob at Bethel in Genesis 28:16–17. We’ll study each of these incidents with what we learn about worship. We’ll see it with the Israelites when they’re at Mount Sinai in Exodus 33:10, Exodus 34:9–11, and we see it with the leaders that Moses takes up with him to the presence of God in Exodus 24:1 and Exodus 9–11.
We see it in the New Testament when Peter, James, and John go up onto the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1–8. But then when Peter, remember with the big mouth, says, “Well let’s build three little booths to worship Elijah, Moses, and Jesus,” and then God says, “Listen to My beloved Son.” And what happens to Peter? Peter, James, and John fall on their face in fear! They’re terrorized, and then Jesus reaches out and pulls them in. That’s the paradigm that we see in all of these instances.
Then we’ll see it in the heavenly scene in Revelation 4 and 5. What we must understand as we look at Isaiah 6 is that the more that we value the majesty, the wonder, the glory, the love, and the grace of God when we worship, the more focused and genuine will be our reverence, our gratitude, our adoration, and service to God. When we really focus on who God is in terms of His majesty, incomprehensibility, glory, and grace, it elevates us above the mundane. It doesn’t bring God down to the mundane.
That is the distinction, and these words that we’ll study with holiness means that which is set apart, distinct, and unique. The opposite of that word is that which is profane, that which is common. We think of profane in terms of profanity; that’s not its ultimate meaning in the Bible. It’s the common, everyday use of something. There must be this distinction, and I don’t think we see that in the way that churches worship. Where there’s corporate worship, there must be this distinction at that time.
Let’s work our way through Isaiah 6:2–4, “In the year that King Uzziah died,” Uzziah was also called Azariah; he died around 740 BC. Dates vary. I skimmed about eight commentaries, and about eight different commentaries had eight different dates. There’s an uncertainty here because at the end of his reign. He’s been disobedient to God, he gets leprosy, and he’s no longer qualified to be king, so there’s a co-regency. So, it’s difficult to see what those dates are, and there’s a lot of complexity there. So just roughly, we’ll say somewhere around 740 BC. This was after Isaiah had already begun his ministry, but this vision could have been a restatement of his commissioning. We’re not sure about that, and I haven’t had time to work through all the details related to that. That goes beyond our focus on worship.
Uzziah reigned for about 52 years; that was in times before the Northern Kingdom was taken out. So, all of Israel, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and much of Judah is consumed with idolatry and rebellion against God. But, Uzziah (Azariah) loved the Lord, and we’re told in 2 Kings 15:3 “that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father, Amaziah, had done.”
He, however, succumbs to arrogance. He enters into the temple to function as a priest according to 2 Chronicles 26:16, and this arrogance leads to destruction. God disciplined him by giving him leprosy. So, he is no longer qualified to be king or to come into the temple to worship.
He is now excluded and ritually unclean, but during his time as king, there has been a measure of stability. He has been a good king, and now that he dies, the future is uncertain. In this context, Isaiah’s vision of God is going to bring reality into perspective. God, he recognizes and realizes in this vision, is the ultimate Sovereign; He’s the Ruler of the heavens and the earth. The king has died but the real King, the ultimate King, is still on His throne high and lifted up in the heavens. He is the one Who is still in control.
Whatever the temporal problems are for Israel and Judah, and they are powerful problems, they’re serious problems, whatever those problems may be, they are brought into perspective as Isaiah focuses on God and responds in worship. It is that focusing and understanding who God is that leads to His worship.
Now here’s a point of application. In a broad sense, our times today are not much different than they were then. Isaiah lived when there was a great, rising threat in the east to the existence of Israel, the Northern and the Southern Kingdoms. It’s the rise and power of Assyria, which had its base in what would today be Iraq. Later on, the threat would come from Persia, which is Iran, and that is a problem today. We have a great threat to Israel and to the West with the nuclear ambitions of Iran.
Today, very wisely, our President withdrew us from the JCPOA, the Joint Committee Plan of Action. That was what Congress voted to approve under President Obama, which was one of the most foolish and self-destructive things the West ever did, because as it turns out—and as many of us suspected—the Iranians were lying to us. You couldn’t trust them. And this trove of documents that the Mossad was able to bring out of Iran, just a remarkable intelligence achievement, and it really embarrassed Iranians.
That’s another reason they want to strike back at Israel right now is because Israel just gave them a bloody nose by this intelligence coup. They went into Tehran, they found that they had learned that all of these documents related to the Iranian nuclear program—documents that showed all of their plans, their intents, their purposes. See, they had convinced the West that they really just wanted nuclear capability for power and energy.
What these documents proved was that that was never their intent. Their intent was nuclear weapons; their intent was to be able to use these against the West, and that never changed. These documents proved that. In fact, everything that led up to the JCPOA and the treaty with Iran to partially shut down and restrain their nuclear ambitions was based upon about a thousand pages of documents. But what the Mossad brought out was a thousand pounds of documents. There’s a lot of difference between a thousand pages and a thousand pounds, and they also brought out about 180-something discs with over 55,000 documents, plans, visuals, charts, diagrams, everything. All were brought out of the heart of Tehran.
They went into just some non-descript storage area facilities—I’ve seen pictures of it—just like going down here to one of these public storage places. In one of those garages, they had stored all of this material showing that as soon as the sunset provisions went into effect, and the agreement was no longer in effect, they were going to pull all of this stuff out and ramp up their program as fast as they could.
They were still developing missiles; they were still doing everything they could that wasn’t prevented by the JCPOA. They played the long game. They didn’t care if this was going to last ten years; as soon as that was up, they were going to go back to nuclear weapons. They are probably still doing a secret program, which is indicated in these documents. So that’s the threat that’s going on today.
Also, Iran is the real power behind Hezbollah. They’re heavily involved in Syria and Lebanon, and Hezbollah controls most of southern Lebanon. They had elections yesterday, and even though Hezbollah didn’t gain more seats in the parliament, some of the other parties who are sympathetic to Hezbollah increased their power base. So, they have more power in Lebanon, and the Russians are bad actors and allied with Iran and Syria as well.
So, Israel is definitely threatened by what is going on today. But God has a plan. There are always people who have plans to do away with God’s people. Hitler had those plans, but they didn’t work. That’s because God is still in control. Our problems may not be that bad, but the solution is the same.
Whatever you’re facing: if it’s a financial problem, if it’s a relationship problem, if it’s a health problem, job problem, whatever it may be, the focal point in our lives is who God is, and not just a superficial something, but just really focusing on who God is. The more we realize the greatness, the grandeur, and the power of God, the more our individual problems just diminish by comparison. We realize God really is in control.
So, the situation at this time really wasn’t a lot different than today. World politics always makes things look unstable. We have problems in the United States with our politics, which makes the future seem unstable and uncertain, but it’s always been that way. The reality is that God makes things certain.
Think about what’s going on in 740 BC. It’s 18 years roughly before Assyria’s going to come in and destroy this Northern Kingdom and deport most of the population and resettle them all over the Assyrian empire. And yet, what we know is that God is still in control.
Even if the worst happens in our lives, God’s still in control, and our response to that is, “Well this is what God allowed to happen, and I have to serve God in the midst of that.” And that’s what Isaiah’s realizing here. Once he realizes who God is he understands that no matter how bad things may be on the temporal level, his role is to serve God in the midst of that chaos and in the midst of that crisis.
That is where we are, and that is living our life of worship. We are to focus on this holy, majestic, incomparable God, who transforms Isaiah and the rest of his life, and who can transform us the rest of our lives. That is what is at the core of biblical worship.
So, Isaiah describes what he sees, that this is the eternal God who is the true Ruler over Israel. Temporal rulers come and go, temporal presidents come and go, parties shift power, but it is God on His throne Who rules and reigns over the affairs of mankind.
So, he describes what he sees. It is [Isaiah 6:1] “Yahweh sitting on His throne, and He is high and lifted up.” This emphasizes His majesty. He is above everything else; He is above all of these creatures who are close to Him and worshiping Him, [Isaiah 6:1] “and the train of His robe filled the temple.”
There’s debate over what temple this is, whether this is the heavenly temple or the earthly temple. It’s very likely that as Isaiah goes into worship in the temple, it is in the earthly temple that he sees past and through the earthly temple on Mount Moriah directly into the throne of God. God opens that gateway, and he can see the heavenly throne.
Remember, God is enthroned in the holy of holies between the cherubim on the ark of the covenant. That’s the throne of God; that’s what we’ve been studying. What led to this study is the movement of the ark to Jerusalem and to Mount Moriah, and that David recognizes God as the true King of Israel. He’s moving the ark there, so the throne of God will be in the capital city of Jerusalem, which by the way, is going to be recognized more fully by this time next week as the United States Embassy opens there.
Now as I close, I want to remind you of a couple of things to pray and watch out for this next week. The first thing is the deadline for what President Trump did today was Saturday. He’s made that decision today that he’s pulling us out of the Iran agreement of the JCPOA [Joint Committee Plan of Action], and therefore the full force of the harshest sanctions is to go into immediate effect.
That has some ramifications because that means that all these businesses and businessmen and all these businesses in Europe that have continued to do business with Iran, have to pull out within a certain time, a certain transition period, or they will be sanctioned as well. The countries that they’re based in will be sanctioned, so this has some tremendous consequences. That happened today.
Sunday is May 13th, Jerusalem Day. It is the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem after the Arab armies were defeated in the 1967 War. This is not a day that the Arabs enjoy. So, May 13th is Jerusalem Day followed on May 14th by the 70th Anniversary of Israel’s victory over the Arab armies in their war for independence. This is not a day that they [Arabs] love. It is the day that the United States Embassy is going to open in Jerusalem, which has caused all of this activity down on the Gaza border by Hamas.
So, you’ve got Sunday is Jerusalem Day, Monday is the anniversary of Israel’s independence, and Tuesday is called Nakba Day. Nakba is an Arabic word meaning catastrophe, because Israel had gained their independence. That is a catastrophe in the Arab world.
You have three major days that I believe we’re going to see some significant hostilities. They’re going to start throwing spit wads at each other again, and this is going to happen for three or four days. But I don’t think it will last for long. Nobody’s ready for a big war, so there may be some things that pop there, but pray for that. Be aware of that. But God is still in control, and He’s working things towards His end result.
So, we’ll come back next time, and we’ll continue into this next critical section in Isaiah 6:2–4 talking about what it means that God is holy, when the angels sing again and again. This goes on and on throughout eternity. [Isaiah 6:3] “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts,” the Lord of armies, “The whole earth is full of His glory!” What does holy mean? What does glory mean? That will be our focus next week.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things, to be reminded of Your greatness, to be reminded that You are in control of history. You sit on Your throne high and lifted up, and You rule over the affairs of men. As we see the wars, the rumors of wars, the chaos, all of the things that go on in the world today—the economic ups and downs—we too often get consumed by the details, fearful of the details, but we need to focus upon You, Your character, the fact that You rule over things, and that we are protected. But above all, as we come to focus on You, we should realize as Isaiah did, that we are to then serve You in this fallen corrupt world.”
“Father we pray that You would help us to understand what this means for our personal and corporate worship as well. In Christ’s name, amen.”