“Holy, Holy, Holy”

Angel

Isaiah Lesson 2: “Holy, Holy,Holy” (Isaiah 6:1-9a)  Pastor Barry Bruce

 Isaiah’s Vision  Isaiah 6:1-4, Psalms 46:10, James 3:3-10, Psalms 141:3

Have you ever saw something that absolutely shut your mouth? A vision that left you   speechless!  Maybe it was seeing the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or your newborn baby for the first time.  Perhaps it was the vision of the falling towers on 9.11.2001, or the more recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino (December 2, 2015/ Inland Regional Center: 14 killed, 22 injured), maybe it was the sudden news of the death of a loved one.  Maybe it was as  simple as that good looking guy or girl that looked you in the eye and smiled, but for goodness sake, being speechless doesn’t happen to us humans often enough does it?

 It is an absolute fact that humans talk too much and therefore listen to God too little. We need to be still and know He is God (Psalms 46:10).  Christians should be aware that talking too much is detrimental to our walk with God and our witness in the world.  James    reminds us, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue his religion is useless” (James 1:26). James later says that controlling the tongue is one of the hardest things to do, humanly speaking (James 3:2). In fact, “no human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:7). Fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit to help us with the task, and here is a helpful prayer: “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips(Psalm 141:3).

The vision that Isaiah relays to us in Isaiah 6:1-4 shut his mouth!  Isaiah found himself suddenly transported to the temple in Heaven.  Their he saw the Lord sitting on His throne and flying angels (seraphim and cherubim are winged angels) all about Him.  The sound of their voices shook the temple that he was in as they sang “holy, holy, holy”, and gave God glory (see also John’s similar vision in Revelation 4:1-11).

“Ruined”  Isaiah 6:5, Romans 14:11-12

The scripture doesn’t say how long it was before Isaiah could speak or even that he was speechless at all; however, it is reasonable to assume that he was speechless for a time because of the words that he expressed in verse 5:  “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!”   Whenever we experience a “speechless moment” we are caught off guard, confounded, awestruck, undone, ruined!  We suddenly feel all together small, vulnerable and humbled.  We suddenly remember that we are not deity !   In this case, Isaiah was suddenly in the presence of He who was and he realized that he was not clean.  He was not holy and he was in the presence of one who was.

We all need to be “ruined” like Isaiah was.  We all need to be knocked down off of our own pedestals where we have elevated ourselves as god’s of our own sinful appetites.  We need to be shut up in awe of the one who is God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, The First and the Last.  The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End!  We need to sober up from the drunken attitude we have about ourselves and realize that we are worthy of nothing but judgment and wrath.

Isaiah suddenly realizes that he is an unclean man and that he lives among unclean people.  He realizes that his mouth is full of cursing, gossip, lies, sarcasm, bitterness and rage.  This mouth he praises God with also flows a filthy stream. Isaiah cries out in repentance and the gracious God he fears (The fear of  the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10) provides a remedy for his dirty mouth (life).

The Remedy  Isaiah 6:6-7

Suddenly a  Seraphim (lit. angelic “burning one”) grabs a hot coal from the altar and touches Isaiah’s lips with it and he is cleansed.  This symbolic action atoned for Isaiah’s sin. The altar is the place that the priest would offer blood sacrifices for the temporary forgiveness of man’s sin. Fire is always a symbol of God’s judgment.  The temporary forgiveness through a blood sacrifice on the burning altar was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ permanent forgiveness through His own blood shed on the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no  forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). The seraph touched Isaiah’s lips because that is where he was most conscious of his sin. (Where are you most conscious of your sin?) Of course, this is what the entire nation needed. Judah needed to respond as Isaiah did, acknowledging their need of cleansing from sin. But unlike the prophet, most members of the nation refused to admit they had a spiritual need. Are you like Isaiah or Judah?  Do you acknowledge your sin, repent and allow God to cleanse you, or do you pridefully continue in your sin?  

Our Call and Response  Isaiah 6:8-9a, James 4:9-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Once Isaiah 1.) humbled himself before God,  2.) Identified his own sin and repented for it  3.) he was forgiven (atoned for by God)  4.) The Lord then invited Isaiah to work with Him to bring His kingdom (“your will be done” Matthew 6:9-10) plans to earth.  5.) Isaiah responded:  “Here am I.  Send me.”  God said, “Go!”

This is the five point process of redemption for every man.  We humble ourselves and then are exalted by God to do His work for his kingdom cause, but we must be “ruined” first.  We must be humbled and “silent” before the Almighty God.

Be Holy! Isaiah 6:1a, 2 Chronicles 26:3-5, 16-21, 1 Peter 1:15-17

Likely it was King Uziah’s death that prompted Isaiah’s vision and repentance.   Scripture tells us how and why this good king died a bad death. Pride came before his leprous fall. As a Christian one’s salvation is secure.  Sins are forgiven (past, present and future) in Christ “Once for all” (1 Peter 3:18, 1 John 1:9), however, consequences of our rebelliousness to deal with sin remain. Let us stay humble in the sight of the Lord and seek to be Holy as He expects His children to be, for He is.     

 

Repeating History

IsraelAmericaJudgementIsaiah Lesson 1  Isaiah 1-5   “Repeating History” Pastor Barry Bruce

Isaiah in Summary

The book of Isaiah is History, Prophecy, and even a Parable (chapter 5) written by the prophet Isaiah.  (His name means “salvation of Yahweh”, or “Yah saves”)  Some theologians believe that the book was written by many authors; however, Isaiah’s is the only name which reoccurs throughout the book.  The book was written approximately 700 B.C. (chapters 40-66, written later in his life approx. 681 B.C.)  Isaiah is the first book in the section of the bible called Major Prophets.  They are called Major Prophets because of the large amount of material they contain and not because their message was more important than any other prophet’s was.  Key personalities throughout the book are Isaiah, and his two sons, Shearjashub and Maher-shalal-jash-baz. Isaiah contains some of the most incredible prophecies of any book.  It contains foreknowledge, in incredible details about the Messiah, and the future reign of Jesus Christ.  The purpose of the book of Isaiah was to call God’s nation, the nation of Judah, back to faithfulness and to declare the coming Messiah “Immanuel”. God calls and commissions His prophet to declare to Judah and Israel condemnation, conviction, and ultimately great hope.

Two Kingdoms

A little Jewish history lesson is needed before we begin the book.  The Israelites were united as a single kingdom through the reigns of David and Solomon, but after Solomon’s death they split into two completely separate and independent kingdoms—The Southern kingdom of “Judah” consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (1 King 12:21) with their capital at Jerusalem (Zion) and the northern kingdom of Israel.  , consisting of the other ten tribes, with their capital up in Samaria.  Israel and Judah were never united again and even fought wars against each other from time to time.  God permitted the two kingdoms to be destroyed because the Jews forsook Him.  First, the northern kingdom of Israel was gradually conquered by the Assyrians, and by 721 B.C. they had practically all been taken into exile to Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-23).  The ministry of Isaiah is to the Southern Kingdom.  The Northern Kingdom had already been conquered by the Assyrians.  The vast majority of them never returned and has become known as the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.  About 135 years later, in 586 B.C., the southern kingdom of Judah was also conquered by the      Babylonians, and the Jews were taken into captivity to Babylon.  The original Temple of God in Jerusalem was destroyed at that time.  The people of the southern kingdom of Judah however did return after the Babylonians fell to the Persians, and their descendants have become the Jewish people of today.

With this introduction we begin with a scalding prophecy from Isaiah to the Southern Kingdom of Israel where he lived.  While we read it we should look for similarities in what God might be saying through Isaiah to nation where we live today… America.  We should also look deeper still…into our own individual lives because this is where national sin breeds.

Isaiah’s Vision of Judgment  Isaiah 1:1-25, Romans 1:18-32

Isaiah speaks against the Southern Kingdom of Israel.  He accuses the people of being as dumb as an ox and as stubborn as a donkey because they don’t even know their master who brought them up.  Because the people persist in rebellion against God their heads (minds) are  injured and their hearts (emotions) are afflicted. “There is no soundness”(they are insane).

The country is spiritually desolate (even though its people go through the motions of being religious).  In God’s eyes their glorious capital (Zion) is now like a dilapidated hut in a field. They are soon to be a city under siege.  Isaiah compares Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19) and even calls Israel’s leaders “rulers of Sodom” and its inhabitance “people of Gomorrah”(utterly sinful Ezekiel 16:49-50).  God even refuses to hear their prayers when they “spread out their hands” to Him (vs. 15).  God adjures the people to repent of their sins and “settle the matter” of His judgment (vs.18-20); however, in the next passage (vs 21-25) He pronounces that judgment will come until their “dross” (impurity) is removed.  Note: Dross is removed from silver with searing fire (always a symbol of judgment in the Bible).

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire.  To this day, the area where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located remains a desolate wasteland. Sodom and Gomorrah serve as a powerful example of how God feels about sin in general. He will judge.

Isaiah’s Vision of Redemption  Isaiah 1:26-28 (Overview 2-5),2 Peter 3:8-9,                          2 Chronicles 7:14, Isaiah 2:1-5, 5:18-25

Despite the pronouncement of judgment there is a call for repentance and a stated purpose for the purge in Isaiah’s prophecy.  God’s intent through judgment always to bring repentance to the individual (2 Peter 3:8-9) and to their nation (2 Chronicles 7:14). The prophecy in chapters 1-5 flip back and forth from God’s rebuke on Israel’s [present] sinful state to their [future] condemnation and into their [far into the future] “last days” promise of restored greatness in the Millennial Kingdom where Christ will rule(2:1-5).  Truly,“ apart from Him we can do nothing.”  John 15:5

Chapter 5 becomes a prophecy in the form of a parable (an earthly story with a spiritual    meaning). Isaiah describes Israel as a vineyard that God graciously planted but received no “good grapes” and so it is destroyed. Verse 18-25 also lists 4 “woes” in response to the sinfully arrogant who scoff at Isaiah’s prophecy.

Repeating History  Isaiah 5:26                  

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” ― Edmund Burke

Yes…God will bring even pagan nations into cruel power over a rebellious and sinful nation, even one that says “In God We Trust”.  “He whistles for them”. History proves it.  Read it.  Know it.

Repentance begins in each individual heart. A nation may fall into sin and judgment but God has a redemptive plan for those who are faithful to Him.

HISTORY: The Easter Story

JesusResurrection2History/ Lesson 4 of 4 Pastor Barry Bruce

The Easter Story

Is this a great story or what?  Hallelujah!  His Story is the greatest story ever told!

1.) Let us not forget that this message of hope we believe in is not just any story.  It is not some great invention of the mind or some fanciful tale as some so foolishly assume.  It is actual history, written down meticulously by able witnesses throughout the ages. Jesus was indeed a man of history firmly established by ancient historical manuscripts and  written about by eyewitnesses of his life.  2.) Jesus had a mission to save mankind according to His own words and actions 3.) and in doing so He fulfilled over 300 precise detailed prophecies that proved Him alone as the Messiah—that chosen and anointed one promised by God who would save every sinner who called upon His name from the wrath to come.  4.) This is His story, Our Creator God, who came down to earth wrapped in human flesh and demonstrated perfect righteousness and loved us like no other.  Hear it, receive it, respond to it; for this is the greatest story ever told!

Doubtful in Death  Luke 24:1-12

On the first day of the week (Sunday) the women (Mark 16:1 says they were Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome. In his gospel [Luke 24:9] Luke later adds Joanna “and others”.) and not the men went to the tomb and found it empty.  As a mater of fact, when the women told the men (disciples) that the tomb was empty they thought they were full of nonsense.  “Peter; however, got up and ran to the tomb.”  He proves that while most men are negative, faithless and think that they are smarter than their overemotional counterparts, some men are actually smart enough to know that a women is worth listening to—yet Peter,like most men, tried to ascertain (without faith) just what had happened in the natural. How is it that Peter (and the others) did not stop to think about what Jesus had said about  laying down His own  life and then picking it up again (John 10:17-18)?  Had they also      already forgotten that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead…why wouldn’t Peter stop and think that Jesus could raise Himself?

 Blinded in Fear  Luke 24:13-35

Later, that day two of those men (one was Cleopas v. 18 and another person not of the eleven v.33) were walking to a village called Emmaus and (Jesus, unrecognized by them) appeared to them and spoke with them about the events of His death and Resurrection using scripture.  They still did not recognize Jesus until He prayed and gave thanks for the bread How was it that Cleopas and his companion didn’t recognize Jesus when He was right in their midst and even speaking with them?  When was the last time that they saw Him?  Some say that Jesus must have looked different somehow after His resurrection, but I think their minds simply refused to believe that anyone could have triumphed over such a ghastly and humiliating death.

Fear or Faith?

We doubt God when we practice fear instead of faith.  

When we look at our obstacles instead of God’s possibilities.  When we cease to praise and to pray to a holy God we succumb to a life of limits and doubt.  When we fail to live by faith we become simple minded.  We call wrong things right and right things wrong.  We fret and worry and become blind to reason when we drift away from God.  Like Peter and the eleven, like Cleopas and his companion—we become thoughtless without faith in Jesus.

 Flooded in Peace Luke 24:36-47, Romans 10.8-13

Cleopas and his companion met up with the eleven disciples and they shared how they had likely been with Jesus, and now Simon/ Peter had seen Him too (v.34)!  Notice how they     became more clear thinking as they fellowshipped together and bolstered their hope and their faith was rekindled?  That’s the Church at work friends!  See how we need the church? As they excitedly shared with one another, Jesus Himself stood among them and said “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightend until “He opened their minds to scripture.”  And so we also need God’s word to open our minds, build faith and bring peace.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10:17  The Peace of Christ can only come when we are open to His Story—that is to be open to His word.  Believing and responding to His story makes us His own and brings salvation.

His Story becomes Our Story—We are witnesses of these things.                                            Luke 24:48-49, Matthew 28:16-20

Have you responded to Jesus’ Story, the gospel of Christ?  As you draw close to Him and His word He will draw close to you and bring you peace and salvation.  Then you too will become a witness of His story because that story will become yours.  He will fill you with power from His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8, John 14:16-18) and you will both be a disciple and make them as well.

The Same Power

When we receive this powerful and living story into our lives, the God who wrote it wakes our dead soul and ignites life in us.  Life, purpose, hope, power and passion.  All things are possible (Philippians 4:13) in Christ and His perfect love casts out all fear. The same power that rose Jesus from the grave, The same power that commands the dead to wake— lives in us!  The same power that moves mountains when He speaks. The same power that can calm a raging sea Lives in us.  His story becomes our story—a never ending story. Let Him live in you!