November 30, 2022
Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
November 30, 2022
"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a
throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered
his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And
one called to another and said: “Holy, Holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;
the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the foundations of the
thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was
filled with smoke. And I said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for 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 burning coal that he had taken
with tongs from the altar."
When we come to prayer, what is the simplest thing that we should
know about prayer? What is the object of prayer? We pray to God, one
God, but he's a triune God.
Now you would think that would be the
easiest thing for us to remember when we come to prayer if we make good
use of our Bible. But the problem is we live in a world that doesn't
know God, and doesn't really want to us to know God and is constantly
trying to conform us, I would think, to a wrong view of God. The world
we live in is distinguished by blatant atheism, and also what you could
call extensive pluralism. The word the Bible uses for all of that is
idolatry, and all of the false gods in this world are limited, they are
manageable and controllable. They are small gods.
Luther had to tell Erasmus, who was a Roman Catholic theologian of that
day, “Your god is too small.” So we ourselves have to fight against that
perverse tendency in all of us to shrink God and make God, at least in
our hearts and minds, lesser than what he is. The Bible calls us
frequently to magnify God. Now we don't magnify God, not in any sense of
making God bigger, we're simply using faith like a telescope, and then
we're seeing how big God is. That’s really what we're doing and the
Bible says to magnify God. We don’t make him bigger, we're simply
recognizing how big God is and God is far above us. One of the words
that theologians have used to capture God's greatness is the word
transcendent. God is infinitely transcendent, he's definitely not like
Another word the Bible uses here in Isaiah 6 is the word
holy. We often think of that word in terms of purity. It does capture
God's purity, but it also captures God's greatness, or that he's
different from us. That's what that word holy means. He's different from
us, so different from you and I.
You could say that Isaiah
captures God on camera here. “In the year that King Uzziah died,” he
says, “I saw the Lord seated upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the
train of his robe filled the temple.” Then you hear the praise of those
strange looking creatures, (This is the only time I think we see them in
the Bible,) the seraphim, crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” That puts God
in an exalted status or position. In verse 5 again, “For my eyes have
seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Now there are other Bible
words that we can pick up that help us remember how big God is. For
example, the word great, “Great is the Lord ready to be praised.” The
word majestic is another great Bible word. Awesome. We should reserve
that word to God and God alone. God is awesome and God is high
and lifted up. That's the language used even here in Isaiah 6. Sometimes
we read of God, the Almighty, and that's who God is, that's how great
our God is.
But what's so amazing, what should never cease to
stun us Brethren when we come to prayer, is that he's willing to listen
to us. You can talk to him. He knows who you are. He knows everything
about you, he's not a far off God, he's not a distant God, he's not the
God of the Deist.
This God is incomprehensibly great, far above
us. But here's the tension, he's incredibly near us. Do you see that
tension? He's incomprehensibly far above us, but incredibly near us. The
two words that theologians have used is the word transcendent, but he's
also eminent. Isaiah 40 puts these two things together in a beautiful
way. You see there how big God is! He sits upon the circle of the earth;
the inhabitants of the earth are like grasshoppers. We are told in
Isaiah 40, he knows all the stars by name; he is strong in power; he
never becomes weary or faint; his understanding is unsearchable. But in
that same chapter, if you read those earlier verses, verse 11 for
example, here's the picture we have of God. He's the shepherd and look
at what he does, who brings the lambs close to his bosem. “He will tend
his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms.” That's
you and me. “He will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them
in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” That's a
beautiful picture of nearness and intimacy.
So go back to what we
said earlier, far away, far above us, incomprehensively great,
infinite. But look how close he is! There's another beautiful picture of
God getting very close to us in the Bible, and then ultimately, it's
when Christ comes Himself and he gets as close as close can be in human
But there's another beautiful picture of God in Psalm 56.
It says God collects our teardrops with a bottle. I remember when we
were visiting my in-laws and my son was maybe 3 or 4 years old, and as
we were leaving their home he was crying because he wasn’t going to see
his grandmother and grandfather for a long time as we only saw them
maybe twice a year. And I remember my father-in-law grabbing a little
bottle and he put it up to my son’s face, right under his eye and he
says, “I'm going to catch your tear drops.” That's what God does, God
captures every one of our teardrops.
He's incredibly near.
Transcendent but eminent. So far above us, but so close to us. There's
no one who's nearer to you and closer to you right now then God himself.
And so we go to a God that we're going to call upon Brethren,
let's not forget how great he is. He's a sovereign God, the Holy One of
Israel, the everlasting to everlasting God, but he also cares for us
personally and intimately.
Jesus says He knows the number of
hairs upon our head. He has a love for us that is greater than any human
parent could ever love his children. So far away, so far above us, but
so close and so near to us.