November 30, 2022

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."

Isaiah 6:1-6

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.

Even Martin 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 us.

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 form.

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.