Face to Face with God: Was it all worth it?

face2faceIsaiah 6:5

The sight of a holy God helped Isaiah to see himself in a completely new light and he did not like what he saw at all. This is part and parcel of what it means to encounter God in a fresh way. Isaiah became disturbed at the depth of his corruption, and at the measure of complicity he himself carried responsibility for as a priest in contact with the filth of his environment and its spiritual coldness.

But we can stop there. The call of God on our lives is to be demolished and then put back together by Him in order to go out in power to meet the world at the point of its greatest hunger and need. 

Whenever God says "Go" as He will say to Isaiah in the next few verses of chapter 6, we need to realise that just ahead lies the toughest assignment of our lives, and yet we must still be utterly convinced that we must go. The starting point is recapturing the fear of the Lord and dying to self. We are ready to go when we can truly say, "I saw the Lord."

Recapturing the fear of the Lord

The UK has slipped progressively backwards as we have consistently compromised our godly principles, now enshrining in law abominable practices, and curbing the precious liberties of speech and of conscience that many gave their lives in the world wars of the twentieth century fighting to prevent.

Pompey and the temple.

If your heart is cold towards God, then you can be standing in the most holy of places in a location of tremendous spiritual significance where many others have met God, and you will see and experience absolutely nothing.  John Piper

“Today we are too sophisticated for God. We can stand on our own; we are prepared and ready to choose to define our own existence. When God is neglected, the runner-up god takes his place, namely, man. And that by definition is the opposite of humility, namely, the haughty spirit called pride. So the atmosphere we breathe is hostile to humility."

Stephen Charnock:  "A proud faith is as much a contradiction as a humble devil."

Abraham Lincoln called for a national day of prayer and fasting
By and large, our nation stands in exactly the same position as the nation of Israel in the time of Isaiah, or the nation of Rome at the time Pompey. If Lincoln and Pompey stand at either end of the spectrum of fearing God, where do we, in Britain stand?

David Pawson comments on the fact that Muslims fear their god, Allah, treating the threat of his judgement very seriously indeed. Muslims believe in Paradise and they also believe in Hell, and they desperately want to avoid the latter and arrive safely in the former. They are convinced of the reality of these places as much as any Christians have been in times past. Pawson:

"The sight of rows and rows of men of all ages and rank, standing equally together in the Mosque and then prostrating themselves before God, their foreheads touching the ground, is a sight not quickly to be forgotten … by contrast, the fear of the Lord has largely disappeared from contemporary Christianity .… Our worship is increasingly informal and even casual, so that a friend of mine put it to me like this: ‘We seem to be worshipping God All-matey, not God Almighty.’

Hebrews: "Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’ "

(Hebrews 12:28)

Are you surprised that you are still alive?

Back in the 1740s in America, Jonathan Edwards, asked the congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts,

"O sinner, can you give me any reason why, since you have risen from your bed this morning, God has not stricken you dead?" That would be a strange, even bizarre question for the ears of twenty-first century hearers.

There is nowhere that this sense of amazement at still being alive after glimpsing a sight of the Living God, than in the story of Saul of Tarsus! Years later, Paul could still vividly remember it Acts 26:13-18

In a single moment, the One Saul had so vehemently opposed suddenly transformed him, and Christ’s greatest enemy became His greatest friend. Was it worth it?

Paul and Isaiah, God wants us today to see the contemporary world and culture as He sees it. We have become desensitised to what is happening around us. How desperately we need to look at our world with fresh eyes that have seen the glory of God.