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Transcendence in the Throne Room

1 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. 2 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. 3 And one called to another and said: 

                  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; 

                  the whole earth is full of his glory!” 

4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 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!” 

(Isaiah 6:1-5)

Intro

Today, we embark on a journey into envisioning the throne room of God himself. We find ourselves stepping into the majestic vision of the prophet Isaiah as recorded in Isaiah 6:1-5, a passage that offers profound insights into the character of our God.

We live in a time where it’s all too easy to create God in our own image, to mold Him into a figure who serves our needs, fulfills our desires, and mirrors our perspectives. This approach is comforting, perhaps, but it strips God of His divine authority, His inherent majesty, and His transcendent holiness. It is a palatable, yet ultimately hollow, version of the divine.

But when we delve into the scriptures, we encounter a different God—a God who is alive even in the face of earthly transition and death, a God whose authority and power extend far beyond our comprehension, a God whose majesty fills the temple, the earth, and our hearts.

We encounter a God who is revered by celestial beings, a God whose holiness is unparalleled, echoed in the seraphim’s declaration, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’ This is not a deity who is subject to our whims and wishes. This is a God who commands reverence and respect, a God who is, in a word, transcendent.

Today, we’re invited to set aside our preconceived notions, our personalized constructs, and to step into the throne room of the Most High God. As we explore Isaiah’s vision, may we gain a deeper understanding of His character, embrace His divine attributes, and let this enriched comprehension of God inform our worship and our walk with Him.

God Is Alive

V1 – “In the year that King Uziah died, I saw the Lord…”

John 12:41 – Isaiah said these things because he saw his (Jesus) glory and spoke of him.

In Isaiah 6:1, the prophet marks his divine vision with a historic anchor, “in the year that King Uzziah died.” This reference to King Uzziah’s death serves to underscore the stark contrast between mortal beings, who are subjected to the cycle of life and death, and our eternal God, who is not bound by the constraints of mortality. His life is perpetual, eternal, and His reign is unending.

This truth of God’s living and active nature isn’t unique to Isaiah’s account. Throughout Scripture, we encounter the living God who actively interacts with His creation. In Job 12:10, Job affirms, “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” This recognition of God as the life-giver reinforces His status as the living God who holds our lives within His hands.

Our God isn’t a distant or indifferent being but a God who, in His aliveness, is intimately involved with the world He created. We find this theme echoed in Acts 17:28: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” God’s very life-force permeates our existence. He is the source of our life, our movement, and our being. This divine aliveness is the very cornerstone of our faith and the heart of our relationship with God.

The crowning declaration of God’s eternal life comes from Jesus Himself in Revelation 1:18: “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!” The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate testament to God’s power over death and His gift of eternal life.

  1. When King Tutankhamun, the young pharaoh of Egypt, died mysteriously at the tender age of 19, God was alive. While ancient Egypt grieved their king and erected grand monuments in his honor, God continued to reign, unaffected by human mortality.
  2. When Socrates, the influential Greek philosopher, met his untimely death by hemlock poisoning in 399 BCE, God was alive. As the Athenian public mourned the loss of a great thinker, God’s wisdom and understanding remained inexhaustible, undimmed by the passing of earthly scholars.
  3. When Alexander the Great, a conqueror whose empire spanned continents, died abruptly after a brief illness in 323 BCE, God was alive. Even as nations trembled at the passing of their mighty ruler, God’s power remained unthreatened, His sovereignty absolute.
  4. When Julius Caesar, the powerful Roman general, fell under the assassins’ knives on the Ides of March in 44 BCE, God was alive. While Rome plunged into chaos and power struggles, God’s authority stood unshaken, His divine order unaltered.
  5. When Abraham Lincoln, the president who led America through one of its darkest periods, was struck down by an assassin’s bullet in Ford’s Theatre in 1865, God was alive. While the nation mourned their fallen leader and grappled with the end of the Civil War, God remained steadfast, offering hope in times of despair.
  6. When Mohammad died in 632 CE, God was alive. While the Muslim community was left leaderless, sparking a division that lasts till this day, God’s unity and coherence remained unbroken.
  7. When William Shakespeare, one of the greatest playwrights in the English language, died in 1616, God was alive. As the world of literature mourned its loss, God’s grand narrative of creation, redemption, and restoration continued to unfold.
  8. When Mozart, a musical genius who shaped classical music, died at the young age of 35 in 1791, God was alive. While the world lost one of its most gifted composers, the divine Maestro continued to orchestrate His cosmic symphony.
  9. When Martin Luther King Jr., the tireless advocate for civil rights, was assassinated in 1968, God was alive. While the world struggled with the loss of a great force for peace and equality, God’s reign continued, His justice and mercy enduring through times of turmoil.
  10. When Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, passed away in 2023, God was alive. As the British monarchy faced a transition of power, God’s kingdom remained unshaken, His reign eternal.

So, what does this mean for us, as believers? It means that we serve a God who is vibrantly alive, actively involved in our lives, and has the ultimate power over life and death. It reassures us that our faith and hope are rooted in the living God whose eternal existence surpasses all earthly rulers and authorities. This assurance brings us comfort, hope, and security, especially in times of transition, uncertainty, or loss.

God Is Authoritative

“…sitting upon a throne…”

The vision of God upon His throne is more than a mere depiction; it embodies a declaration of God’s absolute authority, sovereignty, and majesty.

A throne symbolizes a position of authority and power. The person who occupies a throne is a ruler, a decision-maker, a king. When we see the Lord “sitting upon a throne,” we see Him as the King of Kings, the one with ultimate authority over the universe and beyond. This phrase underscores that all authority belongs to God and emanates from Him.

Consider Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:9: “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; His clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.” Again, the image of the throne reinforces God’s supreme authority, just as it does in Isaiah’s vision.

Likewise, in the New Testament, the Apostle John recounts a similar vision in Revelation 4:2: “At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.” John’s vision, like Isaiah’s and Daniel’s, emphasizes the unassailable and pervasive authority of God. 

Furthermore, the act of sitting upon a throne implies an accomplished work, a task completed. After the creation of the world, Genesis 2:2 tells us that “on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” In Hebrews 10:12, we’re told that “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” In both instances, the act of sitting signifies the completion of a divine task.

In the face of this authority, every knee will bow. As Paul writes in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This absolute authority will be universally recognized in the consummation of the ages.

In our individual lives, the image of God upon His throne can serve as a profound reassurance. Regardless of the challenges we face, the trials we endure, or the uncertainties we grapple with, we serve a God who is not only sovereign but also intimately concerned with our lives. Psalm 103:19 reminds us, “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”

Understanding God as the authoritative King upon His throne should inspire in us a sense of awe and reverence, leading us to approach Him in humility and faith. It assures us of His control over our lives and His unfailing commitment to His plans and purposes, plans that are for our good and His glory (Jeremiah 29:11). As we contemplate God “sitting upon a throne,” let’s remember that His authority is all-encompassing, His sovereignty undeniable, and His rule unending.

God Is Omnipotent

“…high and lifted up…”

When Isaiah wrote, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,” he was describing God’s omnipotence. The words “high and lifted up” convey God’s ultimate power, a power that is incomparable and unmatched in the universe. God’s omnipotence, His absolute and unlimited power, is a defining attribute that sets Him apart from all creation.

Consider Job’s assertion in Job 42:2, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Here, Job acknowledges God’s unassailable power after having experienced firsthand God’s might and sovereignty.

When Isaiah describes the Lord as being “high,” he is expressing God’s supreme status above all else. The psalmist captured this sense of elevation in Psalm 97:9, declaring, “For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” There is none as high as our God. 

Additionally, “lifted up” implies an action, a movement that elevates God above everything else. This is not to suggest that God needed to be elevated, for He has always been supreme. Rather, it demonstrates to us, the observers, His rightful position. His elevation draws our attention to His majesty and power.

This idea is reflected in Psalm 46:10, where God declares, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” It’s a powerful reminder of God’s commitment to demonstrate His power so that all may come to acknowledge Him.

The New Testament echoes this truth. Paul speaks of the omnipotent nature of God in Ephesians 1:19-21, saying, “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

Through the phrase “high and lifted up,” Isaiah communicates God’s omnipotence, which assures us of God’s absolute control over everything. No power rivals His; no authority challenges Him. Our God is indeed the Almighty.

As believers, we find comfort in God’s omnipotence. This truth reassures us that our God is more than capable of handling our problems, no matter how big or insurmountable they may seem. The God who is “high and lifted up” is the same God who cares for us, who hears our prayers, and who works all things for our good (Romans 8:28).

As we delve into the vision of Isaiah, let’s keep this image of our omnipotent God firmly in our hearts. Let us approach Him with the awe and reverence He deserves, resting in the knowledge of His supreme power and care for us.

God Is Majestic

The majestic nature of God is underscored when Isaiah recounts the vision of the Lord on His throne with the train of His robe filling the temple. The train of the robe is often a sign of status, the longer and more extravagant, the higher the rank of the person wearing it. This image provides us a glimpse of God’s glory and majesty that goes beyond human comprehension.

We find a parallel in Exodus 28:2 when God instructed Moses to create holy garments for Aaron, “for glory and for beauty.” The priestly garments, elaborate and ornate, were a visible manifestation of the divine glory God’s servants were commissioned to reflect. 

However, when we come to God Himself, His majesty is not merely reflected – it is innate and all-encompassing. His glory and beauty are not derived from creation; rather, creation derives its glory and beauty from Him.

Psalm 104:1-2 beautifully encapsulates this majestic splendor of God: “Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.”

The phrase, “…and the train of his robe filled the temple,” signifies a majesty that fills the earth and the heavens. This echoes the declaration in Numbers 14:21, where God proclaims, “But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.”

The majesty of God is also reflected in His acts. When God parted the Red Sea, rained down manna from heaven, or stopped the sun in the sky, His majesty was on full display (Exodus 14:21, Exodus 16:4, Joshua 10:13).

Similarly, when Christ performed miracles, raised the dead, and triumphed over death itself, His majestic nature was visible to all (Luke 7:14-15, Mark 4:39, Matthew 28:6).

The train of God’s robe filling the temple calls us to worship and stand in awe of our Creator’s majesty. It also invites us to find comfort in the assurance that our God is not just great but is majestic in holiness (Exodus 15:11), unlimited in power, and unmatched in glory.

As we continue our exploration of Isaiah’s vision, let the imagery of the train of His robe filling the temple remind us of the Majesty we serve and worship. A Majesty so great that it fills every space, every crevice of our existence – a majestic God who fills our lives with His love, His presence, and His glory.

God Is Revered

The reverence for God is remarkably illustrated in the words of Isaiah 6:2: “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.”

The seraphim, the heavenly beings in God’s presence, embody a profound reverence for God. The very name “seraphim” is derived from a Hebrew term, “saraph,” which means “to burn,” suggesting their intense purity and zealous devotion to God. And these creates do not appear anywhere else in the Bible, at least by this name.

Their actions are telling. With two wings, they cover their faces, which signifies the recognition of God’s unparalleled holiness and the humility it instills. Even these heavenly beings dare not gaze directly upon the Lord. This harks back to Exodus 33:20, where God tells Moses, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

With two wings, they cover their feet—a sign of humility and reverence. This echoes Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:5) and Joshua before the commander of the Lord’s army (Joshua 5:15), where both were instructed to remove their sandals in recognition of holy ground.

With the final two wings, they fly, ready to execute God’s commands instantly. Psalm 103:20 depicts this readiness and loyalty, “Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!”

The actions of the seraphim emphasize the reverence due to God because of His absolute holiness. This scene offers a glimpse into heavenly worship, portraying an ideal standard for our approach to God: with humility, reverence, and readiness to obey.

Further, the reverential awe of God is not confined to the heavens; it must permeate our earthly worship. Solomon echoes this sentiment in Ecclesiastes 5:2, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”

We, like the seraphim, should approach God with a deep sense of reverence—recognizing His holiness, humbling ourselves in His presence, and being prepared to obey His commands.

As we continue this study of God’s attributes from Isaiah’s vision, let the reverence shown by the seraphim remind us of the awe, respect, and honor due to our Almighty God. Let us remember that God is revered—not only in His heavenly dwelling but also here on earth, in our hearts, our words, and our actions.

God Is Holy

Isaiah 6:3 provides us with the seraphim’s declaration about God: “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’”

This trifold repetition of “holy” is something to behold. If you’re unaware, in Hebrew, repetition is a form of emphasis. Doubling a word amplifies its meaning, such as in 2 King 25:15 (“gold gold”) or Genesis 14:10 (“pit pits”). But a word said three times—this is extraordinary. It’s the super-superlative, expressing the highest degree of something. So, when the seraphim declare God to be “holy, holy, holy,” they are not merely being redundant, nor are they lacking vocabulary. They are making a purposeful statement about the utter otherness of God.

“Holy,” or “qadosh” in Hebrew, means more than righteous or morally perfect. It implies being set apart, completely distinct, utterly different. God is holy because He is unique, existing apart from and above all His creatures. There is no one like Him. This absolute holiness is His alone.

Deuteronomy 4:35 states, “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.” This theme echoes throughout the Bible, underscoring God’s holiness and His separateness from His creation.

It’s important to note that the seraphim do not say that God is merely holier than any other, as if they were making a comparison. No, He is holy, holy, holy—beyond compare, beyond comprehension. God’s holiness is more than we can understand or articulate. It separates Him from all moral and created order. It speaks of His transcendence and His majesty.

Yet, “the whole earth is full of his glory.” Even though God is distinct from His creation, His glory permeates the earth. His holiness is not remote or inaccessible but fills the universe, demonstrating His immanence. Psalm 72:19 affirms this, “Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen.”

The scene in Isaiah 6 profoundly emphasizes God’s unparalleled holiness. So when approaching God, we must always remember His absolute otherness. This attribute of God invites a reaction, a response. It compels us to exclaim, as Isaiah did, an acknowledgment of our sinfulness and God’s unique holiness.

Conclusion

As we conclude this journey through Isaiah 6:1-5, we can’t help but be awestruck by the majesty of God’s throne room, the profoundness of His authority, the extent of His power, the glory of His majesty, the depth of the reverence He commands, and the overwhelming holiness He embodies. The key question that remains is: how do we respond to these characteristics of God in our day-to-day lives?

First and foremost, let’s remember Isaiah’s response: one of humility and repentance. 

5 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!” 

In light of God’s glory, we should recognize our own shortcomings and repent, just as Isaiah did. This means acknowledging our own sinfulness, confessing our sins to God, and seeking His forgiveness. It is not enough to merely admire God’s holiness; we should allow this understanding to humble us and shape the way we live. 

Second, we must actively strive to revere God in our lives. This reverence should not be confined to our times of prayer and worship, but should pervade our everyday activities. In our interactions with others, in the choices we make, in the way we use our time, we should seek to honor God and reflect His holiness in all we do.

Third, we should share what we’ve learned. Just as the seraphim declared the holiness of God, we too have a calling to proclaim the Gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ. The understanding of God’s attributes that we gain from this passage provides a powerful foundation for sharing the Gospel. It illustrates the vast gap between God’s holiness and our sinfulness, a gap that can only be bridged by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. By sharing this message, we can help others understand the true nature of God and the depth of His love for us—a love so great that He sent His only Son to die for our sins.

Finally, let’s remember that the throne room isn’t just a distant concept; it’s a present reality through the Holy Spirit. When we are saved and regenerated by Christ, His Spirit dwells within us. We become temples of the living God, and His presence in us should drive us to live lives that reflect His holiness.

So, as we step away from this study, let’s strive to carry these truths into our daily lives. Let’s humbly recognize our sinfulness, revere God in all we do, share the Gospel message with others, and remember that the Holy Spirit dwells within us, reminding us of the presence of our holy, holy, holy God.

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