We all have certain passages of the Bible that are close to our hearts. There is something about passages which depict powerful encounters with God that have always caught my attention. Most of the Bible deals with our humanity and a fallen race living on a tainted planet; however, every once in a while we see a picture of life beyond the earthly. It’s like looking through a crack in the fence of the physical and limited into the heavenly and infinite.
Every once in a while we see God. Unfiltered. Shining in His limitless glory.
One of these instances is Isaiah 6. Isaiah is swept up in a vision into the throne room of heaven and he sees God as he really is. His limited eyes behold unlimited glory. And it terrifies him.
He responds, “Woe to me. I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (6:5).
There he is standing in front of the one true Almighty God and all he can think about is his own failure.
Immediately, before anything else happens, an atonement process is underway to make up for Isaiah’s failings. Isaiah’s encounter with God was characterized by his own guilt and shame.
So often we can come to worship on Sunday morning and instead of encountering God, we are reminded of our sin, failings and short-comings. Our own guilt and shame characterize our worship rather than His attributes.
Now skip to the back of the Bible to Revelation 1 and we see a very similar encounter. This time John is swept up in a vision and sees Jesus in His glorified state.
The encounter is surprisingly similar to the one in Isaiah. Yet there is a distinct difference in how John reacts to seeing God. He isn’t concerned with his own sin, like Isaiah. There is no fit of guilt and shame. He doesn’t even confess his own sin. He just falls “at his feet as though dead” (1:17). He is completely consumed with the glory of Jesus.
Why the difference? John couldn’t have been more righteous than Isaiah. Both see God in his throne room filled with glory yet he reacts differently. What has changed?
The difference is Jesus. The Son of God on the cross saying, “It is finished.”
Because of Jesus we can react to God like John did, uninhibited by our own failure. Christ is our success for the Christian life and He frees us to encounter Him without restraint.
The Lamb has touched you and your guilt has been taken away and your sin has been atoned for.
When we come to worship we don’t need to be distracted by our failings and short-comings. Christ has dealt with that definitively once and for all. When we come to worship we are free to be consumed by the glory of God.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).