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You Must Encounter Him to Know His Will
Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-11
Track 2 of 8 in the Inside~Out: Discovering the Will of God series
Running time: 32 minutes, 10 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

"You Must Encounter Him to Know His Will" October 7, 2007

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord seated on his throne, high and exalted. Glory and strength filled the temple. And there were seraphs. Each had six wings, two that covered their eyes and two that covered their feet and two that were flying. Isaiah Chapter 6.

We are going to jump right into the text this morning if you don't mind. Isaiah Chapter 6, we are going to make our way through this image from the very beginning. If you want to know what God's will is for your life, you have to know who God is, and this text gives us an opportunity to come into an understanding of something about God, the God that we come to worship and the God who is represented clearly for us in scripture.

Isaiah Chapter 6, "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs. Each had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling out to one another, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory.'":

"At the sound of their voices the door posts and the thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. 'Woe to me,' I cried, 'I am ruined. For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.' And one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar, and with it he touched my mouth and he said, 'See, this has touched your lips and your guilt is taken away. Your sins are atoned for.'"

"And then I heard the voice of the Lord say to me, 'Whom shall I send? Who will go for me?' And I said, 'Here I am. Send me.' And he said, 'Go and tell this people. Be ever hearing but never understanding, be ever seeing but never perceiving. Make the heart of his people calloused, make their ears dull, and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn and be healed.'"

"And I said, 'For how long, O Lord?' And he answered, 'Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitants, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will the stump in the land.'"

In this text we meet a God from the very beginning who is absolutely sovereign. You will read in your bulletin inserts over the course of the week, if you take the time to read that front cover, you are going to discover a lot of vocabulary for God, literally hundreds of occurrences on God's name that arrive in the book of Isaiah. It is the book about God and his absolute sovereignty.

One of the phrases that you are going to run into is that phrase that accompanies this: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God Almighty." It's the word for sovereignty. It means to be Lord of Hosts. It means to be above the armies of the earth. It means to be above the armies of the heavens. It means that God is absolutely, totally, unequivocally sovereign, over absolutely everything on the earth. Nothing falls out from under his care.

261 times he is called the Lord of Hosts in the old testament. This is a God who is above all gods. And Isaiah capitalizes on that imagery to try to help us understand that when we meet God we meet a God who is utterly, entirely, completely sovereign over life. In fact, when we look in the book of Isaiah you'll see that all through the book.

Come over a few chapters to Chapter 44 just as one sample. Isaiah Chapter 44. We'll pick it up 44th chapter down in Verse 24. Isaiah Chapter 44, Verse . "This is what the Lord says. 'Your Redeemer who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by itself.'" In this short verse you have three different words for creation. It's just half of the vocabulary that occurs in the book of Isaiah. There is more creation language in Isaiah than anyplace else in the old testament, including the creation passages of Genesis 1 and 2.

Isaiah concentrates on the fact that God is a sovereign God, over all of creation, having brought the whole earth into existence. And then he goes on to say, not only is He the one who brought the world into existence, He is the one "who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and He turns it into nonsense." This is the God "who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem 'It shall be inhabited of the towns of Judah. They will be rebuilt, and their ruins I will restore them.'" This is a God who is over the spokesmen. This is the God who is over the cities and over the nations.

"He says to the watery deep, 'Be dry, and I will dry up your streams,' who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd.'" Cyrus ruled over Persia, current Iran, from approximately 530 years before Christ. Isaiah wrote this book 700 years before Christ. For years in advance before Cyrus has ever even been thought of on the world scene God is calling him by name and telling him what he is going to be. This, he says, is the sovereign nature of God.

Come over two chapters, Chapter 46, verse number 8. Isaiah Chapter 46, verse number 8. Isaiah says, "Remember this, fix it in your minds, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things of long ago. I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is to come. I say, My purpose will stand and I will do what I please." Do you hear it? I speak in advance, and whatever I say is going to happen happens.

"From the east I summon the bird of prey, from a far off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said that I will bring about. What I have planned that I will do. Listen to me, you stubborn hearted, you who are far from righteousness. I am bringing my righteousness near. It is not far away, and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel."

God is a God who's absolutely sovereign over nations and everything else. And in this text that's the doctrine we need, a God who's unequivocally God. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Lord of Hosts." If he is sovereign over the nature, if he is sovereign over nations, if he sovereign over his prophets, he is sovereign over man.

Fortunately, he is not just introduced with the phrase Lord Almighty. He is as also introduced as holy. In fact, that is a signature phrase of Isaiah himself. 26 times in 25 verses he calls God the Holy One of Israel. This is a word that is used again multiple times in the old testament to refer to God. It's a word that has in its indication there is that which is holy over against that which is profane, or there is that which is holy over against that which is common. There is that which is set apart as being sacred, would be a good English word for us, that is different than that which is just common and ordinary or that which is profane. In fact, the word came to carry in it a meaning of morally perfect. It carried with it the idea that God stood above the earth because he was morally without question. He was holy.

Not only is it holy, holy, holy, but the whole earth is full of his glory. It's a word that means weight or dignity, not something trivial. Somebody who has high social standing is this word. They are weighty. And God took on that character. He was weighty. He was worthy. He was honorable. This is a God whose honor fills the entire universe. He has all honor due him because he is an absolutely holy God in whom there is moral perfection. And just as the implication is if he's sovereign over the nations he is sovereign over me.

You are familiar with this text from the old testament. It comes into the new testament at least two places. Leviticus Chapter 19, "Even as I am holy, so you should be holy." But we're not, are we? I mean, even those of us who sometimes think we are, all we have to do is get an honest opinion from our spouse. That pretty well takes care of that.

If you are like me a track fan, you have been devastated by the news this week of Marian Jones. It's not just that she doped up in order to be able to become the world's fastest woman. It was that video clip that they just keep playing on the news of that report that she when she stood in front of the crowds and said, I did not, I did not, under any circumstance I did not. She is a liar. She is a liar.

And while you might not know Marian Jones, you are surely familiar with Lucien Hoffman, right? Oh, okay. You are probably not familiar with Lucien Hoffman. Lucien Hoffman was arrested on September the 4th of this year for child abuse. He is a rugby player from Oregon. He was on his way home passing through parts of Nevada when he stopped at Mustang Ranch. Now, don't acknowledge that you know what Mustang Ranch is. If you don't know Lucien Hoffman, you shouldn't know Mustang Ranch. But for those of you who are naive enough not to know, it's the most famous brothel in Nevada.

He left his two-year old daughter in the car while he spent two hours in the brothel, and they arrested him for child abuse. I mean, we have been instructed not even to leave our dogs in the car in the summer, and he left his two-year old in the car.

We live in a fallen universe. We dwell as Isaiah says among the people of unclean lips, and the frustrating thing, the frightening thing to be really honest with you is that God who is holy has nothing to do with that kind of unholiness. In fact, you know and I know already without me having to tell you that God does not have a high view of unholy behavior and unholy character.

In fact, if you go back to Chapter 1 in the book of Isaiah, it doesn't take very long before you come face to face with God's attitude toward sin. In Isaiah Chapter 1, Verse 10 we hear him speaking. "Hear the word of Lord." You know, you don't even get out of the first line. Those of you who know your old testament you will recognize this euphemism here. He is substituting the name of one city for the nation of Israel, and it had to be a slap in the face as soon as they heard this or read it for the first time.

"'Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom. Listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah.'" You remember that story from Genesis, Sodom and Gomorrah being absolutely destroyed because of their sinfulness. He has now equated those cities to Israel itself. "'The multitude of your sacrifices -- what are they to me?' Says the Lord. 'I have more than enough burnt offerings of ram and the fat of fattened animals. I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?'"

Do you hear him? Don't bring me your worthless offerings. Don't come into my presence claiming to be self-righteous. Don't come to worship with all of the stuff that you bring to worship and have your heart be far from me. I'm not interested in you coming into my presence if you are not going to come to me with a clean heart. He says, "'Stop bringing meaningless offerings. Your incense is detestable to me. New moons, sabbaths, and convocations -- I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me, and I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you. Even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.'"

You know the new testament version of God's statement about sin. "There is none righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. For the wages of sin is death." And after a somewhat lengthy list of various behaviors Revelation 21:8 says that all of those who commit these things are condemned to a second death. And when Paul wraps up his conversation with the Ephesians in Ephesians Chapter 2, he says, "Remember, you are separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship, without hope."

Aren't you glad that Paul didn't end his sentence in Ephesians 2:12 with "without hope"? He turned right around and in the very next sentence says that now because of the grace of God and because of the presence of Jesus everything is different. Because of the cleansing power of Christ and his offering on the altar, his coals being brought to bear on our life, we are able to come into the presence of God and to bring him our gifts and to be a part of his work in the world.

John Piper says, "The difference between Uncle Sam and Jesus Christ is that Uncle Sam won't enlist you unless you are healthy and Jesus won't enlist you unless you're sick. What is God looking for in the world, he asks, assistance? No. The gospel is not a help wanted ad. It's a help available ad. God is not looking for people to work for him, but people who let him work mightily in and through them."

When you read Isaiah Chapter 6 and you begin to get a sense of who God is, you certainly see him as absolutely sovereign. But you also see a God who not only is sovereign, but one who is absolutely holy, and therefore anything that he wants to ask from you, which he obviously has the right to ask, in his sovereignty he would not ask of you something that would be ultimately the best for you because he is ultimately good. He is holy.

This sovereign holy God is also a sending God who asks of us to go. Who will go for me? Whom shall I send? And Isaiah says, "I'm here. Send me." And that is exactly what God has in mind, to send us out into the world after we have experienced the cleansing of God, after we have become so incredibly grateful for God's grace it almost becomes second nature to us to realize that having sat at this table, experienced the grace of God we are compelled to go out into the world to the people that we know and say, there is hope for you, too.

That's why the pictures. That's why we are asking as the next couple or three weeks unfold that you take a picture of the place where you have influence. Maybe it's a place of business like the pictures on the walls here of a school or a home or a community, but we want to know where is God using you. We want to post them on that back wall. We want to cover that back wall so that we are all reminded that God has those of us who are His enlisted into His service to speak for Him, to be present in the world, to make a difference right where we live. We don't have to go someplace else. We're already there. God has placed us where he wants us because he knows that we're the right person at that point right now. And I can see you saying, not me, surely he can't use me.

Father's Day 2005 started out to be a delightful day for the Hawkins family. It was intended to be one of those memorable days that your son will spend the rest of his life thinking about in relationship to his father. It was a boy scout trip up into the Uinta Mountains of Utah, supposed to be a great camping trip, except Brennan Hawkins got separated from his family. And it was soon clear that he was missing. 3,000 volunteers in addition to the official search forces were combing the mountains trying to find this little boy. Three days he was missing.

Forrest Nunley was sitting in his house watching the evening news and was so moved by the loss of this young child he decided to call off work and go join the search party. He showed up where everybody was searching and decided for some inexplicable reason to take his ATV and to drive it five miles from the primary search site, and he began meandering the trails in that part of the forest only to come around the corner and there standing in front of him was a cold, wet, dehydrated 11-year old Brennan Hawkins because one man decided, I'm going to go look.

There is a Brennan Hawkins out here just waiting for you to get up and go look. You are the right person at the right place. God has you there for a reason, because he knows that we live in a world full of people who need to hear about the hope of Christ.

And I know that you were listening to the text, and it's an odd message wasn't it? You did hear that, right? Who will go for me? Here am I. And he said, go and speak, but they are never going to listen. They are never going to hear. You just keep talking, but they are going to shut everything down. They are not going to pay attention. And my response, I just admit it to you, my response would be, then what's the use? Why bother? And Isaiah's response was, how long? Lord, how long do you want me to do this? Because I'll just keep doing it until you tell me that I don't need to do it anymore.

I know that you feel helpless, and I know that you feel like nobody listens. It's not your job to decide that. Your job is merely to go in faithfulness and do the job.

It was a strange phenomena in 1980 when Mount St. Helens exploded. Did you know that there in the western part of Washington when that mountain exploded that it sounded like artillery going off in western Montana. 700 miles away they could hear the sound of that explosion, but 75 miles away in Portland, Oregon, they would have never known it exploded until they saw it on the news or heard the news on the radio. They call it a zone of silence. The sound went up, bounced off of the atmosphere, and came back down to earth in an echo, and there was a 75-mile circle in which nobody heard the thing.

We feel like that sometimes, don't we? Like we must be talking in a zone of silence because nobody seems to be listening, nobody seems to be paying any attention. Do you know what's fascinating about this whole gospel thing is that you may be absolutely correct, somebody may be not listening to you because you are in their zone of silence, but they might listen to me. They might listen to somebody else from the body, because they are outside of that zone of silence.

And I might be having a really hard time turning up the courage to go down and talk to that man that I want to talk to about coming to this men's event this weekend, and I can walk in having turned up my courage, I'm going to finally get the question out, and I walk in and somebody from here has already asked him to come. There is a world full of people who need to hear the gospel of Jesus, and not all of them are in your zone of silence. And the call is not for you to decide whether to talk. The only call to you is to talk and let God decide who's going to listen.

This text introduces you to a God who is absolutely sovereign over the universe, but who can be totally trusted because of his holiness, who sends us out into the world to make a difference because he knows that the world needs this story. And there are some of you who have heard this story again and again and again, and for some reason you've got boundaries. Listen, it must have been a scary deal for Isaiah to stand in the presence of a holy God, but if you think it was frightening standing there in the presence of the holy God, what do you think he felt like when an angel went over and grabbed one of those burning embers and started right for his mouth? I'm thinking, that's going to hurt, leave me alone.

Some of you are convinced that this Jesus thing is going to hurt, and so you are putting up a wall and won't him get close. And I'm not here to deny that it's not going to hurt. I'm here to tell you that the hurt is worth it. Because at that moment you are cleansed, you're getting stronger, and you belong in the presence of a sovereign and holy God. We challenge you to get to know that God, to really come to know Him, to give your life to Him, and to make it your challenge to shout his fame throughout the earth, to let the world know there is a God who provides healing and cleansing for your life.

[Transcribed by GN12]