Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Series - THE REVIVAL OF A GREAT PROPHET - 7


Revival of a Great Prophet-7

The Commissioning of the Servant Preacher

Confession, repentance and cleansing are indispensable for a servant of God to be used of the Lord. It will follow towards commissioning, recommissioning, renewal and revival in the servant’s heart and life. He will then be ready to be sent by the Lord. Prophet Isaiah’s life experience as depicted in Isaiah Chapter Six is a prime example which every servant ought to follow all through his life. It cannot be or need not be a one-time experience, but is the oft-repeated and continuous driving force in the life and ministry of all the servants of God.

Isaiah’s experience teaches us that when the call of the Lord is responded to in the affirmative, willingly and voluntarily, the Lord has some directions to give. If the response is seen as genuine and the commitment total, then the Lord has something more to say to the servant whom He is willing to send. He must go wherever the Lord sends him. He must speak the truth to God’s people without watering it down. He must not mince words. He must speak boldly in the power of the Spirit of God.

The Lord warns Isaiah that he may not be frustrated when he sees the response of the people. It is likely that the people might not respond positively to the prophetic Word. But the preacher is not to be discouraged about it. The test of the ministry is the faithfulness with which the work is carried on and not on outward success in terms of human reactions.

The Lord’s warning with its undertone to Isaiah and others is that if Isaiah, or for that matter even today’s preachers, is unwilling to deliver the message as it is, the Lord will send someone else. He must remember the millions of seraphs who stand ready to fly and serve Him and to execute the commandment if Isaiah relents. Isaiah must realize that the door to the opportunity to serve the Lord will not remain open forever, but the disobedient servant will be the loser.

Isaiah’s response is seen in the remaining sixty chapters of oracles of God that He spoke through him. Moses and Jeremiah were quite reluctant to be sent because of their own feeling of inadequacy. But Isaiah had passed that stage in his life because he was totally broken and made whole again by the live coal from the altar. It seems there was no room for him to give an excuse for not going or to even think about not going.

The revelation given to Isaiah leaves with a strong message of hope that even if the entire garden of God’s people is to be cut off or burned down because of resentment, cold-heartedness and passivity, its stumps will remain for the Lord to work on and that these stumps will sprout. This was a great message of hope for Isaiah and it was sufficient for Isaiah to continue with his ministries with great expectations.

Lessons for us today

During the vision of the lifted up Lord, Isaiah was in Heaven. He truly saw the Lord Jesus Christ seated in Heaven (John 12:41). We are today seated in Heaven with Him (Ephesians 2:6). So we have the greatest opportunity to catch the vision of the same Lord in and through His Word, through our meditations in His presence and our intimate time of prayer. It is then that our hearts will burn within us to be able to see the Lord in His glory (Psalms 39:1-3). We need to be broken before the Lord and confess our sins, failures and inadequacies so that our eyes will be healed to a full vision of the Lord. For us today, it is not a physical vision, but a spiritual vision of Him, His attributes, power, love and concern for us. If we catch such a vision, we will be able to see what Isaiah saw in our inner mind. But such an experience will have to be evidence-based in our attitude, actions, ministry and relationships. It is not enough to call Him “Lord! Lord!” but to prove to Him and to the rest of the world that He is Lord indeed (Matthew 7:21).

Isaiah received the boldness of a brokenness experience through this vision and now he is so humble as to invite us to the lowest ebb of his life. Perhaps we would not show such boldness and tenacity to invite others to see our broken, contrite and humbling experiences. If not, it might mean that we have yet to experience such a time of intimate interaction with the Lord. If we have such an experience, we will testify about it for others to learn lessons from it for their edification. Otherwise, we will hide it from others and wear a self-righteous face.

We must realize that we are not better than Uzziah or even Isaiah. We must recognize it and follow the pathway of Isaiah and get matters settled with the Lord rather than go on the wrong way shown by Uzziah and progress towards doom, at least spiritually.

We can truly minister in the power of the Spirit of God if only we are ministered unto by the Lord. We must develop evidence for brokenness in our lives. We must be humble enough to be ministered unto by the Lord before we qualify to minister unto others. Such a sense of spiritual need is essential for us to progress towards revival and renewal.

Just as Isaiah has experienced a change and a renewal in his soul, we must experience a change in our attitude. We must get a newly renewed, cleansed and refreshed tongue to minister. When the tongue is changed along with the heart, we cannot and will not remain quiet, but will speak to the people in a transformed way. Our message will then be a new and dynamic message with a new focus, with Jesus on the Throne of our lives and our ministries. We must exhibit a new set of convictions and must be convicted preachers. But our lives should preach more than our tongues. We must have a new zeal and exhibit it to the people who are under our ministries. We will then demonstrate the heart of a renewed preacher and prophet with a revolutionary message. We must realize that reverence and devotion to the Lord are far more important than activities. This is possible only through attitudinal change for which Isaiah is a prime example. Our goal and motto are to promote the Lord, His glory and cause and not ours, for He says that He will look after our affairs if we look after His mission (Matthew 6:33).

As Isaiah graduated through his temple experience, he begins a ministry of exposing the glory of the Lord to the people through words of comfort and encouragement. He was able to see the crucified Lord which He expressed in Chapter 53 and other portions which expound on the New Testament account of Calvary. He speaks on the first and second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ through the rest of his ministry. He proved to the rest of us that he is the expositor of the salvation of our Lord to all of us. Hallelujah! What a Saviour! What a glorious Lord! What a magnificent servant of the Great Servant who humbled Himself to carry our sins on the cross of Calvary!

Isaiah Chapter Six is the autobiography of a prophet where he has not hidden his experience of lowliness and brokenness. Will we write an account of our lowly experience in our autobiography? Isaiah Chapter Six is an episode of change in a great servant of God. Will we allow such a change to take place in our lives? When it happens, the world around us will know and be moved by it.

(Series Concluded)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Series: THE REVIVAL OF A GREAT PROPHET - 6


The Revival of a Great Prophet-6

The Speakers and the Listeners-2

Isaiah’s cleansing

It is an amazing truth that a prophet of God also needs continuous cleansing. It is equally astonishing that the prophet of God cries out loud declaring the unworthiness of his unclean lips. Unclean lips come from the unclean heart which is the seat of all evil and wickedness. But we do not know if Isaiah expected a fiery and painful cleansing like that which he experienced in the Throne room. We must realize that God cleanses with fire and not with detergent. This heavenly cleansing is part of the burning off of the wicked tongue which pronounces woe on people without realizing own wickedness and wicked tongue. All preachers ought to take this matter very seriously and live in continuous repentance and cleansing. Along with that, we ought to be fearful of how and for what we might pray because we do not know how God is going to answer our prayers.

God also teaches Isaiah that if he is cleansed and if it subsequently results in a ministry of cleansing the people with God’s Word and His Spirit, then only will there be a spiritual revolution among the people. Often such a spiritual revolution is not taking place among the people of God because of such a revolution, renewal, and revival is not taking place among those whom God has appointed to lead and guide His people.

It is very interesting to see that when a servant of God repented and cried out for cleansing, even the seraphs understood his confession. They were the administrators of grace in the Kingdom of God and they quickly took the initiative to help Isaiah with the cleansing process. It follows that Isaiah’s repentance was acceptable to God. But there was now the need for a painful, complete, radical and dynamic cleansing process for God’s servant to be renewed, refreshed, revitalized and revived. Isaiah understood that God’s cleansing process is not a self-improvement programme, but a God-directed, God-controlled and God-centered holy cleansing programme where the old self is burned off and a renewed preacher emerges in its place.

For every committed and repentant preacher, there is a burning experience waiting for him. God’s live coal is available and ready to cleanse every preacher provided he is ready and willing to go through the process and bear the cost of cleansing. Why the angel is using a tong to pick up the live coal? It is only to show that what is happening is real and an extremely painful process to handle.  It will penetrate, pierce, cleanse, bleach and burn off every stain that is inflicted because of sin.

Why the seraph is flying to Isaiah to cleanse him? It shows the swiftness with which the cleansing process is to be attended to so that the tongue can be of maximum usefulness to the Lord for the longest period of time. No cleansing means no ministry and the servant not qualified to minister.

The seraph is given the privilege to declare the administration of cleansing the tongue of the prophet and commission his readiness to minister. He is now declared holy and is given the privilege to attribute holiness to the Lord. It included total healing of the sin sickness of the prophet including his tongue, his eyes and the environment in which he ministered. He is now ready to be recommissioned by the Lord and his ministry renewed.

Finally, the Lord Speaks

The last speaker in this scenario is the Lord who has been quietly watching the story unfolds. He is not in a hurry to speak. He is waiting until His servant is ready and prepared to listen. So the Lord awaits true confession and repentance from His choice servants. As He begins to speak, He has something to say to all of us individually. Why he is tarrying is to see if we confess our sins and iniquities to Him. He doesn’t usually speak to people when they have unconfessed sins in their lives. He waits till the hearts are adequately prepared and moved so that His utterances will create an impact in their hearts. He expects a response from each of his listeners and waits for them to be prepared to respond positively. But how will the people become prepared and ready until their prophets, priests, kings and preachers are prepared and renewed?

The Lord announces a call for willing individuals to obey Him and to be sent by Him. He waits for volunteers who are ready to obey Him no matter the consequence. Whoever is willing to obey Him may come and demonstrate to Him that he is willing to be sent by Him.

The utterance from the Lord underscores the powerful statement of the Trinity. It is the call of the Lord and equally the call of the Triune God who is perfectly united in the call. It has to be taken with the greatest seriousness of those who listen to Him (Isaiah 6:8). Everyone everywhere is included in this call and no one is spared. But it is a general call for which specific response is expected from everyone. Those who have grace will only be able to respond to the call. If only a person is sufficiently moved by the glory of the Lord will he want to serve the Lord and obey His call to go wherever He wants to send him?

It is interesting to see how the Lord didn’t give Isaiah the prerogative to decide where to go and do whatever he wanted to do in serving Him. These are decided by the Sender and the servant’s responsibility it is to go as he is sent wherever the Lord is willing to send him. His mission was to declare whatever the Lord wants which had to be communicated to the people as per His enabling. The servant cannot have his personal agenda or scheme to perpetuate, but it has to be solely the Lord’s programme. The only qualification that the Lord expects for the servant is that He is called, sent and enabled by the Lord. Along with the burning of his tongue, the Lord expects all his earthly qualification to be burned off so that whatever the servant does will be solely directed by the Lord and nothing else. The servant is to come with the motto: “Just As I AM”, totally dependent on the Lord and His resources.

A Two-sided call

The Almighty makes two subtle expressions in this call. First He asks as to whom He shall send. This is the desire and will of the Lord for all His servants. This call is open to all who listen, obey and are available to be sent. It is the divine will to send out those who are willing and volunteering to go. At the same time, the call is open to those who commit themselves to go. The command is not to go for the individual’s own agenda. If they are going, they must go for Him and not for anyone else. 

Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord and he responded instantly. He heard the commandment that the servant must go and declare a specific message to the people of God. The message is articulated in specific dimensions.  It is a message of warning, correction, reprove and counsel along with consequences for disobedience. It is a message which is to penetrate into the hearts and minds of God’s people to accomplish what the Lord wants in and through their lives.

We see Isaiah in a face to face confrontation with the stark reality of a disobedient nation and their concerned Redeemer. The Redeemer waits patiently for the nation to come back and sends His message for them to return through His servant Isaiah. His message to the present world is also the same. He wants committed, prepared and willing servants to ready themselves to go and preach until at least a remnant will come back to Him with a repentant and broken heart.
(To Continue)

Monday, July 1, 2019

Series: THE REVIVAL OF A GREAT PROPHET - 5



The revival of a Great Prophet-5


The Speakers and the Listeners

The Speaking Seraphs

The seraphs are the only speakers in the first part of this scenario as they attribute holiness to the Lord. These angelic beings heard from each other the praises of their mouths. Their Lord heard it all loud and clear. Prophet Isaiah was also able to hear it all. It spoke to him in a mighty and powerful manner. The seraphs spoke out of strong convictions. They had heard, seen and experienced the Lord, as did John the Apostle when he wrote about his experience in John 1:1. The seraphs, in essence, ask Isaiah as to whether he has seen and experienced the Lord. There was a challenge to Isaiah to get to know the Lord in His glory. It was time for Isaiah to respond.

The seraphs knew something about the turmoil that was going on among God’s people and the situation related to the departure of King Uzziah. But even in such a situation, the Seraphs didn’t speak to the Lord about it, but only recognizing and affirming about His being above all the problems around them. In essence, the utterances of the seraphs were focused on the Lord and His power rather than on the problems that were looming large above the head of Isaiah and the people of Israel. They worshipped and served the Lord and committed the future to Him. The national situation has not affected them because they knew the power and wisdom of their Lord who was above all circumstances and situations. This was sufficient to greatly embarrass the prophet of God who should have known better had he known the Lord well.

Isaiah the speaker

Isaiah was a bold and powerful preacher of Israel who was charging the nation against their sinfulness. His words were convicting and his tone was sharp. He declared curse unto the people several times in the preceding five chapters of his book. He offered a message of forgiveness to those who were willing to confess and pronounced strong action from the Lord to those who were unwilling to listen and change their ways. He gave the people the right diagnosis for their sin sicknesses. He made spiritual prescriptions for their ailments. This is the prophet who has now been found to be dumbfounded at the engagement of the seraphs at the exposure of the glory of the Lord.

In the first five chapters, Isaiah pronounced “woe” unto the people of God seven times. He had no doubt that they deserved cruse from the Lord for their sinful lifestyle and attitudes. The depth of the woe that was pronounced on Israel was such that it would break our hearts as we read it. There is no doubt that those who violate God’s laws deserve such punitive measures from God. Of course, these punishments were intended for the people to repent and get back to God. The prophet has been in the past pointing his finger at the direction of the people and spoke to those who deserve such a warning. Now his own fingers are pointing at him.

Isaiah could not utter the words, “Holy, Holy, Holy” because of the inadequacies in his life. His tongue was not as holy as it ought to be. Even though he was burning inside, it was not totally for his Lord, but for his ministry and for himself as the prophet with his position and privileges. But when he saw the interaction of the seraphim in their articulated intimacy with the Lord, Isaiah felt like he has not arrived at the place of total commitment.

Here we see a crying Isaiah. He felt his own need to cry aloud and confess publicly. He realized his sinfulness which stood on his way to approach the Throne of his Lord like the seraphim. Now he forgets all about the context of his entering the Throne room of the King. As he saw the vision of the lifted up Lord, the death of Uzziah and the corresponding national confusion was no more the prime concern in his heart. He became more concerned about his relationship with the Lord and his access to Him.  The renewal of a prophet is slowly taking place in the Throne room of the Lord. The Lord was getting his servant Isaiah fully into His fold and control. A great change is being ushered into the life of the prophet.

If the great prophet needed such a revolutionary change, how much would be the need for such a change in us today as we try to live for the glory of the Lord?

"Woe unto me!"

The preacher who pronounced woe unto the people of Israel seven times in the first five chapters is now loudly and powerfully pronouncing woe unto himself. Here we find the prophet with the deepest contrition about his own sinfulness. It is a sincere confession at which he agrees with God that he is sinful and inadequate to access the Lord. It is the confession of the whole person whereby his tongue, heart, eyes and environment are sinful and he is no more embarrassed to bear his inner person stark naked before the Lord. In other words, the prophet confesses sinfulness of his five senses. He recognizes that God’s holy presence has caused him to see his true nature. He is not simply saying a ‘social expression of being sorry’, or expressing remorse. His confession is total, unconditional, and without reservation. He feels horrible about his wickedness, inadequacies and unholy attitude and cries desperately for cleansing and pardon.

The Word of God is clear that if there is no repentance, the Holy Spirit living in a believer will be grieved and over a period of time will be quenched. Thus the impact of the Spirit of God in the ministry will be gone which the people will often realize. We find an array of confessing saints in the Bible including John the Apostle, Job and Paul. John confessed his inadequacy and fell as though dead before the Lord who appeared in glory before him (Revelation 1:17). Job confessed his nothingness before God when he met with the God of the impossible (Job 42:2-6). As we read and meditate on Isaiah Six, we are confronted with the reality that we all need a life of continuous confession and repentance in order to live a holy life with a holy detachment of the worldly and holy attachment to the heavenly.

Isaiah didn’t repent in the Throne Room because he heard a sermon on repentance. He didn’t repent because someone told him about the need for it. Inasmuch as these are desperately needed ministries among God’s people, it is not imperative that human hand is always necessary for repentance to become a reality in the life of a servant of God. It is possible that the heavenly wave of repentance will sweep away even the most inhibited life because the vision of the Lord and the magnificence of His presence with His unexplainable glory will enter into the hearts of people to confess and repent. God speaks in mysterious ways and through unexpected circumstances. It is likely that the people would then be shocked to hear that their prophet has confessed and repented of his sinfulness. But that is a greater witness to the fact that even a preacher and a prophet would need as much repentance as in the case of an ordinary believer. If such an impact of the glory and magnificence of the Lord is not seen in a servant of God, we would not wonder why his ministries do not touch the lives of people. Every minister of the Word needs to be ministered unto before he ministers to the people. Every repentant minister will lead people to confession and tears of repentance which will touch the lives of people and impact them for the Lord. This might be the greatest message we will be able to learn from the life and ministry of Isaiah, the prophet.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Series: THE REVIVAL OF A GREAT PROPHET - 4


Revival of a Great Prophet-4


The Great Coverup Act

Unlike the covering act in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve where they tried to cover up their sinfulness, the seraphs tried to cover all that they were given by the Lord (beauty and excellence) so that they would become His true worshippers and servants. First, they covered the most beautiful parts of their body, their faces, with their own wings willingly and voluntarily. But they have more to cover, as we go forward with the narration of the events in the temple. When the glory of the Lord is exposed to us, we can’t withstand the power of His glory and so we run for cover even in our best of capabilities. That takes us to the eagerness of the seraphs to cover their feet.

Cover the Feet

We find the seraphs cover their feet with two of their wings. Feet talk primarily about their walk, work, and achievements. All of these personal gains which give the seraphs the kind of prestige, popularity, and prominence in the eyes of the beholders are now declared unworthy by the seraphs and so they cover it with their wings. They shudder to exhibit all their personal glory in the presence of the glory of the Lord. To them, these personal glimpses are like garbage as Paul declared it (Philippians 3:7). This is yet another challenge to the great prophet in his personal life and in the ministry. He might be made to wonder if it is appropriate to think of him as a ‘prophet’ or as an unprofitable servant.

Feet also talk about their weaknesses because of the dirt that they gather as they travel around and minister. But when they come to the presence of the Lord, any of the filth that they might gather on their feet is quickly and consciously covered because the seraphs are fearful about exhibiting these in the light of His glory.

We should not lose track of the fact that the feet of those who declare the good news are beautiful (Isaiah 52:7). And these seraphs are the carriers of good news that our Lord is seated on the throne, high and lifted up and that His glory is unfathomable. But even such feet are not worthy to be exhibited in the presence of the glory of the Lord.  Such is the magnificent lesson coming from the temple for us in the light of our total unworthiness and the Lord’s pre-eminence that we are able to learn, along with Isaiah, through the revelation of His glory.

The Lord allows Isaiah to witness to the worship of the seraphs to teach him lessons of his unworthiness which is a lesson to every Christian everywhere at all times.

The Wings that Fly

It is the heart that flies before the wings and the body because the heart is fully sold out on the glory of the Lord. The heart is so moved as to fly swiftly to declare the glory of the Lord.  When we see that the seraphs fly and express their adoration to the Lord, we see that the seraphs can’t stand still and adore the Lord. Once they start, they can’t even stop and take a break because the glory of the Lord compels them to keep on flying and moving and expressing adoration. They are moved because of the impact of the glory and the person of the Lord that they have experienced in their hearts. They are thrilled and encompassed about His salvation which they declare.

Why do the seraphs repeat utterance about the holiness of the Lord? Apparently, they are not satisfied with uttering it once or even twice. They wanted to sing about it more and more until they are satisfied that they would have witnessed the glory and experienced it. But they realize that they can’t be fully satisfied with speaking about it that they keep on repeating it. Such repetitive worship will never lead them to boredom because it is living sacrifice and keeping on active as long as time and eternity would last. It is also likely that each of the three utterances is for each Person in the Trinity, the Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit. They want to repeat the affirmation of His glory which is worthy to be affirmed and reaffirmed forever.

Let us now focus on the pitch and tone of the utterance of the seraphs! The seraphs can’t keep a low tone and pitch and be soft-spoken about it because of the impact it has created in them. They want to use all their energy to express themselves because this is the greatest song of the glory of the Lord which they can keep on singing. It has impacted them so much as to raise their pitch and sing about it at the top of their capacity and strength. They responded to the extent of their maximum ability to sing about Him who is seated on the Throne.  These gestures and responses are the evidence of the impact the glory of the Lord has created in the seraphs. If we are impacted by the power of His glory, our worship will rise above our routine patterns and will find that the sky is the limit to our expressions. It will thus reach the uttermost part of the earth and will turn it all upside down (Acts. 17:6).

It seems the seraphs were totally involved in serving and worshipping the Lord to the extent to which their six wings, feet, eyes, mouth, heart, emotions and body were fully embodied in it. This is a continuous activity in heaven which is difficult for the human mind to comprehend. As we are all seated in the heavenly places, it is expected that our worship today also emanates to that level in a dynamic manner.

The seraphs were shouting at the top of their voice so that all could hear their voice and their praise. Such shouts were to send shockwaves to the whole world or even the universe about the reigning Lord. They had no embarrassment or reservation as to who were all listening. They didn’t care who was listening and who was taking offense about their shouts. They actually wanted the whole world to listen to such high-level business of glorifying the Lord.

Modern science tells us that sound is very powerful and that it can move and shake up its immediate environment. So is the voice of the seraphs as they sang the praise of the Lord. The immovable door posts were moved at the power of their voice. Even today His voice moves the immovable hearts and lives of people. The space in the temple gets filled with smoke as all the empty spaces are filled by the Lord. This spectacular chain of events is capable of dynamically changing every rocky heart. But we wonder if it has sufficiently impacted prophet, Isaiah? So also, is it adequately impacting our contemporary prophets, preachers, and pastors? It seems many of our modern day preachers are like the Pharos of Egypt who has not known the real ‘Joseph’ and His glory (Exodus 1:8).

The seraphs and their loud and impact-oriented praises ask us as to whether there is smoke or fire in our hearts as we witness the expression of the glory of the Lord(Psalms 39:3). Perhaps we are not able to witness the fire and the smoke because we are not meditating enough to see the image of the glorified One in our hearts.

The Prophet’s silence

All the while as the events in the Throne Room unfold, we need to watch Isaiah the prophet learning great lessons that the Lord wanted to teach him. He is stunned and speechless and in a great shock. He has not seen anything like this so far in his ministry. This astounding scene has penetrated into every corner of his heart, soul, and mind. When the environment has also been impacted through the sound of the worship of the seraphs, the prophet begins to respond. When the prophet came into the temple, his mind was so much preoccupied with the apprehensions about the future of Israel and so his heart was heavy. But the unfolding events shifted his focus from his problems to the Lord God Almighty who is still on the Throne. As he witnesses heavenly worship, Isaiah forgets about his problems and the removal of the king from the throne by the Lord. When he looks at the Lord, he was compelled to look into his own heart. He was filled with repentance and he begins to utter words of confession.  

As we read the story, we might be compelled to think that the prophet has reached a level at which he would have had several questions in his heart. These questions could have been:

a.      Why these heavenly beings are so much moved as to continue to pour out praises and adoration to the Lord?
b.      Why do they never get tired of repetitive worship?
c.       Why they are moved so much as to shake up even the environment?
d.      How they are able to focus on the holiness of the Lord forever like this?
e.      Why do they show no sensitivity to the onlookers about their spontaneous worship of the Lord?

The answers to these questions might be seen in the subsequent and consequent behavior and utterances of Isaiah. He realizes the height and breadth of the sensitization of the seraphs about the greatness and glory of their Lord. We might see the prophet being challenged to examine his own heart and life to see what hinders him from offering such qualitative worship as that of the seraphs. Perhaps his preoccupation with the cumbersome situation is now giving way to the greatness of the Lord. The message from the Lord to Isaiah was to look at the seraphs and learn lessons about his own wrong disposition. At that moment, he breaks his silence and begins to speak.   
(To Continue)
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Series: THE REVIVAL OF A GREAT PROPHET - 3


Revival of a Great Prophet-3

The Seraphs’ challenge to the Prophet

As the events at the Throne Room of the Lord emerges and unfolds, we are wonderstruck at fascinating beings called the Seraphim. They are innumerable, but their overwhelming number would not let them lose their identity. They are a distinct creation of God to serve Him, worship Him and do His perfect will. They presented a great challenge as a role model in serving the Lord for the prophet about his willingness and commitment to serving, obeying, worshipping and accomplishing the Lord’s perfect will. The very sight of the seraphs and their service to the Lord was posing a great example to Isaiah.

By exposing Isaiah to the way these created beings (Seraphs) worship and serve the Lord, a challenge is posed for Isaiah to consider and re-examine his willingness to serve and commit himself to the cause of the Lord with all that he has for the service of the Lord. This is greatly pertinent for the present-day believers because whereas the Lord Jesus didn’t die for these seraphs, He died for the NT believers. So they ought to have a greater zeal to committing and serving the Lord. These seraphs and their zeal is a great embarrassment to the modern believers considering their shallow commitment to their Saviour and Lord. We call Him “Lord, Lord” (Matthew 7:21), but often do what we want with our lives. Our worship, giving, service, and commitment are often half-hearted and bound by jealousy or competition and for popularity, prestige, prominence, position, and possessions. So the events at the Throne Room were meant to spoke to Isaiah through the seraphs and its account in Isaiah Six is foreordained to speak to us in the same manner. He expects us to respond to these events befitting to those who live in the dispensation of grace.

Living Sacrifices

The seraphs are portrayed as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). They are the “burning beings” who keep burning for their Lord. When they burn, they show light to the dark world and shed warmth to the cold hearts of people around. Isaiah as the servant of the Lord is created as a living light (Matthew 5:13) and so he is expected to burn and shine for the Lord and for the dark world that is around him. The seraphs now challenge the prophet to burn for the Lord so that those around will see the glory of the Lord through the light that he is expected to produce by burning for Him. Isaiah is reminded of the primary purpose for which he is placed among the disobedient and worldly people of the nation of Israel. This encounter of the burning seraphs thus poses a great challenge for Isaiah and for us to be willing to burn for Jesus like Jim Eliot, Graham Steins and John Alan Chou in our daily lives.

All from Him and all for Him

Isaiah watches these seraphs were using all that they have in the service of the Lord. Their wings are for flying, covering and showing respect to the Lord. Their mouths are to shout out the holiness and greatness of the Lord. They fly in a hurry because they have so much to do to shed abroad the greatness and glory of their Lord. They have a lot to do for the Lord including helping to cleanse even prophets like Isaiah. All of these are ministries and responsibilities given to them by the Lord. And they are demonstrating their willing and voluntary service and commitment for the service and for the glory of the Lord. Far more than obeying any commandment to serving the Lord or expressing gratitude to Him for giving them everything, these seraphs worshiped Him for who He is. It comes from the intimacy they have with Him and the love and respect they want to show to Him because of His greatness. They gave Him back all that He gave them so that they will be completely His to do whatever He wants to accomplish in their lives.  They gave Him all their talents, treasures and time. They are fully aware of the fact that all of these were given to them out of His benevolence and love towards them and they ought to reciprocate it to Him out of their love and respect to Him. In the light of the attitude and surrender the seraphs demonstrated, Isaiah is now compelled to re-examine his worship, commitment, and love for the Lord. If Isaiah had to re-examine and rededicate himself to his Lord, how much more should we do for the Lord is a puzzling question before every New Testament believer!

The Four and the Two Wings

It is interesting that the seraphs have six wings. Why wings and why so many wings is an intriguing question. Wings are given so that they can move swiftly in their service. The six wings must have so much responsibilities and opportunities embodied in them. It certainly indicates the need for using additional cover to be part of true worship even as they move around. It seems the seraphs are desperate and passionate to serve the Lord as fast as possible. They have no time to waste and no opportunity to lose as they serve the Lord because their Lord deserves so much more than what is possible to humanly anticipate. The time, treasure and talents at their disposal could all be fully and far greatly used for the service of the Lord as they have these six wings. Do we wish we had more legs to move, more hands to work with and more mouths to declare the praise and glory of the Lord?

Out of the six wings, the seraphs used two for covering their feet and two for covering their eyes or faces showing great reverence to the Lord by being extraordinarily humble and respectful in their approach to worship and service for the Lord. Such efforts at worship come from their attitude because when they see Him, they discount themselves totally and respect Him to the utmost. For them, worship of the highest form is imperative as they see the Great Lord and offer Him Great service and Worship. Will the Lord find these qualities in us today?

Seraphim and their challenge in worship

It is interesting to note that the Seraphs used all their wings in the service of the Lord and none for their personal agenda. They used all their wings for the Lord and for His glory. They had a holy detachment with all that they had and they were willing to forsake all for Him. It was like Mary using even the last drop of the ointment for the Lord. It was like the pearl merchant who sold all that he had in order to purchase the most precious pearl that he could ever find (Matthew 13: ). They found the greatest satisfaction as they used all they had for their Lord and still wanting to give it all to Him through the fastest and loudest expressions of their commitment to Him. As the prophet watches the scenario, it speaks and challenges him to the utmost to give all that he has to the Lord at the fastest pace. How about the response of the modern day prophets, preachers and priests to the glory of the Lord? 

Covering the Face

In our vernacular, we often mention ‘angelic face’ of a person for comparative purpose. It is considered as the ultimate in beauty. These seraphs definitely have the most beautiful faces. But as they are broken and burning beings, these seraphs do not consider their beautiful faces worthy to be exhibited in the presence of the Lord of Glory. They cover their personal glory and achievement and keep it under check so that the glory of the glorious One may be fully exhibited. Their motto is that no one ought to show off anything that they have in them no matter how excellent these might be. They turn off all their personal lights with its glitter in the presence of the Shekinah Glory. They wanted all that they have to be hidden under their own wings so that no one would or could see even a glimpse of it. They show that any effort at exhibiting our personal glory might be considered competition to the glory of the Lord and will allow it all to be burned off as they burn for the Lord. All their personal glory is on the altar as a living sacrifice.  They are challenging the ‘ME-MYSELF-I’ culture of contemporary Christianity. They show that they do not have any name, titles or exhibits of their own as they stand in the presence of the Lord and minister unto His name. This scene is a serious reprimand to the prophet Isaiah as he goes into the presence of the Lord bearing his ministries and his experience in the work of the Lord. 

In essence, watching the seraphs covering their face preaches a great sermon to the prophet. He realizes that he and all that he has can best be considered worthless in the presence of the glory of the Lord. It thus preaches a thunderous message to all of us who live in the era of grace to re-examine our styles, moto, motives, approaches, and strategies in the ministry of the Lord. (To continue)
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Monday, April 15, 2019

Counselor's Corner: HELP TO COUNSEL AN ESTRANGED COUPLE

Counselor’s Corner

Help to Counsel an Estranged Couple

Dear Sir:

Will you please help me to counsel an estranged couple who came to me for counseling? I have been trying to help Brother Tom and his wife Sister Tessy who are faced with a serious family problem. My efforts have so far not found positive results. So I prayerfully decided to seek your help.

Both Tom and Tessy are believers from our assembly and are married for over 2 years. They both come from local assemblies in our neighboring districts. Tom got a job in our city and so he has been living here for over 4 years. After he married Tessy, she resigned her job in another city and moved over to our city where Tom and Tessy started their family life. Later Tessy also got a job in our city and so they were having a fairly comfortable life. They have been regular in the assembly meetings and seemed to be a happy couple.

After a few months, we found both Tom and Tessy looking very gloomy while in the meetings. Tom stopped actively participating in the Sunday gatherings and they started missing the midweek meetings. They always gave the excuse of stress at work when enquired about missing meetings and nonparticipation. Then we found them missing even on Sunday gatherings frequently. Eventually, we found that Tessy was in the family way. Soon she moved back to her home in the native place with the explanation that she needed the care of her mother.

One day, I met with Tom and enquired about the changes in their expressions, quietness in meetings, missing gatherings of the assembly and why she decided to go back to her home. It was then that Tom opened up and told me the story of their miserable family life. Soon after joining her husband in our city, Tessy started expressing dissatisfaction about almost everything with her husband. Apparently, he lost his job (or he resigned) and started studying for a better job. She found out that he didn’t have the educational qualification he claimed to have at the time of their marriage. His job was also found to be below what he claimed to have because of poor qualification. Tessy was upset that they didn’t have a house or flat of their own as against the impression created by Tom’s family during the time of the marriage proposal. So for several months, they were surviving on the salary of Tessy which Tom spent according to his desires and priorities. All of these made Tessy upset, disappointed and she felt cheated by Tom and his family. They had many arguments and angry outbursts at each other. They even had quite a bit of physical fights and verbally abused each other. Apparently, the parents got involved and justified their side. Tom’s people said that they never cheated Tessy and her people and that Tom is studying for a better job. They also said that Tom would soon buy a flat. They were upset with Tessy because she was always quarreling with her husband and not ready to accept him and his situation and not at all patient. According to them, Tessy is very argumentative, quarrelsome and use disrespectful words at the husband which is unbecoming of a believer. Tessy’s family counter-argued that Tom is very abusive and seemed like a fraud because everything about him is questionable.  It was at the peak of their quarrel and infighting that Tessy wanted to go to her parents for confinement. But this happened about 15 months back and she never came back with her baby because she hated Tom and didn’t want to come back to live with a “liar and cheat”.

Now their baby is almost one year old and Tom has not seen the child yet. Tom is upset with Tessy for making a false allegation about him and not willing to come back to live with him. In the meanwhile, there have been some discussions among the families which have widened the gap between Tom and Tessy.

I tried to speak to both Tom and Tessy and asked them to forgive each other of all their failures in the past. But they are not willing. Each feels deeply hurt in the hands of the other. There is a stalemate and I am unable to resolve it for them. Please read the above account and give a reply to help me reunite this estranged couple soonest possible.

With prayers
Joshua Paul

Dear Brother Joshua

Thank you for your mail. I praise God for your concern and care for this couple and for all the efforts you have taken to help reunite them. You mentioned about meeting Tom, but I wonder if you had a chance to meet with Tessy, and parents of both Tom and Tessy. This is also important. It is unfortunate that Tessy had to experience such frustrations in her married life. It is also unfortunate that Tom failed to give spiritual leadership to his wife (and also their child) because of allegations about the cover-up in his life. These have sadly affected their family life which has led to serious spiritual failures in their personal and family life. All of these have unfortunately affected both their parents and their assemblies. I hope that it will be possible for you to touch this couple and the two families and to bring them to reconciliation!

From your description, it seems to me that Tom and his family have not told the whole truth about his education, job and living facility before the marriage. If so, they need to be led to confess these, repent and ask Tessy and her parents for forgiveness for this great lapse. They may have some explanations as to why they told things which were not factually correct, but these explanations will not exonerate them of their sin of a cover-up before Tessy and her parents and the believers at large. Once there is a heartfelt confession accompanied by the humility that is to be evident in their behavior, and then it is for Tessy and her parents to forgive them wholeheartedly and accept them. It is our responsibility as believers to grant forgiveness and apply it without hesitation. As Jesus said, we are bound to forgive the offenses of others seven times seventy unconditionally. If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive our offenses (Matthew 18:22; 6:14-15; Colossians 3:12-15; Ephesians 4:32). We are commanded to forgive unconditionally.

Secondly, Tessy and Tom are both guilty of their behavior and actions against each other verbally, emotionally and physically. Such behavior from a believer can never be justified even though there were provocations. Every such expression, including words, body language, physical violence, etc. needs to be confessed by both of them and ask for forgiveness. You will have to try and bring them to such a point of confession through counseling. Once a genuine confession is expressed, both should have the grace to accept confession in good faith and extend forgiveness. This may best be done in your presence.

Thus it should be possible for them to be reconciled and reunited. Genuine confession, repentance and forgiveness will be possible for those who are genuinely born again and those who repent of their failures and sins in their hearts and towards their life-partners. I suggest that you may please meet with Tom first and then Tessy separately and convince them of their failures in this matter and bring them individually to a level of confession and repentance.  If Tom is not willing to come to a point of confession and repentance, then a spiritual solution to this situation will be difficult to arrive at. (I am sure you know that biblical counseling is not bringing about a truce, patchwork or agreement of some sort). The goal of biblical counseling is to bring the erring persons to the confession of their sins and failures. Along with counseling Tom and Tessy and bringing them to confession, you may bring them together for a joint session where each can respond to the other and clarify issues and ask for forgiveness. Along with that, please counsel the parents of both Tom and Tessy to accept the situation and to encourage them to do whatever possible to somehow help their children to confession, repentance and to the reunion. It is important that the parents also come to repentance of all their sins of omission and commission in all that they had said or done. It is important for them all to realize that all of us believers are called upon to unilaterally forgive each other.

Please remind all the parties concerned that it is important for all of them to be governed by the principles of the Word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. It is also important to help them understand that for the wellbeing and proper upbringing of the child given to Tom and Tessy and for the testimony of the families and their respective assemblies, there is a dire need for a proper scriptural settlement of this matter as soon as possible. They all need the grace of God to accept the confession of each other and to forgive and forget the past events and start rebuilding the family life of both Tom and Tessy.

May God grant you the wisdom, grace and patience to counsel the couple and their parents and lead them all to a new chapter in their lives! I am praying for you and for Tom, Tessy, and their families.

Yours sincerely in Christ
Oommen Philip  


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Series: THE REVIVAL OF A GREAT PROPHET -2

The revival of a Great Prophet- 2

Meditations from Isaiah Chapter Six



Problem-solving or renewal and revival?

When the people of God forgot their Creator and Redeemer and lived erratically and in passivity, God visited them in a special way by sending His salvation in the form of great men of God (like Isaiah whose name means the Salvation of our Lord) to revive and renew them. Isaiah started his ministry by declaring woe unto the people unless they repent which is seen throughout the first five chapters of the book of Isaiah. God has warned repeatedly, but the people were nonchalant and cold-hearted. They seemed to have left their first love for their Lord.  It was at the time of the pinnacle of their backsliding that God touched the nation by removing their powerful and efficient king. The usurping of the king to perform priestly duties is clearly an indication that the people and their king have become hot-headed.  When the king was removed from the scene in a dramatic way, it seemed to have touched the prophet himself to rethink and so he goes to the presence of the Lord. Here we see the prophet stops to preach and goes in for a shock treatment in the presence of the Almighty.

Of course, the prophet goes to God with a backpack full of complaints, fears and apprehensions about the fate of the nation. He had a craving for God and a realization that God’s presence is the only solace for him to depend upon for answers to his concerns and fears. He had no other place to go and he was driven to the wall with no space to manoeuvre.

It seems the prophet expected to have a usual encounter with God and lodge his petitions and then to come back. But God overwhelmed him with His mighty presence. God filled Isaiah’s eyes with a vision of Himself to comfort the prophet and to give him renewed courses of action. There he experienced strength and encouragement which he and the people so badly needed. He was filled with the power and protection that only the presence of God could provide in his most difficult circumstance. He was exposed to the glory of the Lord and seemed to be lost in its wonder and awe. He became a true worshipper rather than a usual complainer and petitioner. He found his Lord a far greater source of power for him to continue with his ministry than ever before.

The forgetfulness of the prophet

As Isaiah entered the temple of the Lord, he saw the Lord in His glory and seated on the Throne and highly lifted up, perhaps to the extent to which he could envisage with his human eyes. The Lord in His lifted up position shocked Isaiah as he realized that He was far above all the problems he and his people were faced with. Here is the Lord showing Himself to be in total control of all of Isaiah’s situations. From the Throne, a powerful message comes to Isaiah that He was in control of all that seemed to be in disarray. He declares His power to rule and overrule from that Throne. He makes known to Isaiah His sovereignty and that He has all the authority to do whatever He wanted to accomplish. His Throne is shown to be above all the thrones on earth and seen as capable of resolving all instabilities and failures of His people. The vision of the Lord sent the most powerful message to Isaiah to declare that when Uzziah’s powerful throne is gone, the Lord is still on the Throne to rule over everything and everyone. By being seated above everything, the Lord declares to Isaiah that he needed no anxiety or phobia about his situation because the Lord is on the throne and that He is capable to clear every doubt and to comfort every anxious soul. He tells us today that He is still on the Throne and that He has a message to everyone everywhere to be calm and that His people confide in His power in all situations.
  
It is interesting to realize that Isaiah is in the Throne Room of his Lord. Isaiah now seems to have forgotten all his problems, fears and apprehension and is lost in the glory of the Lord and focusing on the person of the Lord. He experiences the all-pervading power of the Lord to make all his concerns vanish and vaporize in the glory of the Lord. He finds that the Lord’s glory overshadows everything in and around His servant and makes him like a sheep being calm in the presence of its shepherd.

No room for the baggage

As Isaiah enters the Throne Room of the Lord and saw His glittering glory filled the temple, he realizes that there is no room for him to place his baggage of complaints, problems, apprehensions, and fears (6:1). The train of the Lord filled the temple. He could no longer claim that he came after preaching his heart out to the people because there was no room in the Throne Room of the Lord for his achievements, experience, expertise, prestige, prominence, ordination, oratory, eloquence and scriptural knowledge which he brought in with him. He realizes that all of what he was as a prophet has drained out and that he has become so empty when he saw and experienced the glory of the Lord. In essence, the prophet could only say, “Just as I am, without one plea”. He realizes that no matter how great a prophet he might be, he is absolutely nothing and totally empty of himself and all that he has when he saw the glory of the Lord.

The unfolding drama

In the presence of the Lord, Isaiah was overwhelmed to see a number of awesome events which were all focusing on the glory of the Lord. The Lord’s all-encompassing robe of glory, the relentlessly worshipping seraphs with perfect concentration, the thunderous sound of the outcry of the glory of the Lord from the throats of the seraphs, the superlative speed of the flights of the seraphs, the smoke that fills the temple, the shaking of the doorposts of the temple, the burning coal at the altar, a tong, an angel ready to cleanse the servant of God and a sound of the Lord speaking were all experienced by Isaiah in great power. All of these unfolding movements were the ways by which the Lord was speaking to the prophet to shake and wake him up to the reality of responding to the glory of the Lord.

It’s all for the prophet

The interlude of Isaiah Chapter 6 in the book of Isaiah is not for God to focus on the death of Uzziah. It is not to show how seraphs worship and travel fast to declare the glory of the Lord. But it is to focus on the spiritual and emotional needs of the great prophet. But the scene centered on Isaiah’s unworthiness, his detestable environment, the sinful hearts of the prophet and the people of God, the sheer emptiness in his heart and then move on to true repentance. It then moved on to the revival and renewal of the prophet so that a changed Isaiah could go back and preach a thunderous message on the need for a revival among God’s people. We are reminded of the fact that if the prophet is not right with God, the people will not be right with God.  If the prophet is not truly repentant, the people will not be able to listen to the Word of God which comes out of his mouth.  The iniquity in their hearts would otherwise shut their ears so as not to hear the voice of the Lord.

It is likely that the prophet who was fully immersed in preaching didn’t have time to see the Lord in His glory on a regular basis and listen to Him. But God was not going to make him a repetitive preacher, but one with new experiences in His presence to become a passionate preacher. This was possible by giving him newer visions of His glory to revive and renew him. So in Isaiah Chapter Six, God speaks to him through the elegance of His presence, His being the lifted up Lord above all situations and circumstances and through His servants (Seraphs) who were totally and absolutely sold out on Him and His glory in their commitment to serving the Lord. The vision was thus a great reprimand to the prophet to renew and revive him for the mighty work that lies ahead for him to declare the ‘Salvation of our Lord’ to the people of God. 


The vision which Isaiah received is a great challenge for us to re-examine our commitment and loyalty to our Lord so that we would be useful instruments in His mighty hands in the days to come. The vision of our Lord through the pages of His Word demands our adherence, repentance, commitment and loyalty as we are renewed by His Spirit to shape us for His use.