Love Came Down with Encounter

dawn portIn the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;The whole earth is full of His glory!”And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

So I said:“Woe is me, for I am undone!Because 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.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live IMG_0816coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said:“Behold, this has touched your lips;Your iniquity is taken away,And your sin purged.”

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:“Whom shall I send,And who will go for Us?”Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”[1]

When Isaiah saw the Lord and saw the grandeur, the glory, the holiness of God he cried out in grief and panic, “Woe is me!  I am undone!  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”

Encounter brings you into reality quicker than any other process.

The seraphim brought a live coal from the altar of heaven and touched his lips, saying his sin has been purged.

Encounter brings immediate cleansing.  Anyone graced to behold God is irrevocably changed.

Then, Isaiah overheard the Trinity speak:

“ Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?”

Then Isaiah said, “Here I am!  Send me!”

Encounter shifts the season.

When Isaiah answered the call, he had no idea what sacrifice would be required.  He only heard God’s question with the answer “Here I am.  Send me.”

Encounter brings a call to obedience.

sunsetA call, a specific challenge to obey God with active movement forward, often follows the gift of encounter. There is a pretty consistent pattern in Scripture of God encountering his servants with specific marching orders and often, a huge change in direction.  Moses met God at the burning bush and headed back to Egypt.  Noah encountered God and prepared to save the world.  Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus and ceased all persecution of the followers of the Way, giving the rest of his life to furthering the Way through profoundly difficult circumstances.

Encounters blow the lid off our God Box, shatter our human sized perceptions of the eternal God and offers us freedom to shackles we did not see.

Encounter is a gift, a God-sized present, released by revelation of Himself, the very goods required to move forward in the call to just trust and obey.

For Isaiah, his encounter came at a crucial point in history.  King Uzziah had just died. Eleven years earlier, this king who had made Judah famous with his massive building efforts, military and trade success, audaciously swept into the holy of hollies as if he owned the place to perform duties as high priest and paid sorely for his arrogance.  When stricken with leprosy, he lived the rest of his days in confinement.  His son, Jothan, was thrust into leadership as co-regent.  Isaiah encountered God five years before Jothan’s son, Ahaz ascended the throne with one clear agenda:  to deny God worship and shift his state into apostacy.  Ahaz shut the doors of the temple, enforced idolatry as state sanctioned religion and burnt his own children in fire in vain  appeasement of Damascan gods, a most brutal time in history for any prophet of God to endure.

Encounter prepares us for the next season.  As God leads through revelation of His greatness, we follow with understanding of who we are and Whose we are.  God’s train filled the temple.  He was bigger, better, broader, holier than Isaiah could even grasp.

Encounter offers illumination for difficult days, strengthens hearts before God’s brilliance.

Moses encountered God before facing down Pharoah, negotiating the largest slavery release in all of human history, with the authority of heaven with little regard by his Hebrew  family.

Noah encountered God before beginning a build campaign a hundred years long whichIMG_0917 culminated in a year long season of wild animal care, feces, chores, darkness and difficulty.  Rain unending, land no where in sight and poop accumulating daily.  That would be a tough season indeed.

John the Baptist encountered Christ before challenging Herod to reign with righteousness, paying for the confrontation with his very life.

Encounters cannot be stolen, reproduced or begged for.  Like rain, which comes without our efforts, encounters with God are a gift which arrives in God’s time to prepare us for a difficult season of obedience.

Encounter change our lives forever.

Let’s Pray:  Lord, help us encounter You every day of our lives.  Help us reach up to You, through prayer, through Your Word, even as You reach down to us, with Your mercy and Your love.  Like Isaiah, we cry, “Here we are Lord. Send us.”  May Your holiness so capture our hearts that our obedience isn’t wrestled but released with grace.  May Your Greatness illuminate our difficult season, that hope would be our constant companion, and we would abide with You through Christ is great peace.  Holy Spirit, lead us forward and bring us into encounter this day, we ask, as sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  Amen

This Week’s Reading:  Isaiah 1-10

Next Week’s Reading:  Isaiah 11 – 25

Study Questions:

  1. Have you encountered God like Isaiah?
  2. Do you believe in encounters today?  Why or why not?
  3. How did Isaiah’s encounter prepare him for the season of Ahaz’s wicked rule?
  4. What can we do to encounter God?  Are there disciplines that make encounter more accessible?
  5. Journal an experience you had with God.  Journal the season that came after the encounter or experience.  Can you see what revelation God gave you about Himself to prepare you for the next?

[1]The New King James Version. 1982 (Is 6:1-8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.