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Potent Prooftexts: Ruined

15 March 2011 by Neil

Q. 11. How does it appear that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father?

A. The Scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father, ascribing unto them such names, attributes, works, and worship, as are proper to God only.

A most exceeding rare treasure is a daypass into heaven. Only a handful have ever been verified, and strong rumour holds that there are none now issued. But back in the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah the son of Amoz went and snagged one. We read in Isaiah 6:1-7 that with his mouth most certainly agape, Isaiah gazed and blinked in the very throne room of the great and high God.

Bizarre and terrible winged creatures whizzed about, calling (yes, they could talk!) to each other, speaking of the Holy Holy Holiness of YHVH and of the expansive Glory that fills the entire planet and then some. The room trembled at its foundations. It simply could not contain God's raw power and awfulness. And what kind of smoke is it that surges through the air of the throne room of the universe? The place must have even smelled Holy.

Isaiah was ruined. In his own words, he was lost, he had come apart. He had no hope. Why? Because he was point-blank facing the absolute Holiness and infinite Glory of God. Contested by the utter righteousness and unapproachable light, Isaiah saw his own filth, heard his own folly, bore the corporate failure of his race, and realized the casual idolatry and blasphemy that he'd been passing off as reverence and worship. Standing before his King, he capitulated and surrendered to damnation and doom. But as we know, the King had ordered different steps for Isaiah.

Time flash forward many hundred years to John 12:36-43, where the apostle recounts some of the things that Isaiah said and saw. But John isn't talking about Isaiah... he's talking about Jesus. John is using Isaiah's words to convey why many of Jesus' contemporaries simply did not believe in him. And then in verse 41, John refers to Isaiah's crisis in the Holy throne room and he tells us that the Glory that Isaiah saw belonged to none other than the Second Person of the Trinity, the pre-incarnate Christ. The Glory and Holiness and terror that broke Isaiah into self-aware sinful pieces emanated from... Jesus!

But then, in versus 42 and 43, John cuts me. He tells us about the secret believers in Jesus, the ones who didn't want to lose the approval of their peers and fellows, because they craved the fleeting pseudo-glory of men much more than they desired the real Holy Glory of the Most High God, Jesus Christ.

John, I hate you. You couldn't have aimed the knife with more precision. Why would I ignore the commands of the Son for the feeble backslapping of fellow ruined men? Yet I do. Why would I treat the worship of one so worthy with such callousness? Yet in large sweeping ways and in small everyday ways, I do. Over and over. As do so many.

Returning to John's account... a day or two later, on the cross, one ember of Jesus' Glory touched my lips and took away my guilt. My sins are atoned for. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!