John Piper, “In the Throne Room: The God of Holiness and Hope”
A new grasp of God, a taste for the majesty of God: my prayer is that God will do it for you as we look at Isaiah’s vision. May He give you a taste of His majesty. A sense of awe and wonder that is the happiest seriousness in the world: an answer to the glib silliness of many of our churches.
Seven glimpses of God:
1. God is alive. King Uzziah is dead; God is not. Isaiah saw the Lord. From everlasting to everlasting He is the living God. He was alive forever before this world! He will be alive forever! Think of it: never having coming into being, never going out of being.
2. God is authoritative. “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne.” There has never been a vision of God in heaven ploughing a field and yet heaven is not coming apart for lack of attention. He is sitting: complete composure and on a throne. He is never at wits end; He sits. And He has complete authority. “Throne”: His right to rule the world. You don’t give God authority in your life. He has it. Totally. You can pretend He doesn’t or own it with joy. In the universe He has absolute authority. I want women to be rocks in their churches. No tomfoolery because we know our God! God has authority and we revel in it. We don’t play games, question, criticize it. We may weep with utter perplexity but we won’t rebel against our King. Few things are more humbling like the truth that He is utterly authoritative.
3. God is omnipotent. The throne of His authority is not one among many. It is high and lifted up: over every other throne and thus superior in power, authority, rule. Authority with supremacy of rule, power, control. My counsel shall stand, Is. 46:10. He does according to His rule; none can stay his hand, Dan 4:35. This God is a refuge for holy women who hope in God and experience tsunamis of pain. Steadfast in suffering because they have a place to stand, unshakeable, on the holy sovereignty of a good God.
4. God is resplendent. His train filled the temple. He is lavish in His beauty, in His creativity, in His splendor.
5. God is revered. Above him stood the seraphim. No one knows who these beings are. Be careful how we conceive of them (fat little babies fluttering around ears of God). When one of them spoke the foundations of the universe shook. We grope for pictures of what this would mean for creatures surrounding God that when they spoke heaven shook. Like the Blue Angels breaking sound barrier? The point: these magnificent creatures cannot look at God. Ashamed of their faces, their feet, before this God. They can’t see him straight on, gotta cover feet. God is always revered! Though we may weep at those who give Him no reverence, God has seen that he will always be revered by these seraphim doing what one ought to do always in life.
6. God is holy. One called to another: holy, holy, holy is Lord of hosts. Language is pushing limits with word holy. What does holy mean? Ultimately, finally, that “God is God.” Root meaning: cut, to separate. A holy thing is cut off, separated from, devoted to something else. Not part of the common, the profane, the impure but devoted unto God. Holy ground, holy assembly, holy sabbath, holy nation, etc. Almost anything can be consecrated unto God, separated from the common and profane. What happens when we try to devote this definition to God? The Godness of God means that He is separate from all He has made. A qualitative difference between God and all that He has made and that He sustains by the power of His might. His essential being: I AM and He’s not dependent on anything, but separate. His holiness in this respect is His God-ness. God is absolutely unique in this regard.
Holiness implies not just cut off from but devoted to: what will you devote God to? Nothing above God to which He would be devoted. He’s not holy because He keeps the rules; He made the rules. God is absolute; everything else is derivative. Why “holy, holy, holy”? Holiness is His utterly unique, pure essence which therefore has infinite value. The more rare a diamond, the more valuable. Only one of its kind? It’s infinitely valuable! God is infinitely valuable. The most important value in universe is not you, your family. We are as nothing compared to value of God. The main problem of the world is failure to feel that. He has infinite worth; all other value has value only in proportion to its reflection of His value: this truth changes everything. No question anymore of whether we have any rights. We have none and we had none before we fell. Humans and angels don’t have rights before their Maker. He has all rights, He defines rights, He is right and holy. Is it sweet to you or does His holiness seem far away and irrelevant?
7. God is glorious. The whole earth is full of his glory. Why not “the earth is full of your holiness“? Because the glory of God is the manifestation of the holiness of God. God’s holiness is His imcomparable perfections, intrinsic worth; when that goes on display its called the glory of God. Glory the open revelation of the secret of his holiness, the radiance of His holiness. When God shows Himself holy, we see glory. Holiness of God is concealed glory; the glory of God is revealed holiness.
What does all of that have to do with Jesus Christ? In the begining was the Word and the Word was this God. This God has a name: Jesus. He died and rose that we may make this vision the unfathomable delight of our souls.
Is 6:10 Isaiah learns he must take the vision and preach it to very dull effect. God tells him it will not go well. This vision will make people very hard. A hardening will come upon Israel. But at end of 6:13, a stump of faithfulness remains: “the holy seed is its stump.” A remnant. Something is going to happen! Is. 53 you see the seed, the suffering Servant, misery and suffering. There is bleakness in Is 6 and 53.
In John 12:38ff, Jesus’ public ministry draws to close. John explains why haven’t the people haven’t believed, why there is such a hardness in Israel, why Jesus is being rejected by the very leaders He came to bring the good news to. John uses Isaiah 53. Jesus is the fulfillment of the majestic vision of Is 6 and the suffering servant of Is 53. Both are rejected. They don’t want majesty and don’t want lowly suffering. Why not? John 12:43: people loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. May it not be said of you! Women love the glory of other women, you can tell by the way they dress. Faith in this Jesus is impossible for those who crave the approval of other people more than they crave the glory of God.
Are you so desperately needy that you live secondhandedly off glory of others? If yes you will look at this vision and it will repulse you because both the majesty and the suffering servant take your glory away. Decide whether you love that glory or yours. Most don’t want an authoritative God over them or a suffering Savior that might mean they have take up cross and wash feet. Jesus is both.
Was the reason Jesus was rejected ultimately because of the sin of man or was it the plan of God? Jesus came to give his life a ransom for many. No detours between God’s plan and God’s accomplishment. No wasted centuries. Every byway has a meaning. No suffering is without meaning. No rebellion is without meaning. Things are right on schedule.
From him and to him and through him are all things: to him be glory forever.
Note: these are my notes that were hastily typed during the presentation. Any and all error in transcription is mine and not the instructor’s. Also, please excuse the multitude of grammatical errors!