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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, November 1, 2015

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).

The Book of Isaiah really begins with this chapter. Many commentators say this is Isaiah’s call as a prophet – and it is that. But it is more than that. I am convinced that this is Isaiah’s conversion as well as his call to prophecy. That has often happened to preachers in the past. When they experienced conversion, they then realized that God wanted them to preach to others. But I think the most important point is that these verses show us how Isaiah was converted. And, if you are going to be converted, you too have to go through some of what Isaiah went through.

I. First, there must be an awareness of God.

You can come to church for years and have no awareness of God. You can study the Bible and say the words of prayer for years without any awareness of God. I have been struck by that thought many times in my life.

Before I went to the Chinese Baptist church I was a member of a Caucasian (white) Baptist church for several years. Although I was only a teenager, I remember thinking that the young people there, nearly all of them, had no relationship with God at all. All they did in Sunday School was go through the assignments and give the answers. Then they wiggled and passed notes to each other during the sermons. They had no life. They had no understanding. There was nothing serious about them. I couldn’t imagine any of them going alone to a quiet place and praying. They were “alienated from the life of God” (Ephesians 4:18).

What was wrong with them? To put it bluntly, they had no God. Didn’t they sometimes think about God? Oh, I’m sure they did. But their idea of God was only an abstract doctrine, or an inner feeling.

We have people right here in our church who have no God. It isn’t uncommon, you know. That is the way almost all people are in the last days, in this post-modern culture. If you said, “God is very real to me. God is the most important person in my life,” what would your school friends think? What would the people at your job think? Wouldn’t they look at you with a blank stare? Wouldn’t they think that you are strange? Now, we’re getting down to reality! They don’t know God – and neither do you! There are young people here this morning who have no more awareness of God than those you talk to every day at school or work.

God is not inside us. That is an important point. If you told your classmates that you are spiritual, that wouldn’t bother them. If you told them you heard about God in church on Sunday, that wouldn’t bother them. But if you looked them in the eyes and said, “God who created the world is the most important and real person in my life,” they would look at you and think you are weird. Why? Because the Bible says,

“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11).

Again, the Bible says,

“The world by [its] wisdom knew not God” (I Corinthians 1:21).

Most new-evangelicals are no better than the rest of the lost world. They may even go to a Bible study group at your college, but you won’t hear them talk seriously about God. Girls usually go there to talk and blab away about this and that. If there are any boys there, they are usually there to “check out” the girls. But they don’t think about God – at least not the God of the Bible! If you said you were a Muslim, or a Catholic, or Jewish, or even a Baptist, that wouldn’t bother them. If you said, “God is inside me, and inside you too,” that wouldn’t bother them at all. That's a New Age thought. But if you said, “God is up there, looking down on us. He sees our sins and judges us,” what would happen? They would think you were weird, wouldn’t they?

Now, let’s take this a step farther. Let’s talk about you. You are here and you are not yet converted. What do you think about God? You do think about Him sometimes, don’t you? If you are not converted you certainly think wrong thoughts about Him.

Isaiah was a young man when this happened to him. He had studied the Bible. He had been attending services at the Temple. But he hadn’t known God for himself. He knew things about God, but he did not know God by experience. He was like the patriarch Job. Job said to God,

“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5, 6).

Job had heard of God. But now God spoke “unto Job out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1; 40:6). “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm” (NIV).

I don’t know how to explain this in human language. Maybe it is best to give you some true stories. Dr. Cagan was an atheist. He did not believe in God at all. Then late one night Dr. Cagan was terrified. He had a very important test in the morning at UCLA. But he couldn’t understand the material at all. He knew he would fail the next day. Suddenly Dr. Cagan prayed for the first time in his life. He said, “God, forgive me.” Then he drifted off to sleep. He awoke, knowing he would fail the test. When he got to class and looked at the questions he answered them easily and got the highest grade in the class. Then he knew that God was real. There really was a God, after all.

When I was fifteen I was deeply traumatized by the death of my grandmother, and the horrible events that happened the night before, and at her funeral. I ran away, far away, up in the hills of Forest Lawn, Glendale. I fell on the ground, gasping and drenched in sweat. Then God came down upon me. God was there and I knew it. It always makes me think of Jacob, when God came to him one night,

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!” (Genesis 28:16, 17).

Neither Dr. Cagan or myself were converted in those experiences, but we could say with Job, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5). It doesn’t mean that he actually saw God. It is a graphic way of saying that he had heard about God, but now he knew that God was real and he was a sinner, so he said, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent” (ibid.). And the experience of Isaiah was the same as that of Jacob and Job – and of Dr. Cagan and myself – when I was fifteen years old, after my grandmother’s ghastly funeral. Isaiah said,

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train [of His robe] filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah is thinking, “Good King Uzziah is dead, and things are going [bad] now. Israel will be taken captive. Prosperity will cease. A depression will come, and famine will follow.” In that frame of mind Isaiah does what every person ought to do – he goes to the temple... In God’s temple Isaiah makes the discovery that the true King of the nation is not dead. “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” – God is on the throne...God is high and lifted up, and He will not compromise with sin (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, vol. III, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982; note on Isaiah 6:1).

Now look at Isaiah 6:3. The Seraphim, the angels were there,

“and one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

They cried, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” Dr. W. A. Criswell, the great pastor in Dallas, Texas for nearly sixty years, said, “I would think that refers to the three in the Godhead,” in the Trinity (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., Isaiah: An Exposition, Zondervan Publishing House, 1977, p. 53).

Holy, holy, holy!
   Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning
   Our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy!
   Merciful and Mighty!
God in three Persons,
   Blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy,
   Tho’ the darkness hide Thee,
Tho’ the eye of sinful man
   Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy;
   There is none beside Thee
Perfect in power,
   In love, and purity.
(“Holy, Holy, Holy” by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826).

If you have no awareness of God – the thrice holy God of Scripture – if you are not aware of His holiness, justice, and mercy – how can you ever hope to become a real Christian?

II. Second, there must be conviction of sin.

Look at Isaiah 6:5,

“Then said I, 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 mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

The awareness of the thrice holy God made the prophet see his sin, “a man of unclean lips.” You will never experience that kind of conviction unless God reveals Himself to you as the “judge of all the earth.” Dr. David Wells is a Reformed theologian. He said,

The prophet became horribly aware of the [danger] in which God’s character places people. No one can stand in His light. Everyone is destroyed by it because it is the kind of light that asserts itself against all that is wrong, perverted, selfish, unbelieving, ungrateful, and disobedient...Isaiah saw that in his vision and immediately declared, in the light of who God is, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’ (Isa. 6:5). This is just one of many texts that speak of the painful and terrifying reality of God’s utter purity (David F. Wells, Ph.D., The Courage to Be Protestant, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008, p. 125).

Dr. W. A. Criswell said,

It takes the eyes of the soul to see God, ears of the heart to hear God. To those who are blind, He does not exist. To those who are deaf, He does not speak. To those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to feel, God is present in glory before us forever. In Isaiah’s vision, he felt himself sinful and unworthy. Any man who stands in the presence of God will find himself overcome with a flood of unworthiness and uncleanness sweeping over him (Criswell, ibid., p. 54).

Some day you will meet God face to face. At the time of your death you will face His judgment if you are not saved now, in this life. The God you will meet will not be the god you imagine in your own mind. And it will not be the god of any other world religion. You will come face to face with the God of the Bible. And He will judge you for your sin, especially for the sin of your heart and mind. There is only one way for your sin to be pardoned, and that is through the death of Christ in your place – on the Cross. And there is only one way for your sin to be cleansed and that is through the Blood Christ shed on that cross. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Our gospel is a gospel of blood; blood is the foundation; without it there is nothing” (God’s Way of Reconciliation, Ephesians 2, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981, p. 240).

Now look at verse 8.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Now Isaiah is called to preach. “Here am I. Send me.” And he will go and preach to others what he himself experienced.

You will only be saved if you trust Jesus and are cleansed by His holy Blood. You will only be able to face God if you have been cleansed of your sin by the Blood of Jesus, His Son. In Heaven we will sing a new song, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” (Revelation 5:9). I plead with you this morning to trust Jesus and be made clean in God’s sight by His Blood! Amen. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Isaiah 6:1-8.
Solo Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The God of Abraham Praise” (by Daniel ben Judah, 14th century).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).

I.   First, there must be an awareness of God, Ephesians 4:18;
Romans 3:11; I Corinthians 1:21; Job 42:5, 6; 38:1; 40:6;
Genesis 28:16, 17; Isaiah 6:3.

II.  Second, there must be conviction of sin, Isaiah 6:5, 8;
Revelation 5:9.