Levi Lusko - Too Many Irons in the Fire
Every single time we talk about God and a throne, He's always seated. In fact, the book of Psalms says He's seated with His feet up on a footstool. So I don't want you to ever think about God as stressed, God as wringing His hands, God as, He never says O-M-Me. He never gets surprised. He never has anything ever occurred like, that just occurred to me, right? God is seated. There's a sense in which He literally and metaphorically rules the universe with His feet up. He rules it with the word of His power. He doesn't need to raise his voice. He doesn't need to run. He is exalted. He's sitting on a throne, and the train of His robe is filling the temple with His glory.
This week, we have the first three stops of our recapturing the wonder of advent tour. We're going to be in Georgia and in Tennessee as well as in North Carolina this week, Fresh Life Worship leading, Lisa Harper and myself preaching. And we're praying together that God's going to touch a lot of people. Amen? Would you commit to praying for these nights, just holding up the team? Of course everybody's getting sick everywhere, but believing in for life change and for transformation. Then I'll be flying back from the first three nights, and we'll have our Firebrand year end offering next Sunday, December 3. It's going to be amazing. I'll be preaching. We'll be seeing God do a great thing in our church. Amen? Amen? Amen? And then we have the other six nights we'll be in Alabama and in Texas as well as in Florida.
So we're just believing for God to do a lot. And I will be missing the second Sunday. So I'll be preaching next weekend, but the following weekend I needed a pinch hitter. So what we did, we sat down and we said, who is like a living firebrand? And the first name that came to mind was Carlos Whitaker. So we were like, Carlos Whitaker is a living firebrand. That's a passionate person, by the way. And so he's going to come in and preach that week. He's amazing. If you've not heard him, he is just a bundle of joy and has such a great perspective, loves the Lord so much. So he'll be preaching two Sundays from now. Then of course, we're right up into the Christmas orbit at that point.
One thing I did want to say before we jumped into our time in Scripture was as we prepare our hearts, and some have already, some of you have already, we've been having people already give their year end offering, and that will continue towards the end of the year. But we like to have a moment where we come around to in person. So for those who want to be able to come and do that in person, December 3, next Sunday is that opportunity. And what I would say is, of course we're watching these videos, seeing about some of the outreach grants that we're going to hopefully be able to get behind. And we all clap, and it's exciting, but I hope you understand if we don't give, these don't happen. So it's like all a great idea, but us to be able to give these grants is an expression of our faith as a community.
And so if you haven't yet, take some time, like I have, sit down with your Bible and your devotional time, and your checkbook and/or log into your online banking as you peruse these things. Here's the question for all of us to pray. God, what part would you have me play in this? I'm not asking you to give anything to this, though, of course, they are noble causes, worthy causes. As we've seen, these are incredible things. But what I'm asking you to do is to pray about what God would have you to give. And if He tells you to give nothing, please, by all means, give nothing. If you say, God, hungry people being fed, people receiving clothing, the Gospel being preached to the poor, if God says, nope don't want you to get behind that, then please don't do anything in this offering. But if God tells you how you're to participate with what He's entrusted to you, then all I ask is for you to be faithful to that.
And if all of us as a church community, everyone joining in Fresh Life online podcast fam, Musketeer kind of fam coming in together, if we all say, God, out of what you've entrusted to us, we all are going to be faithful with that, I'm telling you, miracles can happen. Amen? That's what we're believing to see in this year end offering. I do also want to say what personally has energized me, because you'll see, of course the outreach grants, which we will give first, and before we do anything for our ministry, what really gets me full of faith as I look at it, and I'm just really honestly motivated and energized as Jennie and I bring a sacrificial gift, and we had a couple meetings this week already just had that discussion and just really laying it out there, what is God, how has He blessed us, how has He been good to us, and how can we engage, what gets me excited is the talk we have in here about debt reduction as a ministry.
That's not sexy. That's not like, oh, man, that pulls on the heartstrings, but I would love to leave the next generation with a debt-free church. I would love to be able to hand them that and to take care of the cost of those things and to see all that money freed up to ministry and just think about how much less interest we'll be paying if we can ahead of time pay down some of these things. And so that's filling me with faith as we take a swing as a family and do our part. I can't do everything, but we can all do something, and I just love the thought of linking in my faith with yours. And believe me, we already try and lead as with as good stewardship as we can. For example, the Whitefish Building which is currently going up, we were able to save up 80% and only finance 20%. So that's, generally speaking, not how you go about a building project like that, but I would love to see that completely just knocked out. Amen? Somebody, anybody with me on that? Just excitement and the thought of opening up resources for ministry and not going to interest to banks and all that.
So Firebrand, we're full of faith, excited, not the least of which because of what we know God will do in our lives as we prioritize his kingdom. Amen? All right, that's December 3, and that's that. I'm not preaching around that offering this weekend, but God has given me a message within our Firebrand series. Isaiah chapter 6 is where we're going to be. I want to talk around the idea, as we begin, of being pulled in 1,000 directions. You ever feel like that? I'm just being pulled in 1,000 directions. There's a great line in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, where at the end of just this old age, time on Earth, a fatigued Bilbo Baggins is talking to Gandalf, and he's just trying to explain to him how exhausted and how depleted he is, and the line is "I feel thin. I feel like sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread".
Anybody feel like that, like you got more bread left at the end of your butter when it comes to your time? Just so much to do. When it comes to your finances, there's just so many things, so many things, so many things. There's a fatigue we feel when it comes to our attention. So much to watch, so much content, so many different platforms, streaming things, things to stay up on, things to be in the know about. When it comes to enthusiasm, so many things we should care about, but it just feels like, my gosh, I'm just depleted. And even compassion, how unique is it at this particular moment in world history that we know everything going on everywhere all the time? Go back 500 years, you're never hearing about a serial killer that's on the other side of the world. You wouldn't and didn't know about it.
Now, the cool thing is the Holy Spirit could still help you participate in prayer through groanings that can't be uttered, but you didn't know all the messy particulars of every awful thing that happened everywhere. And to some degree, ignorance is bliss! I'll pray in the spirit for the earthquake on the other side of the world, and I'll give generously so that the ministries that are doing the relief and preaching the gospel in those areas are doing it, but my gosh, I can't handle all that. I can't handle knowing. What am I to do with all of that? We read in the newspaper the other day, interior designer's been embezzling from high end clients. I'm like, that's terrible. I'm just not going to trust any interior designers that I see anywhere. Man keeps girlfriend locked up in basement with a belt and beats her every once in a while. I'm like, do I really need to know that every time that happens? Some of you are like, now I know, and I didn't want to know. See?
And these information bites, these breaking news summaries, what are we to do with? They're like 1,000 paper cuts at a time. We can end up with even our compassion, there's only so much butter, and there's more bread than ever. And then you just think about all the things culturally pulling at us. It used to be that Black Friday was a day. Now it's a whole season. Does anybody feel that? When did the Black Friday emails begin, like Halloween? We're in Black Friday season. Just everything, everything, everything, It's just escalating and more and more. Go back to 1950. In 1950, the average new home purchase in America was 983 square feet, and was two bedrooms, one bathroom. It's like I'm all excited to buy a house. I'm going to get together a down payment and buy two bedrooms, one bathroom, got a roof over my house, over my head. And it cost $11,000, unbelievably. But you flash forward to 2023, the average home cost $431,000, median home price in America, is 2,014 square feet, and three bedrooms, 2 and 1/2 bathrooms, just bigger everything.
And even with that, we still need a storage unit, because you can't fit all that in there. When McDonald's first opened, the largest drink on the menu was five ounces. That was the biggest. I want to get a large Coke, it's going to be 5 ounces of soft drink. Today, the biggest one tops out at 30oz. Everything just pulling at us, pulling at us, pulling at us. There's more bread than ever. There's only so much butter. And that's why as Howard Hendricks put it, the secret to concentration is elimination. The secret to concentration is elimination. The sun can only start a fire if it gets focused. Any other cruel, sick people ever killed some ants with a magnifying glass? Burn some wood? Maybe that's a better way to put it. Just burn some wood. You can start a fire with the sun, but only if it gets focused. You're capable of incredible things, but only focused. Spread everywhere, pulled in 1,000 directions, everything clamoring for some of you gets just the tiniest little piece of you.
It's what they call an opportunity cost, which is why we have to learn the art of saying no. No, you can't have my attention. You can't have my enthusiasm. You can't have my affection. You can't have my time. But we feel like it's unloving, and we have to just please, and the people pleaser inside of us, we got to say yes to every invitation, got to do everything that someone else wants us to do, but you got to learn to grow your no, or God will not be able to bless your yes. And we have to get better at that. We have to learn how to manage, and steward, and give an account for what we have been given. Someone asked me the other day. They said, why don't you golf? And I said, what do you mean? And they said, well, every pastor I know golfs. Everybody golfs. And they said is it, because you don't think you'd like it? And I said no, it's because I know I would. It's because I know I would. And something would have to give.
Five hours a pop, right? Something would have to give in my budget. Something would have to give. So I know for a fact, I would like it. I know I would like pickleball too. And I don't do it not because I don't do it, but because I know I would, and I have an addictive personality. I'm growing my nos so I can bless my yes. I don't want the story of my life to be the title of my sermon, "Too Many Irons in the Fire". That's the title of this message, "Too Many Irons in the Fire". It's a blacksmithing term, turns out, where you're trying to do too much, and so all the irons you're putting in smother the fire, but you're thinking you're going to get to them in just a moment. Or while you're preoccupied with one, the other metal is melted and destroyed and isn't able, you don't get to it in time to do the thing with it you're trying to do.
And that, unfortunately, can become, if we're not careful, the story of our lives in a world where there are so many different people wanting to put the iron in your fire, wanting to have a little bit of your time, wanting to have some of your affection, wanting to have some of you. And the worst would be to come to a place where the name above every name is just one of many irons in our fire, one of just many things that gets some of our attention. To where Jesus put it, in the parable of the Sower and the Seed, where we end up choked out by thorns, which are, he said, the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and desires for other things. Not all of that's bad. The devil doesn't just want to get you bad. He's willing to settle for busy. We just have so many irons in the fire. We're going to see this cured in Scripture through the story of a man whose attention, as we begin, was divided. But he's going to have an encounter with God that will mark him for life, and he will go from having too many irons in the fire to seeing that only one thing is needed, and he'll never be the same as a result of this encounter.
Let's read it starting in verse 1 of Isaiah 6. "In 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 coal which he had taken with 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".
And He said, And He tells him what he's going to do, and He gives him a whole description of the preaching ministry that he's going to preach where, basically, let me just sum it up for you, no one's going to listen. They're going to have such hard hearts, such dull spirits that they're going to stay distracted and stay oblivious, and for 30 years Isaiah is going to preach and not have a single convert. And then look at verse 11. He says, well, how long am I going to do that for? And he goes, until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, until the houses are without a man, until the land is utterly desolate. So you keep preaching, and the church will just get smaller and smaller and smaller. People will die off, and then no one's going to respond, and they'll eventually kill you. So that'll be your whole story. You're welcome. Hope you're glad you came to church.
And, Father, we pray that we would see you. God, your word says that we get a heart of wisdom when we remember our end, and then we live out of that revelation. So, Father, I pray that even now in our mind's eye, as we would fly through high school and college, and fly through the season of being engaged and married and having young kids and having older kids, and then having empty nests, and then having, Lord, sort of that golden period and retirement, and, OK, great, and now we keep going, and eventually inevitable decline if there's not something catastrophic that happens. And finally, ultimately, we succumb to the reality of living on a broken planet, and we shuffle off this mortal coil, and life ends, and now we stand before you. For unless you come for us or we leave this world sooner, all of us, God, this is the moment coming for us where we will get to see with our own eyes what Isaiah was given a glimpse of here in this day. And I pray, God, that by fast forwarding through our lives to look at that inevitable, inevitable termination point, we then could come back, kind of Ebenezer Scrooges to the present, and in light of that future make wise choices, we pray, seeing you clearly for who you are, and thus seeing ourselves in the right way as a result. Thank you, Jesus. We love you, and we pray this in your name. Amen.
There are some connections that we need to make to understand this passage, and there are five of them. And the first one, jot it down, is the connection between grief and glory, grief and glory. It's glorious, and I would, like you, want to rush into the details. OK, what are the angels, and what's the deal with the throne, and why the altar? And hold on. We got to start with the grief. Because that's where the text starts. In verse 1, we're given what we might skip past in between bites of our bagel and sips of our latte during our devos. Oh, how nice, right? And he saw the Lord, and that's so fantastic and glorious. But hold on. When did this all happen? Text says, in the year that King Uzziah died. And so you go, well, who's Uzziah? And what's the deal with him? And that will take you as you look at it in a concordance which will show you different words in the Bible and where they occur, you look for the word Uzziah in the scriptures, and it takes you to 2 Chronicles 26.
And you read this chapter about a teenager. Anybody here in the church today have a location church at 16 years old? Do I have any 16-year-olds? OK, so 16, a lot going on in life, driver's ed, and starting to think about what's after high school, all those different things that are starting to shift in life. This dude's 16, your exact age, his dad dies. And his dad was the king of Israel. And so with his father now gone, the entire nation looks to Uzziah and says, well, you're our king because Amaziah is dead. And with all of that, you know what he felt? Well, can you give me a wide shot? Do you see that? That's what Uzziah felt. His knees would have been knocking like crazy. And so you know what he did? He knelt on him. He did the same thing that you and I ought to do every time we feel that response of fear. When your knees are shaking, get down on top of them, and don't try and run from your weakness, and give that weakness to God.
And that's exactly what King Uzziah did. And he sought the Lord. He sought God. He said, God, I don't know how to do this. How could I lead your people? I'm just a kid. And so God said, all right. You finally know, and so now I can give you my power. And the scripture says he was marvelously helped as long as he remembered that he was weak. Because a little pro tip about God, he humbles the proud but gives grace to the humble. So in your life, the best thing to do is to not pretend you don't have weaknesses. Embrace your weaknesses, and bring them to the one who can make you strong in your weakness. And that's what happened to King Uzziah. So he sought the Lord. The Lord prospered him, and everything he touched, it would seem, began to turn to gold.
I mean, I'm telling, you he had these ideas for where we could put vineyards, and how we could bring water in to water the crops, and new kinds of vineyards. He was like a Renaissance man, good at science, good at technology, good at inventions. He was like Napoleon when it came to military strategy. I mean, this guy, unbelievable. He invented machines that could hurl giant rocks off the walls at the enemy. This is like Lord of the Rings style stuff, y'all. I mean, honestly he was just phenomenal. You read 2 Chronicles 26, and you're like, wow, was this guy alive? Could he run for president today? Because this is amazing. And how would it feel to be in a nation under that kind of leadership? Really good.
How long was Uzziah king for? Because he became king at 16. That means he could do so for a long time. Because it's not like us where new person in the office four, eight, or FDR, three terms, 12 years, but the extenuating circumstances of the depression and Second World War. That's how that all happened. And so you think like the longest we would ever in this country really see someone be president is 12 years. This guy was king for 52 years, because you were king till you died. So that means that there were so many people living in Israel who never knew anything but how Israel was while Uzziah was king. They were born into him being king. They lived for a long time.
So it would just sort of eventually start to be a thing where any of the hard times, any of the bad days were so far in the rear view mirror, we're always going to prosper. We're always going to be flush in cash. The economy's always going to be doing good. We don't have to worry about anyone attacking us because he's got these walls covered with devices that can throw rocks and arrows at them. We're going to be fine. In the year King uzziah died, I saw the Lord. It was when one throne, the throne on Earth that many people had begun to put irons in the fire connected to him, not connected to God, many people began to be complacent, smug, materialistic during this time. Listen, we all get worried about hard things coming our way. Hard things almost always bless our lives. It's the good times that cause us to get complacent.
It's the good times that cause us to get a little bit spiritually rotund. It's the good times that cause us oftentimes to take our eyes off of God and look to and become defined by the blessings from God. Trials? Trials wake us up. Trials splash cold water on our faces. If we're of a pure heart as we go into them, they can cause us to experience greater glory. Example, this text, the Uzziah being lost thing, that everyone would have said would be a bad thing, ended up leading to Isaiah having an incredible sense of revelation in the midst of it. The same is true for you. Peter talks about trials that we face in this life, and how it's common for us to look at those as some terrible thing. But he actually said those things purify us. Those things cleanse us. Those things, like gold, can cause us to be refined by the fire, which is why he says you should greatly rejoice in trials.
James says the same things. He says, you should tell yourself how lucky I am when life gets difficult, because that says that God is seeking to bring about blessing, and strength, and increase, and perseverance. All these things are what God is seeking to do in our lives when we face grief. He's seeking to unleash glory, and that was what God was seeking to do in this time of loss. Where it would have felt a lot like 60 years ago this week in America when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, November 22, 1963, the 60 year anniversary this past week. They described that period in American history, I don't remember it personally, but some of you, maybe you were alive at that point. They described it as sort of this national grief, this sort of ending of a period of idealized, Wasn't really all it was presented to be, but they called it kind of this Camelot and this golden, happy, beautiful young couple in the White House with their cute little kids playing under the Resolute desk.
And then all of a sudden, we have this little boy on his birthday saluting his dad's casket being paraded on its way to the Arlington National Cemetery. Everybody was around the country, I mean, kids were let out of school. It was just apparently just this incredible time of national mourning. That's what this would have felt like. And Isaiah is kind of stumbling. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. And just as Uzziah dies, by the way, the Assyrian Empire by the way the year 740 BC is just starting to show up as this massive threat. So you got this escalation, this idea of war. All of a sudden the economy is completely thrown upside down. What's going to happen? How are we going to get through all of this?
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. In the midst of our grief, God is seeking to call us to His glory, to call us to His presence to call us to His strength, to cause us to look to Him for what cannot be taken away, and to root and build our lives based not on what can happen on this earth but on His kingdom of which there shall be no end. His glory, His power, His reign forever, there's a connection, friends, between grief and glory that can tell us something about what to do with our irons in the fire of this life. Secondly, there's a connection between worship and wonder, worship and wonder. Now let's talk about this scene, the scene where a throne is presented to him. And there is someone seated on the throne, and every single time we talk about God and a throne, he's always seated.
In fact, the book of Psalms says He's seated with His feet up on a footstool. So I don't want you to ever think about God as stressed, God as wringing His hands, God is He never says O M Me. He never gets surprised. He never has anything ever occur to Him like that just occurred to me. God is seated. There's a sense in which He literally and metaphorically rules the universe with His feet up. He rules it with the word of His power. He doesn't need to raise His voice. He doesn't need to run. He is exalted. He's sitting on a throne, and the train of His robe is filling the temple with His glory. You think about the video footage, I mean, of course when Queen Elizabeth died, we were watching all the footage as it was being shown around the world of her funeral.
But did you know that one of the first really galvanizing global events that was ever televised nationally was her coronation? How crazy is that? First time really around the world there was coverage dominating of any event, that was 70 years before her death. She was queen for 70 years, which is why there was such a collective outpouring of loss when Queen Elizabeth died. But if you look into it, the footage of her coronation ceremony, literally she had a train that went down the aisle, and attendants on both sides were holding this. And there was a great sense of pomp, a great sense of, and that's impressive, don't get me wrong. Having a massive train filling a building up on earth, the Bible talks about God's train, the train of his robe filling up the entire temple with glory.
And then there's this worship taking place. Moses was told to build sort of a Xerox copy of God's throne on earth as a representation of what we had lost when we were kicked out of Eden and banished from God's presence. And all that we could do was look at this LEGO version of it. It was called the Tabernacle. And inside of it was this box that was to be carried around and set up before they set up their own tents. And it was paid for by all the people of a free, willing heart above and beyond their tithes, giving offerings as much as they would to see this built, this vision. And Moses, actually the people gave so generously, he's like, everything is taken care of. Please stop, please stop giving. And this box represented God's throne, represented this altar. And the Bible talks about how they were to put these two golden angels above the mercy seat, and their wings were outstretched over.
Now, this was just a physical version of it, a crude version of it. This that Isaiah sees is not a crude version of it. This is the real thing. And there are not just statue angels covering it, sitting still. When he sees it, they're flying about God's throne, crying out praise, crying out in adoration. Their very anatomy, anatomy is made up to facilitate the worship. Fish are designed to swim, so they have fins. And monkeys are built for trees, so they have tails, and they really have dexterity. These creatures were created for the purpose in which they are performing this act of worship. They have six wings, people. Two wings that they fly with, and as they go around God's throne, but two wings cover their face, almost as though they're saying He's so glorious I cannot even look at Him.
Now, they've never sinned. They don't have any fear of seeing Him, but it's just an act of humility, an act of self-abasement to avert their gaze. And so what they are seeing is enough to cause them to praise and to cry out. But what they do is they hide their faces, almost a veil that covers them from looking upon God's purity. Two feet each angel covered by wings. Why? It's the same reason you feel embarrassed if you ever go over to someone's house and you realize, oh, they take their shoes off. You ever, I didn't know this was going to be, I did not prepare. I didn't bring my good socks. I brought the socks with my big toe sticking out of them, and that feeling of like mismatched. You're like, oh, I don't want to show my feet to you. BECAUSE you don't want to dishonor them with your stinky feet.
Now, these angels don't have stinky feet, but they cover their feet out of a sense of I won't show anything that would dishonor Him. Even in their build, they're honoring God, crying out as they go around the throne. They're crying out to each other, by the way, the text says. As they see what they see, as they glorify and honor God, they cry out to each other "holy, holy, holy" to one another. The word holy is the Hebrew word kadosh. Say it. It's a fun word, kadosh. But it's not just kadosh. It's kadosh, kadosh, kadosh.
Now, in Scripture, one of the tools to highlight the importance of significant details is given through repetition. So in Jesus's ministry, you see this where he will begin something important he's about to say by saying amen. But he doesn't just say it once. He says amen, amen. We did a whole sermon series looking at the amen amens of Jesus. It was how he highlighted, hey, don't miss this, amen, amen. Because in that day it was common if a rabbi or a teacher said something significant, the congregation would respond amen. Jesus put his amens at the beginning because he didn't need nobody's co-sign. He's like, this is true whether you like it or not. And it's not even just true, it's true true. Amen, amen!
So in the Hebrew and the Greek, you don't always see it, because in most translations Jesus's amen amens just get translated to "most assuredly". Which is the idea, but you miss something. So something might be described as gold in the Bible, but if they're really wanting you to see it's gold, they'll go it's gold gold. What kind of gold? Goldie, goldie, goldie. Or in the book of Genesis, Abraham and these kings, there's this big battle that happens where these kings are fighting each other, and God eventually shows up, and some of the kings fall into some pits near the area of Sodom and Gomorrah. And the Bible says, if you actually look at it in the Hebrew, they fell into pit pits. Not tar pit, deep pits, or pits full of miry clay even. They are the pittiest of all the pits. They fell into pit pits.
OK, so now take that verbal tool, literary tool of repetition, and apply it to the word kadosh, because kadosh, or holy, as it gets translated, what does it actually mean? It means cut off. OK, so let's say Thanksgiving Aunt Susie said, I can't be there till five, but you're saying we're eating at 3:00. Well, you don't want all the cornbread, all the green bean casserole, all the yams, all the turkey to get all... You know how it is, right? So before it gets presented, you might kadosh. You're cutting off some that's Aunt Susie's. OK, so everybody comes in, they're not eating it because it's been cut off. It's separate. It's kadosh. It's in a different category than just the food that's on the counter. You see, it's reserved for a specific use. And throughout Scripture, tons of things are called holy, like the first day of the week. It's kadosh unto me. It's not like every other day.
Every other day you get to do the things that you do. This day is kadosh. It's cut off. It's not even included when you look at what's to be used and budgeted for your career and for your passions and for your pickleball. There's a kadosh day. If you are saying yes to that first, you can't say yes to so many things, and then end up accidentally having to say no to that because I didn't plan well. So when it comes to money, the Bible talks about the idea of the tithe, which is to kadosh that first 10%. If we put God to the end, well, I got to pay the Verizon bill, and I got to pay the mortgage, and I got to do this, and I got to do this, and you get to the end, you're like, oh my gosh, there's no pie left for God. Why? Because you didn't kadosh. You didn't say holy.
So Aunt Susie comes in hungry, and all there is gross old leftovers in the bottom of the pan. You can scrape some of that out, I guess. She's like, you didn't know I was coming? Why didn't you set something aside for me? So when we kadosh something, we're saying this is reserved for special use. It's in a different category, and you'll see lift up kadosh hands to the Lord, lift up holy hands to God. We talk about greeting each other with a holy kiss, this idea of we're recognizing that we've each been called to be separate unto God. The Bible talks about us as this royal priesthood, His holy people, His own, like He's saying we are to see ourselves as kadosh, separate unto God's unique use, that we're living sacrifices living for His glory. So holy is a concept we get all through the Bible.
In fact, the very word saint, we talk about someone being a saint, that literally means hagios. It's a Greek word. Not Haagen-dazs. That's a delicious frozen treat. Hagios, which literally means set apart. We're his set apart people. We've been called out of darkness into marvelous light to proclaim His praises. So holy is a concept that you'll see all over the Bible. The temple cups and lamp lighting tool, that's all kadosh. It's got a very special assignment. But God's not just kadosh. God's kadosh, kadosh, kadosh. Holy, holy, holy. The only attribute of God repeated in triple, in triplicate, is His holiness. It is His primary essence, that He is separate. He's in a different category. There's nothing like Him. To whom can we compare God? He has no rival. He has no equal. As these angels fly around, they're turning to each other going, there's nothing like Him.
I've never seen anything like this. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. And you go, man, doesn't that get boring? Honesty in church. That's what I'm afraid heaven's going to be, that I would just have to sing from one end of the hymnal to the other end, put my iPhone music playlist on worship for Spotify, and just put it on shuffle indefinitely, and that's heaven on a cloud or something like that? Well, first of all, to say such things is completely normal, OK? So don't feel bad that your image and your understanding of heaven is that small, because we've never been there before. Some theologians have said if you tried to talk to a baby in the belly about life on this world, they would be very confused and frightened. You're like, oh, it's going to be good. We eat beef jerky. It's delicious.
Sometimes when we're hiking, oh, hiking. Hiking is where you hike on trails with these sticks, and skateboarding's cool. You can skateboard around. Oh, and then we go on chairlift sometimes. And that baby is like, I'm going to stay in here. Sounds dangerous out there. But Paul, who got to go to heaven and see it one time, like Isaiah, he said, for the rest of his life, I just can't wait to go to paradise. I can't wait to go. And what will make heaven heaven is not gold streets or a crystal lake. It's going to be able to see what these angels see. And when you see it, you will say I've never seen anything like it. Holy, holy, holy. So 700 years goes by, and John the disciple that Jesus loved got sent to Patmos, a prison on an island like Alcatraz. And there while banished, while still recovering from third degree wounds to his entire body from being dipped into boiling oil alive, he, in his grief, encounters the glory of God, and what we know of as the book of Revelation is the result of that moment.
And one small detail he gives in chapter 4 tells us that what he saw was someone sitting on a throne like jasper and a sardius stone in appearance, and there was a rainbow beaming from around the throne, in appearance like an emerald, and he too describes the Seraphim, which in the Hebrew just means "burning ones". Hello. Most people who saw angels in the Bible were tempted either to crap their pants or worship the angel. They couldn't decide. And these four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within, and they do not rest day or night saying, "holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, is to come".
Oh, by the way, their optometrist is kept very busy because they got eyes all over their body from head to toe. John gives us a detail Isaiah did not even notice. So even of what's to be seen in these angels, you can't get it all in at first, first couple years of it. 700 years later, as John looks at this scene, apparently these angels have not gotten sick or tired of the song that they sing day and night. Now, this is not to suggest that they don't work. In fact, later on in the text that we read, one of them is sent to the altar to get a coal and to come do something, but that is to say that what drives their being is that they have only one iron in the fire, the holiness of the one who sits on the throne. They are obsessed with a holy God and cannot believe they get to see Him and worship Him.
And so, yeah, they'll do assignments. They'll do whatever God calls them to do in a moment. But before and between and after and in the midst of it is this, exalting and glorifying the one that they see that is not like anything else. No one's ever been like this God. The things that He does, who He is. And each exclamation of holiness is about something new that they've seen in Him, and worship can never get old when you keep allowing God to show you something new. There's continual wonder because there's ongoing worship. And every time there's an effect seen and felt as the doorposts shake, not from just the power of the one on the throne but from the power of these beings crying out about God's goodness. There's a physical effect. Things happen when we praise Him. The temple is filled with His glory. The smoke rises, the door shakes. This is what we see from beginning to end. When we lift up our praise, God sends His power down. And there's a third. The third is that there's a connection between repentance and refreshment.
Did you notice that in response to all of this Isaiah is a mess? Isaiah is not like, oh, let me get my phone. I'm going to get a selfie with the throne just behind me just right. He's like, I am undone. I'm going to die. I can't. There's no, woe is me. He falls down before the one on the throne. I'm undone. And then his first thought is my lips, my lips are dirty. Now, why is that? Well, there's a connection in Scripture between what we say and what's in our heart, because our words reveal our hearts. So you can sin with your lips, and it reveals what's going on inside your life. But I think there's something more to it because of what Isaiah specifically did vocationally, which was he's a prophet, a preacher, and really good at it. You know his nickname theologians refer to him as?
The Shakespeare of the prophets, the golden-tongued orator. He's not like Peter, James, and John who are like bumbling fishermen called out from fishing to preach. This cat could do it. This guy had skill. He had finesse. In fact, his book, Isaiah 66 chapters, the nickname of it is the Bible in miniature. It's that good. So this was him and doing something that he was born to do. He's a priest. That's what he's put on this earth to do. He's a prophet. He's ready to go for it and all the things. This came naturally to him, gifted in this way. But when he sees God, he's undone. Not confessing his sin here in this moment, he's confessing his strength. He's not confessing what he had done wrong, but what he had done right and what a pitiful mistake it was to stand thinking he could stand on his own two legs, on the strength of what he could do for God.
This reminds me so much of Luke 10, where Mary and Martha have Jesus over for dinner. And Mary's like the Seraphim. She just can't. She's obsessed with who Jesus is. She falls down at his feet, doing what she does every time she shows up in Scripture, sitting at his feet to worship him. She's obsessed. She's going kadosh, kadosh. I just got to listen to what he has to say. Martha, she's got the golden lips or the golden hospitality, the golden spoon. She's in the kitchen, working up all the things, and she's frustrated at her sister, who's just sitting there listening to Jesus. She can't believe she would do that when she should be helping her out. And so she actually interrupts Jesus's sermon. You know the story? It's amazing.
She's like Jesus, I'm going to let you finish in a second. Tell my sister to come help me. When you are trying to do things for God that aren't connected to what God has done for you, you will start to think you're God. And instead of what Mary and the Seraphim feel, I can't believe I get to bask in His glory, you'll start to feel like life's unfair. And that's how Isaiah perhaps felt. Golden-tongued, now he's undone. And it's not to say that we shouldn't serve like Martha and only ever sit like Mary. I think the point is, like the Seraphim exhibit, like Mary exhibits, we should all the doing, find the energy to do all those things coming from our sitting at Jesus's feet so we can rise and serve as he's called us to serve.
But when Isaiah repents and realizes, I have so many irons in the fire, I was looking to Uzziah, and I've been looking to what I can do for God, and all of these various things, and it's just simplified because he realizes there is an actual firebrand as this coal is brought from the altar. And I will point out to you in the text something I'd never noticed before. The angel had to use tongs. What does the angel, Seraphim, mean again? Burning ones. It's a very bad and scary thing when someone whose name means "burning ones" is scared to even get their fingers on the coal. They must use tongs, but it's coming for your lips. This should kill him, but it doesn't. Instead, he's told your sin has been atoned for. Why? Someone else paid the bill. The one on the throne had humbled himself.
Now, I realize it hadn't happened yet, but God, who is outside of time, already knew what He was going to do. And so the payment was good for Isaiah, even though God hadn't done it yet. Isaiah would get to it in Isaiah 53, by the way. That's the moment on the altar. He was wounded for our transgressions, pierced for our iniquity. The chastisement for our peace was laid upon him. Once Isaiah says, I can't, my righteous deeds are like filthy rags. My golden tongues are, my golden tongue's filthy. I'm not like you. You're holy. I'm not holy. I represent a people not holy. God says, great. You're good. This has touched you. This which killed me has touched you and cleansed you. And when we repent, guess what? We get refreshed. But we can't be cleansed of sins we won't confess. And when Isaiah brings that out and admits that, now everything's fine.
Now it's completely on to the next thing, which is what? The connection between availability and opportunity. Availability and opportunity. Have you ever felt like, why do other people get these opportunities? Why does God use some people? This is so important to see. Scripture links the two by God saying, and if you've ever wondered, does the Bible actually speak about the Trinity, pay attention, whom shall I send? Whom shall go for us? There's even, in fact, in the Hebrew word for Lord, two different kinds of Lord mentioned in the Scripture. The first mention you'll notice in your Bible it's capital L lowercase o-r-d. The second instance is capital L capital O, capital R capital D, which is a way of indicating in the translation the difference between Adonai, which is the title Lord most often used in the New Testament to describe Jesus, and the word for Yahweh, which is just the God of heaven and earth and that God has, even within His personality, self-distinction.
Whom shall I send? One God. Who shall go for us? Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Adonai is Yahweh is what Jesus came to help us understand, not two gods. There's one God, but He's revealed himself to us in three persons. Whom shall I send? Whom shall go for us? Why do some people get used? Why will some people receive blessing in this offering? Why? Why do some people get to have opportunity? Is it as simple as availability? Maybe it is. Some people give him the room. Some people give him the kadosh in their life. Some people say, this is for you, God. Use it. God says who's going to do this? Who will go for us? Isaiah says, I will. God says, to be clear, this that I'm talking about is preaching for 30 years and not seeing any fruit of it.
Want to talk about hard ground? They're going to kill you. You ever read in Hebrews 11 about by faith getting sawn in two? That's Isaiah, who the people who he preaches to eventually get so sick of him they put him in a hollowed out log and cut him alive in half. That's how he gets to go see the scene one more time and then stay there forever. So God says, just to be clear, this is what I'm talking about. Who will I send now? Who will go for us? Isaiah says, when do we start? Because after what I've seen in who you are, I'll do anything you want me to do. It doesn't quite matter. And this is the strength. This is the place we come to where we have sat like Mary at Jesus's feet.
Then we are powered to rise up like Martha should and could have, had she not been defined and derived her identity from what she was doing for God, but instead just to be lost and obsessed in the majesty, and worth, and excellence of knowing God. That changes everything. And it changes, finally, the connection between our final point, which is between perspective and pain. Perspective and pain. You know, this text began with everybody on earth grieving. And Isaiah included in the list of people who are like, what the heck? What's going to happen now? Look at the same country you've looked at forever, but now it's full of fear because Uzziah is gone. Uzziah is gone. By the time the text ends, Isaiah, who has lifted his eyes to heaven, now knows what God sees when He looks back at the earth. He says the whole earth is full of His glory. His perspective shifted.
When we look up to the throne instead of just looking at the problems and looking at the stresses and looking at the difficulties, the things pulling us in all these directions, and we get those irons out, we say there's one iron in my fire, the name above every name. It doesn't mean I'm going to preach less. Isaiah preached more after this encounter. It means what we're doing is going to be an act of worship. How we approach school is going to be an act of worship. How I approach my wife is going to be an act of worship. So now it's not one more thing pulling at me. There's only one thing, Him, His glory, His fame, His worth. And how I do everything I do is going to be me doing all and saying all in the name of Jesus.
This is what Paul said, Colossians 317. "Let every detail in your lives, words, actions, whatever, be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way". And if you do that, you'll still face hardship, but your perspective will be different. Didn't Paul say? This is Romans chapter 8. Didn't he say, I consider that the sufferings of this life are not even worthy to be compared to the glory, the glory that shall be revealed in us. I close with a story. I bought an audio book this last year that was intimidating because it was a 35-hour commitment. So I said, all right. I'm excited to go through this book, but I'm only going to listen to it when I'm working out. And that'll keep me motivated to progress through it.
So I finally finished it. So excited about it, and it's out of my life now. But it's called Titan. It's the story of John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller Center in New York City, that bears his name. He was never there, by the way. His son built it. He wasn't interested in it. He wouldn't go and support and even see it because his ego was so wrapped in what he did, he had a hard time caring for anything he wasn't personally the one with the idea behind. Mess. Anyhow, he was the richest person on the planet when he died, first billionaire in American history. If you adjust for inflation, he would have had, in today's money, about $26 billion to his name, at a time when people were not wealthy like that, really, in our country or in the world for the most part. I realize now there's like there's a billionaire tree, and new billionaires are dropping out of it all the time.
But back then, it was relatively rare, and he accounted for 3% of the gross domestic product of the entire country, just him personally, his net worth. So wealthy you can't even fathom it, and he was big on philanthropy, started the University of Chicago, and would do this and do this and do this and do this. But I found it puzzling. At the end of his life, he always thought he was going to live to be 100. He ended up dying just shy of his 98th birthday. His son, though, said, and this was in the final chapter, he had a rule at the end of his life. Nobody was ever allowed to talk about death in his presence. No one talked about it.
And the exact quote from John Rockefeller Jr. was this, death remained an unmentionable subject for him. You were allowed to speak about any other thing, what he did in his life, this accomplishment, this activity, anything on this earth, but no mention was ever made or allowed to be made concerning him in regard to dying. How different is that for Paul, who said in 2 Timothy 4, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing".
You see, the more your focus is on this earth, the more painful it will be to leave any of those other irons you've let get crowded into your fire. But the more your focus is on heaven, the greater your eternal perspective will be facing any amount of difficulty on this life. Why? Death either takes you to your treasure or takes you from your treasure. It will either bring you to your treasure or rip your treasure from your hands, depending on whether your home is on earth or your home is in heaven. William Barclay said, and I close, I know it's the second time I've said that. I promise now. It's easy to pack this life with such a multiplicity of interests that there is no time left for Christ. The more complicated life becomes, the more necessary it is to see that our priorities are right, or Jesus will get pushed to the sideline.
And so, Father, we ask that by your Spirit we would have a heart of wisdom, remembering that our life on this earth is just a breath. It's just a vapor. And heaven forbid we let your word and your work get so crowded and choked out by the cares of this world and the desires of other things and the deceitfulness of riches, and we don't kadosh our lives, God. We don't say holy for you, separated for you, and you end up on the sideline. So for those of us feeling pulled in 1,000 directions, God, I pray we would feel permission from your spirit to let it become much more simple. Anything that is not eternal is eternally out of date. Help us to live with our hearts and minds on heaven.
If you would, as we're praying, say, I needed to hear this today, I needed this reminder today, feel pulled in all these different ways, but I realize I'm putting my butter over the wrong bread, I just want to focus more, like Paul said, on the good fight you've called me to fight, motivated and strengthened by what I see of your glory and your holiness. If that's you I'm describing, could I just ask you to raise a hand up in the air all across our church, church online.
God, help us. Help us, God. We believe, but, Lord, we're unbelievers, too. We need you to touch us, to change us, to help us. Help us to keep the main thing, the main thing. Thank you, God, for this vision of your glory, of your holiness. You can put your hands down.
I want to now invite anybody today listening to this message who has not yet trusted their life to Jesus to do so. The Bible says, He stands at the door, and He knocks. And if we open up, he'll come in. If that's you I'm describing and you would say, I don't have the promise of heaven. I don't know where I'm going to go when I die. I haven't made Jesus the lord of my life. He said that there's going to be people on that day who end up separated from God in hell who are arguing about the church they went to and the things they did for God. And He's going to say, I never knew you. It's not about what you know about God or what you've done for God. It's about your personal relationship with God. If today you sense the Spirit drawing you, I tell you that today is the day of salvation. Respond to that love. Pray with me out loud. After me, say this to God. Mean it in your heart. Church, say this with me. This is a holy moment for someone today making a decision to follow Jesus:
Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I ask you to forgive me. Thank you for Jesus's death and His Resurrection. I turn to you. I put my faith in you. Put your life in me. In Jesus' name.