Finding Hope or Ruin in Becoming What We Worship

Brent Aucoin August 8, 2009 Isaiah 6:

The Summer of 2004 was the 4th summer we have had this Basket ball goal (picture).  Early that summer I was out mowing, and as normal  I passed right by the base of the basket ball goal.  I think in my mind…I need to get real close to that so I don’t have to weedeat around it–You know save me some time.  So here I am trying to mow around the base, all of the sudden “Bang” “Chug, Chug, Chug” –silence (Picture highlighting first bolt).  That fastening bolt at the base plate was a little higher than I thought.  I look under the lawnmower and the blade is dinged badly, I try to start it.  It wobbles and dies.  – It’s a 12 year old lawnmower.  I don’t sweat it too much.

 

At first the lawnmower repair man says “if the crankshaft is bent then it’s really not worth repairing.”  But he looks at it and thinks he can repair it so he does. 

 

Now, on Father’s Day that same summer, my Proverbs 31 wife wanted to do something loving for me and she asked if she could cut the grass.  It was a nice great gesture for Father’s day.   After she mowed she thought it was great exercise.  She asked if she could cut it regularly.  So…I let her.  I thought in my mind on several occasions – Brent, you better remind her about the basketball goal.  You think I ever did?  No! – I never did.

 

Early in July my wife was out mowing the yard--Right around the basketball goal.-- “Bang”  “Chug, Chug, Chug”.  (Highlight second bolt) When I get home she proceeded to tell me what happened.  I turn over the mower.  This time the crankshaft was clearly bent just like that bolt  – I remembered the Lawnmower repairman’s words “If the crankshaft is bent it’s not worth replacing.”  It was a 12 year old lawnmower.  Because of the business of that summer I couldn’t replace it right away. 

 

Finally just before our move, to Chicago in August of that year to start my PhD training we had to get a new mower.  We needed it so that the family renting our home while we were gone would have a usable lawnmower.  So on Thursday two weeks before we were moving, I bought a lawn mower.  On Friday my wife gracious offered to mow with the new lawnmower.   I jokingly said to her, “Honey steer way clear of the basketball goal.”  She winked at me and, “I won’t hit that again, I’m aiming for the bricks around the mail box.”   We laughed together and bounded off to do our tasks as a happy family.

 

That morning at work I’m preparing for the idols of the heart lecture I’m giving on Saturday for former Pastor Helmer to film and make into the now available Heart of Change DVD’s Simultaneously, my wife is mowing with our 1 day old lawnmower.  At 11:00am I get this call from a wife with a very shaky voice.  Honey I’m so sorry, I thought I stayed far away, but I heard a bang and now the lawnmower is not working. (Highlight third bolt)

 

I’d learned that day that I don’t work quite far enough from home for me to calm down.  All I can think about is BRAND NEW LAWNMOWER, HOW WILL I EVER HAVE TIME THIS WEEK BEFORE WE MOVE TO GET THIS FIXED.  HOW COULD SHE DO THIS?

 

Meanwhile at home Janet was so upset that she just sat in a chair and cried.  The kids are not used to seeing her that way and got a little upset too.  My daughter grinned at her and tried to get her to laugh.  Our son kept rubbing her back and said repeatedly, “It’s ok, it’s ok Mommy.  People are more important than things—Daddy won’t be mad.” 

 

Oh that I was as godly as my children were.

 

I get home, I’m more than visibly agitated, I’m angry.  I look at the lawnmower, try to pull the cord, wobble, wobble,.  I’m angry and I flip over the lawn mower just to see if the crank shaft is bent –it is more crooked red necks’ teeth.

 

I go back and communicate harshly to my wife.  All of my actions and expressions communicate, how on earth could you do this?  In her defense, there was a rational explanation with the logic she was using at the time for how this happened.  For me, however, at that point there could be no rational explanation. I was blind to her needs, I was deaf to any rational explanation.  And I surely did not believe God was in this.  I was worshiping many things at that momemt..none of which was God—  At that moment in time I became like that which I worshipped. 

 

In my case I worshipped the fleeting comforts of my possessions—my lawmower(s)

Can I ask you will my lawn mower ever give a lick of concern about me?

Will my lawn mower ever encourage me?

Will my lawn mower ever forgive me?

Can my lawn mower ever comfort me?

Guess what…the answer is NO!

Now…as I worshipped my lawmower(s)

What happened to me---

Was I concerned to encourage my wife

Was I concerned about comforting my wife

Was I concerned about solving the problem

What was I becoming like?  My Lawn mower---

We become what we worship whether good or bad

G. K. Beale writes---“We resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration”

 

This year  we have been emphasizing “Finding Hope”

We just finished up Finding Hope in Growing From your Past

Next Week Pastor Viars will be back and shepherding the congregation regarding where our focus should be this fall

The Following Week Pastor Viars will be launching a new series from the Book of Ruth—Finding Hope in a God who provides.

Today…we want to study Isaiah 6 concerning the topic…finding Hope (or ruin) in becoming what we worship

 

Read Isaiah 6 on the handout (or Pg 491 in the front section of the bible in the chair in front of you)

 

 

Explanation of Main Emphasis

Now, this passage is a classic passage on the HOLINESS OF GOD.

HOWEVER there is much more going on in the passage.

Now, If I say to you that, “Yes this passage is clearly about the holiness of God but there is much more going on in the text—You would want me to prove that to you wouldn’t you so that YOU COULD SEE IT AS Well—

Now the way we begin to see the big picture is by examining the larger context in which we find our passage—

The Larger context is what  I have tried to show you with the passages I have placed around Isaiah 6 on your handout.

I promise you no buckets!  Just Scripture---can you deal with that?

I have placed numbers on each passage to help us to logically progress through this

Let’s work through the numbers

  1.  Look at #1 Isaiah 6 is moving toward this prophetic declaration….What does this mean?
  2. Look at # 2 early on in Isaiah…”The Oaks you have desired?”  What is this?
  3. Did the people have an affection for oak trees—were they the Jewish forerunner of   tree huggers or the green movement?
  4.  Look at # 3, Also early in Isaiah .. IDOLS WILL COMPLETELY VANISH….. IDOLS = Oaks
  5. Look at # 4,  Judgment was coming in the form of exile for a lack of knowledge—
  6. Look at # 5...Why did I include a Psalm here?  Briefly I do believe this Psalm is related to the book of Isaiah and its themes…I will not prove that to you here but please catch the message….
  7. Look at # 6—How are the people described after Isaiah 6 later on Isaiah 43
  8. Look # 7—in Isaiah 42…  again how are God’s people described?

 

So back to # 1—What is happening in Isaiah 6:9-10---God is turning the people over to be like what they worship….This passage in part is about becoming like what you worship.

Have I convinced you at least this morning that Isaiah 6 has something to do with idolatry?

And you may say…But pastor Aucoin, I don’t worship a statue or other gods….I don’t need this sermon

My response to that is that the Old Testament highlighted physical idolatry as an illustration of the God’s peoples’ fundamental problem of spiritual idolatry.

Put in different way…the very first commandment is having no other God’s before Yahweh

The greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all of your heart.

The biggest struggle of all of humanity is to love other things/people rather than God

The biggest struggle is to fail to be loyal to the one true God.

And in that context Isaiah 6 is found  in which we will be…

Findind Hope (or ruin) in becoming what we worship

From Isaiah 6 we will understand, this morning…

Four progressive “reversals” in God’s peoples’ idolatry which leads us down the path of becoming what we worship and brings God’s purifying purge

 

All problems in life start right here with this first reversal

 

  1. Man worshipping futility rather than the Incomparable God (vv. 1-5)

 

Notice a couple of things about this passage..

Look in verse 1—In the year of King Uzziah’s death I SAW!!!!

Look in verse 8—Then I heard!!!

In the context of a people who are blind and deaf, not seeing and not hearing what is Isaiah doing?  Seeing and Hearing!

But more over—What IS Isaiah Seeing and Hearing, that the His people are not?!!

Well let’s go through the text phrase by phrase


1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death

Uzziah was a fairly great King who reigned for 52 years.  He accomplished some great things but he became proud and lifted up toward the end of his days according to 2 Chronicles 26.   God struck him with leprosy and he died.  So in the year of this king’s death, Isaiah sees THE GREAT KING LIVING

 

 I saw the Lord

“Lord”  adonai— the Sovereign—while one earthly king did some good things with his limited sovereignty--he died..Isaiah saw the Heavenly Sovereign --NO limits to His sovereignty

 

sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted,

While human kings like Uzziah ended up in pride exalting themselves, Isaiah sees the reality—THE REAL KING—GOD—LOFTY AND EXALTED.

 

 with the train of His robe filling the temple.

While human kings may have a robe that drapes over their thrones, just God’s train of His robe fills the Heavenly temple

 

 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

Tell me what earthly King or mortal has these kinds of servants?  Tell me?  Say “no one!”

 

 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory

There is no other entity on earth or in heaven that is given this title by these divine servants—HOLY HOLY, HOLY is the Lord of host…And just in case you missed it;  it is repeated three times for emphasis HOLY HOLY HOLY..  And there is not just a small portion of the earth over which he reigns like a mortal king… but the whole of earth and creation is filled with His glory !!!

 

 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.

What other King/entity/god is of such uniqueness that when their servants are chanting about them that the building were shaking filling with unusual physical phenomenon like fire and smoke

 

Tell me what other entity is like this? 

So I ask you, “ What does Isaiah “SEE” that to which the people were blind?

Isaiah sees what He and the people had been struggling to see and hear—The incomparable Yahweh

The one God who is unlike any king, who is unlike any god, who is unlike any idol--who will not die, who is living (unlike stone statues), who rules and reigns and has a real unlimited throne. 

He is seeing the one entity that is unlike anything else—Folks that is the essence of Holiness

We cannot begin to understand what holiness really is because what is there to compare it to? 

If it is Incomparable?

We cannot think of something in creation and begin to elevate it into its highest form and say “God is like that!”

God is  unlike anything else!

To say that God is “holy” is to say that he is unlike anything else in the heavens on the earth or in the waters or any physical pleasures or any physical possession or any position of power

Holy = Incomparable

In Isaiah the Term “The Holy One” referring to Yahweh, God is used 27x

(Is 1:4; 5:19, 24, 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 40:25; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14)

Isaiah 1:4 (NASB95)
 Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him.

 

The fundamental problem of the human heart is failing to understand that the Creator God who made all of this is unlike any of this.  But we turn to the creaturely comforts and people and worship it.

TRANSITION:  Isaiah sees the Incomparable Yahweh—And then he understands that He and the people have committed a second reversal in which…Man pridefully begins to represent Himself instead of this Holy God

  1. Man representing himself rather than the Incomparable God (vv. 5-9a)

 

Now folks if we “SEE” what Isaiah SEES here, what would the natural response? 

In other words, until we have seen God, unlike anything or anyone else, then we are not likely to be much disturbed from who we are

We have learned to live with views of a god who is like this or that..we have learned to live with “unholy” concepts of God

But..

If we understand that there is NOTHING LIKE YAHWEH-- THIS GOD IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH

WHAT SHOULD BE OUR NATURAL RESPONSE TO HIM?!!!

YAHWEH, GREAT KING, SOVEREIGN, I SEE WHO YOU ARE!!!  I SHOULD BE SERVING YOU AND NOT MYSELF!

ALL OF THIS (Point around) IS YOURS—INCLUDING ME—DO WITH ME WHAT YOU WANT!!

Now look at Isaiah’s response:

 

Isaiah 6:5-7 (NASB95)


5 Then I said, “Woe is me,

First off—We don’t normally use the term “Woe” for ourselves—Especially a prophet of God

—“WOE” is calling down rightful cursing and judgment upon somebody.

Isaiah was just doing just this against God’s people in Chapter 5! 

Isaiah Himself was saying “WOE” to you! For participating in idolatry

But now after seeing the incomparable God he pronounces deserved judgment and cursing upon himself.  Isaiah had learned to live with and be complacent and be somewhat tolerant of less than holy views of God in contrast to elevated views of man. 

Thus, He proclaims

I am ruined (undone/silent)! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

 

Now this is highly curious—Why does he speak about lips and living among a people of unclean lips and why does the angelic servant of God purify His lips?

Most scholars tend to simply reduce this imagery to simple purification from sin.  Which is true!

However there is more here!!  Why lips?

 

What if I told you that the people of the ANE were used to this kind of imagery in their ritual practice of idolatry?

What if I told you that the common custom with idolatry included a “washing of the mouth” ritual which includes the following practice

  1. A statue would be made out of wood and covered with gold/silver
  2. That statue would then be installed by man to represent and be god
  3. At the installation ceremony, the man/nation making god would touch the mouth of the statue with hot coals to purify the “statue” so that the god would come down and have a pure vessel through which to speak.

This ritual in the ANE is called the “Washing of the Mouth” ritual and was well known

So what you have here in the “washing of the mouth” ritual was man making god in his own image and purifying this wood vessel through which a supposed god would speak.

Now Get this…WHEN THE INCOMPARABLE YAHWEH ADOPTS THAT IMAGERY WITH ISAIAH WHAT IS THIS TEXT COMMUNICATING?

First off Yahweh is mocking that ritual—Man making God???!!  You have got to be kidding me

Secondly, Yahweh is communicating something profound…something essential…something that Isaiah and the people and we struggle, no refuse, to often live by!

 

YOU DON’T  MAKE god.  GOD MAKES YOU TO REPRESENT HIM. 

YOU ARE THE VISIBLE REPRESENTATIVE OF YAWHEH. 

YOUR PURPOSE IS TO REPRESENT GOD IN THIS WORLD. 

GOD WANTS PURE VESSELS TO REPRESENT HIM.

When ISAIAH SEES THE INCOMPARABLE GOD HE HAS A COMPLETE REORIENTATION OF THE WAY HE AND HIS PEOPLE WERE THINKING!!!

He repentantly recognizes that “WE HAVE BE CONCERNED ABOUT OUR OWN INTEREST AND OUR OWN THINGS AS IF WE WERE GOD AND MAKING THESE IMAGES TO SERVE US.”

Thus he proclaims, “WOE—deserved cursing and judgment upon me! For I HAVE COMPLETELY REVERSED THE ORDER OF THE INCOMPARABLE GOD’S REALITY!!!!”

“I Should be REPRESENT HIM.  I SHOULD BE THE LIVING BREATHING VISIBLE REPRESENTATION OF THE INVISIBLE GOD HE DOES NOT REPRESENT ME OR MY INTERESTS!

 

WHEN ISAIAH SEES AND REPENTS , YAHWEH PURIFIES HIM AND SAYS, “NOW GO REPRESENT ME!”  NOW YOU ARE TO SPEAK ON BEHALF OF ME.”

 

Isaiah 6:7-8
 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, (Isaiah hears and sees now he is no longer tending toward blindness and deafness as the people are.  He has seen the incomparable God and now is willing to represent him as is the ONLY APPROPRIATE RESPONSE.  YAHWEH says, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

 

Yahweh gives Isaiah a very difficult message….this is the task Yahweh in which Yahweh want you to represent Him…Here is the message.  Which is the third reversal

 

The message is this Isaiah…You get to preach…but nobody will be listening because I am making them like their idols—futile—blind, deaf, dumb

The third reversal is…

 

  1.   God rendering man futile instead of growing into the image of the Incomparable God (vv. 9b-10)

 

Isaiah 6:9-10 (NASB95)
9 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.”

 

What is this?  What is the message?  Idols have ears but they don’t hear.  Idols have eyes but the don’t see.  Those who worship them rather than the incomparable Yahweh will become like them.

 

God is rendering judgment—turning His people over to what they are worshipping

God is making them like their objects of worship—futile, blind, deaf, dumb

 

We will resemble what we revere—for our own ruin

You worship futility—You become futile

 

When God finally decides that He is turning us over to what we worship then there is a fourth reversal…

 

  1.  God bringing forth new seed instead of continuing with corrupt seed—to fill the earth with His Incomparable Glory through His representatives (vv. 11-13)

 

Look at Isaiah 6:11-13

Isaiah 6:11-13 (NASB95)
11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate, 12 “The Lord has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 “Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak (IDOLS).  Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump.”

 

Folks God is the incomparable Yahweh—the only entity worthy of representing and worshipping

He desires a people for Himself to represent Him.

He said to the nation of Israel—You will be for me a Kingdom of Priest to be a light to the nations!!!

But Israel struggled to worship God alone

Failing to “see” God, Israel naturally elevated themselves and thus had man making god

Therefore…The nations could not see the Incomparable Yahweh through them. 

The nations saw proud man’s vain glory as opposed to the INCOMPARABLE GLORY OF YAHWEH

BECAUSE YAHWEH DECREES THAT HE WILL NOT GIVE HIS INCOMPARABLE GLORY TO ANOTHER

HE WILL NOT STOP UNTIL HE CREATES  a living breathing representative of Himself that proclaims Him as the INCOMPARABLE GOD AND REPRESENTS HIM TO THE WOLRD!

THUS he purges and purifies and judges and redeems--creating  a people who will praise and represent Him!

The passage ends with the phrase “THE HOLY SEED IS ITS STUMP”  (Explain with picture)

 

Now the FBC FOLKS..I entitled this message –Finding Hope (or ruin) in becoming what you worship…There has been a lot of “ruin” talk.

Where is the Hope…??

 

Let’s explore that for the remaining time as we conclude…today…

 

In the very next chapter of Isaiah, in the midst of God purging and refining his people, He gives this prediction in Isaiah 7:14 that lays a foundation for a new hope!

 

Isaiah 7:14 (NASB95)
14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

 

The stump would sprout….God’s would bring forth the exact visible representative of Himself

                That individual would be loyal to Him

                That individual would model what it means to represent His Heavenly Father

                That individual would have no other God’s before him

                                In fact he would specifically rebuke the author of all of so called gods in saying..

“Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’

He is the one that author of Hebrews calls

Hebrews 1:3 (NASB95)
3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,

 

Not only was He the perfect image of the invisible God….He was more

BTW…In Jesus’s earthly ministry what kinds of people did He heal?

Matthew 12:22 (NASB95)
22 Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw.

 

Who is Jesus?  Yahweh in the flesh

What is our response to Him—Worship

As we worship Jesus—who do we become like?

Romans 8:28-29 (NASB95)
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

 

There is the hope folks….

 

We resemble what we revere-for ruin or restoration

You will either became vain and destined Yawheh to make you vain like what you worship

Or you can worship the son, and become like Him.

You are what you worship.

Brent Aucoin

M.S. - Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Central Baptist Seminary
Th.M. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ph.D. - Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Brent Aucoin and his wife, Janet, came on staff in July of 1998.  Pastor Aucoin serves as overseer of Faith Seminary and Soul Care Ministries at Faith Church.

View Pastor Aucoin's Salvation Testmony Video