Close Encounters with Christ
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Oct. 24, 2012
*We have been studying Old Testament encounters with Christ for almost a year: From Adam to Abraham to Moses. I counted around a dozen more personal encounters with the Pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament.
*For example, in Judges 6 the Lord appeared to Gideon, and Judges 6:14 says: “Then the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”
*If you remember the story, when Gideon started out to the battle, he had 32,000 men in his army, but God said in effect, “That’s too many. I want you to know where the victory comes from.” By the time the Lord was finished sending soldiers home, there were only 300 men in Gideon’s army. But that was enough to defeat an army of 135,000, because the Lord was on their side!
*God can do big things with a little army, and that’s great because it means He can do great things through us!
*In Judges 13, the LORD appeared twice to Sampson’s parents to tell them about their coming son.
*1 Kings 3:5 says: “In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give thee.’
*2 Chronicles 3:1 says: “Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
*Tonight we will finish this study by exploring one of the most famous OT appearances of Christ. Let’s begin by reading Isaiah 6:1-8.
*Some years ago, George Barna surveyed adults who don’t go to church. Two out of three said that they would be strongly motivated to come, IF they could truly experience God. Many people are hungry for God. And the best thing that could happen here tonight is for each one of us to have a close encounter with Jesus Christ.
*What happens when people encounter the living Lord?
1. First of all, we discover the majesty of our Savior.
*That’s what happened to Isaiah in vs. 1-4. Listen again to his testimony from these verses:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!''
4. And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
 Think for a few minutes about who Isaiah saw.
*Well, of course he saw God. But speaking of the time before Jesus ascended back to Heaven, John 1:18 says: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
*And in John 5, Jesus said:
36. “But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish the very works that I do bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.
37. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.”
*In John 6, Jesus also said:
44. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
45. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
46. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.”
*And John 12:36-41 removes all doubt. There Jesus said:
36. “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
37. But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,
38. that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?''
39. Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
40. "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and understand with their heart, lest they should turn, so that I should heal them.''
41. These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory (i.e. when Isaiah saw Christ’s glory) and spoke of Him.
*Who did Isaiah see? -- He saw God the Son. He saw the eternal Jesus before He took on a human body.
 Now think about when Isaiah saw Jesus.
*It was during a crisis. Verse 1 tells us it was “in the year that King Uzziah died.” At the end of his life, King Uzziah strayed from the Lord and was struck with leprosy. But for most of 52 years, he had been a good king. Uzziah was the last good king Judah would ever have, so it was a troubling time. (1)
*“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord.” Maynard Pittendreigh explained: “It’s like saying, ‘In the year the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, I worshipped God. In the year of 9-11, I worshipped God. In the year my friend died, worshipped the Lord.’ Why do we worship God? -- It is not to escape life out there. It is to deal with life out there.” (2)
*And if there is any good that can come out of the storms in life, it’s that we will turn to the Lord and seek His face!
*Alexander Maclaren added this insight: “God never empties places in our homes and hearts, or in the nation or the Church, without being ready to fill them. He sometimes empties them (so) that He may fill them. Sorrow and loss are meant to prepare us for the vision of God, and their effect should be to purge the inward eye, that it may see Him.
*When the leaves drop from the forest trees we can see the blue sky which their dense abundance hid. Well for us if the passing of all that can pass drives us to Him who cannot pass. (Well for us) if the unchanging God stands out more clear, more near, more dear, because of change.” (3)
*Many times our eyes have been opened to the Lord during a time of personal or family or national crisis.
-But thank the Lord that it doesn’t always have to be that way!
-We can have a close encounter with the living Lord right now.
*How do we know that? -- Because Jesus Christ promised to be here with us!
-In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
 Now think about how we should see Jesus.
*In vs. 1 we should see Jesus “high and lifted up!” -- Sitting on a throne as the Ruler of the whole universe.
*In vs. 2, we should see the Lord worthy of worship. There the Lord was being worshipped by mysterious six-winged, angelic creatures called seraphim. Their appearance is beyond our imagination. But we clearly understand the words of their worship, words spoken with such ear-splitting passion that the door posts of Heaven shook: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”
*The Lord is holy! -- R.C. Sproul helped us understand God’s holiness when he said, “The first prayer I learned as a child was the simple table grace: ‘God is great, God is good and we thank Him for this food.’ Those two virtues are the essence of God’s holiness: infinite greatness and infinite goodness.” (4)
*And even a glimpse of the glory of God’s holiness can change our lives forever.
-The holiness of God caused Adam and Eve to hide in the Garden of Eden.
-The holiness of God caused Moses to say, “I exceedingly fear and quake.” (Hebrews 12:21)
-The holiness of God caused the Apostle John to fall at the Lord’s feet as if he were dead. (Rev 1:17)
*This is the majesty of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But the Lord is not just holy. He is holy, holy, holy!
*Bruce Goettsche explained: “Of all the attributes of God, holiness is the one that seems to take center stage. You see, in the Hebrew language the way you emphasized a word was to repeat it. For example if you said a rock was big it would mean one thing. If you said the rock was big, big, you would mean it was a really big stone. But if it was big, big, big, that would mean it was a gigantic boulder.
*In Isaiah 6 and in Rev 4 the angels declare that God is "holy, holy, holy". And this is the only quality of God that is emphasized in this way. God is never called "love, love, love," or "mercy, mercy, mercy." But He is called “holy, holy, holy.” This is the majesty of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (5)
*And what happens when people encounter the living Lord? -- We discover the majesty of our Savior.
2. We also discover the misery of our sin.
*That’s what happened to Isaiah, and in vs. 5 he cried out: “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.”
*Here is a man in pain, and the cause of his pain is sin. Isaiah said, “I am undone!” That means “cut-off, destroyed, ruined.’ Close encounters with Christ can be extremely painful, because they shine the light of God on our sin problem.
*In Luke 5, Jesus told Peter, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
5. But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.''
6. And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
7. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
8. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'' (Luke 5:4-8)
*Close encounters with Jesus shine the light on our sin, so Isaiah was in pain. And his pain was multiplied when he thought about the sin of others around him. Again in vs. 5: “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.”
*What happens when people encounter the living Lord? -- We discover the misery of our sin.
3. And we discover the ministry of our Savior.
*This is what happened to Isaiah in vs. 6&7. Listen to this part of his testimony:
6. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.
7. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.''
*God doesn’t bring out the misery of our sin so that He can beat us down.
-He brings out the misery of our sin so that He can cleanse us and set us free!
 And notice that Jesus Christ touches our need. Here the angel touched Isaiah’s lips. It was just what he needed. And whatever you need in the way of cleansing, Jesus Christ will meet that need. He will meet you at the point of your need.
 And Jesus takes care of our need.
-Here He sent the angel to help Isaiah. -- But for all of us, Jesus came Himself.
-The angel didn’t suffer. -- But Jesus suffered for us. He even died on the cross to pay the price for our sins.
*Isaiah was symbolically cleansed by a fiery coal.
-But if we turn to the crucified and risen Savior Jesus Christ, if we trust in Him, if we receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, then all of our sins are literally washed away forever by the blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross.
*That’s the ministry of the Savior in our lives:
-He touches our sin need.
-He takes care of our sin need.
 And He testifies about His work in our lives.
*So in vs. 7, the angel told Isaiah, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”
*God does not want us to be continuously burdened down with the cares of our sin. He wants to lift us up! He wants to set us free! So through His Word and by His Spirit, Jesus testifies of His saving work in our lives.
*What happens when people encounter the living Lord? -- We discover the ministry of our Savior.
4. And we discover the motivation for our service.
*Isaiah is our example in vs. 8. Here the prophet said: “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.’”
*That was a motivated man. And the more we encounter the living Lord, the more we will be motivated to say, “Here am I! -- Send me.”
 And we must notice here that the Lord makes a wide appeal.
*“Who shall I send? -- Who will go for us?” That call wasn’t just for Isaiah. It was for anyone and everyone who will answer. It was for us. God had a mission for Isaiah. And you can be sure that He has a mission for you.
 The Lord makes a wide appeal. Then He gives a wonderful assignment.
*Isaiah got an extremely important mission. But with the greatest respect to him, I can I tell you that God has given us a more joyful mission.
*Look what the Lord said to Isaiah in vs. 9&10:
9. And He said, "Go, and tell this people: `Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.'
10. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.''
*Isaiah could not expect many people to turn to the Lord. But in John 4:35, Jesus tells us: “The fields are white unto harvest!”
*God has given us a different mission: The Great Commission! In Mark 16:15, Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
-Are you trying spread the good News?
-Have you said, “Here am I. Send me!”?
*One of the best things you can do right now is invite people to Sunday School and Church this Sunday. Also invite them to stay for the pot luck dinner. In worship we will take a look at the eternal life God wants to give us in John 3.
*One of the hymns we sometimes sing shows us the invitation we need to make:
-“Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore.
-Jesus ready stands to save you, full of pity, love, and power.”
*And here’s the result: “I will arise and go to Jesus; He will embrace me with his arms; in the arms of my dear Savior, O there are ten thousand charms.” (6)
*Several years ago, my wife Mary was walking on the playground during recess at the Pre-K School. As she passed by a little 4-year-old boy on the monkey bars, he stopped climbing and said: “You see those two boys over there? -- I’m praying that they will know Jesus. They are so mean!”
*Four years old, and he is getting in on the mission! We need to get in on it too, because people desperately need to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ.
*And the more we encounter the living Lord, the more we will be motivated to say, “Here am I! -- Send me.”
*Jesus Christ is here right now. Let’s draw close to the Lord in prayer.
(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “Oh I Want to See Him” by Robert Simmons - Isaiah 6:1-9
(2) Adapted from SermonCentral “Why Worship Today” by Maynard Pittendreigh - Isaiah 6 1-9)
(4) Adapted from “Essential Truths” - p. 47 - (Source: SermonCentral sermon “The Holiness of God” by Bruce Goettsche - Isaiah 6:1-8)
(5) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “The Holiness of God” by Bruce Goettsche - Isaiah 6:1-8
(6) COME, YE SINNERS, POOR AND NEEDY - Words: Joseph Hart, Hymns Composed on Various Subjects, 1759, alt.; refrain anonymous - Music: Restoration, from The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, by William Walker (New York: Hastings House, 1835) - Source: nethymnal.orghtmcom/comeyspn.htm