I realize that we looked at this scripture just a few weeks ago, but I’d like to consider it again. Actually, according to my records, this is the 5th or 6th time that I’ve used this as my text for a message. It is not only fascinating, but it contains important revelation and instruction.
In our last message from Isaiah 6 we looked at the “Language of Heaven.” And if you’ll remember, I didn’t say exactly what it would be – English, Greek, Hebrew or whatever. I concluded by saying that the language of heaven is WORSHIP, because just about every time we hear of any voice in Heaven besides God’s, it is expressing praise and adoration to our Saviour/God. For example there is Revelation 19:1 – “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments… And again they said, Alleluia… And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” And in our scripture for this evening, we hear the voices of Seraphim crying back and forth to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Once again, those creatures who are permitted into God’s presence can think and say little else than praise and thanksgiving.
In essence I am going to continue that thought, but blending into it our message from last Wednesday – “Whatsoever ye do all to the glory of God.” My focus is on the last words of verse 3 – “the whole earth is full of his glory.” Whose glory was that? After mentioning Adonai in v. 1, Isaiah quoted the Seraphim as referring to Jehovah – the LORD. “The whole earth is full of the glory of Jehovah.” And more specifically, “the LORD of hosts.” This is the God who is served and worshiped by armies of angels and saints – hosts. This is the God whose creation is filled with armies of creatures designed for His glory. Armies from fish in the seas, to ants in the forest, to lions on the Serengeti and to human beings.
The Seraphim say, “the whole earth is FULL of His glory.” But isn’t that hyperbole? Isn’t that an exaggeration? Full of His glory? Really? In the midst of all this pain, disease, poverty and ugly sin, the earth is full of God’s glory? Really? Yes, it is. I don’t think those angelic creatures would use hyperbole, and don’t think the holy God would permit it. So this is an accurate statement.
Yes, the whole earth is full of God’s glory, but do I understand it properly? Do we have the right perspective? Let’s remember that many of Isaiah’s neighbors were as prone to idolatry as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and Philistines. Even when they weren’t bowing to idols and reverencing false gods, their attitudes were somewhat idolatrous. For example, their approach to their religion was provincial – far too narrow. They couldn’t picture their Jehovah as being interested in – let alone being gracious toward – anyone but themselves. Only the people of Israel were ever saved as far as they were concerned. And nowhere, but in Israel, could the Lord be properly glorified. It is a mind-set which is wrong and fought against throughout the Bible.
“The whole earth is full of the glory of Jehovah” may be true in much the same say as John 3:16 is true. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” That famous, but misunderstood verse, is not saying that God loves every individual, and that Christ died for each one of them, in order that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have everlasting life. It is saying that God so loves His creation that He saves Mongolians, Australians, Europeans, and Africans and Americans. In the same way, our verse is saying that everywhere we look in this world – there is the glory of the Lord. It does not as yet fill every corner, every crevice, every inch and every person on the earth. But God’s glory can be seen everywhere by those who have eyes and hearts to see it.
And what about that noun – “glory” – “The whole earth is full of his GLORY.” More than 150 times the Hebrew word is translated with “glory,” but perhaps the 32 times it is translated “honor” might help us to understand it. “The whole earth is full of the HONOR of God.” Or turning it slightly, God’s blessings are received by observant saints whose hearts are willing to honor Him. The glorified God is going to be honored, and where God is honored there is glory. If we had eyes like the Seraphim, we’d see God’s glory everywhere we look, and we would honor Him for it. That in itself should enable us to think of Him and praise Him continually throughout every day.
All right then – HOW does the Lord bring His honor and glory into this creation?
I have noticed that some of the commentators argue back and forth about some of these things. For example, one of them said that you can’t separate God’s glory from the Lord Himself, so this means that the whole world is full of the presence of Jehovah. Despite the presence of sin and its corrupting, clouding and covering of God’s glory – He IS omnipresent. And certainly those things which make Him glorious in Heaven are equally glorious here on earth.
For example, “The whole earth is full of the SOVEREIGNTY of the Lord.” Nothing glorifies God in quite the same way as when He displays His godship – His divine prerogatives. He is as much God in the Arctic, as He is in the Sahara, and in the rainforest of New Guinea. Sometimes that sovereignty is a blessing, and sometimes it means judgment. Both were seen in Joshua 10 when Joshua, “said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it…” God is glorified when the sun goes down in its ordinary fashion and when it doesn’t go down for hours.
A lot of people don’t like to hear it, but God’s glory is seen in the F5 tornado and Category 7 hurricane. God’s sovereign power is displayed in the cataclysmic volcano, just as it was when “in the 600th year of Noah’s life… were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” The glory of the Lord is seen in destructive avalanches of snow as well as in fire storms sweeping across prairies and forests. “But,” says the unbeliever, “such things as these aren’t pleasant and beneficial.” That is true, but we can’t say that the Seraphim were referring only to pleasant things.
And yet for the sake of balance, I will say the beautiful things of the world also display the glory of the Lord. I saw a picture the other day of colorful cliffs rising up out of some lake or sea. And by “colorful” I mean mind-bogglingly colorful. Those rocky cliffs were every color of the rainbow – blues, reds, orange, black, brown. I also recently saw a picture of a beautiful waterfall, dropping hundreds of feet. And stretch out away perpendicular from the falling water were opposing streaks of red strata, black strata, orange, brown and other colors. I have seen pictures of rolling hills which looked like some colossal angel dropped his palate of paints and blobs of color were scattered everywhere. There are beautiful places so remote that almost no one but the omniscient God knows they are there. In every part of the earth there are these things of natural beauty, and they glorify the Creator.
Does the Devil make beautiful things, or can he make something become beautiful? I suppose to some degree, he can. Is the Taj Mahal beautiful? Are any of the Catholic cathedrals? This is debatable. I wonder if Satan actually makes things beautiful or if he just convinces us to think that they are? Remember what Hungerford wrote 150 years ago – “It is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Some eyes are definitely covered with Satanic lenses, seeing beauty in things actually hideous. Why does that formerly beautiful teenager look so terrible after just a decade of the Devil’s sin? I am no expert, but I have been told that many women thought that serial-killer Ted Bundy was handsome.
What made that sunset beautiful? Was it the pollution of sin or the diffusion of light which God established on the first day of creation? Why are the babies of almost every species so cute? Could it be because “the whole earth is full of his glory?” Paul used this idea his evangelism in Romans 1 – “that which may be known of God (or God’s glory if you like) is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of (God) from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made (throughout the whole world), even his eternal power and Godhead; so that (mankind is) without excuse.”
Going back to John 3:16 – God’s glory is seen by in the salvation of countless sinners from throughout the whole world. Chinese, Koreans and Japanese people have been, and are still being saved, by the grace of God. I have a biography of the man who lead the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. A few years after the war the Lord saved his soul, and he became a Christian evangelist, coming to this country and even to Spokane Washington telling people about God’s love. “The whole earth is full of his glory.” God has saved Russians, Romanians, and Turkish Muslims. People of Africa are being saved, and so are some in Australia and South America. Canadians have been saved and even a few Americans. In this way “the whole earth is full of his glory.”
God’s omnipotent power and sovereignty can be seen throughout His creation. Beauty and judgment are universal, some of which, it can’t be denied, are God’s alone. And after the rapture, in the presence of the four beasts, the twenty-four elders will sing “a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” “The whole earth is full of his glory.”
Now, tying last week’s message to the context of Isaiah 6, we have another way in which this should be true. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” When Isaiah saw his Saviour high and lifted up and he heard the Seraphim crying back and forth – “holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of his glory.” “Then (he 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 mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”
The world may have an answer and explanation for the gorgeous sunrise, the colorful canyon walls and the mountain meadows covered with springtime flowers. The world will do its best to deny God’s presence in the tsunami and the record-breaking March snowstorm. But there is little the world can do to take away from God’s glory when His saints surrender to the Lord’s will and dedicate themselves to join the Seraphim, magnifying the Saviour’s glory. “The whole earth (really is) full of God’s glory” when God’s people throughout the world dedicate their every deed and every breath to the Saviour, constantly pointing their finger toward the source of all grace.
Sadly that is not as common as it ought to be. Judy and I like to eat out – probably more than most of you. Monday, we wore our masks into Wendy’s, ordered a salad, taking it to one of the booths. Then after removing our masks and opening the salad container, we held hands across the table and prayed for a few moments, thanking the Lord for the meal, and asking for God’s blessings on the Fultons, the Kjeldgaards and a few others. In the hundreds of times we have eaten out over the last 30 years, I think I can count on my fingers the number of times that I’ve seen others publically pray like that. Are we the only saints of God in this city? I would like to think that when we pray, we are part of a world-wide army who bring a small measure of glory to God in that simple act. I wish that host was a lot larger than it really is.
“Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus” may not seem to be very much or very large. But when saints from around the world are doing those things the same spiritual manner and for the glory of the same Christ, we become a part of the Seraphim’s statement. Perhaps only Seraphim can see that glory; it may not be visible or audible to any other human being. But there is one other who is aware of it – the Lord Himself. Thanking the Lord that our joints aren’t as stiff today as they were last week is a part of “the whole earth is full of his glory.” Praising God for a car that runs and for a house to shelter us from a cold wind can be a part of “the whole earth is full of his glory.” Asking the Lord to bless our children and grandchildren today, is another aspect of this sort of thing.
As I have tried to say several times over recent weeks – this is a part of our purpose. This is why God has left us in this world. It should be a part of our evangelism – our testimony. It should describe who we are and the God whom we serve.
We may not yet get to join Isaiah in his very special translation into heaven – being there in God’s presence. But we can join in what Isaiah heard the Seraphim say. “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims… And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”