Have you ever tried to count the number of sins you commit in any one day? Let me be honest, I have never tried to count my sins but I assume it is numerous. The reason I say this is because we sin in word, thought and deed … but add the sin of the desire, attitude, fantasy, intention, what comes into the eye, ear, taste, touch (feelings), nose (smell) … then add intentional sin, unintentional sin, known sin and unknown sin. You might think that I paint a terrible picture of myself and perhaps you feel you could not possibly be anything close to what I have described. Yet, even as a child of God, Isaiah realized how bad he was before God.
Isa 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
In Isaiah’s vision he sees the Lord seated upon His Throne in glory. The picture provided through the words … “high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” … is one of the Sovereign God who reigns. The behavior of the seraphs reveal that even those who have not sinned and know nothing of sin, covering their feet and faces, depicting “smallness, lowness and inferiority” as the servants of God. Then they declare to each other that God is the thrice holy One with His Glory displayed throughout the world. Creation, the way it is sustained and grace and mercy in providing for the needs of all people on the planet is just one visible way in which the Glory of God is displayed. Then, in response to what the seraphs had to say … within the Holy of Holies in heaven … “the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke”. It’s more than just the declaration … it’s the reality of the holiness of God. Another good illustration comes from the apostle John in Revelation:
Rev 1:12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!
Here we see a picture of majesty, power, authority, greatness … and holiness. In both these passages we see both Isaiah and John responding to the Holiness of God …
(1) Isaiah … “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
(2) John … When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. The one realized how sinful he was and the other passed out because of his sin. Both these men were God’s servants. Both were used by God to author Scripture … yet both these men understood the holiness of God and their personal sinfulness. This is important … for us as well. Look how his prayer continues:
Da 9:7 “Lord, you are righteous.
Let us see whether we can understand the word “righteous” as it’s used here.
Da 9:7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 O LORD, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.
1) God is righteous … meaning that God is and was right in what He did. He punished His people for their sin of rebellion and rejection of Him.
2) From the highest to the lowest of the people … kings, princes, fathers (representatives of the nation), because of unfaithfulness are “covered with shame” … loaded with guilt … because of their sin.
3) Their punishment was therefore legitimate. God was right (righteous) because in His holiness He is able to discern right from wrong, holiness from sin, truth from error and faithfulness from unfaithfulness.
Remember, Daniel’s prayer is “on behalf of the nation”. We have already spoken of “we and our”. There are no exceptions … all have sinned, all are guilty and so all are filled with shame and embarrassment. God is holy and from holiness flows righteousness. His determination to eventually punish Israel through displacing them into “slavery” was right because the people deserved their suffering.
As we stop to ponder these things, we need to do some introspection and understand that even though saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross, we too sin and are guilty in practice. That’s the one side of the coin … the other is shame! Are we filled with shame and guilt because of our persistent sin? Israel’s shame was that she did not actually understand that God was right in doing what He did in their punishment.
Are we like this? Rebelling and refusing to accept that we are to blame for God’s displeasure upon our health, emotions, finances, relationships, careers, studies … and Church. Most Churches tend to play low key on sin because they don’t want to offend people. “People are numbers and numbers are finances. Don’t offend people because their giving will dry up … rather offend God!” But when I look at my sinfulness and then at the Church in general, I must ask … “Are we not filled with shame and guilt before God who is right?” Where Israel was to be the light of the world and to the world, she was under punishment. The Christian Church is to be the light of the world but instead, mostly she blends with the world.
O God our Father, forgive us for personal sin and sin as a Church. You gave us Your Word to enable us to live “right” to please You. Help us do this though Jesus. Amen.