Read His Words Before Ours!
It started with a stirring deep inside, like a gentle breeze playing in the leaves.
I had no intention of becoming a prophet.
No longing to lead God’s people through visions.
Still, He stirred.
He stirred as I witnessed injustice within Jerusalem.
The widow going without.
The orphan neglected.
All while the religious elite carried on with endless sacrifices.
He stirred as I saw Israelites offering sacrifices during pagan New Moon festivals and following other pagan rituals, each one more grotesque and vulgar than the last.
Hadn’t Yahweh intended us as a light to the nations?
Wasn’t His design for us to be holy and set apart?
We are walking farther and farther from the ways of Yahweh, I see it everywhere.
Yahweh is a jealous God; He will not continue permitting our idolatry, but what am I to do?
I lift my head as I walk through Jerusalem’s streets.
I see the dishonest scales in the marketplace paired with greedy gleam in the sellers’ eyes.
I see the orphan’s matted hair as he reaches to steal a piece of fruit.
I see the thin widow struggling to survive, shamed from the market entirely.
Then I catch the scent of roasted flesh as another sacrifice is offered in the temple and I feel my stomach heave.
How far we are from God’s heart!
My feet run, fleeing the scene, swiftly moving beyond the gates of Jerusalem, tears blinding my eyes. “Enough, Yahweh, enough!”, I scream out into the hills of Israel’s sheep begging for mercy from His stirrings. I fall to the ground, broken for the blatant sin of my people.
“What do you want with me, Jehovah?”
All becomes suddenly quiet.
An eerie stillness fills the space around me and fear grips me.
Holiness is here.
I dare lift my eyes from my prostrate position in the dirt.
The fields of sheep have faded from view, my heart gallops within.
Wind swirls around me tearing at my robes, and the sound of rushing waters tumbling powerfully over one another fills my ears.
There before me, a clearing opens and I see the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne. Terror grips me, but I cannot look away.
The hem of his robe fills the temple!
Seraphim stand above Him; each with six wings, with two they cover their faces, with two they cover their feet, and with two they fly around and above the throne of the Lord.
One calls out and another replies, not with an empty chant, but as one looking upon something so beautiful and stunning, they cannot help but respond again with the same words, as if for the first time,
“Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Hosts!
His glory fills the whole earth!”
An earthquake shakes the temple as His Majesty moves in cadence
to the rhythmic dance of the seraphim.
The temple fills with the glorious smoke of the Most High’s Presence.
Gut-wrenching words tumble from my lips, pouring from my heart,
“Woe is me for I am ruined!
I am a man of unclean lips,
I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord of Armies.”
A seraphim flies to me with a glowing coal taken from the altar with tongs.
He touches my mouth with it saying:
Now that this has touched your lips,
your iniquity is removed
and your sin is atoned for.
The Lord took my sin upon Himself?
From the altar of burnt offering that burns continuously before Him,
He took a coal and removed my sin?
But this cost me nothing!
I was stunned, but the Lord’s voice asked,
“Who should I send?
Who will go for us?”
My heart burst, for here was the answer I’d been pleading for. The Lord not only removed my sin, but also gave the opportunity to be His mouthpiece to Israel!
My heart responded as my lips moved,
“Here I am! Send me!”
There have been many visions since that incredible day.
Many words entrusted to my ear to speak on behalf of Yahweh, but none as memorable as that first one when the Lord Himself removed my sin without an animal’s lifeblood.
I had given no sacrifice, yet He forgave.
Moses’ law records, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement.”
Atonement for our lives.
I’m walking the dusty sheep paths outside Jerusalem again.
The bucolic scene of sheep and shepherd hold a sweet comfort for me.
I’m muttering aloud key words from recent visions as they swirl around me with incessant intensity. It’s as if the message they carry is far more precious than I realize.
There is weightiness here; a holiness.
“My servant Messiah will be successful,” said the Lord.
Raised up, exalted, but strangely, so persecuted He will become disfigured and unrecognizable. He will be despised and rejected, un-wanted and without apparent majesty. My mind flew instantly to my first vision and the awe-filled throne room where the Lord’s majesty was unmistakable.
How do the prophecies fit?
A Messiah without majesty?
He would need to lay aside His rights!
I brush past a thorn bush and its spines remind me of another declaration, “This Messiah will bear our sickness and carry our pains.”
Unbidden, the faces of orphans, widows, and gloating marketplace thieves, swim before my eyes followed by the image of priests with bloody hands while their hearts are sold in idolatry.
He will bear our sickness and carry our pains?
Even these sicknesses? The ones of our inner souls? The ways we have allowed injustice?
The ways we have blatantly sinned? The ways we have cheated Yahweh? Would He carry our idolatry? No, surely not. Unthinkable.
Suddenly, my heart pounds, my breath catches, and I cannot stay the tears from coursing down my cheeks as the sounds of rushing waters fills my ears.
The unmistakable voice of the Lord arrests me,
“But He was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
Punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
Yet the Lord was pleased to crush him severely.
When you make Him a guilt offering, …
the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.
The holiness of the moment presses upon me on all sides,
making it impossible to even breath.
He will become the guilt offering!
His sacrifice for our lives!
His lifeblood for ours!
Again, the image of my first vision rises up and I recall with flowing tears how I had given no sacrifice, yet He forgave.
The Messiah would come, forgiveness would be ours,
but He would purchase it with His blood.
The sacrifice would be His own.
The blood rang in my ears as I knelt in the dirt, arms upraised, tears streaming,
while my tongue repeated the song of the seraphim,
“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts!
His glory fills the whole earth!”
That day of sacrifice is not here yet,
but it is coming!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!