Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In the Temple of the LORD

“And [the seraphs] were calling to one another:

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;

the whole earth is full of his glory.’

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.”

~Isaiah 6:3 (NIV).

I recall sitting through an enthralling rendition of Genesis 1–10 at seminary. Not able to place my hands on my theological journal of that year is frustrating because I would love to put a name to this incredibly talented man who took a little over an hour to act out—word for word—those ten chapters, including the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 10. What an incredible memory he had!

At the end of that session we were given Isaiah 6:1-8 with which to create ‘an act,’ bringing some muscle-memory meaning to the prose. It was enchanting what happened.

Imagine taking the time to simply meditate on this part of Isaiah—his momentous call.

I’m chilled to the bone to think of this time now. With fellow students we all practised our routines on each other and then before the class. What God did through this occurrence, then and later, was an experience to truly behold.

To be there ‘in’ the temple of the Lord... can we just begin to anticipate that as a living memory? We harness it. All around us is this sensational power and we’re overwhelmed in awe of the Lord Almighty. This is like no place on earth or any experience we’ve ever felt.

Let us for a moment go into that divinely harried room where all is abuzz—the seraphim covering their eyes and feet, ever seeking the Word of the Lord, but not wanting to see him or wander from his ancient path; they fly above in their “divine bidding.”

At some point in that temple experience we begin to understand that the seraphim calling “holy, holy, holy” are—though they are supernatural beings themselves!—completely at awe of this totally “unapproachable” God, absolute Divinity, and consummate in his “brightness” and “separatedness.”

We stand there emotionally frozen and completely dumbstruck, as if receiving massive jolts of pulsating yet paralysing electrical current. This is something more surreal that ever.

Yet, this is not a bad thing. Recall Isaiah’s magnificent terror—he is called, his sin atoned for, he feels unworthy, but he goes for the Lord anyway! “Here am I. Send me!” he says.

Though the seraphim are patently at awe before the Presence of the Lord—protecting their sight lest they see his Glory—they have power to vanquish.

And for us we see here something truly amazing, today, as we live.

What stood as totally and uniquely separated and unapproachable comes near to us now via Jesus on the cross—his perfection stained only to bring us right before the Lord, indeed, himself. All this power made ours in the hammering in of those nails, the hoisting of that woodwork, the shrill cry, “It is finished” (John 19:30), the final breath—then the resurrection.

The temple of God is approachable! Indeed, it now resides within each of us via that gift of the Holy Spirit!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Reference: J. Alec Moyter, The Prophesy of Isaiah – An Introduction & Commentary (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1993), p. 76-77.

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