Monday, April 7, 2014

Isaiah and the Lord's Supper

When I think about Isaiah the man, my mind goes to chapter 6.  Often known as Isaiah's call or his commission, it depicts the time that the prophet came into the presence of the Lord and answered His call to be a messenger to the people.  Isaiah presents us with a pattern of worship that we follow today.  He recognized the greatness of God, he understood his own position in relationship to God, and he came away changed.  

First, when Isaiah came into the presence of God, he was acutely aware of God's greatness and majesty.

In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.  
With such a grand vision of the greatness of God, it is no wonder that Isaiah also came face to face with his own unworthiness. He cries out that he is ruined because of his unclean lips. No one had to tell him that he was not worthy to come before God; he knew it down to his bones.

Because of his unholiness, it was necessary for Isaiah to change.  One of the seraphim touched his lips with a burning coal from the altar, which took away Isaiah's sins so that he could remain in the presence of God.  Notice that Isaiah did not change himself.  The seraph (under God's direction) is the one that affected the change to Isaiah.  He recognized his own sin, but he was unable to take it away.  Only God could do that.

Communion coolThese three actions, recognizing the greatness of God, understanding our own position in relationship to him, and coming away changed are all things that happen when we partake of the Lord's Supper.

Jesus told us to take the bread in remembrance of Him, particularly his sacrifice.  When we take communion appropriately, we keep in mind the death of Jesus.  It seems strange, doesn't it, to equate the crucifixion with the greatness and majesty of God?  The centurion didn't think so.  Here is Matthew's account of the death of Jesus. 

 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
When we remember Jesus's death during communion, we can't help but remember why He died.  Just as Isaiah realized his own sin when he came into God's presence, we remember that Jesus died because we are too sinful to save ourselves.

Isaiah was changed when he came into the presence of God, and it was not a change he could make himself.  I don't understand how a glowing coal could purify the prophet, but God's servant told him it was so.  I also don't understand how taking the Lord's Supper can change us, but Jesus promises us that it changes us by giving us eternal life.

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 
Isaiah was afraid when he saw the majesty of God because he realized his own sinfulness.  Under the new covenant of Jesus's blood, we don't have that same fear.  The Lord's Supper is a reminder to us that although we are sinful, his blood changes us so that we can be in the presence of God forever.


Melissa

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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