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Things Are Not As First Appear

February 12th, 2010

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne.”   Isaiah 6:1 NIV

“Kings fail; God doesn’t. Nations fall; His Kingdom endures. Economies struggle; His blessings prevail.” 

My thoughts today are that “things are not as first appear.”

A lot about everyday life is how you choose to look at it. Uzziah had been a great king, industrious and successful. Read 2 Chronicles 26:3-22. Judah was prosperous; God was blessing. And Isaiah was a part of the King’s court, and had a front row seat for Uzziah’s successes. The Bible records such a time this way, “As long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5. Without knowing the story, you could guess that those words foreshadow a sobering change. And you would be right. My grandma would have said something like this about that, “He got too big for his britches.” And she would be right. “Uzziah was marvelously helped until he was strong . . his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 26:16.

This once mighty king died, a leper estranged from God. If someone so high could fall so low so fast, what would that mean? Isaiah had his eyes and hopes in the wrong place and on the wrong person. I think Isaiah might have pondered many questions about Uzziah’s rise and fall, about the nation’s well being without leadership, about himself and his own vulnerabilities, and about the future. Nothing seemed as it had been, or ever would be again.

In the midst of this confusion, Isaiah was allowed to see a glimpse beyond time and into eternity that changed him. Listen to Isaiah’s words, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne.” Uzziah’s throne was vacated; but God was still on His Throne! Kings fail; God doesn’t. Nations fall; His Kingdom endures. Economies struggle; His blessings prevail. The circumstances were exactly as they had been; Isaiah could never again be as he was. In your life of faith, you have to know that things are not as they often appear. God is always on the throne, a place of grace and mercy, and you are welcome to come there for help in your time of need. See Hebrews 4:16 NIV.

Just days ago, there was a death in our family. When death is near or occurs, your view of life is challenged and changed. Priorities clarify; questions rise; emotions cloud your previous certainties; and memories crowd your thoughts. Let me be clear, her death was nothing like Uzziah’s because her life was nothing like his. Ellen loved and served God all her life. Her children are grown, and all of them are following the Lord and serving in ministry. She successfully “fought a good fight, finished the race, kept the faith, and has now received a crown of righteousness . .” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. She, and her family, embraced her sickness and death just as she lived her life, not with resignation or fear, but with full faith and trust in God’s grace and love. 

My point is this; when death touches close to home, you think about things differently than you may have before. The possibility and reality of death forces you to stop and think. There is little or nothing that you face as solemnly as death. Your assumptions about the immediate future are less certain; your thoughts of eternity become inescapable, either comforting or uncomfortable. If you are wise, you will examine your life in ways that you have not. It’s best to live everyday that way.

Whatever you are trusting in today – your health, wealth, success, reputation, friends, long life, family – where will you turn when any or all of that fails? Isaiah turned his heart and eyes to see the one constant, to see God who sits on an eternal throne whose righteousness is never compromised, His power never lacking, His grace ever abundant, His mercy unmatched, His love unimagined. See Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV.

My prayer for you is: keep your eyes fixed on Jesus without the distraction of lesser things.

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