Embracing the Splendor

You can’t miss it. The rhythm of repetition pounds through Isaiah 2. “The LORD of hosts has a day,” declares the prophet (2:12a), and on that day there will be terror amidst splendor. Dread before majesty. Run-and-try-to-hide fear before unescapable glory.

Three times in this chapter Isaiah declares that, on that Day, people will try to hide behind rocks and bury themselves in the ground

. . . from before the terror of the LORD,
        and from the splendor of His majesty.

(Isaiah 2:10b, 19b, 21b ESV)

Initially, for the redeemed, the concept seems foreign to our faith fueled sensibilities. We long for the splendor. We can’t wait for the glory. But Isaiah 2 is reminder of the price paid, the grace shown, and the new life given through the cross of Christ, so that we might long for the glory.

Here are some thoughts from 2011 as to why we embrace the splendor.

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Everybody’s going to see Jesus someday. Everyone will one day behold His splendor and glory. But, I’m reminded by my readings this morning that not everyone is anticipating it. Not everyone will welcome it. Not everyone will delight in it. In fact, some will dread it.

Started reading in Isaiah this morning. No wasting time. God calls out His rebellious children. He indicts a “a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged..” (1:2,4). They pretended to honor Him by maintaining the sacrifices and the feasts but God said that, without real devotion behind it, that their religious observances were futile and an abomination. “I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.” (1:11-13)

And then He promises a future day. The Day of the Lord. A day when His Righteous One will return “to terrify the earth” (Isa. 2:19,21) with judgment and to establish righteousness. He will return in glory and He will be seen in His majesty. And the pervasive response? Terror.

Three times in Isaiah 2 I read that when Jesus returns to this earth as King that the people will flee to hide “from before the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty.” (Isa. 2:10, 19, 21)

And I can’t help but think how foreign the idea is to me that encountering the splendor and glory of His majesty would result in terror or dread (NIV) or fear. This isn’t the “reverential fear” we so often talk about. This is runaway and try to hide fear. This is escape with your life dread. This is wide-eyed terror. All evoked by the glory of Christ’s majesty. Yikes!!!

Yet, I’m desiring to see His majesty. I’m anticipating the presence of His glory. I’m delighting in the thought of being face to face someday and beholding His splendor. So what’s up? Hebrews 1, another reading of mine this morning, is what’s up!

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets [like Isaiah], but in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son”

(Hebrews 1:1-2a ESV)

Thus, by the grace of God, I don’t dread the Son’s return in majesty because, through faith, the Voice broke through this sinner’s hard heart and plugged ears, and today I embrace Him as Savior rather flee Him as Judge.

Far from dreading a confrontation with His glory, I delight in the hope of encountering the risen Christ in all His majesty. Not because of who I am or what I’ve done, but because this same Son of majestic splendor and glory has, Himself, purged my sins, providing the way for my salvation. (Heb. 1:3b).

That’s the difference. That’s why, rather than dread it, I rejoice in the thought of His return. Because my King first visited this earth as Servant and as the once-for-all sacrificial Lamb of God. He paid the price in full for my sin and made way for full and complete redemption. He brought me into relationship with Himself. He set His Spirit within me to ready me for that encounter on that day. And so, I delight in the thought of being up close and personal with the splendor of His majesty.  Of joining with a myriad of others, all of whom He calls His own.

Dread or delight? Two very different responses to being in the presence of the same Savior, the same Son of God, the same King of glory.

And so God pleads through the prophet,

” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall become as wool.’ ”

(Isaiah 1:18 ESV)

That’s me! White as snow. Cleansed by the blood of Christ. And that, by the grace of God.

And so, I delight in anticipation of that day when He will return in splendor and glory and I behold His majesty.

Even so, Lord Jesus, Come!!!!

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