Temple Confrontations

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 6.1-6
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: 
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; 
the whole earth is full of his glory.” 
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 

2 Chronicles 26.18-19
18 They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God.”

19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead.

Reflection: Temple Confrontations
By John Tillman

Unlike many prophets we have read, Isaiah was no outcast. He was a palace insider, accustomed to power, a friend to kings. According to Jewish tradition, he may even have been of royal blood himself. There is no question, however, that Isaiah’s writing is among the most treasured of the prophetic books. He was a highly educated, poetic, artistic, skilled writer who lived in a golden age of mostly good kings. 

We often think that a bit more power, a bit more influence, one “godly” leader will be just what we need to restore a “golden age.” But every earthly golden age has been built by corrupt power that stood on the backs of oppressed people.

Isaiah saw this power and pride up close. He saw it corrupt the hearts of at least two good kings—Hezekiah and Uzziah. Both were exemplary leaders up to a point. Both were brought down by pride.

Uzziah’s death, interestingly, is mentioned right before Isaiah describes encountering the Lord in his Temple. Uzziah’s experience in the Temple was humiliating, (2 Chronicles 26.21) resulting in his exile and death. Uzziah’s fate must have been in the back of Isaiah’s mind as he was confronted by a vision of God’s heavenly throne room overlapping the physical Temple.

Standing where Uzziah was struck with leprosy, Isaiah expected to be ruined. He knew that he, like Uzziah, was unclean before the Lord. But Isaiah’s outcome was different. Uzziah angrily claimed purity and was made unclean. (2 Chronicles 26.18-20) Isaiah fearfully confessed uncleanness and was made pure. 

Like Isaiah, we need to be confronted with our individual and collective uncleanness. (Isaiah confesses both.) That confrontation can go like Uzziah’s or like Isaiah’s. When we confess that we deserve censure, the censer of God burns away our sin, yet we are miraculously not consumed.

Normally, when ritually clean things touched ritually unclean things, the clean became contaminated. However, the coal from the altar purified Isaiah as Jesus purifies us. Jesus touched unclean lepers and they became clean. No matter how corrupted or sinful we may be, Jesus is willing to make us clean. (Matthew 8.2-3)

Isaiah can testify that golden ages aren’t what they are cracked up to be. Rather than an earthly golden age, we need a heavenly one. This begins by acknowledging that we deserve ruin, and getting renovated instead.

“Here am I, Lord. Send me.”

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. — Psalm 85.10

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 6 (Listen – 2:24)
Matthew 20 (Listen – 4:22)

This Weekend’s Readings
Isaiah 7 (Listen – 3:51), Matthew 21 (Listen – 7:10)
Isaiah 8-9.7 (Listen – 7:02), Matthew 22 (Listen – 4:56)

Read more about Where is the Love?
Thank Jesus for caring enough about you to keep kicking over your tables and cleaning up your mess.

Read more about Seeking After a Seeking God
God is a seeking God, he is always ready to meet us where we are…He will meet with us in a corrupted Temple, as he met with Isaiah.

Prayers of Joy :: Joy of Advent

*Advent is a wonderful time for new readers to join us. At this time of year, we are covering familiar biblical content and people are open to spiritual pursuits. Also at this time, people desperately need the balance of spiritual practice that The Park Forum provides. In this season, consider sharing our devotionals with others and inviting them to join our community. Share this post with others to help them subscribe.

Scripture Focus: Revelation 11.15
“The kingdom of the world has become
    the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Reflection: Prayers of Joy :: Joy of Advent
By John Tillman

As we conclude the third week of Advent and move to the fourth and final Sunday of this season of anticipation, we prepare our hearts with the joyful prayers of Revelation which follow the seventh trumpet. The joy we experience now through the Holy Spirit has its culmination here. The joy of Advent is true joy and has been held in hearts across the centuries.

Prayers of Joy
We thank you, Lord, for the true joy, ours in Advent.

Advent’s joy exists despite and within all circumstances. 
It is joy in plenty and pleasure, but also in pain and want. 

It is the joy of Zechariah and Elizabeth
 Who suffered years of hopelessness before a spark of joy came to them
It is the joy in Zechariah’s prophecy
 Seeing an end to earthly suffering
It is the joy Mary sang of
 The lowly lifted and the proud humiliated
It is the joy the shepherds could see
 A child born to Mary and to them and to us
 A child born to fulfill God’s promise to Eve.  

This is the great joy of the good news shepherds were sent to seek.
It is the joy John the Baptist knew
 His ministry faded and suffered, yet Christ’s grew
It is the joy of Jesus
 Healing and feeding masses who did not understand
 Masses who followed with wrong motives
It is the joy of Christ on the cross
 Despising the shame
 Eyes set on the joy before him.
It is the joy of the resurrection
 First witnessed by Mary Magdalene
 The first to tell the gospel to others

This joyful good news, this impossible gospel, passed on to us today is the only source of true and lasting joy that will last into eternity.

We join the prayer of heavenly elders, who fall in worship, saying:

“The kingdom of the world has become
    the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
    and he will reign for ever and ever.”

Come, Lord Jesus! 
Enter our hearts now.
Enter our world through our hands and speech.
And finally, at the day of our Father’s choosing, enter our skies
And rest your feet on Earth, with your restoring justice.

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
    and have begun to reign.”

Come reign in us, Lord, so that you can reign through us.


*Handel’s Messiah, Full Symphony Performance (Recording of Live Broadcast), (2:32) Sydney Philharmonic Symphony and Choirs

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Now his mother and his brothers arrived, and standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, “Look, your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.” He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers? Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.” — Mark 3.31-35

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 24 (Listen -5:07)
Revelation 11 (Listen -3:24)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Chronicles 25 (Listen -5:12) Revelation 12 (Listen -2:58)
2 Chronicles 26 (Listen -4:00) Revelation 13 (Listen -3:20)

Thank You, Donors!
Thanks to our donors, in 2019 we will publish approximately 100,000 words of free, and ad-free, devotional content. Without donor support, continuing this ministry would be impossible. As the end of the year approaches, consider whether the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to help support our 2020 content with an end-of-year gift or by becoming a monthly donor. Follow this link to our giving page.

Read more about Joy Despite Everything :: Joy of Advent
Martha shows us how to wait…when your faith is crushed into pieces, how to hold out your shattered faith to Jesus.

Read more about The Value of Words
The value of words for Christians is vastly different than others, for our Savior is known as The Word made flesh.