Category Archives: scripture

Being Exactly Where We Are Meant to Be!

November is Adoption Awareness Month. on November 12th this year, many churches across the globe celebrate Orphan Sunday and think about adoption and God’s care for the orphaned and vulnerable children. Saturday November 18th is National Adoption Day. For these reasons, this is a good time for me to share a truth from Scripture that is very precious to our family.

This is about what I call an “anchor verse” for our family. What do I mean by this? Well, since the Bible is the Word of God, it is an eternal spring of spiritual nourishment for our souls. However, there are some verses that we find ourselves repeatedly going back to. They are very effective weapons against Satan, and help in anchoring our faith in the midst of storms of doubt. There are several such verses that have become very effective weapons in our spiritual arsenal. Today, I want to share the tremendous implications of this particular one:

And [God] made .. every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. (Acts 17:26-28)

I do not want to pretend to fully understand this passage, or to have answers to all the questions that arise from it. However, it makes a tremendous assertion – one that is re-affirmed in other parts of Scripture (e.g. Psalm 139:16, Eph 2:10). God has determined in advance every single day of our lives starting with the moment of our births, and ending with the exact instance of our deaths. He has also determined the places that we will spend each day of our lives!

This passage packs an extra punch because it applies to every single human being who has ever lived on the face of this earth, including you and me, and including each member of our families. And the reason God has done this, is in order that we may seek God, and perhaps find Him!

There are many valuable insights we can glean from this. Here are some of the powerful implications of this truth.

God has Put Our Family Together

Vanita and I were born in India, as were our two adopted children, Sandeep and Ruth Sneha. Our youngest daughter Sarah Rachna was born to us many years later. Our family of five lasted for twelve years, and then God brought our daughter-in-love Shirley into our family as Sandeep’s wife. Yes, yes, strictly speaking Sandeep and Shirley have now launched off to start their own family together. But our family has not shrunk from this union, but rather grown! And we can bask in the wonder of the knowledge that God knitted our entire family together and has a purpose for our family!

How do we know that Vanita and I were meant to be married? Acts 17:26! How do we know that Sandeep and Ruth Sneha were meant by God to be adopted into our family? Acts 17:26! How do we know that Sarah Rachna was meant to be born to us 6 years later? Acts 17:26! How do we know that Sandeep’s meeting and subsequent marriage to Shirley was not an accident but part of God’s eternal plan? Acts 17:26!

While it is not the case for our family, we have heard horror stories of unscrupulous organizations offering families money to send their children to a better life and education, and then having whisking their children away, masquerading them as orphans to unsuspecting adoptive parents overseas. Imaging the shock when the parents of these children discover that they had been deceived! The adoptive parents are also devastated when they later come to know the truth, and the adopted children themselves are also shattered when they learn that their birth parents are still alive. How can all of these deeply wounded people deal with this horrible exploitation and injustice? The issues are complex and need to be taken on a case-by-base basis. However, this truth from Scripture can help those who put their trust in God, as they process the truth of their situations, and deal with its implications. And He will be faithful to see them through!

We are Living Exactly Where We were Meant to Live

Another very significant truth is that we are living exactly where we were meant to live.

I was born in Bangalore, India. Then I moved to Pune and then Mumbai, to continue my education. This is when Vanita and I got married and she joined me.

Vanita’s family had moved from Bangalore to California, then to St. Louis, MO. Vanita went back to Bangalore to complete her Bachelor’s degree. Vanita then completed her Master’s in Rolla, MO, before moving back to Mumbai, India to live with me after our marriage.

A year later, Vanita and I both moved from Mumbai to Long Island, NY for my post-doctoral fellowship! From Long Island, we moved to New Jersey, and then later to Bellevue, and then Redmond, WA. We will remain here until (or unless?) God wants us to move again!

With all of this relocation, our anchor verse tells us that we are living exactly where we were meant to live! For example, we could never have adopted Sandeep and Ruth Sneha, if we had not been living in the United States. But what if we had made wrong decisions along the way? What if some of our moves were mistakes? How would this verse work then? That is a more complex question, and  I will briefly address it later.

The One Over-Arching Reason is to Know God

So we have now seen that God has placed us where we are. In His gracious provision, God is the One who has given us the jobs we have. But the reason God has taken all of this effort on our behalf is not to make our lives easy or comfortable. In the context of adoption, this anchor verse tells us that the primary reason God has brought our children into our homes, is in order “that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:28).

This is the ultimate reason why God called us to adopt! God wants us to be His instruments in introducing our adopted children to our Savior Jesus Christ. Thus when we teach and train our children about Jesus, we can have full confidence that this is exactly what He wants us to do! Are the results guaranteed? No, there are no assurances! Notice the word “perhaps” that God has included in His inspired Word. He neither promises that our children will get to know Jesus, nor does He even reveal to us what the outcome of our witness will be. But it is nevertheless our responsibility to faithfully point them to Jesus, falling on our knees before our Father on their behalf. And then we must leave the results in His hands!

God’s Plan is Bigger Than Our Mistakes, Failures and Sins

One of the reasons this verse has such power to dispel doubt is because it releases us from the tyranny of the past. Yes, looking back over my life, I know that I have made countless mistakes, and sinned against God countless times. Yes, there are many times I have made choices and decisions without seriously seeking God’s will, and yes, many of these decisions have been wrong.

However, in some wonderful way that I do not understand, God takes all of this sin and failure and presumption, and channels them to be His agents in drawing us closer to Jesus, and giving us the grace to press on (see Romans 8:28). I used to think that the Christian life was a single decision  we make to accept Jesus into our lives, and then for the best of our lives we were to try our best to do what is right and strive to please Him. However, that is a sorry caricature of the real truth, because it misses describing the infinite resources that God has made available to us in our journey. The full truth of the matter is that the Christian life is a life of faith starting from the day we put our trust in Jesus, and ending on the day of our deaths. Each day, He equips us with the strength to make choices out of our trust in Him that we would not otherwise do. God empowers us through the indwelling Holy Spirit to follow-through on our choices. When we are obedient, we sometimes experience the exhilaration of seeing God show up, and that further strengthens our faith. However, we do fail making the right choices very frequently – either because our faith is too weak, or because we are too distracted by the things of this world, and value something or someone above the value we place for God in our lives (the Bible calls this “idolatry”). However, each and every time we fail, God gives us the grace to return to Him in repentance, and each and every time He faithfully restores us (see 1 John 1:9). Then He gives us the strength to press on without a word of condemnation (see Romans 8:1), because Jesus has already born the punishment for our faithlessness and sin (see 1 John 2:1)! In the light of the relationship we have with this amazing God, this anchor verse renders powerless, all of the “what if”s and the “if only”s that Satan wants to haunt us with, leaving us with just the hopeful expectation of tomorrow.

These are the reasons why this verse is so precious to our family. I have written this with a prayer for each of you, dear readers. May God encourage you through the power of His written Word, and may He liberate you in your walk with our King. God bless you!









Mom’s Address to Her Adopted Son on His Wedding Day


Babies are eagerly awaited and treasured and parental love grows from the very beginning. But what do you do when God chooses to start your family by giving you a broken, hurting, traumatized 6 year old to love and care for as your own son? Well, Dad and I thought that love and fresh air would do the trick and that we would all live happily ever after just like any “normal” family! And so, we naively decided to step into parenthood bringing you, our son,  into our home in July 1998. We had prayed much and felt led by God when we heard your tragic story but we had absolutely no clue of the roller coaster ride we were in for.

You came into our home knowing very little English – you were from an entirely different background, religion and family than us. You would just sit for hours staring outside your window in our home in NJ. You were angry, frustrated and lied incessantly. When I tried to hug you, you would stiffen and push me away. Our hearts broke as we heard your tragic story of losing your birth-mother, watching her as she had been pushed to die by setting herself on fire, being asked to step into the fire with her, as well as feeling the horror as you could do nothing to help her be okay at the tender age of 5! You were heartbroken and devastated and nobody had understood your pain. You hated me as I was replacing your birth-mother. You would stubbornly refuse to obey anything that I asked you to do. You were failing in school and unable to logically think or function. Our family was held hostage to your anger and failure. We looked like fools to our family and friends and we felt like we must be horrible parents to have a child as broken as you. We put very strict boundaries around you but it didn’t seem to make a difference . You just kept getting worse with each passing year.


I knew that Jesus was our only hope and often reminded you of verses like Romans 8:28 that “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes” – yet, even to me it felt empty and hopeless. You hated God because in your mind, how could a loving God that we talked to you about, allow your mother to die so tragically without her knowing Him? We were hitting many walls and Dad and I often felt weary, angry and hopeless – even ready to give up.

I remember checking on you several times each night. I would kneel by your bedside and sob asking God why? Why would He allow a little child to be hurt like this? Why was He not stepping in and helping us? Why? Why? Why? God was our only hope and He needed to act soon.

I would cling to the cross and sob singing this song by Mark Schultz.

I’m down on my knees again tonight,
I’m hoping this prayer will turn out right.
See, there is a boy that needs Your help.
I’ve done all that I can do myself
His mother is tired,
I’m sure You can understand.
Each night as he sleeps
She goes in to hold his hand,
And she tries
Not to cry
As the tears fill her eyes.

Often late at night I watch him sleep,
I dream of the boy he’d like to be.
I try to be strong and see him through,
But Jesus, whom he needs right now is You.
Let him grow old,
Live life without this fear.
What would I be
Living without him here?
He’s so tired,
And he’s scared
Let him know that You’re there.

Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?
If You can hear me
Let me take his place some how.
See, he’s not just anyone, he’s my son.

But, God appeared to be silent. No answers, no explanations, no comfort. The only answer I got was a promise from Him on May 12th, 2002 from Isaiah 54O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold……All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear! I needed faith to believe! Eleven long years went by before we saw God fulfilling this promise to me. In August 2009, God in a miraculous act of grace broke through to you my son, and let His light shine through. He even wiped away your anger and healed your broken mind, spirit and soul!

You are now twice adopted – once into our family and adopted a second time into God’s family. You now have eternal hope, peace and joy with Jesus!

Life has not been easy my son – I grieve deeply for I did not have you physically with me the first six tender years of your life and then I did not have you emotionally and spiritually the next eleven years because of your trauma. You have been learning to love and care for us step by step, in just the last few years. You know that Dad and I love you dearly through the bad times and the good times, and we are extremely grateful to God for you. Your sisters love you so much too. You have loved your family well! Dad and I have loved you deeply but we’ve also failed you much. Our hope has only been Jesus – that in our weakness, He shines strong. We hope that you will forgive us of our mistakes and sins against you but that you will take the good and carry on the godly heritage that you have received.



And now God is calling you to fly and build your own home with this lovely young lady whom He chose and brought into your life. We rejoice at the good gift that your loving Heavenly Father has gifted you with in your wife, our precious daughter-in-love. Our constant prayer for you both is that you will fully surrender your lives to Jesus and live honoring and loving Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Nothing on earth is worth more than Jesus!

Dad and I send you with our family blessingMay the Lord bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and may He be gracious to you, may the Lord lift up His countenance and give you peace!


~ Mom

My Concerns with Young Earth Creationism

I believe in the divine plenary verbal inspiration of the Bible and also have a doctorate in Theoretical Physics. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the question of the origin of life and the age of the earth. To be honest, I have to say that I find overwhelming scientific evidence for a universe that is 13.8 odd billion years old, and an earth that is about 4.5 billion years old. I also have to admit that I do not have a detailed way to reconcile the Bible and science regarding this matter to my complete satisfaction. On the other hand, neither do I find any blatant contradictions between the Bible and science. So I am at present content with not having all the answers. It is not a stretch for me to believe that there does exist a perfect reconciliation between the Bible and true science, even if I do not fully understand it right now. However, I do have a concern with the dogmatism expressed by “young-earth creationists” (by this term, I mean those who believe that our earth is just a few thousand years old and that God created the universe in 6 literal days). I also find a disturbing dishonesty in some of the things that they say and write, which I believe is doing much damage, by reducing the credibility that Christians have in the world today. Let me clarify what I mean.

The Scientific Method

All of Science is strictly speaking, “theory” and not “fact”. There is a level of humility in submission to observable experimental evidence that says that if a new observation does not fit existing scientific theory, then the scientific theory needs to be modified or recognized as incomplete, until the new evidence has a satisfactory explanation. So for example, early astronomers were able to explain the motion of stars and planets in the night sky by using a complicated model where the sun, stars and planets revolved around the earth. However with Kepler’s more accurate measurements, the theory had to be modified to one where the sun lies at the center of our solar system. Then Isaac Newton formulated his brilliant mathematical laws of motion and gravity that explained planetary motion and all the other known phenomena. Newton’s theory, known as Classical Physics, held sway until the end of the 19th century. However in the late 1800’s some new experiments were performed that defied explanation. This is what led to the revolutionary new theories of Quantum Physics, Relativity and Einstein’s Theory of Gravity, which not only explained everything that Classical Physics could explain, but also all the new experimental data, with remarkable mathematical precision. These theories also made new testable predictions, some of which were extremely non-intuitive. The predictions were soon tested and verified. So currently we have excellent working theories that can explain all known phenomena. However, there do exist some perplexing logical paradoxes without good solutions. There are also theoretical inconsistencies between Quantum Physics and Einstein’s Theory of Gravity at the tiniest length scales. Thus scientists believe that our current understanding of the fundamental laws of the nature is still incomplete, and research in this area is still very active.

The young earth creationist Ken Ham writes about “Operational (Observational) Theory” and “Historical (Origins) Theory“. This is a very artificial distinction. For example, we find this statement in the Answers In Genesis website: “All interpretations (theories) of the past [i.e. Historical Theory] are based on assumptions and cannot be equated with facts that are observable in the present [that is, Operational Theory]”. Ham is saying that if something cannot be observed, then we cannot be sure that it is true. Therefore our knowledge regarding past events cannot be made very confidently by science, simply because those events happened in the past. This statement is not true. By Ham’s argument, since no one has ever seen an electron our confidence in its existence should be tenuous at best. However no scientist would say that there is even a remote possibility that electrons do not exist. The fact is that even if something is not directly observable, its effects can be. The theory of electron existence is the best theory that explains all the phenomena that we now attribute to the effects of electrons, so we accept the theory without claiming that we need to actually see electrons to believe in them. It doesn’t even seem to bother anyone that according to the theory they are so tiny that we will never be able to see them. Science is a structured attempt to rigorously solve the complicated jig-saw puzzle of everything we observe in nature today – and we have tools that can probe the furthest reaches of the universe, and the innermost structure of atoms. Scientists believe that everything we observe is a consequence of simple so-called “fundamental laws of nature”. The remarkable fact is that with the large amount of data we have collected, the fundamental laws of nature as we understand them today, have a deep intrinsic mathematical elegance and simplicity. (Side note: personally, this leads me to worship God for His tremendous wisdom, because God created these laws as well. Science gives me new insights into the awesome majesty of God).

Thus for example, to simply dismiss the theory of evolution saying “No one has observed it” is a dishonest play on words and is not consistent with what true science is.

Order cannot come out of Disorder. Really?

A common argument is that life has a lot of structure, and that the “Second Law of Thermodynamics” says that everything tends towards decay, so evolution fundamentally contradicts this well established law of Physics, because the order we see today could not have come from disorder all by itself.

Well, this is not true. Consider a snowflake. Anyone who has seen one under a microscope (or seen a picture of one) sees amazing symmetry and structure in it. This structure arose out of many molecules of water that evaporated from earth’s lakes and oceans, and then condensed in the clouds above. Similarly, if we plant a seed on the ground, it grows into a plant with beautiful flowers and fruit. This plant exists because the seed we planted was able to absorb water, air and nutrients from the soil and the atmosphere, and the resulting growth that ensued could process sunlight through photosynthesis. Both of these are examples of how tremendous order can arise out of total initial disorder. The truth is, that the Second Law of Thermodynamics only applies to a “Closed System”, and our earth is not a Closed System, because it gets a lot of heat and light energy from the sun. So the theory of evolution in itself does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

What about Evidence Indicating an Old Universe and an Old Earth?

There are galaxies and other objects in the universe that we believe to be billions of light years away from us. This means that the light that reaches us from them had originally left them billions of years ago. In other words, those galaxies we see today are in fact what they looked like billions of years ago, which in turn implies that they existed billions of years ago. Similarly we can look at stalactites and stalagmites in many caves, the relative composition of radioactive elements in a rock sample, the tectonic plate structure of the earth’s crust, extensive fossil deposits, and the list goes on. There is a mountain of evidence that points to a universe that is about 13.8 billion years old, and an earth that is about 4.5 billion years old.

When young earth creationists are confronted with this kind of evidence that indicates an old universe or an old earth, there are usually one of two kinds of responses:

  • God could have miraculously made the universe and the earth appear old. For example, He could have accelerated the speed of light so that these distant objects appear to be much older than they actually are. After all, didn’t God create Adam as a grown man appearing to be perhaps in his twenties when he was only a day old? The Bible says that nothing is impossible with God.

Regarding this argument, my response would be: “Yes, nothing is impossible with God. However, since God is the God of truth, does it seem consistent with His nature that He would make a young universe appear to be so incredibly old?”. This would then lead me to a more serious charge. “Please stop saying that your young-earth hypothesis is scientific. You have explained away observed evidence that does not fit your theories, by saying God could have done a miracle. So you have gone outside the realm of science and your position is therefore not scientific.”

A second argument that is pretty common goes along the following lines:

  • There are assumptions made for the age calculation that may not be true.

Regarding this, we need remind ourselves regarding what the scientific method really is. Anyone who makes the argument about possible false assumptions has the “burden of proof” to come up with a theory that would provide a different age calculation for every disparate source of evidence that appears to indicate otherwise, yet should also continue to explain every other known fact. Such a theory would be radically different from the fundamental scientific laws of nature as we understand them today, so that is an extremely tall order. Yes – the evidence for an old universe and an old earth are so overwhelming that to overturn all of it would require a complete rewrite of all of modern Physics.

There have been papers published by young-earth creationists that attempt to deal with some isolated phenomena, not recognizing (or ignoring) the cumulative and consistent support from multiple scientific disciplines that would need to be explained if their theses are true. These kinds of papers usually have such blatantly inaccurate statements and/or false claims that they do not make it into any well-established peer-reviewed scientific journal. In fact, most scientists consider it a waste of time to even engage these people in debate.

Old Earth, Evolution and the Bible

Many young-earth creationists claim that if one does not believe in a young earth and a literal 6 day creation,one cannot believe the things the Bible has to say about Jesus and salvation? Thus they make their interpretation of Genesis a critical requirement of true faith. There are a couple comments I would like to make regarding this:

  • Usually when the word ‘evolution” is used in science, it describes the details of a certain process. Strictly speaking this has no bearing on the existence of God because the scientific method by definition does not deal with the issue of God’s existence. This is why there are many scientists who are believing Christians who do not find any conflict between their faith in a Creator God, and evolution. The following statement is often made by young earth creationists: “Darwin’s theory has been rejected by most modern scientists today”. It is true that the details of the mechanism in Darwin’s initial theory has changed with our increased understanding of genetic structure. However, the core concepts are still currently almost universally accepted. So here, the statement causes the general reader to understand it with a much broader brush stroke – which makes it a falsehood. Incidentally, evolution has actually been observed in the lab, consistent with modern genetic theory. For example, when a cold virus resists our antibiotic medication, it is because the virus has literally evolved into a different strain that is resistant to those antibiotics. The new strain could be one that has never existed before. This has led young earth creationists to make a distinction between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and they argue that “macro” evolution (i.e., evolution that changes one species into another) has never been observed. It is true that evolution from one species to another has not been observed, but this can be explained by the same mechanisms that have successfully predicted and verified micro-evolution. The predicted time-frames this mechanism would require for macro-evolution is longer than the few thousand years of known world history, and is therefore consistent with the fact that it has not been observed. Incidentally, the words the Bible uses about the origins of life on earth: “Let the earth sprout” (Gen 1:11) . “Let the waters swarm” (Gen 1:20) and “Let the earth bring forth” (Gen 1:24) is not inconsistent with God using some evolutionary process to make it happen.
  • There are several alternate interpretations of Genesis 1 and 2 that allow for an old earth and a longer creation period. Some of these views are held by conservative Christian scholars and pastors. To go into more detail would be beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say that I myself do not see the creation story as an open-and-shut case for a young earth and a literal 6 day creation. For more information, I would recommend reading the study notes on Genesis in the ESV Study Bible. These represent a balanced and accurate summary of various conservative evangelical views on these issues.


Science is our ally and not our enemy. Scientists desire to know truth about how the universe runs. Christians also desire to know a different aspect of truth that deals more with the “why” questions of our existence, and we believe that the Bible is the inerrant revelation of God. Ultimately truth by definition is consistent, so true science will never contradict the correctly interpreted truth of the Bible. What is fundamental to our faith is that God is the Creator of the universe and that God created mankind “in His image” starting with our first human parents Adam and Eve. This puts us in a different category to every other living creature on earth. Details regarding the age of the earth or the time-frames for the origin-of-life are secondary. Our unique status before God is outside the realm of science but does not contradict it. Evolution does not irrefutably imply that God does not exist, or that He did not direct the process in some way. Christians can be enriched by learning about our universe and the wisdom of God who created it, whether or not our universe is old, and whether or not God somehow used the process of evolution to bring about life as we know it.

So isn’t it time for us to stop wasting our energy on useless debates, or preposterously claiming that there is a giant conspiracy by scientists to expel God? In reality there are believing Christians in every scientific discipline (albeit a minority). While science cannot answer questions about God one way or another, the Bible does, because God has chosen to reveal Himself there. Yes there is a God who is the Creator of the entire universe. This God wants us to know that He created us “in His image” because He desires us to have a loving relationship with Him. Although we followed our first parents in rebellion against God, in His mercy He sent Jesus His only Son to die on the cross in our place and for our sins. Jesus rose again victorious on the third day, and freely offers us forgiveness for our sins and a restored relationship with God that can begin now, and will continue into all eternity. What an extraordinary gift this is! Let us not get distracted from sharing this amazing news. Let us allow scientists to do what they are eminently well qualified to do, and let us Christians not make naive statements in our ignorance, that undermine our own credibility. Rather, let us have a laser focus on doing what Jesus has commissioned us to do – to spread the stupendous good news about Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him but does not realize it.

The Glory and the Grace: Reflections from Isaiah 6:1-10

… I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he coveredhis face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called 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 shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongsfrom the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not  perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.'”

God is holy and exceedingly glorious

Isaiah records a dramatic day in his life, when he saw God in His glory. He was sitting on a throne, that was high and lifted up. The train of His robe filled the temple. He was surrounded by angels whose name means “flame” – perfect and pure beings, who shielded their eyes and covered their feet in God’s presence, and constantly cried out: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Try to imagine this scene. The Bible says that God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see”. (1 Tim 6:16). But Isaiah gets a glimpse of God in His glory! He sees God lifted up. He sees Him as the sovereign ruler of the universe. He suddenly realizes that in fact the whole earth is full of his glory.

The sight of God’s glory makes Isaiah’s own uncleanness obvious

What was Isaiah’s reaction to this vision? He thought his life was over – that he was done for! He feared that he would be consumed by God’s judgment. When Isaiah came face to face with God’s holiness, he suddenly realized how unholy he himself was. He realized that he had no business standing there in the presence of God. He knew that he was not fit to see what he was seeing. He shuddered because he knew that he deserved to die immediately. He felt vulnerable.

Is Isaiah’s God our God? Do we realize that God is awesome in His Holiness? Our culture caricatures God like a soft sentimental “Santa Clause”-like figure. But that is not the God of the Bible. We sometimes think that the God of the Old Testament is different to Jesus. However, the apostle John, who lived and ate with Jesus for 3 years, says that the person Isaiah saw in this vision was none other than Jesus Himself (John 12:41). God the Father has exactly the same nature as revealed through God the Son, Jesus. The Bible also says that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. This means that the God Isaiah saw is the God who is ruling the universe today. Every single time anyone saw a glimpse of God’s glory, they all reacted in a similar way to Isaiah. For example, think of what happened to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Job, Ezekiel, Paul, John, and many others. Why? The Bible says that God’s eyes “are too pure to approve evil”, And that He cannot look on wickedness with favor. (Hab. 1:13). When we come in contact with God in His absolute perfection, our own sinfulness and wickedness stands in stark contrast. Isaiah confessed: “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips”. The Bible says that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. So the unclean lips that Isaiah is so conscious of, was evidence of his unclean heart.

At the time of Isaiah the nation of Judah was in a state of unprecedented prosperity. However because of this, they had turned away from God. We get a pretty good idea of how they were from the earlier chapters of Isaiah. Isaiah described them as those who “draw sin as with cart ropes (5: 18). Let us see how God describes the culture in Isaiah’s day, because it has an uncanny resemblance to the America we live in today.

  • Materialistic (5:8)
  • The women dress very seductively: “craning her elegant neck, flirting with her eyes, walking with dainty steps” (3:15).
  • Arrogance in their military might (2:7)
  • Moral relativism: they “call evil good and good evil. (5:20)
  • They worshiped other gods (2:8)
  • They were drunkards. (5: 11, 22)
  • Theirs was a culture of bribery and corruption (1:23, 5:23).
  • They did not care about orphans and widows, or about moral justice (1:17,23, 5:23)
  • They were religious but in their hearts they had spurned God. (1:15-17)
  • They rationalized their behavior: they were “shrewd in their own sight and wise in their own eyes”. (5:21)

 Does this not sound very much like our culture today? Like them, we too are so busy in the stresses of everyday life, that we have spurned the God of the universe. We don’t care about the millions of orphans dying in the world. We don’t care about the sex-trade industry in third world countries. We put our confidence in our beauty or smartness, and we accumulate wealth. If you think about it, we are not much different to the people among whom Isaiah lived. But when Isaiah saw God, he could not face him. Until this point in his life, he had been proclaiming what was wrong with all the people around him. But when he saw God, he directed the condemnation to himself. “Woe is me! For I am lost”.

Recognition of his sins enables them to be covered by God’s grace.

Immediately when Isaiah recognized his guilt, a flaming angel took burning coal from the altar and touched his lips with it, and proclaimed that his sins had been atoned for, and his guilt had been taken away. Confession enabled his sin to be covered by God’s grace.

The seraph proclaimed to Isaiah that when God looked at Isaiah, He would not punish Isaiah’s guilt and sin, because it had been covered – it had been atoned for. The sacrifice on the altar from which the burning coal had been taken, would serve as an atonement for Isaiah’s sins. He was cleansed and made holy. He was now fit to stand in God’s presence, and he could do so without fear

After this, Isaiah’s life was changed forever.

Isaiah saw this vision “In the year that king Uzziah died”. That was way back in 740BC. Today, we are living 2,750 years after this event. So how does this passage apply to us today? Does it have any relevance at all, or is this just a historical curiosity? Our first thought may go along these lines: “If God were to reveal Himself to me like this, then my life too would be transformed”. Then we can dismiss the thought and continue with our daily lives. But to do this is to miss something really significant. There is a key that links this passage directly to us, and it is this:

God’s glory is fully revealed in Jesus Christ.

Fast-forward to now: God’s glory has been fully revealed through Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen His glory – glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb 1:3). God’s glory has been revealed in Jesus Christ, in a way that is far superior to what Isaiah saw. Jesus once told His disciples: “blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matt 13:16-17). God’s glory as revealed in Jesus Christ is vastly superior because we see the heart of God in a way Isaiah never did, through the cross of Christ. The Bible says: “We all, with unveiled faces, are beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). This experience is available to each one of us. We can see God’s glory personally, in Jesus Christ.

I now want to say something very very serious. It comes directly from this passage – the very Word of God. After he was cleansed, Isaiah was sent by God to communicate to the people a certain message:

Keep on hearing, but do not understand.
Keep on seeing, but do not  perceive.
Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And blind their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their hearts,
And turn and be healed.

There is a state of hardness that can prevent us from seeing God’s glory.

The above passage suggests that there is a state of hardness that can blind us from seeing God’s glory. These words have been quoted multiple times in the New Testament – even by Jesus – to explain why people do not believe in Jesus. Remember that it was only after Isaiah saw God’s glory that he was able to fully see his own sinfulness, which enabled him to confess it and get cleansed. This passage says that those people whose hearts are hardened will continue living in their sin, and will not turn and be healed. They will be “wise in our own eyes” (Isa 5:21), and will not realize their need for a Savior.

This is a very serious situation, because this “blindness” makes them incapable of seeing God in His glory. So let me ask you a very important question. Have you seen God’s glory in Jesus Christ? If you have seen Him in His glory, you will revel in the gospel. You will want to read more and more about what Jesus has done for you when He died on the cross for your sins. It is only His death that can cover your guilt, and enable you to stand boldly in God’s presence, just like Isaiah was enabled to do – because He bore the punishment of your sins on Himself. When He becomes your Savior, you will have the Holy Spirit residing permanently inside of you, teaching you more and more about Him. The Bible will come alive, and when you read it your spirit will leap within you for joy. This is a very personal thing. Do you look at Him as the Fountain of living water? Are you sustained by Him? Are you satisfied in Him? Do you love to be with Him? Do you yearn to be with Him after you die, and spend eternity with Him in heaven? Ask yourself these questions seriously. If you have not experienced this deep desire for Him, then according to this passage it is because your heart is hardened, and that hardness will prevent you from seeing the glory of God in Christ, thereby getting the spiritual healing that you desperately need from your sins, through the death of Jesus.

God needs to soften our hard hearts, so that we can turn and be healed.

I have given a simple though critical self test. You can only fall into one of two groups – either you have seen God’s glory in Jesus Christ, or you have not – which would further indicate whether your heart is in a state of hardness or it is not. You know which group you fall into. This is between you and God.

Perhaps hearing this, you realize that it has not been your experience to see God’s glory in Christ? If so, it can only mean that you heart has been hardened. According to the Bible, those who die with such hardened hearts will experience the rest of eternity in hell, suffering the just punishment for their sins – so this is a very serious matter. The Bible says that the god of this world (i.e. Satan) has blinded the hearts of those who do not believe, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel and the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). If you are in this situation, you need your eyes opened, and your heart softened. God promises that he can soften your heart, and is willing to do so. He says in Ezek 36:26 “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone … and give you a heart of flesh, and I will put My Spirit within you”. He also says He is willing to give “salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” (Rev 3:18).

So ask God to do this miracle for you. Ask Him to open your eyes and soften your heart. Ask Him to let you see with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and understand with your heart, so that you can turn and be healed. He has promised that He will not turn away anyone who comes to Him. Ernestly entreat Him to soften your heart – He will do it, because He is a God of grace. And then your eyes will be opened to the vistas of God’s glory in Jesus Christ that will enthrall you thoughout eternity.

And to those of you who have seen God’s glory, let me just encourage you – keep gazing at Him. Drink of Him. Spend time with Him. Savor Him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Revel in His presence. Tell others about Him. And even as you do this, you yourself will gradually become more and more like Him, “from one degree of glory to another”.