Trinity Sunday

May 30, 2021

Isaiah 6:1-8

O Holy Trinity—

How Great Thou Art!

 

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings:  With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  “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.”  Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”  Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I.  Send me!”  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

Today is a unique Sunday in the Christian church year.  It is unique in that all three of our Scripture readings for today lead us to contemplate once again the existence and the nature of the one true God, the Triune God.  In our Epistle lesson for today (Romans 8:14-17) the apostle Paul highlights how each Person of the Holy Trinity is actively involved in our life as a child of God.  In our Gospel lesson for today (John 3:1-17), the Lord Jesus explained to Nicodemus— and to us— how each Person of the Holy Trinity is actively involved in God’s Plan of Salvation for this world.  And our Old Testament lesson for today— which also serves as our sermon text— gives us an opportunity to stand alongside the prophet Isaiah and with the eyes of faith “see” the one and only living God— our Triune God!

 

As this unique Sunday overwhelms us with awe and wonder let’s study this text under the theme:  O Holy Trinity— How Great Thou Art!  There are three things that we want to humbly say to the Triune God today.  First let’s see how this text leads us to say, “I see your greatness in who you are!”  Then let’s see how this text leads us to say, “I see your greatness in what you have done for me!”  Finally let’s see how this text leads us to say, “I see your greatness in what you have asked me to do for you!”

 

Isaiah begins our text with the words, “In the year that King Uzziah died.”  Why did the Holy Spirit consider this event to be so important that He had Isaiah record it?  Because everyone knew exactly why and how King Uzziah died!  King Uzziah had allowed his heart to become filled with so much pride that he went into the Temple of the Lord fully intending to “burn incense on the altar of incense”— something that the Law of God clearly said he was forbidden to do!  Only the priests were allowed to do this.  When Azariah the priest and 80 other priests confronted the king, Uzziah became enraged.  As he was “raging at the priests” the Lord’s judgment on King Uzziah was swift and it was clear.  Scripture tells us, “leprosy broke out on his forehead.”  Because of King Uzziah’s leprosy he was hurried out of the Temple of the Lord.  Because of King Uzziah’s leprosy he was never again allowed to enter the Temple of the Lord.  Because of King Uzziah’s leprosy he had to live in a separate house until the day he died.  (See 2 Chronicles 26:16-21)

 

Against the backdrop of man’s pride and God’s judgment the prophet Isaiah was given the vision that leads us to say: “O Holy Trinity— How Great Thou Art!

 

Isaiah’s vision begins with a description of the greatness of God.  He writes, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings:  With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:  ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’  At the sound of their voices the doorposts and threshold shook, and the temple was filled with smoke.”

 

Greatness.  Majesty.  Power.  Authority.  Superiority.  Those are just some of the words that fill our minds when we read this portion of our text!  In fact, our God, the Triune God is so great that even the “seraphs” (who are high-ranking angels) humbly covered both their faces and their feet in the presence of God’s holiness!  The powerful antiphonal song of the seraphs, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory,” not only points to the reality of the Trinity, but it also reveals to us that as the divine eternal Creator of all things the Lord our God is unique.  The Lord our God is without equal.  The Lord our God has no peers.

 

This awesome majestic God is the God that we worship, my friends.  This is the awesome majestic God concerning whom we freely and humbly say, “O Holy Trinity— how great Thou art!”  Contrary to what other people might think and say, contrary to whom (or perhaps we should say, to what) other people might turn to for safety and deliverance and help, the same majestic and holy and powerful God that Isaiah saw in his vision some 2,700 years ago is the only God who exists!  His omniscience, His omnipotence, His omnipresence is what we depend upon each and every single day!  While we will never be able to completely comprehend the fact that the one true God is the Triune God, when our God calls us Home to heaven, when we are living in His presence, we will have even more reason to say, “O Holy Trinity— how great Thou art!”

 

The next portion of Isaiah’s vision is what leads us to say to the Triune God, “I see your greatness in what you have done for me!”  Isaiah writes, “’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.’  Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’”

 

Isaiah quickly recognized what we all need to recognize:  When we poor, mortal, sinful human beings come into the presence of “the King, the LORD Almighty” we are “ruined”!  We cannot survive!  God’s holiness and our sinfulness, God’s perfection and our imperfection, God’s power and our puniness, God’s all-consuming justice and our ever-changing excuses create a chasm between us and “the King, the LORD Almighty” that is impossible for us to cross!

 

Isaiah recognized that gulf and fell into despair— “Woe to me!  I am ruined!”  The “LORD Almighty” recognized that gulf and graciously provided the solution!  The “King” sent one of His seraphs to take a “live coal” from the altar, touch Isaiah’s lips and declare, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

 

As New Testament Christians we easily see in these words an amazing picture of God’s precious Means of Grace.  What is impossible for us to do on our own, our Triune God does for us!  He takes away our guilt!  He atones for our sins!  Only the Triune God has both the power and love to do this for us!  Think about it, my friends.  God the Father willingly sent His only begotten Son into this world to save us from our sins.  God the Son willingly offered Himself on the cross (Pointing to the cross) as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  God the Holy Spirit willingly comes to us in Word and Sacrament to assure us that through faith in Jesus our sins are forgiven.  The free and full forgiveness that our God gives to us does indeed lead us to say, “O Triune God— how great Thou art!  I see your greatness in what you have done for me!”

 

With our guilt taken away and with our sin atoned for, we gladly say to our Triune God, “I see your greatness in what you have asked me to do for you!”  Isaiah highlights this truth when he says in the closing verse of our text, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?’  And I said, ‘Here am I.  Send me!”

 

Once we have seen “the King, the LORD Almighty” with the eyes of faith, once we have been given the gift of saving faith in  our heart— the faith that enables us to rejoice in what the Triune God has done for us (Pointing to the cross), then we are able to see the greatness of our God in giving to us the privilege of sharing with others who the Triune God is and what the Triune God has done for them!

 

The ”LORD Almighty” could have sent His powerful angels to proclaim God’s Word to people all across the world and all across the ages, but He chose not to do that.  He chose to send Isaiah, a man of “unclean lips.”  He chose to send us, a “people of unclean lips.”  He chose to give us the opportunity to freely share with others the forgiveness and the grace and the mercy that we so richly enjoy!  How can we not see the greatness of our God for giving to us the glorious opportunity to share this glorious message!

 

Today is indeed a unique Sunday.  Today we contemplate a truth that will always be a mystery to us on this side of heaven.  That truth centers on the reality that our God, the one true God, is three separate Persons in one divine Godhead.  While we cannot comprehend this truth with our limited logical minds, may we always joyfully confess with all our heart:  O Holy Trinity— How Great Thou Art!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen