By: Todd Bates, Professor of Theology and Dean, School of Christian Thought, HBU
June 3, 2019
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
At the risk of sounding trivial, I love God’s style. There are times in Scripture where God breaks through the mundane and reveals his majesty—he allows us to catch a glimpse of who he is and it is overwhelming and undoing. Isaiah gives us a little taste of God’s majesty: God is lofty, lifted up, holy, and inhabits eternity. Yet, this is only a taste of what Isaiah encountered when he “saw the Lord.” Isaiah summarizes that encounter with the words, “Woe is me, for I am lost (ruined/ undone)”!
It is only in light of the majesty and holiness of God that humans can truly see who we are...and that we are undone! Though that is a critical part of the story, it is not the only part. Isaiah goes on to relate that God is, indeed, the high and lofty one, but that he also dwells with those who are contrite—literally, crushed—broken, lowly. This is as surprising as it is touching and brings us closer to the heart of the gospel.
Where do we see God dwelling with the crushed and broken? The Gospel of John relates that it is when the Word became flesh that the glory of God dwells with us (1:14). It is in the humble form of a servant that we behold the majestic glory of God. Further, in taking the form of a servant Christ became “obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8). Humble majesty, indeed!
As we pray for awakening, part of our prayer should be for God’s glory to be made known. For it is only God’s majesty that can truly rock the cultural slumber around us and within us.
As we pray for awakening, part of our prayer should also be for attentiveness. How easy it is to miss the humble majesty of God in the work he is already doing around us and within us.
As we pray for awakening, let us be mindful of the nearing day of Pentecost. The humble majesty of Christ, exemplified in the humble majesty of Christ’s Body, the church. The group of lowly people gathered together, again, experienced the glory of God’s majestic presence in the Spirit. He revived the hearts of the lowly, and through them the hearts of those in the city and in the world.
Father, may we behold your majesty. Lord, may we be strengthened to emulate your humble obedience. Spirit, fall afresh and anew on your people, for we are lowly and contrite and in need of reviving. We are your people, God, strengthen us that we might faithfully proclaim the wonders of your salvation for the glory of your great name.