Seeing God’s glory brings true repentance, and repentance is the very foundation of our salvation. Paul said, “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness’” (2 Tim. 2:19). Repentance is simply turning away from wickedness (turning from our darkness) in order to turn to God and walk in his light. It is the fruit of God’s grace. It cannot truly happen by our own power.
Job is an example of this: It was his experience of seeing God that brought him to repentance. He confessed, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). Notice the connection between repentance and “dust and ashes.” True repentance strikes one to the ground, into the “dust and ashes” of death. It is out of this dust that God forms us and it is out of these ashes the Lord creates something beautiful. How long has it been since you have seen God and been “slain”? This vision of God that produces repentance is not just for sinners, but also for those who like Job are righteous. It is fitting that the first of Martin Luther’s theses was, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
Isaiah also knew true repentance when he saw the Lord. Isaiah 6:1-5 records
“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.”
Isaiah rends his heart, not his garment. His innermost being is torn just like the gathered assembly on the day of Pentecost was cut to the heart. Why? Because his “eyes have seen the King, Yahweh of hosts.” He does not merely mumble, “I repent.” Rather he cries “Woe to me!” Isaiah is brought to a place of ruin. But this place of ruin is the beginning of God building a life and ministry for his glory, a life and ministry that will reflect God’s glory and not merely speak of it. Only in the light of God does Isaiah feel his uncleanness and the defilement of the world around Him. Oh that we would have the same vision in our day! This is why Paul continued to pray for the Ephesians, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Eph. 1:17).
Prayer: Father, establish the foundation of repentance in my life. Let it be repentance that flows out of seeing your glory and not my mere introspection. May my eyes be opened so that I may know you more. I don’t want a mere intellectual knowledge of you but rather a core-forming encounter with you, the holy one.