With the death of Uzziah the expansion and prosperity of Judah would seemingly come to an end. As with any royal death, it would be a period of time marked by the solemnity and uncertainty of decision, change, and a future placed in the hands of succession Perhaps Isaiah, whom according to many scholars held a fondness towards the recently deceased king, felt the void of leadership and the tragedy of an empty throne as poignantly as the people did. However, within that year, days and months unknown, Isaiah made a startling declaration: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne” (Isa. 6:1).
I cannot help but think, although the word is an untranslated particle in the Hebrew, of the impact of the word “also.” It would seem to imply, at face value, “other side of the coin,”; the proverbial “flip-side.” On one side of the coin a king was dead and a throne was vacated and empty. On that side of the coin a nation was caught up in uncertainty, mourning, and fear. And yet, Isaiah declared, “I saw ALSO!”
Thank God for the “also.” Thank God for the “other-side” of the coin. Thank God, that when the fields have not produced, the figs have not blossomed, and the olive cannot be pressed there is an ALSO! God is still on His throne, He is still high and lifted up, and His authority still fills His temple! Thank God for a throne that is never vacated, never empty, and never without power. Thank God for a perpetual scepter; for such is the throne of God.
And yet, as Isaiah beheld the awesome spectacle of God sitting upon the throne, high and lifted up, he was suddenly arrested by a sudden and captivating sense of doom. “Woe is me,” Isaiah cried, “for I am undone!” The simple, yet commanding reason: “Mine eyes have seen the King.”
It is one thing to behold an earthly king, another entirely to behold “THE King.” In that moment, Isaiah, whose commission would be birthed from this experience, had looked upon the Incomprehensible, Almighty, King of all Kings. When John the Revelator had a similar experience, he wrote of the incident saying, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead” (Rev. 1:17).
It was this response of Isaiah, along with several other instances in scripture, that the concept of the “confrontation of the curtain” was birthed in my spirit. It is clear, as one closely studies the incident Isaiah recorded, that he was in the throne-room of Majesty, and yet, the throne room was found within the edifice known as the Temple, for scripture tells us: “the train of His robe filled the temple.”
Any cursory study of the Word of God in relation to the Temple and the Glory will automatically lead one backwards to the point of reference in which God dwelt among His people through the structure of what was known as the Tabernacle of the Wilderness. As most of us know, the Tabernacle that was erected had begun as a pattern given to Moses, and yet, the physical pattern shadowed an abstract understanding of ones approach into the presence of a Holy God.
One thing that is clear from even a cursory study of the Old Testament is that God is not One to be approached casually. Nothing presents this understanding more vividly than the approach of the High Priest as it related to the Tabernacle which followed a painstaking process of washing, anointing, clothing, killing, blood, light, bread, incense; simply put, it was not something one “skipped steps” or “took shortcuts.” Why? The ultimate purpose of the said approach was to appear, as the High Priest, before the Ark of the Covenant where God would meet with His people from “above” the Mercy Seat. This was the throne of God; the veritable throne room of Majestic royalty. To be in that throne room demanded purity…demanded sacrifice…demanded blood…demanded certain garments…demanded incense…demanded washing…demanded anointing, and yet…before the high priest could ever enter into that throne room he had to confront the curtain.
While time does not permit to enter into great details and elaborate upon specifics of the veil, I would bring your attention to the incredible revelation posed by Hebrews 10:20 which declares that the veil, in the case of Christ, is nothing other than the flesh. This I highlight, if only written words could truly produce an audible reverberation; these words, I would desire it so.
Before anyone enters into the throne room, just as it was with the high priest, I will submit that one MUST have a confrontation with the curtain. It is one thing to enter into the gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, but it is something entirely different to enter into the throne room of God’s Majesty and Glory.
In later times the court, called the “court of the gentiles” was a place of “common gathering.” It was in the court that blood was shed, flies swarmed with abundance and the noise and clamor of people was heard. However, it is important to note, thanksgiving and praise can be given/participated from and by anyone.
Praise can be projected by a conglomeration of both sinner and the saint. Anyone can extol the goodness of God. Anyone can clap their hands. Anyone can shout with joy. This is what concerns me today. Are we creating an atmosphere of the “contemporary?” Are we creating an atmosphere that avoids confrontation? The purpose, and I say this loud and clear, of an Apostolic service must include a confrontation with the curtain.
If we never sing our songs, play our music, and make melody with the purpose of pushing past praise then we, in effect, begin to create an atmosphere in which a person seldom declares, “Woe is me for I am unclean!” Although it may at times, thanksgiving and praise seldom produces conviction. Sadly, this is being seen throughout churches all across the nation.
We must recognize that, to see the Lord High and Lifted up, one must FIRST confront the curtain, that is to say, one must first confront his/her flesh! Why? “No flesh shall glory in His presence!” When Isaiah saw The Lord in that position, when it states that Isaiah saw God on the throne in the Temple, his authoritative train filling every space, it was then that Isaiah declared, “WOE IS ME!”
What happened? He had a confrontation with the curtain. It was simultaneous with his entrance into that Most Holy Place. When the High Priest of the Tabernacle of the Wilderness moved from the court’s altars and into the Holy Place wherein stood the Lamp which shed light and the bread of Presence; he stood finally a the crossroad, marked by an smoking altar behind and a veil before.
It was her, near that golden altar that incense, whose ingredients could not be recreated without grave punishment, smoked and rose upward, a unique combination of bloody coals and sweet fragrance. However, it was here, at this point, that the priest had to confront the curtain. Everything depended upon this moment! Atonement could not happen if the priest did not confront this curtain!
Beyond that curtain one enters into an arena of “other-worldly.” On the other side one moved into transcendent worship, and yet, the reflection of self which stood in stark contrast to the Holiness of God. No individual can bypass the curtain and enter into the Holy Place without first “removing his shoes.” The sign, though not visible, screams to me, “come no further,” yet it doesn’t speak to just anything, it speaks to the flesh.
If the church only provides a place of praise then I will submit, everyone can feel “continually comfortable.” However, salvation depends upon the confrontation with the curtain! The hope of humanity depends upon this confrontation, for repentance is only found in the cry of the confrontation reveals, “Woe is me for I am unclean!”
And so I sit, in reflection, and I pray that you also consider me with the nature of this treatise. I must confront the curtain. Our church services must bring one to the curtain. Is it easy? No! Does everyone enjoy the confrontation? No! But is it necessary? Yes! God forbid our churches become holding cells in which the masses, sinner and saint alike, can function in total agreement, never coming face to face with the flesh. Church, at some point, must be about confronting the curtain. Perhaps it is time to reconsider the songs we sing, the sermons we preach, and the atmosphere we produce. It’s time for flesh to be confronted; we have no time to waste.