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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Day The Mob Stormed The President's Home

In Isaiah chapter six, there is an incredible passage in which Isaiah is confronted by the Lord Jehovah:

"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted..." Surrounding God were angels calling to each other "'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.'" Then in verse four, "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 is 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.

Without question, Isaiah viewed God with reverence in the temple that long-ago day. It's funny, but sometimes I think it is easier for us to hold more awe for other human beings than for God.

I understand that many early Americans, when they had the chance to physically look at George Washington, did so with wonder. Washington was a courageous man and a selfless leader. Historians consider him to be one of the truly great men of history, and for good reason. Rarely has history seen a man who had such influence among his contemporaries, yet who was so humble.

A few years ago, GM sponsored a mini-series on the life of George Washington. In that series, they showed an incredible scene based upon an incident recorded in the prize winning biography of Washington written by Thomas Flexner.

There was a period in our nation's history when our government became unstable. We were having problems with France and there were some Americans who didn't like that, so they began the American tradition of blaming the president.

One night, some radical Americans so fiercely disagreed with Washington that they formed a mob, containing roughly a hundred people, and began stalking towards Washington's presidential home. Now Washington's home wasn't like the White House today. There was no fence surrounding the property to keep people out. There wasn't even the secret service. So the riotous mob was able to walk directly to Washington's front door. Suddenly, the screaming herd of people began hurling rocks at the presidential home and demanding that the President remove himself from office.

Inside the home, terror reigned. Servants in panic scurried about the house not knowing what to do. A frightened Martha Washington sought her husband. The government was in danger as it's chief officer faced the threat of being coerced into resignation, kidnapped, or worst of all, murdered.

Inside the house, only one was calm. Sensing the danger of the situation, Washington did the unexpected. Quickly, but with great dignity, Washington opened the drapes directly in front of the mob—and stood before them. The way he looked at the people is almost indescribable on paper. Washington's face expressed so much. There was pity—for the people. There was disappointment—that so many people would do something they knew deep down wasn't right. There was determination—that the fiasco taking place would immediately cease. These messages along with greatness and dignity were all chiseled in Washington's face.

The impact on the people was monumental. Slowly, the people in the back of the mob lowered their heads in shame, released the rocks from their hands, and in silence walked away. Like a wave that engulfed the people from the back to the front, the rest of the riffraff did likewise, until the mob's ringleaders were alone. And they, too, dropped their heads and walked away in shame. The nation was saved. When the rebels came face-to-face with Washington, he exuded such greatness, that the people were filled with awe, and they would never be the same.

Oh, that we will look at God with an even greater sense of reverence and submission. Today, God confronts us with a more glorious countenance than a president could ever muster.

That's what the cross and the tomb are all about. We angrily stalk to the cross with our stones of sin, ready to rebel and live like we want. But it is at the cross that we see God's love and grace. And we are changed. With bowed heads we walk to the tomb—it is empty.

We see the majestic Christ of the book of Revelation—Lord of Lords, King of Kings, a light as brilliant as the sun, possessing a voice which sounds like a deafening roar. And, as Isaiah humbly stood before God, now we stand before the King. We are one step closer to being poor in spirit. May we go to the cross, and to the tomb, daily.

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