“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.”
On God’s Top Ten list, the very first rule, the commandment that earns the #1 spot, states who He is: “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2–3).
The Church has lost this high and exalted view of God. We’ve grown so cozy with God that we forget who He really is. We have embraced the comfort of His nearness and ignored His holiness. We have emphasized the security of His love at the expense of His transcendence. God is not simply “the man upstairs.” He’s not a mild, old codger with white hair and a white beard. God dwells in unapproachable light. The Bible teaches that no one can see God and live. He is high and lifted up. He is ineffable glory …..
We need a right view of God. One of the clearest pictures in all of Scripture is found in (Isaiah 6). God gave Isaiah a glimpse, just a glimpse, of who He is, and the prophet fell flat on his face. That singular experience marked Isaiah’s whole life, and his vision is one we desperately need today …..
Do you want to know what God is really like? God is infinite holiness ~ immeasurable, unalterable, unfathomable holiness. Isaiah wrote, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.’ (Isaiah 6:1). Seated ….. Not pacing back and forth. Not wringing His hands. Not struggling or searching. He was seated, settled, secure, certain. Why? Because He is in absolute control …..
And standing above the seated God are the seraphim who serve Him. Picture two lines of angels, one on either side of the King, calling back and forth in an unceasing, antiphonal chorus. Think of all the words they could say about God. They could call out, “Merciful, merciful, merciful God!” or “Loving, loving, loving God!” But the words God chose to be spoken about Him, in His presence, for all time, are of His holiness. “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” (v. 3). Through countless eons of time and even at this exact moment, the angels are calling out God’s holiness …
When the Hebrew people want to emphasize a word, they repeat it. If someone fell into a pit, that would be one thing, but if it were a deep pit, they would call it a “pit pit.” Nowhere else in all of Scripture is an attribute repeated three times. Only this and only of God: “Holy …. Holy …. Holy”
And the smoke rose quickly to veil Isaiah’s vision lest he be consumed in an instant by the moral worthiness, by the utter terror, by the majestic purity and power, by the unsearchable, unspeakable, infinite holiness of the triune God .
For when we grasp who God is, as the first commandment tells us to do, we see something else clearly too: our own sinfulness. God’s infinite holiness casts our dirty sinfulness into stark relief. You cannot gaze upon the holiness of God without being overcome. Isaiah was broken by this. “Woe is me” he cried. “for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (6:5) The phrase means literally, “I’m dead. Done for. Silenced. Bankrupt. Ruined.” Before the holiness of Almighty God, we realize how unclean we truly are ….
How tragic if the story ended there. But there is hope, for once Isaiah saw God for who He really is, the poor prophet was primed for mercy…
“Then”; begins (v. 6), a little transition word full of hope. Then one of the seraphim flew to Isaiah, lifted a burning coal to his lips, and purged him of sin. We are only prepared to receive and comprehend the grace of God when we have understood His infinite holiness and our filthy sinfulness. Any presentation of the gospel that leaves that out is incomplete. It’s the holiness of God that casts us upon His mercy. Only when we have a right view of the holy God do we begin to see clearly …..
And the beauty of being purged and forgiven of our sins? The hunger and desperation to be used by God; the willingness to serve and obey: “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”
In closing, I challenge you to examine your own theology (your thoughts about God). In what ways do you treat God too casually? Does Isaiah’s vision change your view of God? The Lord spoke and said, “Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.” (v. 9). Have you yet been purged from your sins … from old ideas and mindsets about how You preceive God. Are you ready to say “Here I am, my Lord ~ USE ME!!”
Let us pray ~
Almighty God, You are holy. Forgive me if I have had a casual attitude toward You.
Forgive me for reveling in Your abundant grace and ignoring Your holiness. Help me, Lord, to see You rightly. You are my Lord, and my God. You have no rivals. Just as You reign from Your throne in heaven, would You also reign supreme in my heart? As I glimpse Your holiness, I see my own spiritual bankruptcy. Please purge my sin, through the mercy that You offer, which is only through the blood of Your precious Son Jesus Christ, that was poured out for me that I might live. Sanctify me this day through the power of the Holy Ghost. And use me today; my Lord, that I may draw others to You and may You alone be glorified. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray, Amen …..
God is with us ….