Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Holiness of God

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3b).

At the burning bush, Moses encountered God in His holiness and majesty. God told him that He was going to redeem Israel from Egypt. The first purpose of their deliverance was not to provide the Hebrews a nicer place to live, or even to set up a God-honoring nation, but first and foremost to worship God (Exodus 3:12, 18). Worship is our required response to the holiness of God and worship is our the first act of obedience. Worship is where the kingdom of God starts before it flows out into transformed families, businesses, and societies. In the weeks ahead, we shall consider the holiness of God and our response of worship.

In Isaiah 6 we find the call of Isaiah to be God’s prophet. The call came in the year King Uzziah, who had reigned over fifty years, died. The land was in consternation and God gave to Isaiah a vision of Himself enthroned as the true, deathless, permanent King of Israel. Around God’s throne were flaming angels called “seraphim” who ceaselessly sang the words “holy, holy, holy.”

In modern English, if we want to emphasize an idea we italicize or underline it. In ancient Hebrew, the way to give emphasis was through repetition. When Jesus wanted to stress something, for instance, He would say “truly, truly,” which in Hebrew was “amen, amen.” The strongest form of repetition for emphasis was the threefold or triple repetition. Only one of God’s attributes is ever emphasized by such a triple repetition: His holiness (compare Revelation 4:8).

The angels do not sing “loving, loving, loving,” or “sweet, sweet, sweet,” or even “wrathful, wrathful, wrathful.” The supreme attribute of God which they celebrate is His holiness. How sad it is that so much of our modern worship is oriented toward good feelings and superficial gaiety, with so little attention given to the awesome holiness of God. So overwhelming was the angelic confession of God’s holiness that the very “doorposts and thresholds shook” (Isaiah 6:4). If we are to see the kind of reformation in our day, that shakes our foundations, we must recover a sense of the holiness of God.

While seraphs shield their eyes from the holiness of God, the Bible says we shall behold Him as He really is. Read 1 John 2:28–3:3 and contemplate beholding God’s holiness in heaven.