Definition of holy (Merriam-Webster)
1 : exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
//for the Lord our God is holy
— Psalms 99:9 (King James Version)
Perhaps one of the greatest issues within the American church today is the discounting of God’s holiness. The problem is systemic as it promotes unfaithful living, apathy and false teaching. One heart-wrenching aspect of this reality is our “damaged witness” to non-believers. Lack of reverence for God has generated a church that, in most part, cannot distinguish itself from the culture. In a recent blog post, John MacArthur stated, “In fact, today most of the dominant errors in the church spring from a lack of respect and appreciation for God’s holiness.”
Scripture is saturated with descriptions of God’s holiness. Without continual examination of His word, we often forget about the attributes of our sovereign Lord. To correctly adjust my own view of His holiness, I recently focused my attention on Isaiah’s vision of the Lord. Isaiah 6: 1-7 gives astounding imagery of God and His perfection.
Isaiah describes God’s throne as being lofty and exalted. This description infers that God is distinct and set apart from His creation. There is no being like Him…not past, not present, and not in the future. He is the Alpha and Omega. He has always existed, He created everything. According to Isaiah, even His created seraphim were not able to gaze upon His glory as it filled the temple. Isaiah 6:2 tells us that each seraphim used two of six wings to cover their faces in the presence of God. Two other wings covered their feet, indicating that they were on holy ground and that they were lowly. Reflect on this for one moment...angels who were obedient to God presented themselves as lowly, and they did not have the ability to look directly at His glory. Think about the message this sends to us living in the world today. It certainly “puts me in my rightful place” of understanding my sin and God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. It also sends me a strong prompting to not abuse His mercy.
Continuing with Isaiah’s vision, the seraphim called out to one another saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole world filled with His Glory.” As Isaiah witnessed these events, he knew that he did not belong in the presence of Holy God. He exclaimed that he was ruined! The great prophet of God, the man selected for divine service did not see himself as worthy. I shudder to think about my own attitude and pride in relation to Isaiah’s experience. While reading this passage, I can honestly say that I was shaken in a healthy and necessary fashion. Isaiah 6:6-7 then articulates God's purification of the prophet for special service. The picture painted by Isaiah's description accurately conveys how painful repentance is before a holy and perfect God.
Even when all is reconciled with a new creation, God will be separate and distinct from everything else. He will always deserve worship, reverence, and praise. His throne will be forever lofty and exalted. Another glimpse of this picture is given with John's vision in Revelation 4:8-11.
It is beyond comprehension that our Holy God would give us a Savior who is fully Himself with perfection. It brings me to a loss of words. When the church body places the Lord in the proper perspective, it will change our response to Him. He has been long-suffering. His restraint against an evil world is fully a part of His perfect plan. We have a small window of opportunity…let the church glorify Him as He commanded.
In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”