Summary: Our Awesome God is Holy. He is distinct in His greatness and goodness.
Our Awesome God Series: THE HOLINESS OF GOD
[Note: portions of this message were extracted from my previous Bible study on this passage and from Bruce Goettsche message.]
A little boy excitedly told his mom that he had just MEASURED HIMSELF and he was six feet tall! Mom was a little skeptical, so she asked him to measure himself again while she watched.
She discovered the problem when the boy took out not a 12-inch, but a 6-inch ruler. He had calculated well: he was six-ruler-heights tall – he just had the wrong ruler, the wrong standard.
Of all the things about God that are hard for us to focus on perhaps the most difficult is His holiness. Holiness is one of those uncomfortable attributes because it reminds us how much unlike God we are. Let’s start with a definition. The holiness of God is His intrinsic and transcendent purity, the standard of righteousness to which the whole universe will be conformed.
God does not conform to any standard created by others. He is the standard. Therefore His creation must conform to His standard.
Holiness is the centerpiece of God’s attributes. Of all the things God is, at the center of His being is His holiness. God’s holiness unlocks the door to understanding and making sense out of everything else about Him. This attribute infiltrates all the other attributes. His love is holy love. His all-knowing is holy all-knowing. His all-presence is holy all-presence. Everything about God has been infiltrated by this defining attribute of God called holiness. Therefore, if we want to know God we must understand the idea of God's holiness.
There are two elemements to God’s holiness. The first is the idea of greatness. One of the meanings of holiness is the idea of being "set apart". God is totally above and beyond us . . . He is in a class by Himself. "There is a profound difference between Him and those He has created (Ex. 15:8-11). He is great, grand, majestic. He is awesome.
The second aspect of holiness (and the one we generally think of first) is the idea of purity. God is good. He does what is right and never does what is wrong. God is unstained by, and uncompromising with sin. God does not "bend a little" when it comes to wrong-doing. God always acts in a righteous manner because His nature is holiness. He is both great and good. He is awesome.
The best way to understand Holiness is to look at a case study in Isaiah 6:1-8. The setting is after the death of King Uzziah. Most of Uzziah's story can be found in 2 Chronicles 26. He was for the most part a successful King and brought stability to the nation during his 52 year reign. When Uzziah died, in spite of the shame of his latter years, it was a time of national mourning. Perhaps Isaiah was concerned what would happen in his nation after their king’s death. Maybe the vision had nothing to do with Uzziah at all. During this time of transition Isaiah went to the temple to worship and pray for the nation and himself. There God met him and Isaiah saw a heavenly vision. There are several things that happen in this vision.
The first thing we notice is GOD'S GREATNESS in verses 1-4. “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. “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.
Notice the details of Isaiah's vision: King Uzziah may have died, but when Isaiah raised his head during worship, he saw another King, the Ultimate King, the One who sits on the throne of David forever. He saw the Lord high and lifted up.
At His side were angels. Their job was to give glory to the Lord. We know that these angels were beings that were without sin. They were pure, yet, with their six wings they cover their face and feet. They shield them selves from the direct gaze of God because of their reverence and awe before the presence of the holy majestic Lord!
We make a mistake when we imagine that God's goodness is simply higher than that of the best human. God’s goodness is in a class all of it's own. Even the best people are flawed people! God's purity makes the sinless angel's blush and seek cover.