Summary: If we really understood the holiness of God, we would never stop praising Him for His grace.
“Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).
“I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44).
“‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One” (Isaiah 40:25).
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9).
R. C. Sproul: “Any attempt to understand God apart from His holiness is idolatry.”
To be holy means to be SET APART.
• God is set apart from SIN.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
• God is set apart from CREATION.
“The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?” (Psalm 113:4-6).
God is transcendent: above and beyond the commonplace.
We are creatures; God is the creator. We are finite; God is infinite. We are dependent; God is independent. We are mortal; He is eternal.
Sigmund Freud believed that mankind invented God to alleviate the fear of the unknown. But what humans really fear most is an encounter with a holy God. This is the reason why many people are atheists.
1. If God could be known by only one attribute, it would be HOLINESS.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (v. 1).
Uzziah was a good king who provided peace in Judah. The people’s reaction to his death was “What are we going to do now?” They were afraid.
Why “Lord” instead of “LORD”?
• “LORD” is the English translation of Yahweh/Jehovah. This is the name by which God identified Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14). It means “I AM WHO I AM.”
• “Lord” is the English translation of Adonai. Adonai means “The Supreme Sovereign One” and implies that He holds all power and authority.
• “LORD” is God’s name; “Lord” is His title. (Illustration: Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Stephen Harper is his name; Prime Minister is his title.)
In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the King. (John 12:41 reveals that Isaiah saw the preincarnate Jesus Christ.)
“Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying” (v. 2).
What is the significance of the seraphs?
Seraphs are angels who minister in the presence of God. They have six wings.
• One set of wings is to cover their faces.
“You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20; see vv. 18-23).
• One set of wings is to cover their feet.
“‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground’” (Exodus 3:5).
• One set of wings is to fly.
“And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty: the whole earth is full of his glory” (v. 3).
What is the significance of seraph’s song: “Holy, holy, holy”?
In the Hebrew language, repetition was used for emphasis. (Example: Jesus often said, “Truly, truly I say to you…”)
The only example of triple repetition is “Holy, holy, holy.” No other attribute is repeated three times. Why? The holiness of God encompasses all of His other attributes.
2. If we really understood the holiness of God, we would forever see ourselves as SINNERS who deserve nothing but JUDGMENT.
“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’” (vv. 4-5).
Isaiah was a prophet. Prophets gave pronouncements from God, sometimes called oracles. There were two kinds of oracles:
• Oracle of weal: A pronouncement of divine favor (“Blessed…”). (Example: “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Matthew 5:3.)
• Oracle of doom: A pronouncement of divine judgment (“Woe…”). (Example: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” Matthew 23:13.)
Isaiah pronounces an oracle of doom upon himself: “Woe to me!” In other words, “I deserve judgment from God!”
“I am ruined!” In other words, “I am falling apart; I am disintegrating!” Isaiah is a great prophet and a righteous man, but when he sees a glimpse of the holiness of God, he is confronted with his own wretchedness. When he sees who God is, he sees who he is.