The Holiness of God

The Holiness of God Large

The awesomeness of our God

Isaiah 6.1–10

By Don Ruhl

God’s pure eyes cannot look on wickedness (Hab 1.12, 13). There is no injustice in Him (Jer 2.5). “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1Jo 1.5). Who is like God, glorious in holiness (Exo 15.11)? One member of the Godhead is known as the, “Holy Spirit.”

Why does this matter? God is holy and without holiness, none of us can see God (Heb 12.14). Therefore, we have to understand His holiness that we might become like Him as much as possible.

The Awesomeness of the Holiness of God 

To whom shall we liken God? (Isa 40.25).

First Samuel 6 shows the uncompromising holiness of this awesome God. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant. Since it did not belong to them, He cursed them. So they sought to return the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. Israel rejoiced to have it back among them (vv. 13–15).

They wanted to look inside, because it held: a golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the Ten Commandments.

Looking inside was forbidden and no one could touch the Ark; only the priests could move it, but with poles, yet, watch what the Israelites did and what happened to them, “Then [the Lord] struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. And the men of Beth Shemesh said, ‘Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?’” (1Sa 6.19, 20).

Isaiah 6 displays the awesomeness of the holiness of God, causing part of the temple to tremble and a whole man, Isaiah, to tremble, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!‘ And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: ‘Woe is me, 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 my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts’” (Isa 6.1–5).

Each Seraphim had six wings, but only used two for flying. They used two to cover their faces, because the holy God is not something ordinary to look upon. To see the face of God takes the life of any human, not as punishment, but humans cannot survive the experience of seeing the holy God.

The Seraphim used a pair of wings to cover their feet. Remember Exodus 3 when Moses saw the burning bush? He wanted to get a closer look. Then He heard the voice of God speaking, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exo 3.5).

Joshua 5 shows a similar incident. Israel finally entered the promised land. By Jericho a Man stood in front of Joshua with a sword drawn. Joshua asked Him whose side He was on. The Man said He was Commander of the army of the Lord. Joshua fell on his face, worshiped, and asked, “‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’ Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so” (Jos 5.15).

Back to Isaiah 6; did you hear the triple declaration of God’s holiness? You will not read a triple declaration of any of God’s other attributes in Scripture.

When the Seraphim made their announcement, they shook the doorposts of the temple. Keep in mind, God did not speak. God did not declare His own holiness. If He had, it would have shook the temple to pieces!

When the Seraphim made their declaration, the prophet pronounced woe upon himself. He knew that his words and the words of his people fell far short of the holy majesty that he heard and that he had never seen anything like this before.

Then one of the Seraphim touched the mouth of Isaiah, purifying his lips. The prophet heard the Lord ask who would go for Him. Isaiah volunteered to speak to the people.

Listen to what God said to the prophet, for it will be important later in this article, “And He said, ‘Go, and tell this people: “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.” Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed’” (Isa 6.9, 10).

Revelation 4 shows that heaven has not stop proclaiming the holiness of God. John saw an open door in heaven. He heard an invitation to go up into heaven. Suddenly he was there and saw the throne of God. John noticed Seraphim-like creatures around the throne, “Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’” (Rev 4.6–8).

We do not see the doorposts shaking, nor do we hear John pronouncing woe upon himself, but the twenty-four elders, the sons of Jacob and the apostles, fell down before God, worshiped Him, cast their crowns before God’s throne, and proclaimed His worthiness.

The living creatures made a triple declaration of the holiness of God, and the living creatures do not rest, but always declare the holiness of God. They have been doing this since Isaiah’s vision, and they are doing it now.

How Can We Approach This Holy God? 

He has no fellowship with evil (Hab 1.12, 13). In Joshua 24 Joshua challenged the people to choose whom they would serve. They said they would serve Yahweh. Listen to Joshua’s response to that, “But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good’” (Jos 24.19, 20).

We can approach this holy God and here is how.

The Way to the Holy God 

Jesus is the Way, the only Way, to the holy God, because Jesus Himself is holy. Mark 1 shows that when unholy spirits saw Jesus, they recognized Him and knew they had nothing in common with Him, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1.24).

They knew further that His holiness demands their destruction. Hebrews 7 makes a fivefold description of the holiness of Jesus, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens…” (Heb 7.26).

Luke 5 shows Peter sensing the holiness of Jesus. Peter fished all night and caught nothing, but Jesus told Peter to cast his nets into the deep. Peter balked, saying that he had fished all night and caught nothing. However, he reassured the Lord that Peter would do as told, thinking that if Jesus would not listen to Peter, perhaps the Lord would see for Himself, but Peter would see for himself.

When Peter did it, he caught a huge amount of fish, that started to break the net. He called for help from other boats. Then he realized what he had done, and watch what he did and hear what he said, “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’” (Luke 5.8).

John 12 makes a startling claim for Jesus. Jesus did things to prove who He was, but people did not believe. Do you truly know who Jesus is? “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?’ [Quoting Isaiah 53] Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them’ [Quoting Isaiah 6.10] These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him” (John 12.37–41).

Did you catch verse 41? Isaiah saw whose glory and spoke of whom? Isaiah said he saw: the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the King, the Lord of hosts! John said that Isaiah saw Jesus in His glory!

Are you ready for what I will show you next?

Philippians 2 shows what this holy God did for us. He humbled Himself in ways that Isaiah never could have imagined. What would Isaiah say to this? “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Phi 2.5–8).

It was not enough for the holy God to make Himself a servant, for angels are servants. It was not enough for the holy God to make Himself like an angel, He made Himself like a man, but men die. It was not enough for the holy God to die as a man, He humbled Himself further and died the death of a Roman cross.

Why did the God whom Isaiah saw, so humble Himself? He did it for you! Why did He do it for you? He loves you! Your sin is taking you on the same destructive path as the demons, but Jesus does not want that for you! (And by His death He freed you from sin.)

If you believe Jesus is whom I have shown you He is, you are standing on the path away from eternal destruction. If you want to start moving away from it, change your life, repent of your sins. However, you will still need your past sins removed.

This is why baptism is so crucial. If you are baptized in the name of the Holy One, He will forgive you of all your sins and make you holy that you might live with Him in heaven.

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