Last week, I just kind of “free-thought” my way through the idea that I really have no idea about God’s holiness in my life. When all is said and done, I’ve just touched the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” when beneath the sea is a mountain! Over the last week I’ve been trying to slow down and absorb as much of God’s creation, His word, and His love as I can. It’s been breathtaking, to put it mildly, but I want to share a part of a young man’s life that totally changed the course of his existence. Why? Because he came face to face with God and His holiness.
The young man: Isaiah. He records,
“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. 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. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 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” (Isaiah 6:1-5, NIV).
Isaiah was in the Temple, and then he was in the very presence of God and His angels! Anywho, these angels just shout “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD Almighty; the Earth is filled with His glory.” In the tradition of the Jewish people, saying something three times demonstrated it’s perfection. So saying “holy” three times means that there is absolutely no one who can compete with our God. He’s so massively above everything else that only one word can describe Him: Holy. As Francis Chan writes, “Isn’t it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?”
We should probably look a little closer at the angels. These angels (not the cute little cherubs that we popularize on greeting cards) had six wings. With two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet. The other two were for flying. Stop and think…how ridiculously crazy does that sound? What would your reaction be? All these angels could do was to shout the same fifteen words over and over and over and over again! God is so holy, that these angels, who are created by God to serve God, had to use two wings to cover their faces! God was too much for them! They also had to cover their feet. It’s reminiscent of Moses and God at the burning bush when the Lord says to Moses, “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”5Then he said,
“Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Ex. 3:4-5).
So this vision that Isaiah had was so powerful, so set apart, that even the angels of God could escape the sheer power and awesomeness of God’s glory!
I love Isaiah’s reaction. It helps me to see what my response should look like when I’m faced with who God is and who I’m not. He cries out, “Woe to me! 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!” Isaiah get the picture real quick that some of us will never ever get in this lifetime: God is Holy. He is set apart. There is none like Him. He is the Beginning and the End. He is the Creator of the creation. He is exalted and glorious and needs nothing. He is sufficient. I am a wretch, even when I’m full of “good deeds.” Isaiah was pretty high up the social ladder, and he was looked at as a “good man” who loved God. But that isn’t going to cut it in the very presence of God.
Isaiah’s reaction doesn’t go unnoticed, as if God were like “You’re right, you stink.” Rather, one of the angels takes a coal from the altar, touches it to Isaiah’s mouth, and says “your guilt is taken away. Your sin has been atoned for.” Why did Isaiah get this response from God? Because Isaiah realized how badly he needed God. How horribly rotten his life had been. How powerless he was to control anything. And did God smite Him? Did He end him? No! He SENT him. “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Why? Because Isaiah was finally ready to serve God…he had been broken.
“Here I am, send me.” What a thought! What a reaction! What a commission! Well, guess what! God has sent us! He gave us the Gospel and told us to go tell the world! We can only be sent, however, if we are face-to-face with God’s holiness and glory. We should leave worship like that! We should leave with a “sent” mentality. When was the last time you were humbled and awestruck by God? Have you been broken by God? Have you responded to God? If not, take a closer look. You won’t be disappointed. Just something to think about.. – Scott