Yesterday I was invited to preach for the Sargent Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia. The text assigned to me for the occasion was Isaiah 6:1-8. What is it about God’s holiness that we often overlook? A.W. Tozer once said, “The basic trouble with the church today is her unworthy concept of God…Our religion is weak because our God is weak.” The fact is, the holiness of God is often overlooked because it threatens us. The holiness of God threatens our prideful hearts, independent attitudes, and hidden pet sins.
What exactly does holy mean? First, it’s more than moral purity. Holiness means that God is not only morally pure, but He is also distinct, set apart, and transcendent above all creation. Holiness refers to the otherness of God.
Notice what Isaiah said about his vision of God.
The Holy Name of God
Isaiah speaks of the Lord – (אֲדֹנָי – Adonay – Sovereign One) in the first verse of chapter six. The title Adonay is attributed to God as Sovereign. In the Greek – we see Kurios used to describe Jesus in the New Testament. This distinction is to point to the second person of the Godhead Trinity – the Son Jesus Christ.
In verse three, we see the LORD –( יְהֹוָה – YHWH – the sacred name of God) referenced. What’s the big deal about this distinction? The fact is, Isaiah was seeing Jesus Christ enthroned and worshipped hundreds of years before He was conceived in Mary’s womb. God is holy and His name demonstrates this reality.
The Holy Throne of God
Our God is high and lifted up upon His throne. The throne is a reference to the sovereign rule and authority of God that transcends high above all earthly powers and kings. During a political season like we’re in right now we must remember that our God holds the heart of the king in His hand and turns it in whatever way He so desires (Prov. 21:1). Our God is sovereign and that should cause our hearts to rejoice!
The Holy Robe of God
In ancient times, the kings and monarchs would pride themselves upon the length of their robe. The selection of fabric and the length of their robe were distinct marks of their ruling power. As Isaiah glances toward the majestic throne of God, he sees the divine robe of God filling the entire temple. The point here is connected to the elevated throne – our God rules and reigns over all earthly powers, authorities, kings, and monarchs. All other thrones are subservient to our God’s throne and His robe is a testimony to this reality.
The Holy Angels of God
The serephim stood above God’s majestic throne. These angelic beings are a special order of servant angels. Isaiah provides a vivid description of these beings. They had six wings. They used two to fly, two to cover their feet, and two to cover their face.
The reference to feet is often connected to clay in Scripture which points to the fact that these beings a part of God’s creation. They may be a special class of angels, but they are nevertheless a part of the creaturely realm. The serephim shielded their faces as they flew around crying out “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory.” Even these angels could not withstand the blazing intensity of God’s holiness.
They cried out “Holy, holy, holy” in repetition in order to emphasize the fact of His holiness. This was a common method of Jewish language often employed to spotlight something of importance. In this case, the angels wanted to emphasize the holiness – the transcendence – the splendor of God.
The Holy Voice of God
All through this marvelous scene in Isaiah 6, we don’t hear the voice of God until verse four. When God spoke, there was no mistake about it. The foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called. The thundering voice of God demanded attention. All of heaven was fixated upon Him. Even the wood shook at the voice of God.
The Holy Presence of God
We see that smoke filled the house. The entire room was filled with smoke. This is a testimony of God’s presence. We see this same pattern in Exodus 19:18 and Exodus 40:34. When God came among the people of Israel in the Old Testament, we often see smoke associated with His presence. The smoke is a testimony of God’s ineffable character and holy attributes. At the core of God’s character is the foundation of holiness. Everything that God does is holy and good. Even in judgment, God issues holy judgment and holy wrath upon rebels.
This scene ends with Isaiah confessing and submitting himself before our sovereign God. It was when the earthly king had died that Isaiah was brought to see the real King who rules and reigns on an eternal throne. It was during this earthly crisis that Isaiah was brought to see the robust sovereignty of God.
What about you today? Do you have an improper view of God? Do you have a shallow view of God? Submit to Him today – His throne is forever.