There is but one only, living, and true God, who is ….most holy (Of God, and of the Holy Trinity -WCF Chapter II -I)
In the book of Isaiah, it is recorded that Prophet Isaiah saw the LORD high and lifted up.
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.… “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.” (Isa 6:1,5).
Why did Isaiah cried out like that? Prophet Isaiah, viewed as righteous man of virtues in Israel, was given a view of an absolutely Holy God. In his classic book “The Holiness of God”, Dr R.C. Sproul described it vividly, “In that single moment, all his self-esteem was shattered. In a brief second he was exposed, made naked beneath the gaze of the absolute standard of holiness. As long as Isaiah could compare himself to other mortals, he was able to sustain a lofty opinion of himself to other mortals, he was able to sustain a lofty opinion of his own character. The instant he measured himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed – morally and spiritually annihilated. He was undone. He came apart, His sense of integrity collapsed.”
Pastor John Macarthur commenting on the same Isaiah’s vision of an absolutely Holy God said, “Beloved, no one can stand in the presence of God without becoming profoundly and devastatingly aware of his own wretchedness, sinfulness. That’s why I’m telling you. If we don’t understand the holiness of God, we don’t understand our sinfulness. And we don’t understand how heinous it is and we don’t understand the consequences of it. To see even the smallest glimpse of God’s holiness is to be devastated…devastated. Isaiah would never be the same, never. Neither would anybody else.”
Isaiah saw the Seraphim around the throne of God and they cried out “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” Isa 6:3
Why the cry of “Holy, Holy, Holy”? What is the meaning behind this thrice repetition? God is God, He is not like us. He is the Almighty, Infinite, Eternal, Just, Unchangeable, Perfect and Sovereign God, He is absolutely Holy and we are not. It is meant to emphasize the importance of acknowledging, recognizing and fearing God’s otherness or uniqueness. Essentially it is like saying, “Otherness, Otherness, Otherness” or “ Unique, Unique, Unique”.
An absolutely holy God who is merciful and full of grace did not left Isaiah devastated because “one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Isa 6:6-7
Pastor John Macarthur said on Isa 6:6-7“Beloved, I think all of this looks at the cross, don’t you? I think all of this looks at the cross. I think the cross is the live coal that touches our lips. The cross is the thing that purges us. You see, you and I could never stand in the presence of a holy God, we would be consumed. That’s why the Pharisees had to kill Jesus. I mean, they had to kill Him, He ruined the average. He came along and He was God and His holiness was so real that their supposed holiness was exposed and they had to kill Him. And when He died He died not because they had to kill Him, but because God had to let Him die for our sin. The cross touches us and makes us pure.”
Our appropriate response must be to acknowledge that God is Holy, Holy, Holy. We must exercise great care in approaching God recognizing He is a thrice Holy God. He is the unchangeable God and still always the thrice Holy God. We get a very clear view and manifestation of God’s holiness at the Calvary cross. God’s perfect hatred of sin caused Him even to take the life of His own begotten Son, the pure and sinless Lamb of God. R.C. Sproul once said “Because until you meet a God who is holy and is sovereign, you don’t know what grace means.” By faith, we can see the Calvary cross is for us that same live coal and the cross touches our filthy and unclean lips and makes us pure, gives us Christ’s righteousness to stand boldly before God. “Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace,that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb 4:16. Heavenly Father, You are Holy, You are Lord God Almighty, We thank You for the cross, Your amazing grace and mercy through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.