Recently in a morning text meditation, I used Revelation 15:3-4 to convey the awesomeness of God. It reads like this – “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear You, Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy….”
As I looked at that passage of God’s holy Word, I felt like I wanted us to go further into God’s awesome presence.
The word HOLY speaks of that which is totally set apart from all that is tainted by human motivation or self-effort.
We are so bombarded every day by that which is unholy, that we don’t see the absolute purity, perfection, and holiness of God. Time and again in the Scriptures, and especially in the book of Revelation, we find elders and angels falling on their faces before God on His throne in worship.
To people who are not yet redeemed or born again, the thought of a holy God confronts them with ideas of unreasonable restrictions and the death of cherished freedoms and pleasures.
I fear that even some believers who have not grown in Christ and become more like Him in holy character may see God as a rainy cloud on their lifestyle.
As you go through the Old Testament, God’s holiness is seen in images of fire and smoke, lightning, thunder, and trembling mountains. There are other images we could list but I want us to explore an incident in the life of the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah.
Chapter 6 and verse 1 begins with “in the year that King Uzziah died”. Uzziah had been a good king, in the fact that he didn’t follow after pagan gods. However, there were times of disobedience by his people that he didn’t attend to. This produced a people who were satisfied with mediocrity. God prospered the king politically, but his heart became arrogant.
One day he disregarded the holiness of God by rushing into the sacred temple chambers and offered incense. Only the priests were allowed to do this. His attitude was similar to that of Cain, who basically said, “I will worship God any way I please.” Well, God struck Uzziah with leprosy and he spent his remaining years in disgraceful isolation from his people. (You can read about this in 2 Chronicles 26.)
God’s temple had been violated and it needed to be cleansed. After Uzziah died, Isaiah went to the temple one day and had an encounter with God that may have terrified him. In Isaiah 6:1 he said that he saw “the LORD, sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.”
The prophet found himself catching a glimpse of the glory and holiness of God. He also saw mighty angels known as seraphim hovering around the throne and worshiping the LORD with “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) In Isaiah 6:4 we read, “The glorious singing shook the temple to its foundations and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke.”
Where did the smoke come from? Here is my thought. The Bible says that our God is “a consuming fire”. Uzziah had violated the temple when he rushed in and burned incense before the LORD. I wonder if our God – who is a consuming fire – was cleansing the temple and the smoke came from God consuming the putrid sin caused by the king?
Isaiah was so smitten by being in the presence of such glory and the holiness of God that he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
His cry – “Woe is me!” – was a cry of pain in the presence of God’s holiness. Our sin is exposed when we are faced with the holiness of God. We see ourselves as we really are. We recall how Adam and Eve felt when they disobeyed God. They were exposed and tried to cover their nakedness and hide from God.
The good news in the account of Isaiah is that he experienced God’s cleansing and then, he responded to God’s call. In Isaiah 6:6-8 we read, “Then one of the seraphim flew over to the altar, and he picked up a burning coal with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, ‘See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.’”
Isaiah said, “Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to my people? Who will go for us?’” Isaiah then responded, “Lord, I’ll go! Send me.”
Folks – if our lives are cluttered up with sins that we pay little attention to, we probably will not experience God’s cleansing or hear His call. It wasn’t until Isaiah found himself exposed to the holiness of God that he was confronted by his own unholiness. It was then he acknowledged his sinfulness and experienced God’s cleansing. Then he heard God’s call for a messenger and readily made himself available for God’s service.
How about you? Are you eager to serve the LORD? If not, why not? What is keeping you from saying, “Here I am, LORD. I’m available. Use me.”?
When God saves us, He wants us to serve Him and it is usually right where we are planted. It may be serving as an usher or helping clean the church or the church parking lot. Maybe you have musical abilities or leadership qualities that He wants to use. Perhaps He has given you the ability to teach or decorate or cook, and you could help prepare meals for people who are ill or recovering from surgery. For the last year and a half when Joyce was ill and totally bedfast, there were a couple of people who said, “God told us we are to cook for you.” They even prepared meals good for a diabetic – me. What a blessing! God was honored by their service.
When we have been exposed to the holiness of God and experience His inner cleansing, we will be eager to serve Him and others. Sometimes the smallest tasks are very important. Maybe God wants you to be a cotter pin. It is not uncommon for a nut on a bolt to loosen over time. Sometimes there is a small hole at the end of a bolt that a cotter pin is slipped through and the ends are separated to hold the nut in place so the bolt can fulfill its purpose. The pin is small in comparison to the bolt or the rest of the mechanism but it serves a very important purpose.
God’s holiness sets Him apart from us, above us, beyond us. It is His most basic character trait – the thing that makes Him, God. It is foundational to all of His attributes. When we experience Him in His holiness, we will be filled with awe, bend our knees to Him and say, “Here I am, Lord, use me.”