Real Holiness Will Make You Tremble!

Isaiah 6:1-7

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto 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 moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, 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 mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Isaiah was given a vision of God and of His holiness. When you come in contact with the Holy, one thing is for sure…you’ll never forget it.

When Isaiah saw the Lord, He trembled before His Holiness. “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.”

Notice the details of Isaiah’s vision: God was on the throne. King Uzziah may have died, but God was still on the throne. And the throne was high and exalted which means that it is greater and exceeded all other thrones. The train (just the train) of His robe filled the entire temple. It is a symbol of royalty. The train of God filled the entire temple! His royalty far surpasses anything we have known or can imagine.

Along with this vision Isaiah saw seraphs. The word seraph means burning one. With one set of wings they covered their face, with another they covered their feet out of reverence for God. They declare that He is supremely holy. As they spoke, the words “holy” reverberated against the walls, getting stronger with each echo till their voices were shaking of the doorposts which add to the sense of awesomeness and power of His holiness. And all these images are designed to point us to majesty in God that should provoke reverence and awe. They point us to His holiness.

And it is that Holiness which most defines God. [Originating in God’s nature, holiness is a unique quality of His character. The Bible emphasizes this divine attribute. “Who is like you, O LORD?” (Ex. 15:11). “There is none holy like the LORD” (1 Sam. 2:2). “Who shall not fear You, O Lord . . . For You alone are holy” (Rev. 15:4). God’s high expectations of His people flow out of His own holy nature: “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6); “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2).]

Holiness is the centerpiece of God’s attributes. Of all the things that God is, at the center of his being, God is holy. God’s holiness is central to understanding who God is, and all that he does. Consider that never in the Bible is God called “love, love, love,” or “eternal, eternal, eternal,” or “truth, truth, truth” but twice in the Bible, God is addressed emphatically by his central attribute: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts.

Somebody has said that the concept of God’s holiness is the single best argument against the notion that human beings just made up the concept of God. Man might very well imagine a sort of deity who is loving; merciful, forgiving, and powerful but mistake-prone human beings would surely stop short of inventing an absolutely holy God who would hold them accountable to His own exacting standards of holiness.

We would never invent a holy and righteous God who expects us to be holy, just as he is holy but God is intrinsically holy and when we see him in eternity, we’ll cry out on cue, without any prompting, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!”

But what does it mean to be holy? That word is thrown around so carelessly these days that it’s often viewed in a negative way. Consider this, what do you call a man is an artificial, even hypocritical saint with an arrogant or elitist perspective…you call him a holy Joe. We say holy- roller, Holier than Thou. But what does the term actually mean?

Well, above all else, it means to be distant, or unique. Isaiah 40:25 says, “”To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.”. There is no one like God. He is so far above mankind that we cannot even comprehend His vastness or greatness. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible, and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire his wisdom, but his holiness we cannot even imagine. He is unique in His power, and also in His purity.

God is untainted by sin and He despised evil. And sin in its purest form is a crime against God and God’s holiness, and because God is holy and just…He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. Sin must be dealt with. Isaiah knew such. He knew that God was a just God who must punish sin, and with the burning angels, and the smoke which is always used as a symbol of the judgment of God must have sent shivers down Isaiah’s spine.

He wasn’t alone. The holiness of God struck terror into even the holiest of hearts and the Scriptures reveal that great men of God trembled and fell to their faces when they found themselves in the presence of mere angels.

The holiness of God caused Adam and Eve to hide from God in the Garden of Eden. When confronted with the holiness of God, Moses covered his face and the children of Israel kept at a safe distance. When confronted with the holiness of God Job’s accusations turned into adoration. When confronted with the holiness of God the Apostle John “fell at his feet as though dead.”

Why? Just like all the others, when Isaiah saw the Lord, he trembled because he saw his own sinfulness. Look at verse 5. “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.”

Now when you compare yourself to others you may seem all right. In fact you may think of yourself as being somewhat perfect. But there is no such thing as a perfect person in the presence of God.

The truth is that there is neither perfect man nor woman. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And you may not see yourself as a sinner, but when you compare yourself to God’s standard of righteousness and holiness, you tremble at the sight of your own sins.

The first response of an unholy person to the holiness of God is an acute awareness of personal sin. When the unholy confronts the holy we become very conscious of our own sinfulness. It is like we live most of our lives with some of the lights off . . . we are able to hide some of our wickedness in the dark.

But then in God’s light we see ourselves as we are. It’s as if we experience an awakening of some sort. When the awful reality that we are sinners and that God is a holy God who punishes sin, and we know we are guilty…so we tremble in fear and in horror we cry out like Isaiah, “Woe is Me!”

But something amazing happened to Isaiah. When he trembled before the Lord, and saw his own sinfulness, God applied a burning cleansing to Isaiah. Look at Verse 6-7. “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

How is it that mankind is able to stand before a righteous and just God? It is only by the operation of God. Isaiah did nothing to deserve this cleansing. This was all God’s doing. Isaiah was stained and covered in sin, unable to cleanse himself, but God in his grace took the initiative and made Isaiah clean by a process of fire! (Remember the Day of Pentecost? The tongues as of fire? The cry of the inquiring crowd was answered with Acts 2:38).

John 14:6 says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except thru Me.”

Now I know that this is not how we like to think of God. It’s much easier for us to focus on His love, and mercy. But His love and mercy are meaningless apart from His holiness and justice. And it must be done.

What would you say about a father who failed to warn his children of impending danger? What would you say about a friend who saw you going down a dangerous road and knew disaster awaited you at the other end, yet he made no attempt to stop you? How about a doctor who knew you had a life-threatening illness, but simply told you to take two aspirin, go home, and rest? Suppose a police officer saw smoke rising from your roof, or witnessed burglars breaking into your home, but never tried to alert anyone? and what would you say about a pastor who told you about God’s love and forgiveness and patience, but never warned you of His wrath and of His holiness? That pastor would be doing you a great disservice.

The pastor that does not describe the acceptable way of service and lifestyle to a holy God is incompetent, he is neglectful and is endangering your soul. The holiness of God requires not so much eye sight as it does IN sight! And because of this IN sight we through the Holy Ghost develop an OUT view (this is the small part where the apparel functions as a manifestation of an inner work).

And I want you to know, that God is a powerful, powerful God. He is holy and just. He will not stand for evil, but He is patient and kind. He is the God of love and compassion. What His justice demands of you, His grace provides. Now the question is, how will you respond?

— jlg —

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