UNCONTAINABLE: THE HOLINESS OF GOD

Read: Isaiah 6:1-5

Reflect: Every summer my mother spent hours using her pressure cooker to can food for the winter.  That is, until the day the lid blew off.  I can recall the screams when both my mother and ceiling of the kitchen became splattered with hot peas.  Mother had used the pressure cooker many times and she thought that the lid was secured, but it wasn’t.

People had thought Mt. Tambora, a volcano in Indonesia was contained on the evening of April 10, 1815, but it wasn’t. Up from its depths came a shattering blast.  The lava flows and tsunamis that followed killed at least 10,000 people. Emissions were thrown into the atmosphere to the point that sunlight was prevented from reaching much of the earth’s surface that year. 1816 was called the “Year Without A Summer” as some 80,000 people perished from disease and famine. Crops could not grow. Parts of the world as far away as Western Europe and eastern North America experienced sporadic periods of heavy snowfall and killing frost through June, July, and August.

And so we come to the account of Isaiah 6.  The people of Israel had put God to the side, thinking that they had everything under control, but their assumption was false. In dark contrast is the record of the prophet Isaiah receiving a heavenly vision. God is sitting on the throne and Isaiah sees and hears heaven buzzing with a unique adjective of God. God is not described as just a little bit holy.  He is really, really, really holy. This is the only attribute of God that is ever repeated 3 times in a row and the declaration comes from the mouths of angels. 

Remember in the Wizard of Oz, where the curtain was opened to show a mild mannered man? A lot of disappointment followed that reveal. Isaiah’s vision of heaven is quite different.  God is opening the veil itself.  We read, “And one called out to another, saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is filled with His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, and the temple was filling with smoke.”  Notice, Heaven doesn’t quake at God being called “love, love, love” or “mercy, mercy, mercy”.  However, all creation takes a step back when God is called “Holy, holy, holy”.  All of creation, even the inanimate portions of it, move at these words.

David Mathis writes in “Desiring God”: “In those moments, when we sense we have exhausted the comparisons to our world and experience, we have a word we reach for: holy. When we’re aware of His uniqueness — that God is in a class by himself, utterly set apart from us, higher than us and gloriously other — we cry holy. When we catch but a glimpse of His infinite intrinsic value — and wonder in worship, Who else is like this? — we bow and angels bow and cry holy.”

And that is holiness; God’s holiness.  There is no One like Him.  He cannot be contained, controlled, manipulated, or captured in our limited vocabulary. “To whom can you compare me? Whom do I resemble?” says the Holy One. (Isaiah 40:25) No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one other than you! There is no rock like our God! (I Samuel 2:2) To be indifferent is impossible for the Christian when confronted by the true identity of God: holiness. Apply: Do you deeply reverence the holiness of God with every fiber of your being? Have you fallen on your face before Him?  Isaiah didn’t cozy up to the Throne of God. His reaction was “Woe is me, a man with unclean lips.”  Fearing and reverencing God was Isaiah’s first need. Our utterly Holy God Who cannot be restrained or contained, no matter how we try. The only thing we have control over are the choices we make. In this case, it seems that to bow to the One and only holy God, is the right choice.

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