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“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” – Isaiah 6:3
When God called Isaiah to be His prophet, God did so through a vision given to Isaiah. This was a vision where Isaiah saw the throne room of Almighty God. He not only saw the throne room, but the throne, and Him who sat upon it. In verse 1 of Isaiah 6, Isaiah describes his view of the high and lofty One in His majesty. “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.” Pause and consider that for a moment. The Lord of hosts seated on His throne, high and lifted up. Consider this throne. It is one that we must worship before. It is one under which we are subject to. It is one of grace that we come boldly before because of Jesus Christ. Consider also the imagery of the train of His robe filling the temple. This leaves us awestruck. It causes us to bow down low before Him, for we are unworthy before the great and majestic King.
Yet, Isaiah continues to describe what he saw in verse 2. Six winged seraphim stood worshiping God above the throne. Two of their wings covered their feet. They used two of their wings to fly. The other two wings covered their face, for they could not look directly at the Lord. One called out to another saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts…” Today we consider one of the most glorious attributes of God, that being His holiness. God is holy. Not only does “Holy, holy, holy” communicate importance by repetition, but it is the only attribute of God that is repeated three times in Scripture when referring to Him. Further, the triune God is thrice holy. The Father is holy. The Son is holy. The Spirit is holy. As we considered the Westminster Confession of Faith’s reference to God being “most wise” (WCF 2.1), likewise the next attribute noted in that paragraph is that God is “most holy”. God is the Holy One.
What does it mean that God is holy? As the Holy One, God is utterly distinct, unique, and different. He is pure and perfect in goodness and righteousness. He is infinitely and eternally “other”. He alone is worthy of all adoration and true worship. There is none like Him. He has no rivals. He alone stands as Creator. He alone stands as Lord.
What do the seraphim continue to say is true of the holy God in verse 3? “The whole earth is full of His glory”. It spreads through every region of the earth. John Calvin notes an interesting implied contrast in his comments on this verse- “There is also, I think, an implied contrast, by which he puts down the foolish boasting of the Jews, who thought that the glory of God was nowhere to be seen but among themselves, and wished to have it shut up within their own temple. But Isaiah shows that it is so far from being confined to so narrow limits, that it fills the whole earth.”
Isaiah was a man who was called by God, would have God’s words put in his mouth to declare to the people. Yet, notice Isaiah’s response in verse 5. Isaiah saw God’s holiness, realized what was true of God, and what was true about himself. This should further drive home the magnitude of God’s holiness in our hearts and minds. “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 my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah realized God is holy and he was not. Isaiah’s realization of this was so deep, so strong that he confessed his sin, pronouncing a woe against himself. He was a man of unclean lips in the midst of a people of unclean lips.
We, like Isaiah, need to know God for who He is. We, like Isaiah, need to know who we are. We see who we are all the more clearly as we consider who God is in His holiness. We, like Isaiah, are undone before the presence of the holy God. Bow down low before Him today, brothers and sisters. Praise the holy God who pursued unholy creatures! Praise Him for His great love and grace in sending Jesus to save us! Praise Jesus for accomplishing our redemption, adopting us into His family, calling us to Him, to serve and worship Him. Stand in awe, wonder, and reverence as you consider the holiness of God today. May God richly bless you as you continue to study this attribute in His Word.