Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Vision of God's Holiness

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, September 10, 2013:  Isaiah 6:1-7:25

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to 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 were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.  So I said: “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 6:1-5 (NKJV)

Holiness is a fascinating topic.  Most of the time, people think of holiness in terms of human conduct. Holiness is associated with a certain level of godly behavior.  Entire Christian denominations are focused on holiness of conduct or character.  We speak of "holiness churches" or "the holiness movement."

One of the great historic pioneers in this regard was John Wesley, the father of Methodism.  The original Methodists believed in holiness of life -- being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.  Such denominations as the Nazarene Church and the modern Pentecostal movement are outgrowths of the belief that God can come down and produce new levels of power and purity in the believer.

But, the original meaning of holiness has nothing to do with man or man's conduct.  In fact, any level of holiness we might attain is but a weak reflection of the magnificent holiness that is God Himself.  HOLY is the core characteristic of Holy God.

It is at this point that "holy" becomes a bit difficult to define.  God is not "holy" in the sense that He measures up to some objective standard of purity.  He is "holy" in that He is OTHER -- He is exalted -- He is different from us -- He is beyond.  He is God.

That takes into an entirely different realm.  Isaiah caught a glimpse of it in Isaiah chapter 6.  Perhaps it is most easily understood in terms of what this vision DID to Isaiah.  I caused him to quake and tremble.  It brought him to his knees.  It gave him the sense, like others in Scripture, that this awesome presence of God would burn him up -- kill him.  How can anyone see the Lord in His holiness and still live?

Holiness is never anything we can be proud of.  We will never be able to look at ourselves and declare, "Holy!"  Any holiness we might walk in is the transferred radiance of the purity of God -- nothing else.  It is His life in us, not our own disciplined attainment.

When Isaiah saw the holiness of God, he declared, "I am undone!"  Something about God's presence unraveled Isaiah.  All his pretenses and excuses came apart.  He was reduced to a man on his knees.  From that place, he heard new direction for his life.  He heard God's call to service.

We need to see the Lord today.  But, be forewarned.  This will not be a fuzzy feely time.  It will be a powerful, life-transforming encounter with the holiness of God.  I am hungry for that.  How about you?

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