Have you ever met a two-adjective person? You know who I mean. This is someone who has been blessed (or cursed) with a double portion of whatever attribute is being used to describe him. For instance, the pretty, pretty girl is one whose prettiness is pretty. In fact, she may be too pretty even to approach. Her prettiness is both awe-inspiring and daunting. And before you get a misunderstanding and start Googling images, let me be clear: that girl was never me, not even on my prettiest day. The “best” I could claim was being skinny, skinny in my youth. Skinny people were shocked by my skinniness. I was so skinny that my grandmother was convinced that anything I complained about, any ailment or upset at all, was due to my needing something to eat (cornbread specifically), and according to her, I needed to eat right at the moment of complaint.
In Isaiah 6: 3, God is described as being “holy, holy, holy.” I tend to think about this like I think about those exponent lessons from middle school pre-algebra: God is holy to the third power. He’s holy times holy times holy. That level of holiness is unfathomable. God is so holy that Isaiah notes the seraphim use four of their six wings to revere God: two to cover their faces from the sight of the most holy God and two to cover their feet from landing, I assume, on the Lord’s train which fills His temple. The remaining two were to do the work of flying. God is so holy that at the sound of the seraphim crying to one another about God’s holiness, “the posts of the door moved…and the house filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6: 4). Isaiah is so moved by what he sees that he exclaims, “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” (Isaiah 6: 5).
We have all been in situations when someone’s beauty or wealth or generosity has cast a pall over our own sense of worthiness, virtue, or value. Someone’s deep interpretation of a text or artwork, for example, drives us to question if we even read or viewed the same piece. The smart, smart people of the world shine as an intellectual fount, leaving the rest of us to suffer in the squalor of our own imbecility. Imagine, then, seeing the triplicate holiness of the Lord of hosts sitting on His throne. What manner of common (used in the way only a southern grandmother can spew the word) filth, utter depravity, and base contemptibility must we become aware of in ourselves (and others) at the sight of the holy, holy, holy God! Isaiah, who knew and loved God before the vision, was so overcome by his own fallibility at the sight of God upon the throne that whatever “goodness” or “holiness” he perceived in himself unraveled as he came “undone.”
Dr. Tony Evans says in his biblical commentary that “God’s holiness is the centerpiece of his character.” In other words, it is the heart of all God is and permeates all that God does. Today, I’m thinking about God’s holy, holy, holy love as I meditate on Jesus’ sacrifice and His obedience to the Father even unto death. I consider my sinful nature: the sins I remember and those I don’t, the sins I acknowledge and those I ignore, the sins I know about and those I don’t even realize are sins. All of these and all the others Jesus, in his infinite, holy love, took upon Himself, carrying them to the cross, that I might be saved. He really, really, really loves me! To love Him in return means, in part, to recognize distance between ourselves and His holiness. It necessarily requires a continual humbling, a routine taking down of self-erected pegs, a consistent acknowledgement of God’s supremacy and sovereignty. Our living, when we love the Holy God, ought to aspire to getting ever closer to the holiness of His character.
Friend, today on this Good Friday, this Holiest of Fridays, I implore us all to pause, taking time to consider God’s holiness and where we stack up. Think about where we would be if Jesus hadn’t sacrificed his life, paid for all of our sins, and taken on the wrath of God that we deserved. If we’re honest, our view of God will increase exponentially, and we’ll see how infinitesimally small we are in comparison. And when we realize with increasing clarity the magnitude of the gift of grace, redemption, and love, we, too, like Isaiah will jump at the chance to say, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6: 8), for we will understand that we are blessed to be a blessing; we are loved to love.
What an awesome, awesome privilege to be loved and chosen by God!