Isaiah 6: Holy, Holy, Holy is the God-of-the-Angel-Armies. His bright glory fills the whole earth.
Isaiah is already a prophet of God when he has his vision of the holiness of God. However, it’s that vision that fuels his ministry and transforms his relationship with God. He sees worship taking place in heaven, with heavenly beings shouting out the holiness of God. Everything’s impacted by that holiness: foundations trembling, billowing smoke…and a humbled prophet of God. So what does it mean for God to be “Holy, Holy, Holy”? While I think the triple statement of God’s being holy is intended to cause us to think of his holiness as being complete and not meant to give pastors the makings of three point sermons I do see three aspects of the holiness of God. First, his holiness is that of purity. God is untouched by sin and sin is absolutely foreign to his character. Second, his holiness is that of separateness. God isn’t humanity multiplied. There’s an “otherness” about him and while we’re created in his image, there is that about God which is forever beyond our understanding. Third, his holiness is that of transcendence. Even as the brightness of the sun both warms the earth, giving life, and at the same time is so powerful as to be frightening to us, so is God’s holiness both beautiful and at the same time awesome and untouchable by us. Had God not revealed his holiness to us we’d have zero chance of even dimly contemplating it. Isaiah doesn’t write an essay about his thoughts on God’s holiness. Rather, he has a God-given vision of it, and once he has that vision he’s never the same.
Take Away: A God who is holy, holy, holy should be worshiped and feared.
Exodus 34: He didn’t know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God.
Coming into the physical presence of God impacts Moses in a physical way. His face glows. I haven’t a clue as to how this works, but, apparently, it’s intentional on God’s part. Even though I can’t explain the “how” I think I may know the “why” of the shining face. When Moses comes down from the mountain the previous time, he finds that the people have cast off their faith. This time, God wants there to be something about Moses that grabs their attention; something that these who are at the kindergarten level of understanding God can grasp. Therefore, Moses’ face reflects the transcendent holiness of God. Even that’s a bit too much for them, so they ask that Moses wear a veil as he reports what God is saying to him on the mountain. Of course, preachers like me have been drawing from this story to remind people to “let their face show it” across the years and I do think God intends this. God’s people should have a “look” of inner peace, joy, hope, and, yes, holiness. Like Moses, we spend time in the presence of the Almighty and everything about us reflects that.
Take Away: “If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.” – Children’s Sunday School song