And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
– Isaiah 6:3
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy breaking down words so that I can better understand the application of it. While studying in the book of Isaiah I realized how much I take for granted the word “holy.” It seems like a simple word. We all know what that word means, right? The dictionary says this: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. In the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer describes it as this: “God is not now any holier than He ever was. And He never was holier than now. He did not get His holiness from anyone nor from anywhere. He is Himself the Holiness. He is the All-Holy, the Holy One; He is holiness itself, beyond the power of thought to grasp or of word to express, beyond the power of all praise. Language cannot express the holy, so God resorts to association and suggestion. He cannot say it outright because He would have to use words for which we know no meaning. He would have to translate it down to our unholiness. If He were to tell us how white He is, we would understand it in terms of only dingy gray.”
My mind was blown! And to think I thought I had a grasp on the meaning of this word…
Let’s look at the context of this scripture to put it into perspective. Isaiah 6 starts off describing that this is taking place the year King Uzziah died. King Uzziah was a popular king who reigned over Judah for fifty-two years. There were many advancements made in military, technology, and agricultural areas during his reign. He was a prosperous and popular king. II Chronicles 26 describes his reign, and verses 4-5 described that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and if he sought the Lord, God made him prosper. However, Uzziah’s pride got in the way. II Chronicles 26:16 states that when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the alter of incense. In this day only the priests were able to burn incense to the Lord. Uzziah felt he was above the priests and could do whatever he wanted. He became furious with the priests and leprosy broke out on his forehead (19). He ended up dying alone, in an isolated house, because of his leprosy. So, Uzziah’s reign that started off prosperous because he sought the Lord, ended due to his own pride.
The throne is now empty due to Uzziah’s death, and Isaiah sees (in a vision) the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up (Isaiah 6:1). Verse 2 describes the seraphim that stood above the throne. Each had six wings: 2-covered the seraphim’s face (to show they are too lowly to look upon the Lord), 2-covered their feet (to hide this humble area of the body), and 2-helped to fly. David Guzik describes it as this “the seraphim used four of their wings to express their humility and used two of their wings to express their willingness and ability to serve God. This is the proper balance.” Looking at it from that perspective, shouldn’t we all be twice as humble through our serving of the Lord. Checking ourselves and recognizing that we are called to serve the Lord and not ourselves/man. Serving a God that is holy, and because of His holiness that we are not worthy to even look at his face. God says to Moses in Exodus 33:20 “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”
In verse 3 these seraphim cried to one another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” The seraphim were not even addressing God, but were proclaiming His glorious nature and character in His presence. They were recognizing that the intensity of the word is communicated through repetition. It wasn’t enough to just say “holy” once, addressing the fact that our triune God’s holiness sets Him apart from our understanding.
It’s amazing to think that God and His glory is on the throne and in control of all things. The fact that the same God who oversees the whole earth sacrificed His only son in order to give us freedom; to break the chains and bondage of sin and allow us to see what true love really is. Knowing that what we have to offer is nothing more than filthy rags, and nowhere near holy, He still wants to fellowship with us. He deserves all the praise and worship we can muster up.
Till the day we are in heaven and lifting up His glorious name and praising how holy He is, I’ll leave you with this worship song.
– Jess P.