Holy, Holy, Holy!

An attribute is a quality or characteristic for which a person is known. We're going to explore several attributes of God over the next few weeks. I'm glad you're joining us! 

They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

The prophet Isaiah had a vision of God. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Now, the scripture isn’t clear whether Isaiah was in the temple when he saw this or at home in bed. What we know is that in this vision, he sees the temple and the parts of the temple that are important to the worship of God.

Isaiah sees God high on a lofty throne, and His robe that trails down to Isaiah’s level fills the temple. What a powerful image! The temple measured about 110 feet long, 37 feet wide, and 55 feet high. Of that, the part that Isaiah would have seen would have been about 74 feet long. So, figure that the train of God’s robe filled about 150,590 cubic feet of space.

For reference, imagine a house that is 30 feet by 40 feet and almost 13 stories high. That’s the amount of space. Okay… that’s big, Faye. So what? I just wanted to give you an idea of the enormity of the space that the mere trailing edge of God’s robe filled in Isaiah’s vision. Think about that, don’t miss it. God is so big, so enormous, so… GOD, that His presence fills every inch of space set up to honor Him.

In the midst of that, Isaiah saw mighty heavenly beings. He called them seraphim, which means fiery ones. They were flying around that high and lofty throne where God sat and calling out about His holiness. The seraphim are specially charged angels with the duty to guard the throne of God’s holiness. Their very title means to burn, presumably meaning that this multitude of Angel Guards burn with love for God. As they stand guard, they don’t address God, but call out to each other of His holiness.

Did you notice the angels say the word holy three times? That’s significant. The thrice-said word is known as the trihagion. In ancient Judaism, three represents completeness and stability. Here, it’s declaring God as whole as the beginning, middle, and end. Think about where scripture says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Think about Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Think about good, better, best. Saying the word once says God is good, saying it twice says He is better, saying it that third time seals the deal with the superior BEST.

Trying to understand the attribute of holiness can be difficult. See, most of the other attributes can be used to describe humans, too. We can be known for our love and compassion and faithfulness, but only God is holy in and of Himself. We are made holy through our salvation in Jesus, but God doesn’t require anything else to be deemed holy. He IS holy. Completely.

So, what do we do with that? In Leviticus 19:2 Moses tells Israel to be holy because God is holy, an edict that is repeated in 1 Peter 1:15-16. Whoa! I can’t do that! Well, yeah, you can’t do the absolute moral purity that is attributed to God. What we can do is be different, set apart, separate, and dedicated to that kind of purity.

Both Leviticus and 1 Peter show how we are meant to live in that holiness. The Ten Commandments tell us to honor parents, keep the Sabbath, not practice idolatry, and more. Peter wrote to discipline our minds and to exercise self-control — meaning mentally and spiritually. He said we are to be obedient to God and not live to satisfy our own desires. We’re to have a God-mindset.

It sounds like a lot of do-this/don’t-do-that, doesn’t it? Like a checklist we can run down every day to be sure we’ve hit all the marks?

Yeah, no.

God did not create you to simply check off tasks. He didn’t make us to be sure we hit all the marks. He created you and me to live in relationship with Him. When we do, when we spend time with Him, in His presence, we recognize like Isaiah did, how far we are from holiness. In His presence, we learn what holiness is, seek and accept cleansing from God for our choices. In His presence, we change, we grow, and we become more like Him.

Shall we step into His presence?

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Faye Bryant

Faye Bryant is an author, coach, and speaker who helps individuals escape the lies of the enemy, live into God’s truth, and build a better life by first feeling, dealing, and healing their way through a stuck future or an abused past, toward a deeper path of purpose, and into the unhackable life of their chosen legacy. Hers is a story of resurrection: from death to life!