Jesus said, “God is spirit” (John 4:24). Paul said God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). John said, “No one has ever seen God” (1 John 4:12). Yet Isaiah says, “I saw the Lord” (Isa. 6:1). Isaiah did not see God’s essential nature. He saw a vision of God’s sovereign authority (indicated by the fact that the Lord sat on a throne). The prophet declared, “My eyes have seen the King” (Isa. 6:5).
John’s gospel presents the rejection of Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah 6:10. After quoting the prophet, John wrote, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory” (12:41). Isaiah’s vision was a Christophany. He received a sneak preview of coming attractions. Before the incarnation of Christ, Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus enthroned in heaven. Here is a hint of the trinitarian nature of Christian worship. You cannot worship God the Father without worshiping God the Son. You cannot worship God the Son without worshiping God the Father.
“God is so holy that our minds cannot comprehend it and our mouths cannot express it.”
In Isaiah’s vision, he saw the Lord. He also saw the seraphim. These angelic creatures had six wings each. With two wings, they flew. With four wings, they veiled their faces and feet in the presence of God. The posture of the seraphim illustrates the holiness of God. Understandably, a sinful man would feel doomed before God (Isa. 6:5). But the fear of the holy angels declares how holy the Lord is. God is not just set apart from sin. He is set apart from all creation. The angels sang, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:3). This antiphonal song declares the infinite holiness of God.
To say that God is holy once is enough.
To say that God is holy twice is emphatic.
To say that God is holy three times is superlative.
God is so holy that our minds cannot comprehend it and our mouths cannot express it. To say that God is holy is to say that God is God. Holiness is the “Godness” of God. Worship that does not revere the holiness of God is not worship. It is the idolatrous veneration of a god of our own making.
In worshiping the holiness of God, the angels also declared, “The whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3). This statement about the glory of God is even more remarkable than the statement about the holiness of God. Check the news. The earth is full of evil, violence, racism, corruption, perversity, and folly. But the angels do not view the world based on the news of the day. They view the world in light of the holiness of God. Because God is God alone, angels rightly declare the earth is filled with the glory of God.
This holy vision of God brought Isaiah to an end of himself. He lamented, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for 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” (Isa. 6:5). When you see God as He truly is, you will see yourself as you are. True worship is transformative. But transformation happens in worship not because that is our goal. We change in worship as we behold the glory of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).
by H. B. Charles, Jr.
What does it mean to worship—especially in spirit and truth? Christians hear the word “worship” a lot. From singing hymns and...
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