This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
A Vision of God's Glorious Holiness
Meditation on Isaiah 6: 1-3
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto the other another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
What a vision is given to the prophet Isaiah! A terrible thing has just occurred. The godly king, Uzziah, had died. What an unsettling blow to the people. Uzziah had kept the wheels of commerce spinning and the walls around the nation secure. Now that he has died, people are wondering whether the good times will continue, whether their nation would be secure. I know that many are asking those same questions at this time in our nation and in the world.
Isaiah is being called to address Judah who is walking in sin. Isaiah’s task will not be pleasant. He must bring a message of God’s judgment and a time of captivity in Babylon. Jerusalem will be destroyed. Israel will be redeemed by judgment! It is not a word that the people want to hear and his message will not be received well at all. Isaiah will endure much opposition and suffering. Isaiah must have the unshakeable conviction that he speaks the word of God according to the mandate of God Himself. The wicked will be revealed as they contradict the prophet and refuse to listen. But God’s true people need to hear this word to be assured of the comfort and hope of his prophecy.
To strengthen this servant of God, he is given a vision of God’s glory! In his vision, Isaiah sees the heavenly temple. God is sitting on a high and exalted throne and the Lord’s garments filled the temple so that there is no place left to stand. Pictured first is the sovereignty of God. In addition, Isaiah sees seraphim, angels of some sort standing above the temple. They are calling to one another, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is filled of his glory.” As Isaiah stands in the doorway, the posts of the door shake and tremble and the room is filled with smoke.
The meaning of the vision centers on God. He is the highly exalted Lord of heaven and earth. He is glorious in His appearance and holy in his nature as judge of heaven and earth. His throne is described in vs. 1 as “high and lifted up.” But that throne is not in a palace, but there in the temple! The idea is that God is present with his people in covenant fellowship. Where the Lord dwells in his royal majesty and glory, there is no room for any other than the exalted Lord. This is still true in your and my hearts. God and God alone!
The glory of God is in all of his virtues, but what is especially brought forth is the glory of His holiness. This is the virtue whereby God is eternal and unchangingly consecrated and dedicated to Himself alone. The word “holy” is repeated three times. It is the Hebrew way of expressing the greatness and superlative holiness of God. It also pictures all three of the persons of the Godhead being full of holiness. As king and judge, He demands that His creatures be consecrated to Him in all that they are and all that they do. With those who are consecrated to Him, He is full of favor, grace, and love. Against all the wicked, God manifests His holiness in wrath and as a consuming fire! That the whole earth may be filled with His glory means that no place shall be left for the wicked.
While this is a glorious vision, it is also frightening. We see that in Isaiah’s reaction, “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 recognizes his own sin and unworthiness. He also must go and speak the word of God to a people of unclean lips. What a difficult calling! He must take a message of trouble, of judgment, of destruction and death, and of captivity to others. That message must be brought against Judah.
We also today, as a church, must bring that message to a world in trouble and sin. And in order to do so, we need, like Isaiah, to see God’s glory and holiness and our own sins and unworthiness so that we do not self-righteously exalt ourselves above others. This is true of every child of God.
How wonderful that in order for Isaiah to speak God’s word, the Lord sanctifies him. The live coal taken from off the altar of sacrifice represents the love of God whereby He is appeased by the blood that was shed. That coal was laid upon the unclean lips of Isaiah, and he is told that his iniquity is taken away, and his sin purged. Now Isaiah is fit to be the instrument to bring not his own word but the word of God. The blood of Jesus has been shed upon the cross, so that all those who are His have their sins removed, and by Christ’s Spirit we are sanctified to be instruments of His peace.
God asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” May we answer with Isaiah, “Hear I am; send me.” This is a difficult task, because many today, as in Isaiah’s day, do not want to hear about their sin and God’s judgment upon the sinner. But it is also a glorious task, for pointing to ourselves, we declare that there is blood that was shed for the remission of sins. “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Rev. 4:8). The whole earth is filled with his glory!
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.