Monday, September 12, 2011

Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord!

Just yesterday, a package arrived at my doorstep. Even before glancing at the sender information, I already had a solid hunch about from whom it came, and I was right. My good friend from the U.S., Joel de Leon, had sent me another "bag" of Reformed goodies! Among them was a 3-CD goody from Ligonier containing R.C. Sproul's classic teaching series on the the holiness of God, aptly entitled The Holiness of God.

I haven't finished going through the whole set, but the second lecture entitled, "The Trauma of Holiness," struck a chord. In the lecture, Sproul exposits Isaiah 6, specifically, verses 1 to 8.

The following are the gems that I've gleaned:

Verse 1: In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

The death of any leader, be it a president, a king, or an emperor, elicits a deep, sorrowful response in the subjects, more so if benevolence marked his or her reign. Similarly, an ecstatic upsurge of joy characterizes the installation of any new regent.

It is remarkable that this particular vision of God's sovereignty and rulership was given to Isaiah at the time of the death of Israel's king. It was God making the point that, ultimately, every power and authority in existence derives its being from Him, and that any and all hope of the maintenance of well-being in the people does not evaporate in the passing of a king, nor is it grounded on the ascent of a new one, but solely on His benefaction as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Verse 2: Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

There is, evinced in the created order, an economy in the way God creates objects. In the case of the seraphim, the seemingly superfluous number of wings is not without reason.

Being constantly in the presence of the holy, majestic, and radiant God, the seraphim, being the creature that it is, cannot stand to look directly at the raw and piercing glory of God. Hence, the first two wings were given as a covering for its face. The feet, being a symbol in Scripture of lowly creatureliness, is also thus covered in honor of the wholly other God.

Verse 3: And one called to another and said: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'

Repetition is a linguistic device in Scripture employed when something of great import needs to be conveyed. It is notable that of all the revealed attributes of God, only His holiness is thus given the thrice-repeat treatment. You will not read of "mercy, mercy, mercy", "justice, justice, justice", nor even "love, love, love."

This fact was one of the points of the lecture that really hit me hard. The following verses (4 to 7) will further magnify the point that the Creator-creature distinction is such that not only can we not stand in the presence of God by virtue of ontology (as in the case of the sinless seraphim), but, as in the case of human beings, the moral gulf is such that if no satisfaction of God's holiness is provided, only destruction awaits the one who dares appear before Him.

Isaiah pronounces a prophetic curse upon himself, "Woe is me!", but God provides the atonement that will enable the former access to the latter's courts.

I am convinced that constant interaction with the doctrine of the holiness of God is key in the hastening of the sanctification process.

To that end, this song by Todd Agnew is inspiring:

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