“Any sin is more or less heinous depending upon the honor and majesty of the one whom we had offended. Since God is of infinite honor, infinite majesty, and infinite holiness, the slightest sin is of infinite consequence. The slightest sin is nothing less than cosmic treason when we realize against whom we have sinned.”
– Jonathan Edwards.
“Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty.”
Isaiah 6:1-7 In the year that King Uzziah died I then saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphs; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of Hosts; the whole earth full of His glory. 4 And the doorposts moved at the voice of the one who cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said, Woe is me! For I am undone; 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, Jehovah of Hosts. 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, having a live coal in his hand, snatched with tongs from the altar. 7 And he laid it on my mouth and said, Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.
The prophet Isaiah starts by giving us a timeline of when he was given this vision from God; “in the year that King Uzziah died.” King Uzziah was a strong and competent ruler whose name was well known from Israel to Egypt. The king did right in the sight of the Lord until his last year. It is written in 2 Chronicles 26:5, that King Uzziah reigned under the influence of the prophet Zechariah, In that same chapter we learn that King Uzziah had become proud and arrogant because of his power, and sinned against God by taking unto himself the role of the Priest by burning incense on the Alter in the temple of the Lord. As the king entered the temple, where it was said that the holy presence of the Lord was; the priest ran in after the king forbidding him to enter, and in front of the priest, the Lord struck the king with leprosy. The king reigned for 52 years until His last year when God struck him with leprosy. King Uzziah’s method of death was well known throughout Israel that when Isaiah wrote; “when King Uzziah died” all who read knew exactly what timeline was being referenced.
The significance about the timeline is that, according to Saint Jerome; who was a 4th century theologian, historian, and author of the Latin Vulgate, which was is the first translation of the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts into the Latin language; claims that in the same year King Uzzia died, Romulus was born, who became one of the founders of Rome. Rome became the fifth kingdom God used as His judgment over Israel, which postdated Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Greece. Everything thing that was glorious about Israel died with King Uzziah; and Rome was used as God’s means to destroy the second temple in AD 70, which marked the final abolishment of ceremonial works, and manifested the prophecy given by Christ in Matthew 24; ushering in the new covenant of salvation by grace instead of old covenantal justification through ceremonial rituals.
Another similar scenario of man dying by trespassing the holiness of God is found in 1Chronicles 13:7-10, where King David and many were traveling with the Ark playing music and worshiping God, when one of the ox’s stumbled; Uzza placed his hands on the Ark of the Covenant, probably to prevent it from falling, but breaking one of God’s commandments written in:
Numbers 4:15 which reads, “And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.”
The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden and golden chest, which contained the Ten Commandments. There is so much to teach regarding the Ark, but that could require an entire systematic lecture. Two things that are immanent about the Ark; it was the physical manifestation of God’s presence on earth, which typifies our Lord Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God with us; the physical manifestation of God. Also the Ark represented the real Holy presence of God. Numbers 4:20 says that if anyone touched it, they would die immediately by the hand of God. What must be understood about the Holiness of God is that, His holiness is so holy, powerful, and pure, so sanctified, and separated from evil and sin; that any sin within its presence will automatically be destroyed. The most dangerous proximity to a sinner is the Holy presence of God. The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s law, Jesus Christ and the holiness of God; so when Uzza placed his hands on the Ark of the Covenant; scripture reads that God’s anger was kindled and Jehovah struck Uzza dead on sight. It may have been more acceptable to God for the Ark to fall on the ground, than for unclean impure human hands to touch it; because sin cannot subsist in the presence of God’s holiness.
Remember in Exodus 3:4,5 God called Moses; Moses responds “here I am.” God said, “Do not come near here. Pull off your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.” The holiness of God transcends any area where God is present. Mathew Henry writes that, it was to show humility and submission; although the true meaning is slightly ambiguous, I think it may be safe to conclude that, removing his sandals in my perspective symbolizes that anyone who draws near to the Lord needs to approach His Holiness with humility, fear, and a repentant heart that recognizes the true wicked nature of man in the presence of Holiness. What is most significant about this passage is God telling Moses not to approach any closer. If Moses would have disobeyed and took another step; the Holiness of God may have consumed him.
Corruption cannot survive anywhere near the presence of God, because to be holy; the very biblical definition of holy, according to Dr. Barry Horner means, “separation from defilement,” (Horner). The verb to this would be to sanctify. In application to us, who believe in Christ; would mean that we have been sanctified by God according to the purity of His will; we have been set apart from defilement to the glory to God.
Regarding the attribute of God’s Holiness; 17th century Puritan Thomas Watson writes, “Holiness is the most sparkling jewel of his crown; it is the name by which God is known. Holy and reverend is his name.’ He is ‘the holy One. Seraphims cry, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. His power makes him mighty, his holiness makes him glorious. God’s holiness consists in his perfect love of righteousness, and abhorrence of evil, and cannot look on iniquity,” (Watson).
Calvinist Baptist Theologian and bible expositor John Gill wrote, “Holiness is an essential attribute of God; it is his nature and essence; it is himself; he is holiness itself; “he swears by himself, because he can swear by no greater”; and he will not swear by any less, and yet he swears by his holiness,” (Gill).
Exodus 15:11 Who is like You, O Jehovah, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
1Samual 2:2 There is none holy as Jehovah, for there is none beside You. Neither is there any rock like our God.
Isaiah 57:15 For so says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity; whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place.
Who is like our almighty God Jehovah? By gods; it is meant the mighty ones of heaven such as God’s most powerful angels, and the mightiest men on earth. No benevolence on earth can match the Holiness of God. Though mighty rulers may try to bring security and a false sense of righteousness for the people with their humanistic secular laws; nothing they achieve can provide what the Holiness of God’s attribute brings to His people, and that is our eternal salvation. We fearfully praise our God for the mighty wonders He has done and continue to do until the end of time as we know it. There is none like our God who condemns evil and rewards righteousness. We fearfully praise God for the incarnation of Christ who died and resurrected from the dead and will return to judge all the unrighteous works of men according to His holiness. Until our Lord’s return; the Holiness of God ought to be our moral standard.
Psalm 19:8-10 The Precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart; the Commandments of Jehovah are pure, giving light to the eyes. 9 the fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of Jehovah are true and righteous altogether,10 more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
1Peter 1:15,16 but according to the Holy One who has called you, you also become holy in all conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
The standard of God’s morality left to us is found in His message, which is the Gospel of Christ, which reveals to us that the light of God is found in none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom there is no trace of darkness, no trace of sin; which is what made His sacrifice on the cross valuable, efficient, and worthy of taking all the sins of the world, that whosoever believes in His Holy name may be saved. With our heart we rejoice for those of us who believe in Christ, that our eyes have been illuminated by God to see Jesus Christ and understand His Holiness; by His Holy standard we recognize the degree of our wretchedness. We men are absolutely lost without the Holy moral compass of God. It is the eternal fear of Jehovah that is clean and endures forever since the ceremonial law has been done away with. The word of God is Holy and eternal, which cleanses our sins away with the blood of Christ. The judgments of Jehovah are true and righteous all together. Although the ceremonial law is fulfilled and abolished by Christ; the ordinances of God and Christ still stand and are to be obeyed. These moral laws are righteous and all individuals to include world governments ought to subject themselves to them; for God’s statutes are finer than gold and sweeter than the purest honey. Our God has commanded to all; be Holy for I am Holy. No other attribute of God has He commanded us to obey. God has not said; be omniscient for I am omniscient, be omnipresent for I am omnipresent, be omnipotent for I am omnipotent, No, God has said; be Holy for I am Holy.
The Holiness of God ought to compel all men to do nothing but give God praise for His Holiness.
Psalm 99:3 Let them praise Your great and fearful name; it is holy.
Psalm 103:1 Bless Jehovah, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Exodus 20:7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
May God have mercy on those who take God’s Holy name in vain!
The primacy of God’s attribute of Holiness is dominant throughout the bible. The words Holy, holiness, and its synonyms such as; sacred, sanctify, and sanctification are found in scripture more than the words love and mercy. The word love is found in 281 versus of the King James Bible. The word Holy is found in 544 versus of the King James Bible. It is unfortunate that our modern evangelical churches have replaced God’s Holiness with love. They speak of God’s love as if it is the superior attribute over all. They consider themselves noble because they choose to only exalt the love of God to make the people feel good. These ministers; if they may even be called such a title are negligent with the word of God and will be judged. They neglect the declaration of God’s Holiness because it will obligate the preacher to reveal in their messages what the Holiness of God’s character exposes; His absolute hatred toward sin and the sinner, which His Holiness is obligated to condemn and punish. It presses the preacher to talk about the most offensive things such as man’s true biblical anthropology, which is of less value than the filthiest rag, and God would be just and Holy to dispose of all of them. The Holiness of God exposes the true contrast between man and His God. It reveals the true nature of mans corruption; deep in within man’s heart he is not good, as most say; instead he hates God and all He stands for.
2Chronicles 19:2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him. And he said to King Jehoshaphat, Should you help the ungodly and love those who hate Jehovah? And by this bring wrath on you from before Jehovah.
John 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its works are evil.
John 15:23 He who hates Me hates My Father also.
James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever desires to be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The unregenerate disposition of man’s nature is a grave position to be in. These verses here portray the true temperament of man’s heart toward God. Notice in John 7:7 Christ said that the world hates Him because He testifies of the world’s evil works. What do you think was significant about this? Jesus Christ condemned their evil works, and works that seemed righteous to the Pharisees according to selfish desires not done with a pure heart of true faith to God. Christ was Holy and He used the absolute standard of His Holiness to reveal to men their ungodliness. So it is the same today; that whatever we do in life do for the glory of God. Let us not do anything for any other intention but to only Glorify God, for anything less is wicked; and falls short of His holy standard.
Glory and praise to God the Father for providing the body of Christ on the cross for the purpose of our reconciliation between man and God. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the enmity between those who believe in Christ and God has been put to death. Now for those of us who worship the Lord; love, and obey His commandments are no longer enemies of God, and can have peace on earth with our God and eternity in heaven.
Ephesians 2:16 and so that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity in Himself.
But for those who have not yet repented and have resisted a life with Christ; they are still enemies of God, atonement has not yet been made for them, and if they die in their wicked state they will receive the full measure of God’s wrath, which they earned. May the Lord use us to bring many to the kingdom of God.
Romans 2:5 But according to your hardness and your impenitent heart, do you treasure up wrath for yourself in a day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
Nahum 1:2 reads; God is jealous, and the LORD revenges; the LORD revenges, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserves wrath for his enemies.
Habakkuk 1:13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look upon vexation. Why do You look upon those who deal deceitfully? Will you be silent when the wicked swallows one more righteous than he?
Revelation 15:4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You only are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your righteousness were made known.
In the vision of Isaiah in Chapter 6:1 he said, “I then saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.” Isaiah saw Jesus Christ sitting on His throne. We can safely deduce from scripture that this was Christ and not God the Father who Isaiah saw, because Exodus 33:20 reads as God was speaking to Moses; “You cannot see My face. For there no man can see Me and live.” The eyes of man are to corrupt to stand the sight of God’s Holy Glory, that if the Holiness of God were to just appear to us for just the smallest fraction of a second; we would die. Sin cannot survive wherever perfect holiness abounds, and we are that sin that cannot abound in the presence of God’s Holiness.
Isaiah saw the train of Christ as He sat on His temple. The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge defines the Lord’s train as the bottom portion of His robe or garment. In addition; John Gill claims that, His train is perhaps symbolizing all of Christ’s gifts and graces upon His temple, which is the church all over the world. God said in Isaiah 66:1 that; “Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool.” It is my personal belief that the expression from Isaiah may have also been allegoric for the presence of Christ throughout the entire temple, which may also be an extension throughout the entire globe where the presence of God’s Glory may abound, and wherever the Gospel is preached.
Verse 2: Above it stood the Seraph. Or the Seraphim as the King James puts it. The Hebrew word is Saraph, which means fiery or burning, perhaps denoting that they are full of brilliance and illumination from being in the presence of God’s glory.
Psalms 104:4 reads; “He makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flaming fire.”
There is great mystery regarding the nature of these types of angels. RC Sproul said in his six part Holiness series, that when God creates something; He creates creatures that are adaptive to its sounding nature. In the case of these Seraphs; they are in close proximity of Christ’s Holiness while they worship and serve God at His will. They have six wings with two they fly and are always ready to take flight at the command of God. With two they covered their eyes. Many theologians believe that they have their eyes covered because of the superlative Glory and Holiness of God. Others believe they cover their eyes because of their modesty and humility before God; I do not believe they cover their eyes because they may be destroyed, such as us human creatures would be destroyed because wickedness abounds in our very being, but not angels. Christ said in;
Matthew 18:10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father in Heaven.”
The interpretation of their humility before God the Father makes great sense, not only are they recognizing themselves as created beings from God’s glorious creativity, and that even as angels they recognize they are not worthy to look upon such Holiness; but it ought to make us sinners realize that if the holy angels are in Heaven in the nearness of God’s glory and cover their faces, then what is your current respect toward God’s Holiness? How do you come before the majesty of God when you pray to Him, and when you worship Him? Are you on your feet before the throne of God?
Psalm 99:5 reads; “Praise Jehovah our God, and worship at His footstool; He is holy.
Do you think that when one comes to God and worship at His footstool; it ought to be done in proper submission while standing up? No! It is done humbly as we fall prostrate to the floor at His feet. Look at the reaction of Abraham and Moses when they spoke to God.
In Genesis 17:1 it reads; “And when Abram was ninety-nine years old, Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to him, I am the Almighty God! Walk before Me and be perfect.”
Look at the supreme authority! “I am the Almighty God!” And look at what is demanded; for us to walk before Him and be perfect. Even if we could be perfect, and not have one sin within our anatomy; we would still not be worthy of His Holy presence. But we praise God for the Son He provided for our justification; that we are declared perfect and righteous based on the work of someone else, who is Jesus Christ. Therefore now it resonates within our minds; the writings of the holy epistles, that the just shall live by faith. In verse three of Geneses 17; it follows that Abraham fell on his face.
Consider now Moses in;
Exodus 3:6 And He said; I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
Are you afraid of God? If not then why not; is it because you have always been told that God is love and love is God and all is love? All that is true, but furthermore God is Holy; His love is a quality of His Holiness. Holiness is a superior attribute of God. Love Him yes because He first loved us and saved us, but respect and fear Him because He has the power to cast one’s body and soul to eternal torment, which is something His Holiness demands from Him. No one deserves to look at the presence of God’s Holy Majesty, but thank Him; thank Him for His mercy on us.
In Exodus 33; there is a beautiful dialogue between God and Moses. Read the entire chapter and I dare you not to sense the Holiness of God in these passages. God tells Moses to take his people to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; a land flowing with milk and honey. God said He will send an angel with them to substitute the presence of God walking with them. God said they are a stiff necked people and if He walked in the midst of them, He would kill them. Moses pleaded with Jehovah; earnestly asking Him to go with him and His people, so that all nations can see that we are separated from the rest of the nations. He tells God that He has not told Moses who it is He will send with His people in God’s place. He reminds God that God has told Moses He knew Moses by name and found grace in His sight. Moses said if this is true then be with them in their travels, so that he may know God and His ways; and if not then leave them there where they are. And God granted Moses his request, and said he had found grace in His sight and that He knew Moses by name.
It follows that Moses requested one more thing from God; in verse 18 Moses said, “I beseech You, let me see Your glory.” God said in verses 19-23; “I will make My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of Jehovah before you . . . You cannot see My face. For there no man can see Me and live . . . Behold! There is a place by Me, and you shall stand upon a rock. And it will be, while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. And I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back parts. But My face shall not be seen.
God is incredibly gracious to Moses. God was under no obligation to grant Moses his request. Knowing that for Moses to see His face with the naked eye would result in the death of Moses. God in all His Wisdom and Grace calculated a way to grant some of Moses’ request. God said “I will make my goodness pass before you,” John Calvin wrote that; “The passing by signifies a vision of brief duration,” (Calvin). In this vision the goodness of God is all that consists of His glory; from His attributes, His Holiness, His sovereign works, to the glory of God which is Jesus Christ. John Gill writes that the goodness of God is Christ Himself. We can only speculate what God showed Moses as He passed by Him, but it is not farfetched to believe that God showed Him the work of God and Christ, as the redeemer of man passing by Moses; just as God passes over the sins of man as He forgives the iniquity of those who believe in Christ.
Furthermore; God said to Moses that as He passed by him, God would proclaim His name Jehovah before him. In verse 17 of this same chapter; God said to Moses He knew Him by name, which is a phrase from God showing the highest esteem for an individual. Those who have studied the attribute of God’s foreknowledge may remember and understand that clearly. Moses asked God in verse 13; “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found grace in Your sight, make me see now Your ways, that I may know You.” For God to tell Moses not only will I show you my glory, but I will declare my name as I pass by you; is expressing to Moses that, not only do I know you by name; but now you also Moses, will know me by name.
God told Moses to go and stand in the cleft in a rock. A cleft is an indention or opening in the mountain like a small cave. As God passed by Moses; He covered him with His hand so that he would not look upon God’s face as He passed by, otherwise it would have meant instant death for Moses. After passing by Moses and proclaiming His name; He removed His hand so that Moses can receive a glimpse of God’s backside. At this point Moses had now seen more of God than anyone to date. From the miraculous plagues in Egypt, the liberation of God’s people, the splitting of the Red sea, the feeding of God’s people with heavenly manna, and water from the rock which he would strike so that water would flow out for his people to drink. Bible scholars agree that this cleft where God told Moses to stand was an indention in Horeb where Moses would strike for water.
We know in the Old Testament Psalm 18:2 God is referred to as the Rock. We also know in the New Testament 1Corinthians 10:4 Christ is referred to as the Rock. The Christology in this is that the cleft; the rock who God told Moses to stand on as God passed by was Jesus Christ, who we stand on for our salvation from the wrath of God as He passes by. Even God in His mercy just as He covered Moses with His hand; God covers those whom He chose with His awesome gracious hand, so that we may not be consumed by His fire but instead; just as God removed His hand from Moses, He allowed Moses to see the Holy glorious goodness of His backside, and for us who believe in Christ at one point we were not yet ready to see the revelation of Christ, but God when He so willed; decided to remove His hand from us so that we may see the glory of His backside, which is Jesus Christ the Rock we stand on for our salvation!