Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Holiness of God, Chapter 2

I read chapter 2 from R.C. Sproul's The Holiness of God this week, and it was pretty amazing. It focused on Isaiah's vision and calling in Isaiah 6, and though I have been gripped in the past by reading the text and hearing sermons on it, I was gripped once again as I read this chapter. To begin on a light note, it was good to see that I have something in common with R.C. Sproul. I, too, make sure that I capitalize references to God in my own writing, and I do it out of respect for His name and character. When I quote a passage of Scripture, I typically leave the pronoun the way it appears in the text, but when the idea is mine, I capitalize...always have.

There are three things that really hit me as I read...the effect of God's holiness on the angels, the effect of God's holiness on the temple, and the effect of God's holiness on His servant. (Why would you expect anything other than 3 points from a pastor?)

First, Sproul pointed out the actions of the angels in the presence of a holy God. They covered their face, and they covered their feet...much like Moses was not able to look at the face of God and had to remove his shoes in the presence of God. What is striking to me (and what Sproul points out) is that these angels are not fallen in sin! They live in the presence of God as His holy angels. Yet, their holiness does not originate with themselves...they were created this way by a holy God. God alone is independently holy, and the angels' holiness is dependent on their Creator making them that way. The covering of their faces and feet point to a clear, unmistakable distinction between God and His angels.

Second, I love these sentences about the shaking of the temple in the presence of God. "We note here, when God entered the temple, the doors and the thresholds were moved. The inert matter of doorposts, the inanimate thresholds, the wood and metal that could neither hear nor speak had the good sense to be moved in the presence of God" (v. 26). Truly, as the temple shook, it was declaring the glory of God along with the heavens (Ps. 19:1).

Third, Isaiah shook. I have taken note of this repeatedly in the past, but what Sproul pointed out was something I think I have overlooked in previous examinations of the text. Isaiah was considered a righteous man. Here's what he writes: "If ever there was a man of integrity, it was Isaiah ben Amoz. He was a whole man, a together type of fellow. He was considered by his contemporaries as the most righteous man in the nation. He was respected as a paragon of virtue. Then he caught one sudden glimpse of a holy God. In that single moment, all of his self-esteem was shattered. In a brief second he was exposed, made naked beneath the gaze of the absolute standard of holiness. As long as Isaiah could compare himself with other mortals, he was able to sustain a lofty opinion of his own character. The instant he measured himself by the ultimate standard, he was destroyed - morally and spiritually annihilated. He was undone. He came apart. His sense of integrity collapsed" (p. 29).

It is in these types of things that stir the reminder in my soul of just how holy our God is. It is thinking on these things that hallows the name of God in my heart. I join the angels, the temple, and Isaiah in shaken awe of our holy God, and as I continue in the book, I look forward to more time meditating on this great perfection of Yahweh, my Adonai.