VERSE DISCOVERY: Isaiah 6:1-5; 1 Peter 1:15-16 (KJV, Public Domain)
The Bible commands us, “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy,” (Psalm 99:5). All throughout the Bible, God’s holiness is prevalent. When His holiness was disregarded in exchange for a bite of fruit, sin entered in, separation occurred, and mankind lost his place in the sacred garden paradise (Genesis 3). When God’s holiness was substituted, the people fell into idolatry with a golden calf, people died, names were blotted out of God’s book, sins would be punished, a plague would follow, and God sent an Angel to guide them for He said, “I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way,” (Exodus 33:3; Exodus 32:1-33:3). Throughout the times of the judges, prophets, all biblical history, and even today, every time the holiness of God has been forsaken, tragedy strikes, and people reap the consequences of their decisions.
God does have a standard, and holiness is not only who He is, but it is His standard by which all else is measured. In today’s lesson, we are looking at God’s holiness with a heavenly perspective. As Isaiah witnessed the events of chapter 6 unfolding before him, he reveals what he experienced when he viewed God’s holiness in the heavens and through that, he prepares us for the extreme holiness of God.
There, His holiness supersedes everything, and the seraphims cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” There, when man comes face to face to the untainted character of God, he realizes just how tainted he is. There, everything falls away in light of His glory. If we want to live there, we must learn about the true holiness of God, and how we ought to live before Him.
God’s Holiness Shown in Heaven
Isaiah 6:1 “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.”
“I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne.” I have loved the vision of God sitting on a throne for some time now. When I pray, I imagine myself coming before our great King, bowing before His presence and humbly lifting my eyes to Him in supplication and petition. Because of our lack of a monarchy here in the States, we don’t really appreciate what it is to come before royalty in utter humility. But there, in his vision, Isaiah sees God on a throne where we would expect Him to be, reigning in all sovereignty and power as the ultimate King of all kings, and Lord of all lords.
The irony in Isaiah’s vision is when the earthly king passed off the scene; Isaiah was able to see the one who truly was in charge the whole time. Nothing is ever predicated on our earthly rulers or those who may be currently in power. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, God always has His hands at the helm of life and events.
A “throne” is a place of rulership, which in turn is a place of judgment. Israel had been long divided as a nation at this point in history. The ten kingdoms to the north were referred to as Israel while the two kingdoms to the south were Judah. God’s people were divided from each other, but they were also divided from God. The people had drawn away from God through sin and rebellion (See Isaiah 1:2-4). God was now “sitting” in the seat of judgment. Proverbs 20:8 tells us, “A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.”
“High and lifted up.” Where else would He be? God is exalted above all! Psalm 108:5 rejoices and says, “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth.” God is above! Not Beneath! There are many kingdoms established upon this earth, but God supersedes all! He is “lifted up!” Every rule of man must bow to the ultimate King. “The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted,” (Psalm 47:9). God’s dominion outranks every other power imaginable!
“His train filled the temple.” Many of us are familiar with the idea of “train” on a bridal gown. When she walks into the room and goes forth down the aisle everyone focuses on the floor behind her gracious steps to see how long the train is. The long, flowing fabric embellished with love moves down behind her giving her a royal appearance. God didn’t need the appearance of royal, He is royal, He is King! His “train,” the hem of His holy garment, marked His majestic stance above all else and it “filled the temple.” Can you imagine seeing just this much of the glory of God in heaven, with heavenly hosts gathered all around, and His flowing garment encompassing and enveloping everything? Amazing!
When God’s presence is in the place, His presence takes completely over the place! He occupies every crevice of that heavenly “temple.” There is not a place there where He is not.
Isaiah 6:2 “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.”
“Above it stood the seraphims.” As I studied this, I found out that this is the only place in the Bible where the word seraphims appear is here in the book of Isaiah. This is a unique opportunity that God has given to Isaiah. For those whom God draws near to Himself and are willing to be a vessel for His use, will experience unique opportunities that are not privileged to everyone else.
“Each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.” These seraphim dwelt with God in heaven yet felt a need to “cover” themselves. Here is tells us twice of them being “covered.” First, with the “face” and then with the “feet.” Why the need to feel covered? Perhaps, they know their unworthiness before this Judge who sits on the throne. Residing in heaven with Him, they don’t only know of His majesty, they know He is completely majestic. His holiness transcends all others, therefore, they “cover” themselves. How brash is mankind in thinking that he can approach God in any form or fashion? When the residences of heaven bow and cover, what more should we do when in His holy presence?
May all men reevaluate their own status before the Lord and give Him the same blessed honor of reverence the seraphim did. Not necessarily hiding the face (although a little humility can go a long way), but knowing who He is compared to who we are; knowing that we are not worthy except the blood of Christ covered us like those wings of the seraphim, and made us worthy to stand before Him in that coming day.
Isaiah 6:3 “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”
“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts.” I love it when the weather is nice and beautiful, and I can keep my windows open to experience nature. One of the things I get to experience is the birds calling and communicating with one another. They are sounding off their beautiful sonnets in hopes of attracting a mate or just relaying and revealing stuff in their own bird language.
The seraphim’s message that was being sounded off to one another, and for us to witness through Isaiah’s vision, is that the holiness of God is like no other. We cannot, with a human perspective, imagine how far and beyond us His holiness is. Here “one cried unto another… Holy, holy, holy.” Anytime Jesus wanted to teach a truth with great emphasis, He would use the phrase “Verily, verily.” Saying it twice really brought attention to the point He was making. Here, twice was not good enough when professing the holiness of God. They announced it three times. That means we cannot comprehend it! We just better be ready to stand before it!
“The whole earth is full of his glory.” Everything on the earth gives God the full glory in the way they were created except for man. When the trees sway in the wind they glorify God because they are fulfilling their design. When the squirrel gathers nuts, it does so at the command of God over its life. All of creation speaks of the glory of God. We may not hear it audibly, but we can see it all around us.
“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein,” (Psalm 24:1). Everything is under God’s ownership, therefore, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD,” (Psalm 150:6). Jesus, on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, said, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out,” (Luke 19:40). Why? Because “the whole earth is full of his glory!” The magnificence of God can be seen throughout all His creation and if we don’t sing with the seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy,” then the rocks will cry out in our place!
Isaiah 6:4 “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”
“The posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried.” A voice so thunderous; a voice so powerful and so awe-strikingly moving to be heard that it caused the doorposts in that temple to shake. And this is just speaking of the seraphim. No wonder when the children of Israel, when gathered around Mt. Sinai, they were afraid to hear the voice of God speaking to them. “And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die,” (Exodus 20:19). To be in God’s awesome, holy presence is nothing to be played with. When we enter the place where true holiness resides, we enter in with the humility that He and His tabernacle deserve.
“And the house was filled with smoke.” There is no mistaking when God is in the building or inhabiting the mountain. Back to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, the Bible says, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off,” (Exodus 20:18). What is our response to the true presence of God in our lives? How do we act when we approach His glory? The children of Israel “stood afar off” and in our next verse Isaiah was moved with his own unworthiness. What of our own humility before Him who sits on the throne in pure holiness?
Isaiah 6:5 “Then said I, 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.”
“Then said I.” What follows is a personal testimony of a man faced with his own sinfulness. This is his personal statement of what happened in his own heart when he stood before the presence of the Almighty. This was his response before the Creator of all the heaven and all the earth. Think about it, what will you say before Him who knows all and sees all, yet called you before His throne anyway?
“Woe is me!” Can you sense the agony of sin standing before the Sinless? It’s as if someone pulled back a curtain to reveal all the evils in human nature and the sight of his own role in humanity made Isaiah say, “Woe!” When was the last time we “woed” at our own incompleteness without Him and before Him? Even the best-behaved person on the face of this earth would have to “woe” before the Almighty. This is all about Him and our complete unworthiness to be before Him.
But thank God for where Christ has placed us now: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore COME BOLDLY UNTO THE THRONE OF GRACE, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:14-16; All Capital Emphasis Mine).
“For I am undone.” This reminds me of the testimony of some who, in a life-changing moment, saw their life flash before their eyes. Could this be what Isaiah was experiencing? Every sin, every wrong, and every transgression comes to the forefront when there’s nothing to hide behind anymore. Standing before the Revealer of all, he declared, “I am undone.”
The Bible reminds us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). Standing in His glory, one soon realizes just how “short” from being worthy they truly are.
“Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Jesus, in condemning the scribes and Pharisees said it best. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man,” (Matthew 15:18). Using the uncleanness of his own lips and those of people in general, he could see that his life was not ready to stand before the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. The uncleanness of the lips is synonymous with the uncleanness of the heart. Continuing in Matthew, Jesus further said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…” (15:19-20a). But Jesus started off His chastisement saying, “Out of the mouth come forth from the heart.” What is our conversation saying of our hearts? Do we really understand how “unclean” we are?
“For mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” It only takes a moment to see the miraculous to change your life forever. Many people who desire to see God in a face to face encounter on this side of glory don’t know what they ask for. First of all, no man can see God and live (read Exodus 33:20). Secondly, sometimes when we read stories in the Bible where people came face to face with just an angel of God, and wind up falling down before them in fear. How much more would they be able to stand before the holiness of the Almighty King? The majority of us will never experience the sight of Him until we get to heaven, “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Corinthians 5:7). OH! But if we did, I’m sure it would have the same impact on us as it did on Isaiah: “For mine eyes have seen the king, the LORD of hosts” and the awesomeness of that moment would make us tremble before His perfect holiness.
But one day, we are hoping to be there where He is, to see the “King, the LORD of hosts” for ourselves. Anything or anyone that does not fall in line with God’s holiness will not have that privilege. “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life,” (Revelation 21:27).
God’s Holiness is to Show in Us
1 Peter 1:15-16 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Reading of all Isaiah experienced and what he saw of God’s holiness in the heavens, and knowing that one day we too will come face to face with the extreme holiness of God, how should we then live? We must live lives that represent the holiness of the “holy” God we serve.
Hebrews 12:14 tells us, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (emphasis mine). God is looking for a sanctified life. When we receive His Spirit, the sanctification process has started to turn our lives around getting us ready for a heaven-bound journey. A lot of people have grown unaccustomed to associating our walk of faith with a walk of sanctification. We talk a lot about faith, but little is covered anymore about being holy. But a sanctified people are what we are called to be, and I must ask, is there a fervency for holiness still present in the modern church?
God is still calling for holiness, and holiness is still right! During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He taught, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,” (Matthew 7:13-14). Holiness is the only way through that gate!
God wants hearts that are in tune with His. God wants people who are in the world but not of the world (John 17:16). God our Father is holy, and His children, who are us, are to be holy demonstrators of His character. Peter said in today’s lesson, it has already been “written” in the Old Testament, and nothing has changed in the New Testament: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16; compare Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26). Our lives are to be lives of separateness and devotion to God alone, instilled with His Spirit to live differently than the rest of the world.
Peter continues to describe us as “an holy priesthood” and “an holy nation” (1Peter 2:5, 9). The common denominator is holiness!
Holiness is a prerequisite for access to our heavenly Father. Sin will hinder a full and beautiful relationship with God. Isaiah 59:2 reiterates this truth, saying, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Therefore, holiness must be the mark that the Christian aims for in his/her daily life in order to see the Lord at the end of this journey.
And, it must not just be present in some areas of our lives; rather, “be ye holy in all manner of conversation”; in every area of life. A life submitted to and in complete devotion of the Father who has saved them. An uncompromising life, that doesn’t pat a sin on the back here and condemns something different over there.
All sin is sin, and every area of our lives must be lived in submission to being “holy.” If we are going to be identified as His children, then we must be identified as He is, and that is “holy!” “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – The Holiness of God
Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – The Holiness of God
Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – The Holiness of God
Draw the Scene: The Holiness of God Draw the Scene
“Holy, Holy, Holy Glitter Sheet Activity”: Another activity that can be done is this “Holy Holy Holy” Glitter sheet. Use the sheet as is to color or do as I did. I colored and cut out the words and glued them on blue construction paper (sky). Then, using a white crayon you can make clouds. Finally, since it is a holy place where these words are being uttered, I used gold glitter to bring out the words “Holy, Holy, Holy!” Enjoy! PDF: Holy coloring sheet
“Sin Revealed” from Kidssundayschool.com (Great object lesson to go with being “undone” and “unclean lips” because it shows how our sin can’t hide before God).
“Sanctified Lips” from Calvarycurriculum.com
“Molded to be Holy” Object lesson from Childrensministry.com
“Heaven” Ideas/Lesson from Ministry to Children