How is it that we so little esteem the holiness of God? Before anyone takes offense, I repeat “we.” As a youngster and for some considerable time thereafter, the holiness of God held very little interest for me, and I suspect that I was not too different from most believers. Two passages, one from each Testament, will explain my question. First, in Isaiah, we read of his vision of “the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him . . . . And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory’” (6:1-3). Second, in the Revelation, John describes a scene in heaven involving “the four living creatures [angels] . . . day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come’” (4:8).
Consider the nature of angels. We know that we humans are presently inferior to the angels because the writer of Hebrews explains that during the time of Christ’s incarnation God “made Him for a little while lower than the angels” (2:7). We have no means of measuring exactly how much lower than angels we are at the present time, but several points will give us some indication of the magnitude of the disparity between us. First, angels are spirit beings (Heb. 1:14), so we know immediately that they are not bound by the limits of physical flesh. Yet, second, they have the power to appear in material bodies (Lk. 1:26; John 20:12) presumably at will (according to God’s purposes) and in unlimited forms. Third, they do not die (Lk. 20:34-36). Fourth, though they are not omniscient and though there may be some things pertaining to salvation that saints understand better than the angels, they possess vast knowledge and wisdom having dwelt in the presence of God, observed His work, and absorbed His instruction for more than six millennia (II Sam. 14:20; consider also the immense knowledge and cunning of Satan, a fallen angel). Fifth, they possess supernatural strength (II Pet. 2:11; Psa. 103:20; II Thess. 1:7). Sixth, they can seemingly suspend the laws of physics, apparently moving faster even than the speed of light (Gen. 28:12; Dan. 9:21-23). Seventh, they retain great administrative abilities (Dan. 10:13). The ramifications of these seven superiorities could be extended, but the point is clear: though we will be superior to the angels in our glorified state, there is presently no question about which creatures, men or angels, are superior.
Consider the reality of the ministry that consumes those angels we have cited in the first paragraph. Not only are they happy, content, and fulfilled to do nothing but proclaim the holiness of God day and night unceasingly, but they are consumed with their proclamation. The very thing that, if we are honest, has bored most of us at one time or another utterly enthralls beings who are our intellectual superiors. How long might you and I meditate on the holiness of God? How long might that attribute of God occupy our thoughts? How long would we be content to do nothing but declare, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty”?
The second paragraph clearly demonstrates that such a declaration occupies the minds of the angels, not because they are mechanical robots or possessed of diminished mental capacity. On the contrary, it seems that so great is the holiness of God that our human minds can barely begin to appreciate it. What we might be tempted to dismiss because of our present human inadequacies fills the angels with purpose and glory.
In its simplest but also perhaps profoundest expression, God’s holiness may be said to be the essence of His Being as set apart, not just from sin, but from everything and every creature, including the angels. He is infinitely different and distinct from everything else in the universe, transcendent. We may be sure that we will require eternity to appreciate the heights and depths of God’s holiness.
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