An Encounter with Holiness
‘Woe to me!… I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’ (Isaiah 6:5)
There are some things in life we just try to avoid. Sometimes it’s something simple, like those little jobs we hate doing; but sometimes it can be deeper issues we avoid, knowing that if we ‘dig too deep’ there might be things we have to deal with. Something we often try to avoid in our spiritual life is the reality of God’s holiness, fearing that it might be too uncomfortable. But Isaiah discovered that, while at first he thought encountering God’s holiness would kill him, it was in fact the very thing that changed him and turned his life around.
This encounter with God’s holiness ‘in the year that King Uzziah died’ (Isaiah 6:1) did three things for him. First, it reminded him of God’s uniqueness. Faced with the death of his earthly king, he saw that there was a king like no other, one who would never pass away, who alone was ‘the King, the Lord Almighty’ (Isaiah 6:5). Second, it revealed his sinfulness. God’s holiness inevitably shows up what is wrong in our lives; and our first response, like Isaiah, is to withdraw: ‘Woe to me!’ he cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty’ (Isaiah 6:5). But that’s not where God left him; for the third thing that happened was that it released God’s cleansing. He discovered that God’s holiness doesn’t ‘stand at a distance’, accusing us of our sin; rather, it takes action to come and change us. ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for’ (Isaiah 6:7). And having been cleansed, he was commissioned to go and take this good news to others. What a wonderful revelation this was: that God shows us our sin, only to himself come and deal with it!
Don’t run from God’s holiness today; it’s here to do you good!
Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am the LORD your God ... I am the LORD; I sanctify you. (Leviticus 20:7-8, NRSV)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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