January 26, 2022

This Is The Beauty Of Worship And Holiness

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.  Isaiah 6:3

One of the differences which distinguish man from lower forms of life is that man, made in the image of God, worships a god who is greater than he.  Worship is a universal act of adoration no matter where men and women are, no matter what their culture or background.  The worship of the true God begins when sinful man encounters a holy, righteous God.

The Old Testament story of Isaiah illustrates what happens.  In the sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, Isaiah had a confrontation with God.  He heard the voice of two seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory”(Isaiah 6:3).  Instead of rushing out to tell his friends, “Hey, guys, let me tell you about my experience,” Isaiah cried, “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).

God’s holiness made Isaiah sense his personal sinfulness, yet God didn’t condemn Isaiah for his failure or allow him to live with condemnation. Instead, one of the seraphs took a live coal from the altar of heaven and touched his lips as a symbol of the forgiveness which God extended. “See,” said the angel, “this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7). As the result of Isaiah’s encounter with God, he responded by moving his life into the will of God. “Here am I. Send me!” was Isaiah’s response.

The difference between worshiping the true God and gods which are but idols is that God alone has the power to forgive sin, which results in changing a life.  All over the world I have seen people bow to idols and worship spirits which are not true gods; and after they worship, they rise with a sense of hopelessness in their hearts and wearily retrace their steps to their homes.

Unsure of where they are with God, they cannot say, as did the Psalmist, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2).

Real worship must stem from an encounter with a holy, living God.  Three times the Bible admonishes, “Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (I Chronicles 16:29, Psalm 29:2, 96:6, KJV).  The idea of holiness is widely misunderstood today. For example, we think of a “holy man” as an eastern mystic who has a long beard and a dirty white robe, who walks around sputtering strange words.

The word holy in a biblical context conveys two ideas: (1) The thought of purity, and (2) the concept of separation from that which is ordinary or profane.  “The holiness of God” is a concept of majesty and awe which towers over our failures and shortcomings.

The beauty of holiness is that God hasn’t withdrawn and turned His back on our failures, but rather He reaches down to us and touches our lives with His divine power.  Through His Son, who came to reveal the Father, God has shown us something of the depth of His holiness.  Rather than saying, “What you’ve done is OK,” He revealed both the depth of His sorrow and the strength of His love, by allowing Christ to die in our stead. Think about it.

 

Resource reading: Psalm 96:1-6