“…and 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.’” Revelation 4:8
Pharaoh’s question of Moses was wise, although he was not sincerely seeking an answer, “But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go” (Ex. 5:2). The king’s glib response to the friend of God revealed a fatal contempt for the truth that would have rescued his everlasting soul from divine wrath; he chose death over life and the trajectory of his condemnation was sealed, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth” (Rom. 9:17).
That which is proclaimed on earth finds its origin in heaven. As a fallen man Pharaoh was blind to the Person of the LORD, lacking a fundamental relational knowledge of the Almighty which Adam and Eve knew prior to the Fall. He was held captive in darkness by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4) and by his own fallen nature (Rom. 1:18-20), and yet completely accountable to a just God for his rebellion in rejecting the delegated authority which the LORD bestowed upon Moses (Rom. 13:2). To answer the question raised by Pharaoh, “Who is the LORD?” many attributes found in Scripture are employed to describe Him who lives in unapproachable light.
Of all the attributes of the Almighty there is one in particular which is raised to the superlative, His Holiness. Modern written language underscores the importance of a statement in a number of ways such as highlighting the text in bold print or italics, or perhaps underlining it. In the ancient world repetition in the text signaled great importance and we see the Lord Jesus frequently using this form of speech with His many statements that began with “Truly, truly, I say to you….” The attribute the angelic host elevate to prominence is the holiness God, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty.” We often think of the holiness of God in terms of moral perfection, and that is true and appropriate, and in this regard pilgrims are instructed, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet. 1:15); moral perfection, however, will not occur for the saint until he is glorified and forever rid of sin.
The aspect of the holiness of God to which the angels sing includes not only His moral perfection but His transcendence, or his otherness. To plumb the depths of the holiness of God is to contrast the Creator against that which He has created, for example: God is infinite, man is finite; God is eternal, man is temporal; God is omnipresent, man is bound by space and time; God is omniscient, man knows only in part; God is omnipotent; man is feeble; God is sovereign, man is accountable; God is self-existent; man is dependent on God for his existence. The grandeur of God’s holiness demands worship, “The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3). The holiness of God magnifies human sinfulness and the natural response of a darkened soul is to hide, while the regenerate life is drawn toward the light of God, “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (Jn. 3:20-21).
While the pilgrim comes confidently and boldly into the presence of the Lord he is to do so with the utmost reverence and never in a impertinent fashion, for the Lord does not suffer fools who trifle with His holiness as Nadab and Abihu discovered, “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.’ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent” (Lev. 10:3-7).
Pilgrims, let us join the heavenly anthem and every day declare, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”
Copyright (c) 2009 Immutable Word Ministries (”…the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8)
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