Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program.


     It is great to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson is: “Holy, Holy, Holy” and our text is taken from the Old Testament Isaiah chapter 6 and verses 1 through 5. Please listen to the Word of God.

     “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on his throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I 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.”  This is the Word of God.

     A pastor spoke to a discipleship group (obviously all Christians) on the attributes of God. He began by asking them to list God’s attributes in order of importance as recorded in Scripture. You, dear listener, can now do this mentally; What do you think are the top three attributes of God in order of importance? Probably you are thinking that number one must be love. The love of God is His most important attribute that is recorded in scripture the most frequently.

     The discipleship group listed in order of importance, as emphasized in Scripture, is as follows: Number one, Love, secondly, wisdom, then, power, mercy, and truth. This pastor was surprised; perhaps you will be also. Because the Bible overwhelmingly refers to a completely different attribute, as the most frequent recorded, revealed in scripture and that attribute is holiness. God’s holiness is recorded in scripture much more than any other attribute of God. God’s holiness! He is holy, holy, holy.

     Do we find in scripture, specifically, referring to God as loving, loving, loving? Or do we find in scripture that He is wise, wise, wise? Or powerful, powerful, powerful? Is there the triple emphasis of any other attribute? No, no, no.    Yet we do find in: Isaiah chapter 6 and verse 3 “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty.” And also, in the New Testament in Revelations chapter 4 and verse 8 “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty.”  And this cry of “holy, holy, holy” is only by God’s faithful angels as found in scripture.

     Theologian Louis Berkoff writes “It does not seem proper to speak of one attribute of God as being more central and fundamental than another but if this were permissible, the scriptural emphasis on the holiness of God would seem to justify its selection.”  This all begs the question why, and why Bible reading Christians, as Bible reading Christians, do we not realize that the attribute of God, which is revealed over, over, and over again is holiness. Why isn’t it recognized?  Perhaps the short answer for many is that a lower significance of holiness of God is due to our lowered sense of sin. Basically, sin is sin to a holy God, but to man many sins are not considered that bad or unholy.

     A wise Christian wrote: “There is a simple yet profound word which occurs over 900 times in all scripture. You see it first in Genesis in Genesis chapter 2 and verse 3 as we are told how God created heaven and earth. You see it last in the closing chapter of Revelation, the book of Revelation in the New Testament where we are told about God’s creation of a new heaven and a new earth in Revelation chapter 22 verse 19. But except for a few grand old hymns of the faith, you do not see this word much today. We get our words: “saint,” “sanctify,” and “sanctification,” from the same root word. All these terms carry the idea of being: “set apart” or of “separation.” The word found over 900 times in scripture is holy, holy, and holy, over and over again.

     Just as all the colors of the spectrum come together to form a pure white light which illuminates our world, so all the attributes of God come together into His holiness.”  Let’s uncover more light from our key text: Isaiah chapter 6 and verse 1 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.”  The Hebrew prophet Isaiah had a magnificent vision. It was given to Isaiah as tremendous grace to see the majesty, transcendence, and holiness of the King of kings.

     The date is approximately 740 years B.C. before Christ. Judah’s king Uzziah was a mostly godly king whose long and prosperous reign of fifty-two years was God’s gift of grace to the people of Judah. Now he was dead, and questions of possible instability and anxieties about the future would naturally arise. Yet Isaiah had a vision of a King and throne that will never end, with King of kings seated on it whose glory and power will someday fill the new heaven and new earth into eternity.

     Note Isaiah’s inspired descriptive words: “the Lord seated on a throne high and exalted” emphasizing His majesty, “throne” its elevation “high” conveying His authority; and “exalted” emphasizing His superiority. And the “train” or mere hem of the Lord’s robe royally filled the temple. That’s a regal, royal vision!  His throne “high and exalted” also conveying the Lord’s transcendence, meaning surpassing, as being beyond the limits of possible human experienced. The Lord God is more than exhaustively infinite, unique, one-of-a-kind, supreme Being; He is “I AM.” Preexistent, ever existent.

     Verse 2 “Above Him were seraphs, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.”

Seraphs or seraphim (the “im” on the end denotes plurality), each had six sets of wings, four of the six were devoted to covering themselves because of the unapproachable glory of the LORD they were flying to worship and serve. Seraphs are an order of angelic creatures.  As angelic creatures that are spirit beings how can they have wings, faces, and feet, therefore? This view is due to Isaiah’s need to see them and their dispositions toward the LORD; humans cannot see spirit beings, like angels, unless they temporarily take on human or creature-like features.  Verse 3 “And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’.”

     The seraphs were exclaiming to each other in antiphonal, here meaning scripture recited or sung, as worship praise. “Holy, holy, holy” underscores the primary thrust by threefold repetition of LORD Almighty’s holiness emphasizing God’s separateness from and independence of His creation as Creator. It may also imply that within the Godhead there is three persons.  “The whole earth is full of his glory” indicates that the earth is the worldwide display of God’s immeasurable glory, perfection, and attributes as seen in His creation.

     For the Hebrews, the concept of holiness was unique in the Near East whereby surrounding polytheistic peoples, believing in many gods worshipped many so-called gods. To these idolators “holy” merely denoted that which set deities apart from humans; ‘holy’ to these peoples had no moral connotations and could not; given the wide variety of moral behaviors among their many gods.

     However, for the Hebrew people throughout the entire Old Testament or Jewish Bible the word “holy” was given special prominence in describing Israel’s God and our one true God of all the nations in that ‘holy’ in all its forms is found in the Old Testament alone more than eight hundred times. The Hebrews learned that the one true God of Scripture, of the Bible, of the book scripture is in His essence and character: holy, holy, holy, uniquely setting Him apart morally from His creation.  Verse 4 “At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke.”

     Isaiah’s vision was comprehensive including all of his senses regarding this awesome revelation that was graciously given him. He saw with his eyes, he heard the sound of their, that is the seraphs voices, he felt the doorposts and thresholds which shook, and smelled and probably tasted the smoke that filled the temple.

Since this was a supernatural vision given him by God, though Isaiah may have been at the earthly temple in Jerusalem this vision transcends (goes beyond) the earthly. The throne of the LORD Almighty is in His heavenly temple.

     When the apostle John had his vision of God’s throne consider:

Revelation chapter 4 verses 1 and 2 “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.”   Possibly that “the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke” conveys God’s holiness as it relates to His justice and judgment which would have fit the context of the time in Judah when Isaiah had his vision.

     Verse 5 “Woe to me! “I 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.”    If lips (that is speech) are unclean, then so the heart is unclean. This tremendous vision of God being holy, holy, holy vividly convicted Isaiah of his own sinfulness and unworthiness which deserved God’s judgment and wrath. This is why Isaiah knew there was no hope for him once he had heard the seraphs praise the LORD as absolutely holy, holy, holy (the triple holiness expresses the very superlative holiness of God.) All of us are unclean morally, our only hope is God’s grace usward through saving faith. As the righteousness of Christ is credited to us through faith in Him and His work, His atoning work on the cross on our behalf.

     What is noteworthy is that these seraphs are themselves holy in the presence of a holy, holy, holy, God, in the sense of being perfectly pure from evil. Because they are in His presence were the seraphs. This angelic group, they were part of God’s holy angels, faithful angels. However, the LORD Almighty is holy because He is separate not only from evil but also separate, unique from angels and from every other person or part of His entire creation. The Creator transcends everything.

     But something else is superlatively noteworthy as eminently associated with Isaiah chapter 6 and verses 1 through 4. In the New Testament consider the gospel of John chapter 12 and verse 41 “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” Wow! Do you realize what this reveals? In the New Testament where we have greater light the inspired writer, the apostle John unambiguously connects Jesus Christ to God, to Yahweh in the Old Testament who Isaiah saw in his vision detailed in Isaiah chapter 6. In fact, Jesus Christ Himself stated: “before Abraham was born, I AM.” John chapter 8 verse 58.

     We worship and serve One God yet revealed in scripture as the Godhead in three persons.  God is holy, holy, holy. You should understand that when Jesus said that before Abraham was born, I AM. I AM equals and means Yahweh.

     In Christ alone we can positionally be holy. His righteousness credited to us – that we may be called “saints.” Not by Rome, but by and in our Redeemer, who is holy, holy, holy!


David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.