Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Holy, Holy, Holy

In Presbyterianism submitting an "overture" is the process whereby a congregation, a presbytery or a synod can request that the denomination consider a particular subject. It is submitted to the General Assembly with a recommendation to approve or adopt. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is in the process of discussing not only a new form of government, but also overtures that abound on a myriad of subjects prior to our 218th General Assembly. I wonder if an overture and recommendation for reflection upon the Holiness of our Great God and Savior would, perhaps make a difference, if enacted, in the type of overtures submitted, the subjects discussed, and in the manner in which they are discussed.

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Rev 4:8 God is infinite, absolute purity and moral perfection. How should or how does the Holiness of God effect you and me? How should we respond to this Holiness that scripture describes as one of God’s most excellent and awesome moral attributes?

In a computer search in "Power Bible" for the word "holy" my software program just came back with a dire warning: "WARNING: your search has returned excessive results. What would you like to do?" Holy is expressed too many times in scripture and this software program couldn’t handle it. My mind was drawn immediately to Isaiah chapter 6 and the internal warning he felt when he penned those familiar words; "Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." Isa 6:5 (KJV) Isaiah, in a vision, got a glimpse of this Holiness that causes the angelic beings to cover their faces and simply cry, "Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts".

Remember Moses wanted to see the glory of God and the Lord told him, "that no man can see my face and live...but there is a place, a cleft in the rock where you can stand and as I pass by I will cover you with my hand. Then, I will remove my hand and you can see my back, but my face must not be seen". (Ex 33: 18-23 paraphrased) Moses’ countenance was changed after his encounter with the Holiness and Glory of God in that he had to put a veil over his face to shield others from the brightness of this effulgence that radiated from his face. (behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. Ex 34:30)

Remember Job. After contending with God about things he thought he knew, he finally admits his ignorance and says, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (42:5) Job also got a peek at this Holiness of God, and like Isaiah was "undone".

Now, not many of us in our lifetimes are going to get this vision of the glory and Holiness of God, first hand as did Job, Moses, and Isaiah. But we surely do get to read about, study and reflect upon God’s Holiness as expressed all through the scriptures. My software program informed me the word "Holy" appears in 537 verses and just to read and study these in their context would be quite a challenge and, I suspect, even a life-changing exercise.

Isaiah could have said, "Look, compared to Micah and Hosea, I’m really not a bad guy." Sure I’ve got some faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, peccadilloes, but all in all I’m a pretty good guy, that is until he saw the vision of God’s purity, moral excellence, glory and Holiness. These were life-changing moments for these prophets of old. These were "kairos" moments. In the NT, these moments of opportunity are referred to not as "chronos" time (regular time) but kairos time, moments of life changing opportunity. Kairos time, ...... represents discontinuity when an unexpected barrier forces one to move off a planned course and adjust to new realities. (Jack Good) I wonder, are we, the PCUSA, on the verge of one of these kairos moments? We certainly need a vision, once again, of the absolute purity and the glorious excellence of the indescribable Holiness of God that was seen by Job, Moses and Isaiah in order to regain our focus and our purpose. Next month is the 218th General Assembly of the PCUSA. I fear that apart from a drastic life-changing Church-wide Kairos Moment business in the PCUSA will be "as usual". I pray that we can get beyond disputing the likes of what the meaning of the word "is" is and to commit ourselves truly "to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.." Micah 6:8

1 comment:

krista lee said...

The only word I can think of that does justice to the way I feel after just reading this post is....wow!

We have such a limited perspective on the awesomeness of God's holiness that we try to bring Him to our level. God is too often referred to as "the man upstairs" or the "big guy", we have lost our reverence for His holiness. If only we could get a glimpse as Moses, Isaiah and Job did we would see how sinful we truly are and how desperately we needed the sacrifice made by God's son.

This post has made a difference in my day!