This week we looked at the overwhelming holiness of God. I described it as a blinding light that would blind us if God revealed Himself fully. We never experience God’s holiness in this way, but the Bible gives us a story of someone who did. The prophet Isaiah came face to face with a vision of God’s glory (Isaiah 6):
 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
That would be an amazing sight…Presence of God, Angels (seraphim) calling out to one another, earth shaking and smoke. It is hard to be overwhelmed by this. Even the picture we may be able to create in our heads will always be limited by our imagination.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean: there are stories Esther and I allow our kids to read, where we don’t think that they are ready to watch the movie version. This is not because the movie version has added some huge level of violence and gore; it is simply that when reading, my kids create the picture. They are only able to imagine something to the level that their brains can handle. It is the same for us. We read Isaiah’s description of God’s glory and it seems impressive, but not impressive in a way that awes us with the overwhelming fear. We are only really able to understand the holiness of God when we see Isaiah’s reaction to his vision, v.5:
 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
His reaction to seeing the Lord of hosts was to cry out: woe is me! I am lost! I am a man of unclean lips! He could not enjoy and love God; God’s presence made him feel terrible. This is what happens when holiness confronts us before we are ready for it; when we are unprepared, God’s truth is ONLY condemning.
So Jesus prepares us. In the same way we see the angel here declare: your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for, the cross is the declaration for us that we can approach God, in His holiness, because our sin has been paid for. Jesus is the reason why we don’t have to be afraid of the light. This life, obedience after obedience, lesson after lesson, is the way that this truth roots itself in our lives. The light is slowly turned up, our eyes adjust to it, and we are purified.