Monday, April 21, 2008

Could you repeat that, please?

Have you ever had one of those days when every time you turn around, there IT is? One of those days when there’s reminder of whatever IT is everywhere you go? You begin to sense that someone’s trying to tell you something. There’s a message intended for you and you keep missing it, so it keeps getting thrown in your path.

I had one of those days recently, and the repercussions are still affecting me.

A week or so ago Scott bought a book that I promptly hijacked so I could read it first: Gripped by the Greatness of God by James MacDonald.

In the very first chapter the author wrote commentary on Isaiah 6:1-7, the scripture that says, "…and one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory' ”…

He said:
“God does not present His holiness as a horizontal prescription for human activity. God displays holiness as the central and defining essence of His character. I know some people think that God is defined by love, but I would beg differ. If love was at the very center of God’s nature, then He could have welcomed us into heaven without the atoning death of His Son, Jesus. Fact is, God’s holiness demanded that sin be paid for, and then His love compelled Him to pay the price Himself.”

I am often marked and stirred by other people’s words and this was no exception. I guess I have been one of those people who thought, or really just assumed, that what I had heard all my life was the absolute truth: God is love. After reading that first chapter, I began to see that, yes, that is true, but there is more.

As I always do when I read something that leads me to think a little differently, I have to percolate on it a while before I formulate how I really feel about it personally.

A couple of days went by as I continued to think about this holiness thing. I read a little further in the book. Several pages over from my previous reading, James MacDonald continued his description of Isaiah 6:3 saying:

“So these burning ones call back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, never ceasing: “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”
“And this never stops. This praise never ceases. It goes on and on through countless eons of time. This brings to mind a well-known Bible teacher who recently visited our church and ridiculed modern worship (music) as a collection of repetitious ditties. How strange that such a good man would not be fond of something God not only appreciates but had ordained, namely the endless, changeless chorusing of a great single line of certainty. When the truth is significant, there is great power in repetition, especially if the subject is an attribute of God.”
That paragraph tickled my ears enough that I had to read it out loud to Scott. That was Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning I turn on the TV to Wednesdays with Beth Moore on Life Today (you can see that video for yourself here). She was teaching on the Almighty being the God who was, and is, and is to come. She read from Revelation 4: “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

There it was again. Holy, holy, holy. Even though it was two different scripture references, it was the same three words that had been at the top of my thoughts the last couple of days.

Later that day, I got in my car and turned on the CD player, streaming from my speakers was the contemporary worship song…

Holy, holy, holy,
Holy, holy, holy
Holy is the lord, God Almighty.
Worthy to receive glory,
Worthy to receive honor,
Worthy to receive all our praise today.

Praise him, praise him and lift him up;
Praise him, exalt his name forever.
Praise him, praise him and lift him up;

Praise him, exalt his name forever.

Over and over they sang it.

I thought to myself, surely God must be trying to tell me something. He keeps putting this holy, holy, holy business in front of me, over and over and over again.

Later that evening when I got to choir practice and surveyed the table where the new music is laid out for us to pick up, there it was again. An arrangement of the traditional hymn ...
Holy, holy, holy,
Lord, God Almighty
Early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee….

Again with the holy, holy, holy. With all the repeated reminders of this repetitious phrase, surely there is something in it for me.

The holiness of God goes on and on. That's worth repeating.

OK, I get it now and I pray that’s one little ditty that I never get out of my head.

"Holy, holy, holy..." Revelation 4: 8 and Isaiah 6:3

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