Woe, Woe, Woe

Anne Graham Lotz describes a time her parents, Ruth and Billy Graham, agreed to a television interview in their log cabin home.  Ruth did what every woman would do in her situation – she began to furiously clean her house!  The old log cabin home was polished, washed, waxed, and dusted!

The morning of the interview, Ruth confidently greeted the talk-show host and crew at the front door, then led them into the living room.  The crew transformed the room into a TV studio with huge lights and multiple cameras.  As the host positioned Billy and Ruth on the sofa, Ruth was serenely poised.  Looking about the room, she saw it was absolutely spotless.  Even all the equipment didn’t mar the polished, washed, and dusted beauty.

cobwebsWhen the director yelled, “Lights, camera, action,” the cameras rolled and the huge television lights turned on.  In horror, Ruth looked around her “spotless” room!  She saw cobwebs in the corners of the old logs, soot in the fireplace, and dust bunnies under the table![1]

[1] Adapted from Anne Graham Lotz, I Saw The Lord (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2006), 99-100.

You know where this is going, don’t you?  Under ordinary lighting, our lives look pretty good.  We compare ourselves to those around us and think we’re not only ok, we’re better than most.  But then, whoosh, on come the bright lights and through God’s Word or His Holy Spirit, we not only get a glimpse of God and His holiness; but also we see ourselves as we really are.

Those lights came on for Isaiah one day at the temple in Jerusalem.  In Isaiah, chapter six, he describes seeing the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.  Above the Lord stand the seraphim, and one seraph calls to another saying,

Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory!  Isaiah 6:3

The Hebrew word translated “holy” is “qadosh”.  I heard Randy Marshall describe its meaning as two-fold.  The first is “a unique superlative”.  Something that is better than best – something that is truly . . . awesome.  We don’t get this, because we think the latest I-Phone or a perfectly cooked steak is awesome.  “Qadosh” is the idea that He and only He is awesome.  The second meaning of “qadosh” is brilliant beauty.  There is a beauty about God that these worshipping angels adore.

In the Hebrew language, if a person wanted to place emphasis on something he used the word twice.  By repeating “holy” three times, the seraph proclaims God to be the unique superlative, of the unique superlative, of the unique superlative.  There’s the beautiful, then the brilliantly beautiful.  He is the most brilliantly beautiful of the brilliantly beautiful.  This is the only attribute repeated this way in Scripture.  An I-Phone or steak is not awesome.  He is awesome.

Isaiah’s response?  He said, “Woe is me, . . . (Isaiah 6:5a).  Isaiah recognizes and deeply mourns his sin.  A seraph flies to Isaiah, touches his mouth with a burning coal, and says, “Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven.” (Isaiah 6:7b)  Friend, a holy, holy, holy God atoned for your sin and removed your guilt through a merciful, merciful, merciful Savior.  I think I can accurately say His plan for our redemption is pretty awesome too!

About the Writer
Joni passionately enjoys sharing what she learns in Bible study with the ladies of Refresh and Refresh@Night.  Her days are best described as comfortable chaos – filled with grandchildren, a sweet mom-in-law, study time, and unexpected changes in plan.  She’s a frequent flyer to Pittsburgh for fun and cold weather chaos with her transplanted grandchildren in the north.  All of this is far from the bon bons and leisure time her husband imagines her daily enjoying!


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