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God's Most Unpopular Attribute - Part A

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October 15, 2020 2:00 am

God's Most Unpopular Attribute - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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October 15, 2020 2:00 am

Loving-kindness, graciousness, and forgiveness are all comforting attributes of God, but there is another key attribute of His that is seldom considered. Find out what that is as Skip begins the message "God's Most Unpopular Attribute."

This teaching is from the series The Biography of God.

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It's not a flaw in any sense of the word, but it is very much part of God's character, and that is His holiness. God's holiness is not His most attractive characteristic, and here's why. It's because of this character trait of God that He is holy, that is responsible for His actions. He's a God of justice, a God of judgment, a God of vengeance, a God of wrath. The reason hell exists is because God is ultimately a holy God.

The more you get to know God and your relationship with Him, it's likely you'll discover some things that might make you do a double-take. Today on Connect with Skip Heiser, Skip talks about one of those attributes and why it's so important to understand and embrace it. And at the end of today's program, Skip and his wife Lenya share some helpful resources to help you learn even more about the Lord. First of all, we have a thing that is a podcast, Connect with Skip Podcast. You can subscribe to it on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or on Google Play. So if you want to get a podcast and kind of download it and hear it whenever you want to in a car, I love podcasts.

Thanks, Skip. Be sure to stay tuned after today's message to hear the full conversation. Now we want to tell you about a resource that will help you get a fuller picture of God's character and nature so you can draw closer to Him. Someone once said that if you want to know about Michelangelo, you need to study what he said, what he did and what he created. Well, the same is true if you want to know God. You must devote yourself to his words, actions and what he created.

That is one of the reasons I wrote the book, The Biography of God. It's available now and I hope you'll join me on this noble, demanding and even rewarding journey. Here's how to get your copy of my newest book, The Biography of God. Skip's new book is our thanks when you give $35 or more today to help keep this ministry on the air.

Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, we're in Isaiah chapter six as Skip Heitzig starts today's study. Well, you know there are some characteristics of God that are very appealing characteristics. His love, for example, is probably the most appealing and attractive part of His nature to most people. Who doesn't like to sing about God's love or talk about God's love or preach about God's love? It's an appealing characteristic as is His grace and His mercy, His might, etc.

But there are certain character traits, attributes of God that are less appealing to people. They're very real, they're very much a part of Him, but they're not the most appealing attribute. Years ago there was a photographer named Yusuf Karsh who photographed famous people. He had a large format camera, great lens, and he put out a book called Portraits of Greatness. There were 90 of the world's most famous people done in large format photography. Probably the most famous photograph of Winston Churchill was in that book, photographed by Karsh. But it was noted that of the 90 pictures of famous people, 70 of them in this book were physically unattractive. 35 in the pictures had moles or warts, 13 sported liver spots, 20 had acne when the photograph was taken, and two of them revealed visible scars. In other words, Karsh, with the detail of his lens and large plate of film, captured people as they really are.

That's who they were. Today we look at an attribute of God that is probably the least discussed, the least preached on, and the least attractive to most people. It's not a flaw in any sense of the word, but it is very much part of God's character, and that is His holiness. God's holiness is not His most attractive characteristic, and here's why. It's because of this character trait of God that He is holy that is responsible for His actions. He's a God of justice, a God of judgment, a God of vengeance, a God of wrath. The reason hell exists is because God is ultimately a holy God.

That's why I say it's not the most popular attribute. However, it is the most noted attribute of God in the entire Bible. God is called holy more than God is called loving, gracious, merciful, kind, powerful. He is known as holy. In fact, just Isaiah the prophet refers to God as the Holy One 30 times in this one book alone. God is holy. Could it be, is it possible that we have been so conditioned by a hyper-grace environment that we have over-reached and over-estimated His love and mercy and grace and kindness and underestimated His wrath and vengeance and His holiness?

It is possible. I would suggest to you that the very core characteristic of God is that He is holy. More than anything else that would describe God, though there's a lot of ways to do it, the core of His being is holiness, not love. If love were the core of God's being, I suppose God would be letting everybody and anybody into heaven, Adolf Hitler and all his buddies, just come on up, we'll sort everything out when you get here.

But He doesn't do that. Now, somebody will quickly say, yeah, but 1 John 4 says God is love. Please do not misinterpret that text. That doesn't mean that love defines God. It simply means God defines love. It doesn't mean wherever there is any expression of love in the world, we can say that's God. It means that God, because of who He is, can define what love is.

Let me take you into my study this week. Of the books that I was reading was a great little book by William Evans called Great Doctrines of the Bible. William Evans notes this, quote, If there is any difference in importance in the attributes of God, that of His holiness seems to occupy the first place. It is, to say the least, the one attribute which God would have His people remember more than any other. Now, before you say, oh, but God's holiness, that's such an Old Testament concept, not a New Testament. May I remind you that when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said, when you pray, say, our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed or holy is your name. That's the one characteristic that we were to remember in our prayer. And what is the adjective that most describes the third person of the Trinity? He's not called the loving spirit or the gracious spirit or the mighty spirit, but the holy spirit. That is how He is designated.

And my point is simply this. We cannot pick and choose which character traits of God we like and throw out the rest. We have to take God as He is, the whole package.

Now, we can either accept or reject the true God, but we can't change Him. There's a temple over in Kyoto, Japan. I was there once, not at the temple, but in the city, and there's temples everywhere. But one of the most notable temples is called the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas.

There are 1,001 different depictions of Buddha, each one different than the other, in one temple. And what you typically have is people will go in, find an image that suits them the most, and they begin worshiping. And I suggest that's exactly how modern man chooses to worship God.

I'm going to find an idea of God that suits me the best instead of finding out who God really is, and I'll relate to that. So this morning, I want to take you through this attribute, and I want to have us work our way through eight verses of this chapter, Isaiah chapter 6. I want to give you, in this text, four qualities. Four qualities and how the holiness of God should affect us. Or you might say that the message is called how to relate, how to have a personal relationship with a holy God. First of all, we look at the first four verses, and we discover that holiness describes separation. If you were to put holiness in one word definition, it is that, separation.

Holiness describes separation. It says, In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above it stood Seraphim. These are angelic beings.

Each one had six wings, with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory.

And the posts of the doors were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. First thing that Isaiah sees is God sitting. He's not standing, he's sitting on a throne, a place of authority. He's ruling. But he's ruling from the seated position. See, God isn't wringing his hands, standing up, worried like we often do. Somebody once said, God rules the universe with his feet up.

Why? Because he can. Nothing taxes him.

In fact, there could be a billion more universes besides this one, and all of that wouldn't tax him. He's seated on a throne, and he is in a place of authority. Now notice it was the year that King Uzziah died.

Brief history. Uzziah died in 739 B.C. He was a great guy, he was a good king. He reigned 52 years, and he was considered not only a great politician, but a godly man. So now, our godly leader is gone. The throne is vacant.

Who's going to rule the nation? That was the year that Isaiah gets a vision of God on his throne still in charge. I'll tell you what, we have a tendency to forget that, don't we?

The world gets weird, wars break out, the economy turns south. And we need to be reminded that God is still on his throne, not wringing his hands, not looking at our world going, Oh no! He's seated. He's in charge.

He's got it all covered. See, if we don't realize that, then when we read the newspapers and watch television, we're going to end up in despair. That's why worship is so important, that's why coming to fellowship is so important, because as we read the scriptures and as we sing these great songs, our whole perspective gets readjusted. We're reminded of these wonderful truths and we think, Oh yeah, God is still in control.

I can trust him. Now, this is a vision of Isaiah. Isaiah didn't really actually physically see God. He saw God in a vision.

How do we know this? Because in the Gospel of John it says, No man has seen God at any time. So it's safe to say that this was a vision. If Isaiah would have actually, literally, physically seen God, he wouldn't have lived to write this. Like a bug getting close to a bug zapper. Here's Isaiah.

Hey, whatever happened to that Isaiah dude? Oh, he saw God. So this is a vision. And in the vision, the throne of God is lifted up.

It's a little bit higher than everything else in this vision. And it's lofty and singular and unique because God's on it. And notice the train of his robe filled the temple.

That simply speaks of his splendor. Some of you will remember back to 1981 when Princess Diana and Prince Charles had their wedding and that beautiful scene in St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The train of her gown was 25 feet long as it draped across the cathedral floor.

But go back a few years. In 1953, I wasn't around yet, but in 1953, Queen Elizabeth was coronated as the new queen and she had a purple velvet train of her robe 60 feet long that flowed through Westminster Abbey. And that train spoke of her majesty, her splendor, her, in a literal sense, holiness. She was unique. No one else was being coronated.

She was separate from everyone else at that moment. So this is a symbol of God's splendor filling the temple. And notice the worship, at least here in this vision, is pretty loud. If you don't like it loud, I suggest you bring a pair of earplugs with you to heaven because this was so loud, the posts were shaken of the door as Isaiah sees it.

Notice the sort of central thought here. It says, they cried, verse 3, holy, holy, holy. Why three times? In Hebrew, repetition is used for force or emphasis. So if we were to say there's a war going on in the Gaza Strip or there's a war going on in Iraq, that would be accurate. But if we wanted to, say, speak of World War II, we would say, that was a war war.

Or if we want to think of the ultimate war, Armageddon, we might say, that's going to be a war war war. It's there for emphasis. So God isn't holy. God isn't holy, holy. God is holy, holy, holy.

Notice again, it doesn't say loving, loving, loving though he is. The angels don't cry, merciful, merciful, merciful. Mighty, mighty, mighty. Or even a combination of holy, loving, mighty. It's holy, holy, holy.

What does that mean? First time I heard the word holy, I had a whole bunch of different thoughts other than what it really means. I thought, man, that sounds so churchy. That sounds so stained glass.

Holy, yeah, wearing robes, sandals, eating no food, out in the desert, all that stuff. It simply means to be separate. Kodesh is the Hebrew word, kodesh.

It means to be marked off as special or for special use only. Back in the book of Exodus, the 40th chapter, God says of the tabernacle, and all of its vessels, they are holy. He said, now this oil, this oil is holy oil because it's not to be used for anything else but the tabernacle. And with the oil, you are to anoint the pots and pans. Those are holy pots and pans because they're only to be used in the tabernacle. You see that altar out there? Put oil on that because that's a holy altar only to be used for sacrifice. And Aaron and his sons do the same to them.

They're holy people. Now, the intrinsic value didn't change. Aaron didn't glow in the dark. The vessels of the tabernacle had no special look to them.

They were just simply marked off for special use. So, when we say God is holy, or we speak of the holiness of God, what we're simply saying is there's no one else like him. He is singular. He is unique. He is unparalleled, unprecedented.

He is exclusive. That's the simple core idea of the word holiness. And I would say this view of God has been lost in the church. Preferring the comfort of his nearness, we have lost the reality of God's transcendent holiness. He is not the man upstairs. Ever have somebody call God that in your presence?

Put in a good word to the big guy for me. Or God is the old codger with the beard. No, he's not. That's not God. God is ineffable glory.

He is one who dwells in unapproachable light. Our God is a consuming fire. That's God. That is God in his holiness. So, holiness describes separation. The second way that we relate to a holy God is found in verse 5, and here's the principle. Holiness deepens conviction. Look what Isaiah does.

Verse 5. So, I said, Whoa! Not like, whoa, dude. But, whoa is me. I am undone. 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.

Notice Isaiah didn't go, Cool, I saw God. He says, Whoa is me. Or as one translation puts it, I'm doomed.

I'm ruined. Now, why would he say that? Why would a prophet of God, who's a holy guy, by definition, why would he say, Whoa is me? Why wouldn't he say, Okay, now I just had an experience very few people, if any, have ever had, so I'm going to write a book, go on a speaking tour, go on television. It's going to be called, The Day I Saw God.

This is going to be really awesome. His reaction is self-deprecating. Whoa is me.

Here's the reason why. In seeing a holy God, Isaiah saw his unholy self in comparison to a holy God. And that produced a profound sense of conviction. I don't care how holy you are on an earthly level. When you're in the presence of God, this is the reaction.

Whoa is me. Here's a little comparison on an earthly level. Have you ever, in church, sat next to somebody during the song part of the service, and they sing beautifully? They're like pitch perfect.

They sound like an angel. Now, you like to sing in the shower, but next to that person, it's like, Whoa. Whoa is me, and whoa is anyone else around me if I start singing right now in comparison to that person? Max Flaccato said, You don't impress the officials at NASA with your paper airplane. You don't boast about your crayon sketches in the presence of Picasso.

You don't claim equality with Einstein because you can write H2O. And you don't boast about your goodness in the presence of the perfect. So even this prophet, in the presence of a holy God, must say, Whoa is me.

Okay. If, if, indeed this is the core of God's character, if that's true, then wouldn't you expect to find a similar response by a lot of people in the Bible that got near to God? Yeah, you would. If God is indeed that, anybody who gets close to that has that reaction. If that's God's core, then you'd expect it, and you do find it.

For instance, Job. Now how good was Job? He was Mr. Holy, wasn't he? Didn't God say, I have no one on earth like Job. And yet, after he encountered God, Job said, I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you, therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes. That's Mr. Holy talking. Okay, what about Peter in the New Testament? Naturally aggressive, a boastful kind of a guy, a fisherman, until the day Jesus goes fishing with him and he understands who Jesus is. And what does Peter say to Jesus?

He didn't say, I'm pretty good, huh Jesus? He says, Apart from me, Lord, I am a sinful man. And John, when he got the revelation of Jesus Christ in the first chapter, he writes, and I fell at his feet as dead.

We find this all throughout, even the picture of our future in heaven. Revelation 4 and 5, there's four living creatures and 24 elders, and they all have crowns on their head. And when the time for the anthem comes to sing to God, they sing holy, holy, holy, same song. And it says the elders cast what? Their crowns before him. What's that all about? They're simply saying in the presence of this one, no honor to me, all honor and glory to him.

That's the proper reaction. That's Skip Heising with a message from the series The Biography of God. Now let's go in the studio with Skip and Lenya, as they share some helpful resources to help you learn even more about the Lord. One of God's most important attributes is also one of his most unpopular, his holiness. It's important not just in understanding him, but also in our relationship with him. He wants us to be holy the same way that he is holy, and to develop that, we need to be studying his word. Skip, can you share some Bible study resources with our listeners?

Well, once again, I have a page of these things, so I'm just going to highlight three that I'd like to talk about, because there's just so many portals. But let me give you, first of all, we have a thing that is a podcast, Connect with Skip Podcast. You can subscribe to it on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or on Google Play. So if you want to get a podcast and kind of download it and hear it whenever you want in a car, I love podcasts. The second one is a YouTube channel.

We've gotten so many people that are impacted by this, so it's Connect with Skip Heitzig Broadcast or TV Broadcast on the YouTube channel. And then we have an app. I love this little thing on your phone that you can download. It's a Skip Heitzig app available at the App Store on Google Play, and you can take teachings with you on the go. It gives you access to everything we've ever taught from Genesis to Revelation.

You can take a 30-day challenge to overview the New Testament. You can get devotional email that way. You can connect to the radio broadcast.

You can watch the TV broadcast all on your phone. It's crazy, but it's a great, great resource. Thanks, Skip and Lenya. One of the biggest questions among believers is, What is God's will for my life? That's why we share God's Word to help share the guidance and direction you can only get from Scripture. But your help is vital to keeping these biblical teachings going out to you and more listeners around the world. Just visit connectwithskip.com slash donate to give a gift. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Or you can call 800-922-1888.

800-922-1888. Thank you for connecting more people to the Lord. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig points out why understanding God's holiness is so important to your faith and your walk with Him. Make a connection Make a connection At the foot of the crossing Cast all burdens on His Word Make a connection Connection Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications connecting you to God's ever-changing truth over changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-04 15:46:50 / 2024-02-04 15:56:40 / 10

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