There are moments in life when a particular truth about God hits home harder than it normally does. One such moment happened to me today. Whilst I was praying I was pondering the goodness of God towards me and how underserved it was and suddenly for a few seconds I beheld a measure of the fullness of the infinite goodness of God and it was too much. I had to recoil not because I did not like what I was thinking of, far from it, precisely the opposite was true, God became too wonderful to comprehend, his beauty was too great for my eyes, his love to vast to fathom, his glory beyond tracing out.
And it called to mind a passage in Isaiah which runs as follows:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Isaiah 6 v 1 - 7
And a similar passage in Ezekiel:
“Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Ezekiel 1 v 25 – 28
Now my experience pales in comparison with the two mentioned above but the basic truth is the same: God is so glorious it is impossible to do anything other than fall facedown before him. It’s like seeing something of such great beauty that it casts your own ugliness in such a terrible light that you cannot help but feel the urge to hide yourself from the beauty.
And this light of God, this beauty of his, lies in his great and abounding love, it lies in his pure holiness, his sheer other-ness, it lies in the fact that he is the God of all kindness and tenderness. And it throws our own ungratefulness into sharp relief. It shows our rebellion against his commands to be vile indeed, it shows our unbelief in his overflowing love to be insulting to his name, as we confront the beauty of the goodness of God it is impossible not to see how undeserving we are and to what a wretched state we have fallen. And as our own sense of self-worth diminishes so the glory of God increases all the more that he should love us, the unlovable.
These truths are weightier but there is more to come. For this God if such beauty, such abundant goodness, blazing love and perfect holiness is the same God that I can come to and call Father.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
1 John 3 v 1
How can this be? How can I in my sin approach God in his holiness and call him Father?
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Romans 8 v 14 – 17
I can call God, Father because the Spirit testifies to my soul that I am God’s child.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Romans 8 v 1 – 2
Through Jesus I am saved from my sin and wretchedness. And Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to me so that I might recognise this ‘sonship’ that has been granted me. The beauty of Christ covers me so that I might stand before God and be blameless. The sinlessness of Jesus is now my own. His worth is now mine. And his love is ever set upon me. I can now approach God with freedom and confidence because I do not come as his slave but as his child, needing and seeking the love of his Father God.
It is fitting to be in awe of the wonder, majesty and glory of God for holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty and the whole earth is full of his glory. It is fitting as well to fall facedown before the God of such exceeding love, goodness and beauty for in the light of such a sight then our own sin and rebellion is clearly shown.
But it is equally fitting to come to God as a child goes to his Father, to come to the God of all tenderness and compassion and find him loving us, delighting in us and comforting us. Our relationship with God is not based on our own works but is based on Christ and his death and resurrection. Through belief in Christ we are adopted into the family of God as his children. Through Christ and the Holy Spirit we can approach God and call him Father for he is our heavenly Father and he loves us with that fierce love that caused him to send his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.
See what love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called children of God!