God’s residence and reign in Heaven also means that he is absolutely holy. This is either terrifying or quieting, depending on our spiritual citizenship. Make no mistake: Whether we believe in God or not, whether we follow Christ or not, God is our Creator and our Lord. His holiness will be a horror to those who have rejected him here on earth. But for those of us who have loved him and enjoyed the sweetness of his drawing us to himself, his holiness is utter relief and joy.
Christ ends the preface of The Lord’s Prayer by establishing the inviolableness of God’s name, which is to be set apart and high above all other names. He is to be revered and viewed utterly sacrosanct. His tender fatherliness does not give us the license to relax our reverence toward him.
Isaiah recognized God’s holiness, and it terrified him in Isaiah 6:1-13:
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. 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!’
This is our heavenly Father. He dwells in a place surrounded by creatures he created for the sole purpose of eternally proclaiming his holiness. Not out of arrogance or narcissism, but out of love for his creation. God’s holiness is eternally good for us. He doesn’t call for our worship out of vain need. He loves us and knows that his perfection, venerableness, and unmatched supremacy, are for his glory, which is for our good.
C.S. Lewis described the divine benefit of responding and revering the holiness of God:
If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry. Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever? Once a man is separated from God, what can he do but wither and die?
This holy being, this supreme Father, is the great source of love who is to be worshiped and adored with great trembling. God’s holiness, utter perfection, and supremacy are a comfort to those who love him. God’s holiness gives us confidence that his governance is sure.
Consider Mr. Beaver in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe:
‘Aslan is a lion— the Lion, the great Lion.’ ‘Oh,’ said Susan. ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.’ ‘Safe?’ said Mr Beaver. ‘Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’
So it is with our good and terrible heavenly father. Hallowed be his name!
Leslie Schmucker retired from public school teaching to create a special education program at Dayspring Christian Academy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is the author of the upcoming book, Broken Children, Sovereign God: Rejoicing in God’s Goodness in the Midst of Childhood Mental Illness (Christian Focus, 2023). She belongs to Grace Baptist Church. She and her husband, Steve, have three grown children and eight grandchildren. She blogs at leslieschmucker.com, and you can follow her on Twitter.