God is calling us to look away from the little world we have made to the One who made us. God is calling us to stop putting our hope in what we can do and start putting our hope in the divine Doer. Regard Him with desire and glad expectation, and you will discover that He is enough. Reject everything incompatible with Him—the idolatrous altars of your heart. If you will suffer the loss of all things to gain Christ, He will make you too happy to care. That is faith, and God is calling you to live by that faith. Stop trusting in your own altars of incense. Let Christ alone be your sweet incense before a holy God. Reject yourself. Embrace Christ as your offering acceptable to God, and He will accept you without your own works-righteousness. No matter what you lose in order to gain Christ, don’t worry about it. He’s worth everything.

— Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, 131.




“‘Holy, holy, holy’ is not just repetition; it is emphasis. … The holiness of God distinguishes Him absolutely, even from the sinless angels.” — Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, 77.

Holiness is not the mag-stripe ID card that grants access to the restricted areas of Heaven, including the presence of God. The “emphasis” on the holiness of God goes beyond just separating God from sinners; it is the separation of God from everything else.

When I read the above quote, it struck me as something I hadn’t thought of that much. The seraphim aren’t sinful, and they’re given access to the throne of Yahweh Himself–yet two of their wings are devoted to hiding their faces. The holiness of the Triune God is such that even sinless beings dare not presume upon Him.

And yet, the seraphim sing. They are humble, but not ashamed. Their everlasting call-and-response is a celebration of the one their eyes dare not rest upon.

But then, consider: this thrice-holy Triune God sings, too. What makes Him sing is His love for every last individual born-again saint. The eternal boiling-over of love within the Trinity is expanded to include everyone who is in Jesus.

And John says, “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2 HCSB). The first time Jesus came, we saw Him as we are; then, when He comes again, we will see Him as He is.

And the seraphim have plenty of room for us to join in the song.

Present and Future

[Isaiah] is saying to us, “Relocate your happiness in the future, in a world that doesn’t exist yet except in the promise of God. If you do that, you won’t be devastated when the idols of human pride are trashed, as they will be. In God you can possess both the present and the future.”

— Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, 49.


I will praise You, Yahweh;
Your kindness is beyond words.

Like a fool, I sinned against You,
and I deserved it when You were angry with me.

You are worthy of praise, and I am glad to give it,
for Your anger has turned away,
and You have had compassion on me.

Indeed, You are my salvation;
You have rescued me from myself.
The Evil One seeks to destroy me,
but You keep me safe.

I will trust You and not be afraid,
for You, Yahweh, are my strength and my song.
You hold me up by Your power;
You give me hope and joy.
You are my treasure,
and You have become my salvation.

It is a pleasure to ask You for help,
like drawing water from the springs of salvation.
It makes me want to tell the world:
“Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name!”

Remind me of all that You have done;
speak to me by Your Spirit in Your word.
May I be so overwhelmed by it all
that my excitement spreads among the peoples:
“Raise your voices! Start the music!
Let’s sing songs to Yahweh
look at the glorious things He has done!

You never leave us on our own;
You have never abandoned any of Your beloved ones.
O Holy One of Israel, You are among us
in Your greatness.

“I will praise You, Yahweh,
although You were angry with me.
Your anger has turned away,
and You have had compassion on me.
Indeed, God is my salvation;
I will trust Him and not be afraid,
for Yah, Yahweh,
is my strength and my song.
He has become my salvation.”

You will joyfully draw water
from the springs of salvation,
and on that day you will say:
“Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name!
Celebrate His works among the peoples.
Declare that His name is exalted.
Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things.
Let this be known throughout the earth.
Cry out and sing, citizen of • Zion ,
for the Holy One of Israel is among you
in His greatness.”

Isaiah 12 HCSB