Holy, there is no one like You. There is none beside You. Open up my eyes in wonder. Show me who you are…
You and me, we see dimly. Aside from this being scriptural (1 Cor. 13:12), it’s veracity should be indisputable to anyone who has a heartbeat and has tried to follow Jesus for more than five minutes. Most of the time the life of faith feels like being a ship adrift in deep fog. We are fortunate just to get a glimpse of a lighthouse, and can scarcely imagine the blazing clarity of a sun-drenched morning. This dullness quenches worship. The more we can see, the more we will sing. The clearer our sight, the higher our praise.
There is a place where things could not be more different than our misty doldrums. “Come up here!” John heard
these words roll like thunder around his languishing body on the Isle of Patmos as he was carried away in the Spirit to stand in the heavenly temple – the place where God is enthroned in the heights of the heavens (Rev. 4:1-11, 7:15-17). The words recounting this experience read like those of a man who has spent his life in the Sahara and suddenly finds himself standing on those lush, steep bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Overwhelming, unparalleled beauty. The climax of the scene that surrounds the One shining like jasper and sardius is the incessant anthem of those mysterious creatures who inhabit God’s lofty sanctuary: “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” Before pondering this sacred utterance, we must look more closely at those whose voices never fall silent in worship of the One who never slumbers (Ps 121:4).
Their view of God is unmediated and unhindered. They actually behold God. Each one of them has a body covered with eyes made to take in the unsearchable, infinite magnitude of the LORD God Almighty. Gazing upon raw, terrible glory there is a singular declaration that they sing over and over again as the only fitting response to what is before them. Pause and muse upon the credibility and gravity of the witness of the living creatures for a moment. They have no sin, they had been alive for thousands of years at the time John recorded their activity, and they were uniquely fashioned for the express purpose of dwelling in close proximity to the undiluted potency of the Godhead. The opinions of those who see dimly may not matter very much. The perpetual cry of those who see vividly must be heeded with utmost seriousness.
“Holy!” That is what they say. That isn’t the only thing the living creatures reveal about God, but it is in the main thing. What does that mean? What is at the heart of their threefold, unending proclamation? They are not simply saying “morally perfect!” or “without sin!” on repeat. Holiness can certainly carry this meaning, but obviously something much more significant is intended. The Greek word (ἅγιος, hágios) essentially means separate. The living creatures are letting out the riveted, awe-struck exclamation, “there is no one like You!”, “there is no one like You!”, “there is no one like You!”.
“To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?” (Isaiah 40:18) God is matchless and incomparable. He isn’t just better than everything else, He is in His own category. God has no rivals and there is not even a comparison. He alone is Creator and all things apart from Him are created. His existence alone is necessary and absolute. The rest of reality is all derivative, contingent, and peripheral.
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Rev. 4:11)
This is why He is worthy of every song we could ever sing. This is why He is worthy of all the praise we could ever bring and every breath we could ever breathe. It’s not just that God is really nice and we appreciate the things He does for us. He is worthy of, deserving of, our adoration because He is who He is. The incomparable severity of His unique identity means He possesses a worthiness that cannot be measured. His majesty is unsearchable so His praise is inexhaustible. We will never be able to laud Him enough to have an offering commensurate to who He is. This is why the song of the seraphim has never stopped, and this is why our praise will go on forever.