The Third Degree
When I was a child, my father was an all-consuming presence in my life. For one thing, I knew he loved me completely. I never had any doubt of that. In fact, I understood that he loved me too much to let me get away with anything. In fact, my dad didn’t even have to speak to me to correct me. Anybody else have dads like that? All you needed to straighten you out was . . . “The look.” Now, if things ever went beyond “the Look” I was about to get it. If Dad had to actually speak to me, I was probably already in trouble. To be honest, I never even remember him having to speak to me twice. If he called me, and I didn’t come, O my goodness! I don’t even know what would have happened because I never remember that even happening!
Now as strong as my Dad was and as much as I respect him, I must tell you that God is much stronger. God is more just. God is more loving. God certainly has more authority. I don’t know if God looks at us the way my Dad used to look at me and correct me, but I certainly know that He speaks. When God says something once, that’s enough! God never has to repeat Himself. What He says, goes.
Yet, there are times when God does repeat Himself. To get through to our thick brains and to jar our wills He might say something twice. When Jesus was here on this earth, there were times when He would use a curious phrase. In your KJV Bible it is “Verily, Verily.” If you read it in an NIV, it reads “Truly, Truly, I say unto you.” When Jesus said that, He was saying what I am about to tell you is very very important. Write it down and underline it in red. Type it into your blackberry. Put it at the top of your to do list. This is very important.
Saying it once is all God needs to do. Saying it twice means that we had better always remember and never, ever forget it. But there’s only one thing that gets said three times in regard to God. There’s only one characteristic of God that gets so emphasized. You find it in Isaiah 6. There, Isaiah is given a glimpse of the living God and the angels who announce Him do not say, “Holy is the Lord;” They do not say, “Holy, Holy is the Lord.” They say that the Lord is “Holy, Holy, Holy.” They raise it to the third degree and by that they tell us that of all the things God is, the one characteristic that towers above everything else is this one: God is Holy, Holy, Holy! You see, Holiness is a Person. God is holy.