The Mustard Seed
In our last installment about God's attributes, we examined those attributes that describe His power and majesty:
GOD IS HOLY
"Holy" is an adjective which the Bible often uses to describe God. But what does the word "holy" mean? We rarely see it used in every day conversation except in a religious context, chiefly when our Muslim friends refer to their scriptures at "the Holy Quran." We Christians still print "Holy Bible" on the cover of our scriptures, but I seldom hear or see that phrase used in conversation.
My first look in a dictionary for a definition of "holy" is disappointing. All of the definitions focus on earthly things which are "set apart to the service of God." What about God Himself? What does the Bible mean when it calls Him "holy"? My 48-year old Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary got it right: "HOLY: ...characterized by perfection and transcendence, commanding absolute adoration and reverence (as in 'the Holy Lord God Almighty'); spiritually pure." This is what we mean when we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Holy is Your Name."
We often see this description of God in the Psalms. For example:
The Lord rules.
Let the nations tremble.
He sits on His throne between the cherubim [angels].
Let the earth shake.
Great is the Lord in Zion.
He is honored over all of the nations.
Let them praise His great and wonderful name.
He is holy.
The King is mighty. He loves what is fair.
He has set up the rules for fairness [justice].
He has done what is right and fair
for the people of Jacob.
Honor the Lord our God.
Worship at His feet.
He is holy. (Psalm 99.1-5 NIrV)
When the Bible describes God as "holy," it means that He is morally perfect. This is a characteristic of God which our culture today prefers to ignore, or even scorn.
Contrast God's holiness to the misbehavior of "gods" in Greek and Roman mythology, who were, according to their legends, constantly committing adultery, murder, and all kinds of malicious mischief against one another. The gods of the Greeks and Romans were more like us!
The prophet Isaiah understood the difference when he saw a vision of heaven.
I saw the Lord. He was seated on His throne. He was highly honored. Above Him were angels They were calling out to one another. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord who rules over all! The whole earth is full of His glory!"
"How terrible it is for me!" I cried out. "I'm about to be destroyed! My mouth speaks sinful words. And I live among people who speak sinful words. Now I have seen the King with my own eyes. He is the Lord who rules over all."
An angel flew over to me. He was holding a hot coal. He had used tongs to take it from the altar. He touched my mouth with the coal. He said, "This has touched your lips. Your guilt has been taken away. Your sin has been paid for." (Isaiah 6.1-7, NIrV condensed)
When I told a class of Deaf youth, "God is holy; He can't let sin into His heaven," one student was struck with a look of panic, as he raised his hand to ask, "Why not!?" I answered, "If our sin were there, heaven would not be holy any more." The lad had good reason to be concerned. He understood that he wasn't holy and that his sin disqualified him for heaven. But then I went on to tell the class about what God has done through Jesus Christ to remove our sin and make us holy in His sight so we can be with Him forever in heaven. (See christdeaf.org/witness, then click the link to "Bad News, Good News.")
Next we will study God's attributes of justice and mercy.
~~ Pastor RonSeries Index
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Pastor Ron Friedrich