There is perhaps no attribute of God as terrifying, as beautiful, as humbling, as motivating, as awe-inspiring, as worship-inducing as that of the Holiness of God
One of the most striking moments where God asserted His holiness occurred in Leviticus 10. If you read Leviticus you will find it is not a list of strange rules for Israel but expectations from a God who is very holy. Moses was God’s prophet, and his brother Aaron had been chosen as high priest. Aaron’s sons were also to serve before the Lord as priests. Now God had explained in careful detail how they were supposed to approach Him with sacrifices. There was no guesswork.
But…. read 1-3
Today we are looking at God’s holiness. There is perhaps no attribute of God as terrifying, as beautiful, as humbling, as motivating, as awe-inspiring, as worship-inducing as that of the Holiness of God. God is holy and He will be treated as Holy. Someone has said, “We are not understanding God if we are not understanding Him as holy.”
WHAT IS HOLINESS?
What is holiness? God’s holiness has two senses to it: one metaphysical and one moral.
First, it is His “otherness” from everything else. “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” Says the Holy One” (Isaiah 40:25).
He exists “apart from” everything else which means that He is in a category all by Himself. Nothing else is like Him and nothing else can be listed alongside Him as though it is in the same category. This is why He says, “You shall have no other god’s before me” in the 10 commandments. Because its true, there are no other God’s before Him, alongside Him or after Him. He and He alone is God. So “metaphysically” it is said, He is holy.
Perhaps this “otherness” of God, the fact that God is not like anything else except Himself, is why Proverbs 30:3 says, “I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.” He is holy, but I don’t know much about Him. He is “incomprehensible”, beyond knowing, unfathomable in His “holy otherness”.
Then there is the moral holiness of God. His moral perfection – His perfect moral beauty we might say.
- Psalm 29:2 sings, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.”
- Isaiah 5:16 says, “But the LORD Almighty will be exalted by His justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by His righteousness.”
Again, holiness has this idea of being apart from, and here it means He is totally apart from evil. God is perfect in righteousness, perfect in holiness, perfect in purity. “Even the heavens are not pure in your sight” (Job 15:15).
One of my favorite hymns, all time, is Holy Holy Holy. The 3rd verse goes:
Holy, holy, holy, though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man, Thy glory may not see
Only Thou art Holy, There is none besides Thee
Perfect in power, in love and purity.
Is our God holy? Yes He is. But, do we regard Him as holy? Is the reality of His beautiful and terrifying holiness how I think of Him?
The Holiness of God is Glorious
The Holiness of God is glorious. The glory of His holiness is radiant. His moral excellency shines out gloriously.
- Moses asks in his song in Exodus 15:11, “Who is like you – majestic in holiness…”
- The seraphim cry night and day around His throne, “Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord God almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa 6:3).
Its that glorious beauty of God’s holiness that the Psalmist seeks to gaze upon. Turn to Psalm 27:4 with me…… That is fixing your eyes on things above! That is setting your heart on things above and not on things below. That is living with your eyes up and not down. “Oh God, that I could just see you in your glorious holiness, and just gaze upon you! Eternity is too short to do so!”
And its Moses who after walking with the LORD wanted to see the glory of the LORD. Turn to Exodus 33:12-34:8. Moses’ relationship with God began with fear and trembling before God. After a long time of serving God, walking with Him and learning Him, Moses couldn’t imagine life without God ever again, and, Moses’ greatest desire was to see the glory of God.
APPLICATION: Is it the same for us? That the longer we are Christians we are finding that Jesus is becoming the one thing we want more than anything else? That’s not just pious talk. It was real for Moses. Is it real for us? Do we say “God, I just want to see you!”
God’s holiness is glorious, and, it is worthy. What do I mean by that? Turn to Ezekiel 36:22-23. As far as God is concerned, His name is worthy to be revered. He is worthy to be acknowledged as holy by all nations on the earth. Israel profaned His name, but, despite them, God would glorify His name in all the earth so that all nations would revere Him and know that He and He alone is the Holy God. He would do it through Israel, despite Israel!
The Holiness of God Commands Reverent Worship (Leviticus 22:31-33, and Exodus 19:23; Isa 6:3; Rev 4:11)
One of the aspects of Revelation 4 is that it is preparatory for what comes after. In Revelation 4 and 5 you see that in heaven God and the Lamb are worshipped as holy. That is in contrast with on earth where God and the Lamb are not worshipped. Which is the basis of all the terrible judgments that come upon the earth in the following chapters. On earth God is not acknowledged as Holy, and He is not worshipped. In heaven He is, and He is worshipped. Anyone who sees God in His holiness will worship Him. There is no other response to the holiness of God.
The Holiness of God Humbles Us (Isaiah 6:1-5)
The Holiness of God Means He is Dangerous (Leviticus 10:1-3)
Gods holiness is what makes Him so dangerous. “You have despised my holy things” He accuses Israel in Ezekiel 22:8. “You have profaned My holy name” He again accuses in Ezekiel 36 and 37.
His holiness is His unequalled beauty, but it is His holiness that also makes Him terrifying. Turn to Leviticus 10:1-3 with me for a good illustration of this.
His moral perfection puts anyone who is immoral in great danger. This is because God’s Holiness means Sin Will Be Judged.
- Cast away any idols – worship the One Holy God.
- Put away sin – be holy because He is holy.
- Jesus is the Holy One in the flesh. The demons cried out, “I know who you are, the holy one of God!” When pregnant, the angel Gabriel told Mary, “So the HOLY ONE to be born will be called the Son of God.” Jesus is that transcendent, eternal, infinite, holy God who came in the flesh. He came to us as one of us.
To make us holy. Without holiness no one will see God the Scriptures say. Turn to Hebrews 10:10 with me.
No one can be holy on their own. Only Jesus can make you holy. And that only happens when you receive Him as your Savior and put your trust in Him.