Attributes of God (holiness...)
When we think of the word “holy“ what comes to your mind when you hear that word?
Maybe you think that that’s a word that we use with me seeing certain songs to church like holy, holy, holy…
And for some this word is really just connected with being morally good people.
God is holy because he is morally perfect.
Which is part of it. But the Bible presents the idea of holiness as much bigger and more rich.
The Bible describes God as the creator of all of the universe.
He’s the creative force behind all that is in the universe.
He is the one and only being with the power large enough to create such beauty in life.
All of these abilities are the things that make God really unique,
which is at the root of what this word “holy“ means.
A helpful way of thinking of God‘s holiness is to consider the sun as a metaphor.
Sun is unique. At least within our solar system.
And it’s really powerful and is the source of all this beautiful life here on earth.
And so you could see that the sun is holy.
And you could actually take this metaphor even further, and take the area that is all around the sun which is also holy.
This is because the closer you get to the sun the more intense it gets.
So that very power and goodness that generates all this life is also dangerous,
because the sun, if you get too close, will annihilate you.
And in the same way there is this paradox in the midst of Gods on holiness because
if you’re impure then His presence becomes dangerous to you.
And this is not because He’s bad but because He is so good.
The first time that we see this paradox of God‘s holiness is with Moses and the burning bush.
1 "Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 "Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. 3 "So Moses thought, “I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up?” 4 "When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered. 5 "“Do not come closer,” he said. “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”” ()
God often plants His people on the far side of wildernesses.
And (in v2) when God wants to speak through something to His people, I love this: it isn’t:
A strong oak tree nor a stately pine tree, nor a fragrant cedar tree, but a garden bush, just like you and me...
And in v5 Moses discovers that God’s holy presence sets apart people, times, and things as sacred.
God tells Moses to take off his sandals because the place that he standing is holy.
At the end of v6, Moses covers his face in fear and God says “don’t come any closer” that is very intense.
This intensity is explored even more with when you look at the nation of Israel and the tabernacle & temple.
Inside that temple was the place where God‘s holiness was located.
At the center of this temple was a room called the holy of holies (or the most holy place)
this was the hotspot of God‘s presence.
And whether you are an Israelite living in the land around the temple or
a priest working right in the temple
you are right in the proximity to God‘s holy presence, which is dangerous.
So the solution in the scripture, is that you need to become pure.
This is what Leviticus is all about. God commands that we worship Him in Exodus, but He is perfect and pure and we are not.
And it’s not just morally pure either.
You actually need to be ritually pure or ceremonially pure.
Which is a state where you separate yourself from anything related to death: like
touching things like diseased skin or
dead body or
certain bodily fluids like blood.
All these things will make you ritually impure.
Becoming ritually impure isn’t necessarily sinful, what’s wrong is
that walking into God‘s presence while you are in in a impure state.
That’s what becomes dangerous. (Read Lev. 10:1-3).
That’s why God gave the Israelites very clear instructions to know
when they were defiled and
when they were pure and
he told them the steps of how they can become pure
so that they can come in to his temple.
This is what the book of Leviticus is about.
Later on in the Scriptures, in the account of Isaiah in his prophecy chapter 6.
He has this vision and he is right and God‘s presence and the train of the Lords robe just fills the temple. (Isa. 6:1-3)
And Isaiah is totally terrified (Read vv4-5).
This is because he knows the rules.
He knows that he shouldn’t even be in there and now he’s worried about being destroyed.
And then a crazy creature called a seraphim flies over with a hot coal and
then it sears his lips and says something really profound “your guilt is taken away in your sin is atoned for”
6 "Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 "He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your iniquity is removed and your sin is atoned for.” ()
This burning coal somehow makes Isaiah pure.
This is remarkable because normally if you touch something impure it transfers it’s impurity to you.
But now we see something that is the opposite.
You have this coal.
Is very holy and pure object from God’s alter and it touches Isaiah and it transfers its purity to him.
Isaiah is not destroyed by God’s holiness he is actually transform to buy it.
And the gospel implications for this are huge!!
Then you have the prophet Ezekiel (chap. 47).
He has this vision where he is standing at the temple and he sees water trickling out from the temple (read vv1-2) and
then that water turns into a stream and then he grows into a deep River (vv3-5) and starts flowing into the desert and start leaving a trail of green trees in life behind it and then it flows into the Dead Sea and it makes everything fresh and alive (vv7-9).
So instead of becoming pure first and then going into the temple. Here, now God‘s holiness is seem to come out of the temple making things pure and bringing them to life.
What does this all mean…?
We have no idea what this means until we meet this man named Jesus.
He claims that he is fulfilling all of these visions in surprising new ways.
So Jesus went around touching people who are impure,
people with skin diseases or
a woman with chronic bleeding and touching dead people and when he touches them their impurities should transfer over to Jesus, but instead his purity transfers over to them and heels their body and transforms them.
a woman with chronic bleeding and
touching dead people and
when he touches them
their impurities should transfer over to Jesus, but instead
His purity transfers over to them and heals their body and transforms them.
Jesus is like that holy coal in Isaiah’s vision.
And it is ascribed to Jesus, that He was the human embodiment of Gods own holiness
(as the holy One of God - )
and that He and His followers were now God‘s temple (Read cf. 2 Cor. 6:16).
So that through you and me, God‘s holy presence would go out into the world and bring
Through the Great Commission
And so this is why Jesus described his followers like this: (read cf. 7:38).
as having streams of living water flowing out of them.
This is where we find ourselves as the church of Jesus Christ.
So where’s all this headed as we carry out the Great Commission?
So in the final pages of the Scriptures we close out with a final vision of God‘s holiness.
(Read Rev. 21:1-8)
And in John’s vision we see the world being made completely new , and now the entire earth has become Gods temple.
And Ezekiel’s river is there, now flowing out of God‘s presence
immersing all of Gods creation,
removing all impurity and
bringing everything back to life.