Now we start coming to the pointy end of who God is – not because it is difficult to understand, but rather that most people don’t like to hear it. Everything we have covered so far paints the picture of the "Godhood" of God – His bigness, power, knowledge, etc. What we will be dealing with over the next five posts will be the things that make God both fearsome and gracious.
We’ll start with the holiness of God. God’s holiness is often confused with His justice (which we’ll cover in a later post) in that it is often thought of as His moral rightness (actually it could be said that justice, righteousness and holiness all get confused in this sense).
To consider the holiness of God, lets consider the following passages:
"There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God" (1 Sam 2:2)
"Behold, God puts no trust in His holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in His sight" (Job 15:15)
"This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5)
These verses indeed imply purity and righteousness, but that is not all the meaning they carry. They also put God in a completely different category, and this is fundamentally the meaning of holiness. God is separate from everything else. There is a gulf of difference between God and His creation.
When we read in the Old testament "You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev 19:2) the intention is that those being addressed were to regard themselves as set apart to the Lord – because the Lord is set apart from everything.
This is most obvious in the gulf that Isaiah notices between himself and God in Isa 6:1-5:
"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”"
Note that Isaiah was likely to this point a "moral" person – he was a good Jewish bloke, well respected by his peers. Yet the key point of the passage is the sheer gulf of difference between the greatness of God and the lowness of man.
This is obvious from Isaiah’s reaction. He sees this vision and his response is conveyed in the phrase "Woe is me! For I am lost!".
The Hebrew word translated woe conveys "sorrow, i.e., a state of intense hardship and distress" (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew).
The Hebrew word translated "lost" means "destroy, i.e., be in a ruinous state" (ibid).
In other words, immediately Isaiah understood the magnitude of the difference between himself and God and at once pronounced that he was in woe – intense hardship and distress and he concluded rapidly "I am lost" – i.e. I am in a state of ruin or destruction.
The holiness of God is that gulf between God and His creation that can never be bridged. It is the seperateness of God – or as R.C Sproul said the "otherliness" of God.
In a very real sense we are nothing like Him – we cannot be – He is infinite and we are finite. It is this gap – the brought about by the sum of the attributes of God – that we call the holiness of God
I posted a sermon by R C Sproul on the Holiness of God and Isaiah 6 earlier. If you are interested in listening to it click here. I hope you do