Do you know the real God? Part II

Holiness

What about holiness? How often do you hear it said in bible study when the leader asks: ‘What is holiness?’ someone always puts their hand up and says ‘Oh I know, I know. It means to be set apart.’ But what never seems to get explained is just how set apart God really is – how alien and uncanny – how bizarre and exotic! There is none like Him. There is none like Him – in any way. He is completely different. In our world we have all kinds of differences. Pink is different to orange in the dimension of color. Some things like computers and TV’s are different in multiple dimensions. But God is different in more dimensions than we can fathom.

The angels in heaven that praise God unceasingly; without sleeping, without resting, without recess; from the dawn of time to forevermore, they cry out “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). They don’t say “Loving, loving, loving is the LORD of hosts”. They don’t say “Sovereign, sovereign, sovereign is the LORD of hosts.” This is the one thing they focus on – God’s holiness. Notice the repetition – how much this is emphasized. If they said it once, it would mean God is generally holy. If they said it twice, it would mean God is outstandingly holy but they say it three times to show us God is absolutely above, and overflowing far beyond anything we can ever imagine.

He doesn’t need a gift or offering;

From nothing – everything he made.

He doesn’t need a church to praise him;

As if his joy could ever fade.

He cannot better in his wisdom;

As if like one who could be taught.

He cannot be higher exalted;

As if the creature could support.

Is this your God? Because this is the God of the Bible.

Furthermore, the holiness of God relates to his divine purity. This is the most serious thing and should never be taken lightly. God killed Nadab and Abihu instantly when they came into his presence with an extra sacrifice. His holy fire broke out and incinerated them both (Leviticus 10:1-3). God killed 50,070 people instantly when they looked into the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 6:19). God killed Uzzah instantly for touching the same ark (2 Samuel 6:6). The ark was going to fall so he reached out his hand to stop it. He assumed his hand was cleaner than the dirt. He was wrong, and God killed him.

So many people don’t realize this. God kills people who approach him casually. God kills people who approach him with flippancy. God kills people who think they can just walk on up and handle things that are holy. Do you realize this?!

If you’re still not convinced, listen to what God says to Moses regarding Aaron and his priestly duties:

“Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die.” (Exodus 28:33-36)

“Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh. Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the alter to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die.” (Exodus 28:42-)

“Whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting an offering made to the LORD by fire, they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die.” (Exodus 30:20-21b)

“You must stay at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days and do what the LORD requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded.” (Leviticus 8:35)

“But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die. (Numbers 4:20)

“He (the high priest) is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die.” (Leviticus 16:13)

This last one is fascinating. The Holy Place was to be filled with smoke so there could be no clear view between the High Priest and the atonement cover above the Testimony. Some things are too holy for sinful man to even look upon, so much so that the result is instant death. God kills people!

Is this your God? Because this is the God of the Bible.

In addition to this, God told Moses:

“Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled food or hand, or who is hunchbacked or dwarfed, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the offerings made to the LORD by fire. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD, who makes them holy.'” (Leviticus 21:16-24)

Nobody whom the LORD judges to be unclean may enter into his presence. This passage can be particularly difficult for modern readers. We like to argue with God and say things like “Oh but these people didn’t do anything wrong, why are they excluded?” but we forget God decides who comes into His presence and God decides the manner in which they come. Why? Because He is holy.

The experiences of the prophets also testify to the holiness of God. Isaiah writes:

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and the thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

The experience of Isaiah is so overpowering he condemns himself. He is completely undone by the wonder of God’s holiness. His brain is clipping just to keep up. Every internal structure of confidence melts like a candle in a blast furnace and he’s reduced down to nothing. Peter also had a similar experience when he sees the miraculous catch and falls at Jesus’ knees and says “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Peter recognized how pure Jesus was and how impure he himself was.

Moses also experiences the holiness of God when he goes up Mt Sinai. He tells Israel:

“Then once again I fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the LORD’s sight and so provoking him to anger. I feared the anger and wrath of the LORD, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the LORD listened to me.” (Deuteronomy 9:18-20)

Imagine that for just a second; face-down in the presence of God for forty days without eating or drinking anything. It’s hard to imagine isn’t it?

What about John? He sees the vision of Jesus and falls at his feet as though dead! (Revelation 1:17)

Is this your God? Because this is the God of the Bible.

So let me ask you: do you know this God? Do you know a God who is holy? Do you know a God who kills people for taking Him lightly? Do you come into the presence of God with fear and trembling? Do you feel the weight of sin pressing you downward into the dust? Do you realize that you are nothing before this God? Do you cry out to God for mercy knowing full well that you deserve none? If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions, then I have good news for you. You know the real God.

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