History of Redemption: Blog Post 19
Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” - Ezekiel 36:22-27 (ESV)
What does the word "holy" mean to you? Before you read any further, take a minute and think about what it means to you that God is holy. We desperately need a proper understanding of the supreme importance of God's holiness. Our depth of understanding of this will determine how we pray, how we worship, how we walk with Him. It will determine our very identity. Without a proper understanding of God’s holiness, we are left with a shallow faith.
I have heard that God's holiness means that He is "completely separate from sin". This is true but this only tells me what holiness is not. Holiness is the opposite of sinfulness. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines holiness as "exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness". That is our God! He is WORTHY of complete devotion. He is PERFECT in goodness and righteousness. He is to be EXALTED, above all else!
I remember my childhood growing up in the Roman Catholic Church. It seems to me looking back that there was a great awareness of God’s holiness in the Catholic Church. Our voices would be hushed as we entered. Our heads would be bowed. We would lower ourselves on bended knee as we prayed to our Most Holy God. Since I left the Catholic Church, I have been back to visit on occasion, and am always struck by the reverence for His Holiness that I sense as I enter that church. I thank Him for that experience of His Holiness from my youth.
This passage from Ezekiel tells us so much about God. God cares deeply about His holiness. And He desires that we care deeply about His holiness. And it is because He is "worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness" that He cares and that we should care about His holiness. There is nothing we should care more about. Yet, we do not. How often do I profane His great name? How often do I speed right past “Hallowed be your name”, so that I can get more quickly to “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9-11). How much of my prayer time is spent thinking about myself, and how much of it is spent thinking about the One I am praying to?
R.C. Sproul wrote an excellent book called The Holiness Of God. In it he notes the importance of the sequence of the Lord’s prayer which Jesus taught us to pray. He writes, “There is a kind of sequence within the prayer. God’s kingdom will never come where His name is not considered holy. His will is not done on earth as it is in heaven if His name is desecrated here. In heaven the name of God is holy. It is breathed by angels in a sacred hush. Heaven is a place where reverence for God is total. It is foolish to look for the kingdom anywhere God is not revered” (p. 13).
We are people who have not revered God. We are a people who have profaned His holy name. And yet, God, in His great mercy, gives us a new heart, and a new spirit, that we may care about His holiness, and that we may live in a way that glorifies Him. He does this, because He loves us, but even more than that, He does this because He desires to see His holy name glorified. It is not for our sake that He acts, but for the sake of His holiness. We must not ignore this point, that God desires, above all else, to be glorified. And this is right and good, because He alone is worthy to be glorified. It is not until we live in light of His holiness that we will be complete. It is then that we will live as we were created, for the purpose that we were created. It is only then that we will experience the Shalom that we all long for so deeply. Let us spend the rest of our earthly lives seeking an awareness of God’s holiness. Let us give glory to our Most Holy God. Today let us "be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).
“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8).