“…for the Lord our God is holy!” Psalm 99:9
We know the Lord is holy; the Bible says so in many places, and the Old & New Testament each provide many stories of His holiness in demonstrated action. He is Awesome. He is Powerful. The word “God” is what we use to try to convey the meaning of His power and righteousness and attribute it all to His Being!
The more one studies the holiness of God the more one shrinks. Not in fear, as in cowering, but in pure awe and surrender. Well, that is, “if” one surrenders. The more we try to get our mind around the holiness of God Almighty the more we perceive our own failure or weakness or inability to “be perfect as He is perfect.” (MT 5:48) If we’re not careful, this entire “study” of an attribute of God can lead us to negative feelings about ourselves, and be used by the enemy to pull us away from the very relationship God wants for us, Himself.
Here it is! A mystery revealed! We can say with certainty that God wants us, and He wants us to be in relationship with Him in such a way that we would call it “personal.” When Jesus spoke that the Kingdom was at hand He didn’t mean in the future, He meant right then, right there, and right now. Adam had a personal relationship with his Creator that was broken by sin, causing a great separation, such that God has been working to restore this relationship with His Creation ever since. Jesus offers that. Jesus Christ isn’t trying to create a new religion on planet Earth. He is offering Himself to restore what was lost, and He makes it personal.
Herein we find a problem, with us, not with Him. The saying “familiarity breeds contempt” is proved out all too well in our relationship with a Holy God. In our “familiarity” with Him we tend to bring Him down, rather than grow ourselves up. We try to make Him be like us, instead of our being transformed into His likeness. One author has said it this way: “God is not a big one of us.” He is, after all, and I do mean all, God Almighty. Sometimes we are subtle, often not so much, in our attempts to manipulate Him to do our will, answer our prayers, lead us where we want to go, provide for us what we want, etc. We even try to use His Words, which we quote back to Him, as if to persuade the God of Heaven to do for us what we feel is best. The creation telling the Creator a this or that! Imagine!
A friend of mine likened it to a lion behind the fence at the zoo. He is ferocious, powerful, and not a bit tame. We stand behind the fence as if we were stronger, somehow better, because we seem to control the relationship. The Lion of Judah from the Old Testament is ferocious, powerful, and not a bit tamed by us, yet He becomes the Lamb of God, as Jesus Christ, and removes the fence without destroying us. Rather, He offers us the opportunity to follow Him into the wonders of a real life of joy and victory. I realize any illustration like this is somehow incomplete, but the point is clear. We cannot approach the Holiness of God from our side of the fence, with us in control. We cannot “get” holy by being separated from Him.
Isaiah saw the Lord, and declared “Holy is He”! “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips.” He got it. He understood the depth of his dilemma. And the Lord worked a miracle upon Isaiah and said “Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” (Isaiah 6: 3,5,6) The Lion was certainly able to walk through the bars of separation and devour the man, but instead He became the Lamb and saved him. This is Jesus Christ. And, if you can possibly wrap yourself around this last truth, it’s a gift!