Lesson Text: Psalm 99:9
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 3/22/09
While reading through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy a Christian told me that they saw something about God that they had already known but they found a new and better understanding. They told me that they saw the holiness of God; they saw it in a new light. God is holy.
The truth is that as we read through the first five books of the bible, as well as the bible as a whole, we see that God is holy. The laws and commandments are not boring or irrelevant even to us today they show us something; they tell us something about God. They show us in a vivid way that God is holy and we are not.
We find the English word “holy” found around 600 times in the bible depending on which translation you’re using.
1) God is holy
a. The word “holy” means: unique and pure, superior moral qualities, and possessing certain divine qualities. In relation to God it means separate, pure, and righteous. Let me give a simple definition from the apostle John.
i. 1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1Jo 1:5 NIV)
b. The bible over and over again declares that God is holy and pure.
i. Psalm 77:13 Your ways, O God, are holy. (Psa 77:13 NIV)
ii. Psalm 99:9 Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy. (Psa 99:9 NIV)
c. Its inescapable God is holy and pure.
2) Man is not holy
a. Let me ask a question, why were Adam and Eve forced out of the garden? They were no longer pure, right. Now there were also other reasons why they were cast out but they were no longer pure in God’s sight. A holy God cannot dwell with sinful man. God will breakout against sin and consume it like a fire.
i. Exodus 19:17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. 20 The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the LORD, must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them." 23 Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, 'Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.' " 24 The LORD replied, "Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD, or he will break out against them." 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them. (Exo 19:17 NIV)
b. Only those whom God called were to come to that mountain and only after they had consecrated themselves. God had given them a way in which to cleanse themselves so that for that time they could draw near to God. This shows us clearly that God truly is a holy being.
c. I think we forget just who God is sometimes. God is the creator, the sustainer but God is also pure and holy and righteous.
i. Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. (Psa 19:8 NIV)
ii. Psalm 34:11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. (Psa 34:11 NIV)
iii. Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; (Psa 111:10 ESV)
iv. Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Pro 1:7 NIV)
d. The fear, the reverence, the awe of the Lord is what needs to be instilled in us. Not that we are paranoid of God but that we recognize that he is holy, that we need to come before him in an attitude of respect and reverence.
i. Years ago I spoke with a coworker who didn’t believe in God and I asked him what happens if when you die you find out that God does exist and he said “If he can’t take a joke then BLANK him”. Are you kidding me?
e. This guy had no clue who God is. Know I hope we don’t speak like that but what kind of prideful fool acts that way. One who has no clue who God is. Before I was a Christian I didn’t know if there was a god or not but I didn’t speak like that coworker because I thought “if there is one I don’t want to make him upset with me. Some people are like that, they don’t know and don’t want to not speak about God just in case but the problem is that all have fallen short of the glory of God, all are sinners and are rebels against God and a holy God cannot dwell with sinful man, he must break out against sin and he will.
3) Man made holy by God
a. God is holy and man is not so what chance is there for man and God to be found dwelling together? There is no chance unless God makes us holy, unless God purifies us, but God is righteous and just so he can’t just ignore sin, not punish sin, not deal with sin he can’t do that.
i. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. (Joh 1:1 NIV)
ii. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Joh 1:14 ESV)
b. How can a holy God dwell with sinful man? He must judge and purify the man. Why did God take on humanity?
i. Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Phi 2:5 NIV)
c. Why did God take on humanity? Because it was man who sinned. He had to share in our humanity in order to take upon himself our sorrows and iniquities. That’s what Isaiah 53 is all about, that’s what it’s telling us.
d. God sends his son to live the sinless life we were supposed to live and then to offer that sinless life as a sacrifice to the father for us. On the cross we see the justice, the judgment, the holiness, and the wrath of God poured out. God is dealing with sin not ignoring it or acting as if sin doesn’t exist or matter but judging Christ for our sins, punishing Christ for our sins.
i. Isaiah 53:4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isa 53:4-5 NIV)
ii. 2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Co 5:21 ESV)
e. God is still holy it’s not that once Jesus came that God was no longer holy or would accept wickedness in his presence. No, God is still holy, the difference is that all those who have been immersed into Christ have been forgiven have been cleansed have been made holy in God’s eyes. God is still holy. If anything when we look to the Cross we should have a greater respect for the holiness of God not a lesser respect. We need to be reminded of the holiness of God and come to him with a holy fear and reverence.
Just because we have been forgiven doesn’t give us the right to be irreverent with God, to be disrespectful or unconcerned with God, if anything we are to have a higher fear, reverence, respect and awe for God because we are the ones who know him.
I’m not talking about being petrified of God that he is going to zap us but having that honor for God. A true holy fear of God will not push us away from God but draw us to him by the blood of Christ in more and more intimate ways.
Let’s celebrate the love of God the holiness of God in that he sent his son to die for us. Let’s praise Christ for taking the punishment that we deserved upon himself. Let’s allow the blood of Christ to purify our hearts and our minds as we enter into the presence of God in a special way this morning by partaking of the supper.