Monday, August 6, 2007
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY
In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord Yahweh seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings: two to cover its face, two to cover its feet and two for flying. And they cried out to one another in this way, 'Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh Sabaoth. His glory fills the whole earth.'
Who among the gods is your like, Yahweh? Who is your like, majestic in holiness?
Play music in Yahweh's honour, you devout, remember his holiness and praise him.
Each of the four animals had six wings and had eyes all the way round as well as inside; and day and night they never stopped singing: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty; he was, he is and he is to come.'
And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron... And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it in a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, Holiness to the Lord.
Be holy in all you do, since it is the Holy One who has called you, and scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy.
(isaiah 6: 1-3, JB; Exodus 15: 11, JB; Psalm 30: 4, JB; Revelation 4: 8, JB; Exodus 39:27 and 30, KJV; 1 Peter 1: 14-15, JB)
When Joseph was being enticed by Lady Potiphar, he responded, 'How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' Joseph had a lofty view of God's holiness, a view sadly on the decline in our age. The question often asked these days is, 'Where do I have to draw the line?' We want to know how far we can accommodate the world without offending our God.
Can we, the people of a holy God, be content with any less than the highest standards for our own lives? We need to examine ourselves for those areas where we have compromised with the world's systems. Daily we need to ask, 'Have I lowered my standards to gain peer approval rather than purge my life of every unchristlike trait?' The prayer of our heart ought to be that of an aged saint: 'Lord, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be.'
Two college boys were trying to smuggle a goat, the school mascot, into their dormitory room. Going up the stairwell one boy said to the other, 'What about the smell?' His room-mate replied, 'He'll just have to get used to it!' College boys may be content to take such a laissez-faire attitude to a dirty environment, but our holy God will not.
In the Old Testament, the Lord had a temple for his people; in the New Testament he has a people for his temple. And a holy God is entitled to the highest possible standards from us if we are to be his habitation.
We are not commanded to be mighty and wise, as God is mighty and wise, but 'be holy as I am holy'. The declarations of his power are to enforce our subjection, those of his wisdom to encourage our direction by him; but this only to attract our imitation... We do not so glorify God by elevated admirations, or eloquent expressions, or pompous services of him, as when we aspire to conversing with him with unstained spirits, and live for him in living like him.
Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God
What people are waiting for from the church, whether they realise it or not, is that the church of today show them the gospel. Our contemporaries want to meet Christ who is alive today; they want to see him with their eyes and touch him with their hands. Like those pilgrims who approached Philip one day, they say to us, 'we want to see Jesus'. Our contemporaries want a meeting face to face with Christ. The challenge for us Christians is that they demand to see Christ in each one of us; they want us to reflect Christ as clearly as a pane of glass transmits the rays of the sun. Whatever is opaque and besmirched in us disfigures the face of Christ in the church. What the unbeliever reproaches us with is not that we are Christians, but that we are not Christian enough: that is the tragedy.
We are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of our insignificance, until we have contrasted ourselves with the majesty of God.
We must have the conviction that it is God's will that we seek holiness -- regardless of how arduous and painful the seeking may be. And we must be confident that the pursuit of holiness results in God's approval and blessing, even when circumstances make it appear otherwise.
Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness
If I ask myself 'What things must I rather die for than betray?' then I will know what things for me are holy.
John Baillie, Our Knowledge of God
Study leads to precision, precision leads to zeal, zeal leads to cleanliness, cleanliness leads to restraint, restraint leads to purity, purity leads to holiness, holiness leads to meekness, meekness leads to fear of sin, fear of sin leads to saintliness, saintliness leads to the possession of the holy spirit, the holy spirit leads to life eternal and saintliness is greater than any of these.
Rabbi Phineas b. Jair
It is not the importance of the thing, but the majesty of the Lawgiver, that is to be the standard of obedience... Some, indeed, might reckon such minute and arbitrary rules as these (in Leviticus) as trifling. But the principle involved in obedience or disobedience was none other than the same principle which was tried in Eden at the foot of the forbidden tree. It is really this: Is the Lord to be obeyed in all things whatsoever he commands? Is he a holy Lawgiver?
Andrew Bonar, A Commentary on Leviticus
It is holy wrath, the wrath of the Holy One about the failure to stress the holy, about our rebellion against God's holy will, which is the truth. But this wrath is not an emotion which resembles anything we know in human experience; it is the inevitable necessary reaction of the will of God to all that opposes him. God takes the fact that he is God 'seriously' -- and this is the only thing that is wholly serious, and from which all that is really serious is derived. 'God is not mocked.' Both the negative and the positive aspects of the divine energy of will are inseparable from the divine being of God. What kind of God would he be if he did not care whether people took him seriously or not? Since God takes himself absolutely seriously, he gives seriousness to life. If God did not take himself seriously, what else could be taken seriously?
Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of God
God wants us to walk in obedience, not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self.
Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness
Father, who is like you in all the universe? You are: awesome in holiness, pristine in purity, radiant in righteousness, majestic in glory, drenched in splendour. We confess that we have not lived up to your image which we bear. By comparison all our righteousness is as filthy rags. Forgive us for lowering our standards and being content to be less holy than you are.
Father, we thank you that in Jesus Christ that image can be renewed. We praise you that by your matchless grace we can be recreated into your image by receiving the righteousness of Jesus Christ anew through Calvary. Open our eyes today to see our lives as you see them, to see the contamination in our words and deeds and attitudes. Sanctify us through and through. Imbue us with your glory and splendour in Christ Jesus that your name may be magnified through our lives today.
May the thrice-holy God of Israel be with you this day as you go forth under the banner of his Name to reflect his splendour before the world. May his strength empower you, his wisdom guide you, his honour motivate you as you live in greater holiness for him. Amen.
From Rowland Croucher, ed., High Mountains Deep Valleys, Albatross/Lion, chapter 8