The Beauty of Holiness

February 16, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I know I’ll probably get called old-fashioned or even legalistic, but I do think Christians ought to consider what type of clothing is appropriate for a church service at the local Christian church to which they belong. Obviously, we know that we place a high importance on what we wear to “special occasions” or to meet earthly dignitaries, so it only makes sense to do the same when we are going to formally “meet with God,” or, better, to corporately worship Him while meeting with His people.

Having said that, though, as we worship, we need to place an even greater consideration on how God Himself is “attired.”

O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Psalm 96:9

We tend to think of “beauty” as something which attracts us, and, certainly, the Lord God is the God of beauty, and beauty is itself one of His immutable attributes. However, notice that His beauty is a beauty of “holiness.” It is a singular beauty, a one-of-a-kind, a unique beauty. There is, truly, none like Him. Even as His beauty attracts us, it is so foreign to us – so alien – so severe – that it forces us to bow down as we worship. It forces us, if we are rightly considering His majesty, supremacy, and might, to tremble with a reverent fear.

Has something gone missing from your worship? Perhaps you have never, in a worship service, felt the fear of the Lord in the first place. Let me encourage you to recover a sense of awe in the holiness of God. Formal worship is not a time for relaxation and calm introspection. It is a time when we, by His grace, challenge ourselves to receive by faith the love of God Whose unmediated brilliance and beauty would obliterate those who would approach Him frivolously.

A Glimpse of His Glory

February 10, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Matthew | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In Matthew Chapter 17 the King gives His closest followers a glimpse of His glory. In Chapter 16 He had told them:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Matthew 16:27

They would get a preview of this glory very soon.

Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Matthew 16:38-17:2

This is what is known as the “Transfiguration.” Transfiguration is change, but not from outward forces, like remodeling a building or plastic surgery. It is change from within – transformation, not conformation.

Christ is God, so all His glory is self-generated. We cannot produce our own glory; only He can.

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Matthew 17:5

Part of God’s glory is His holiness. No one is like God. Here, He says that we should listen to and obey Christ because He is God incarnate.

And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

Matthew 17:6

“Glory” also speaks of the “weight” of God – the magnitude of God. No one can stand in His presence – not even angels. We talk about “weightier” and “lighter” matters, and God is the “heaviest” subject about Whom we could ever speak.

The King’s glory helps us to understand the King’s power. The nine Disciples who had not gone up into the Mount of Transfiguration were now faced with a demon they couldn’t handle.

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Matthew 17:14-16

They could not handle this demon because they had been guilty of a lack of discipline. They had not been praying and fasting. If the glory of the King – Who Himself was disciplined – doesn’t motivate us to be disciplined, then we can’t be trusted with the power of the King.

Now the Holy Spirit inspires Matthew, the former tax collector, to tell about what happened when the King was challenged to pay taxes. (Normally kings receive taxes!)

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Matthew 17:24-27

The King not only disciplines Himself, but makes Himself a servant, paying taxes He does not rightfully owe, just to keep from causing trouble. Have you ever been asked to do something you really shouldn’t have to do? To put up with some nonsense you shouldn’t have to put up with? Remember the King – the GLORIOUS King – Who didn’t even have a half-shekel to pay His taxes.

The glory of the King is a necessary motivation to being a follower of the King – to doing what God said, and learning of His ways, and living His principles. This is the only recorded miracle in Jesus’s earthly ministry involving money, and the only miracle I can think of where the Bible doesn’t confirm that it actually happened. The King said He was going to do it, and Matthew, having understood something of His glory, just expects us to take it for granted that He did it. We are not even told if the precise miracle is that Jesus caused a fish to swallow a coin, and then caused that exact fish to be the one caught, or if He just created the coin, and exercised dominion of the fish to make it be caught.

Catechism Question 13

November 10, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Exodus | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Question 13: Why can’t you see God?
Answer: God is too holy for me to see Him and live.
Prove it.

And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

Exodus 33:20

God’s overwhelming holiness is too great for sinful human beings to look upon His unveiled presence without being supernaturally strengthened. This will be one of the great benefits and blessings for Christians in Heaven. We shall be able to gaze upon our Lord in our glorified state without fear.

Other verses to consider:

God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I Corinthians 13:12

Poetry, Dancing, and the Wondrous Fear of God

July 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Exodus | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

Exodus 14:21

Neither Moses’s hand, nor the staff it held, had any intrinsic power. They were visible symbols of the power of God. The word translated as “sea” is used to describe a vast body of water, such as an ocean, not a marshy swamp or a shallow pool.

And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

Exodus 14:22

The word translated as “wall” is the same word normally used in the Bible to describe city walls, which were typically about 20 feet high.

For centuries God’s people had heard all about all sorts of gods in Egypt who were supposedly powerful and mighty, but none of those so-called gods had ever done anything like this!

Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

Exodus 15:11

This was a rhetorical question – which in Hebrew (especially Hebrew poetry) – was used for emphasis. It was a way of extolling the true “holiness” of God. The answer was and is, “No one – and no thing – is like unto God in the slightest.” It is a rhetorical question which inspired the names “Micah” and “Michael.” The little g “gods” were a reference to the figuratively just-defeated Egyptian gods. They were nothing compared to the real God, Who is glorious in holiness. Possibly the greatest foundation of God’s glory is His holiness. It is so great that it forces all who consider Him to fear Him. Even His praises are fearful! The real God is not your buddy, your pal, your “co-pilot,” or “the man upstairs,” and what He does is “wonders.”

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Exodus 15:20

Miriam, Moses’s sister, is revealed here to be a prophetess – meaning she spoke for God or revealed God’s truth or at least proclaimed God’s truth. She is referred to as the sister of Aaron rather than the sister of Moses in this context possibly because of Moses’s humility, or possibly in deference to Aaron as the older brother. It could also be because, as a singer, she is involved in a type of worship which would later be part of Temple worship, and which was to be the province of Aaron the high priest.

The timbrels were similar to what we would call tambourines, and there was definitely dancing involved, as uncomfortable as that may make some of us. The word translated as “dances” could include choreographed moves, rhythmic moves, or even spastic moves. (We can safely assume it was not “twerking,” however!) This was a celebration, but it was also meant to be “didactic” – teaching something about God – as well as glorifying Him for His character – Who He is and what He had done.

Standing before the Throne: Purity

May 18, 2012 at 9:22 am | Posted in The Great White Throne | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We have examined:

I. The Throne’s Possessor
II. The Throne’s Power
Now,
III. The Throne’s Purity

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Revelation 20:11 (emphasis added)

This is a Throne which is both great and white. It easy to imagine the potential problem for a king who sits on a throne this powerful. We know from recorded history and from our own experience that power tends to corrupt. The famous maxim is that, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” However, here we have a King who sits on a Throne yielding power that is magnified to an extent far beyond what our finite minds can even conceive of when we think “absolute.” Yet this Throne is completely white – completely pure. This King has never sinned. He has never done iniquity. He has never committed any type of wickedness.

… Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Genesis 18:25

Our hearts seize upon this idea that His Throne is pure and that He always does what is right! How horrible would it be to have an all-powerful judge – an all-powerful king – who is the least bit inclined toward wickedness? The thought of God’s pure goodness makes us glad… but it should also make us afraid. For the King who sits on a Throne that is both great and white can not have sinful creatures come before His Throne without judging them by a perfect standard.

Now, you begin to see the problem. The Possessor of the Throne will be your judge and the power of the Throne is great. No one will dare to challenge – or even come close to having the strength to challenge – His right to judge. Not a single soul will be pure enough to pass judgment before this completely pure and white and holy throne.

Have you met the One Who is willing and able to take your place before that Throne and meet God’s perfect standard of righteousness on your behalf? Time is running out. He wants to save you from this terrible judgement. Will you trust Him?

Next time we will see how the Great White Throne exhibits God’s righteousness.

What Is God Like?

December 18, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Exodus | 32 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Exodus 3:13-14

Was Moses really concerned about what name he would give to God before the people? He told God, “They shall say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say unto them?” But God had already told him in Exodus 3:6: “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”

Moses had several questions – and several excuses – but what he was really asking is revealed partially by what he asked about himself in Exodus 3:11: “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Moses wanted to know, “Who am I? What am I like?” So, when he asked God, “What shall I tell them when they ask me Your name?” what he was really asking God was, “What are You like? How can I describe You? To what can I compare You? What are You really like?”

The Bible has many names for God: Elohim, El Shaddai, El Elyon, El Olam, Yahweh (YHWH), Yahweh Jireh, Yahweh Nissi, Yahweh Shalom, Yahweh Sabbaoth, Yahweh Maccaddeshcem, Yahweh Ro’I, Yahweh Tsidken, Yahweh Shammah, Yahweh Elohim Israel, Adonai, Theos, Kurios, Despotes, Father, just to name a few. God cannot be fully described by men as to Who He is, so we are given to know Him by what He does. There are many names that describe a part of what God is, but what people throughout Scripture have asked is, “God, what are You really like?”

Micah, Micaiah, Michal, Michael are all Bible names that ask the rhetorical question: “Who is like God?” This question points out the real problem with explaining what God is really like; as several well-known theologians and preachers have pointed out: There is no one and no thing to which to compare Him. I know we’ve all been told, as privileged people, that we’re “special,” but the fact is, as human beings, there are many, many ways in which we are all similar to each other. But God had to say “I AM” because He could point to no one outside of Himself and say, “He is like Me” or “She is like Me,” or “I am like that.” The truth is: He is like nothing else at all.

When we speak of the problem of making a comparison concerning God, we begin to understand the true concept of God’s holiness. Of all the attributes which make up the glory of God, His holiness may be the most significant – especially when it comes to trying to grasp at His true nature – what He is like. The angels near the throne of God do not cry out love, love, love, or righteous, righteous, righteous, or grace, grace, grace, or even mighty, mighty, mighty, although all of these would be true. What they cry out is holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3). The name for God’s Spirit is not the Peace Spirit, or the Joy Spirit, or even the Faith Spirit, although He is a Spirit of peace, joy, and faith. His name is the Holy Spirit.

There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

I Samuel 2:2

For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

Isaiah 43:3

God is holy because of His complete uniqueness, and because in Him is no sin. One of the reasons that, throughout Scripture, the holiness of God is so tied into the idea of sinlessness or freedom from sin, is that a sinful world’s most obvious difference between us and God is that we sin, and He does not.

Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

Exodus 15:11

God has no beginning and no end. He is all-powerful, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, timeless, providential. As one well-known preacher says, God is not like us, only wiser, or more powerful, or more righteous – He is not LIKE us at all!

God told Moses to tell the people that God is “I AM THAT I AM,” and for something like 1500 years people asked, “Who is like God?” Then, Jesus of Nazareth came on the scene – a sinless humble obeyer of God’s Word. Jesus is our best look at what God is really like. It was as if God answered and said, “You want to know who is like Me? He is like Me – now learn His ways, and follow Him – He will show you what I am really like” (Matthew 11:27).

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 1:17-18 (See John 14:7-10.)

Learning what God is really like will be an eternal undertaking – but while we are here on earth we must learn about the Father by walking with, talking with, emulating, worshiping, and magnifying His Son.

Arise: Naboth’s Vineyard, Ahab’s Vice, and God’s Vengeance – Part 3

December 2, 2009 at 11:23 am | Posted in Arise | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In Part 1 and Part 2 we met:

I. The Pious Patriarch (Naboth)
II. The Pouting Potentate (Ahab)
III. The Poisonous Puppeteer (Jezebel)
IV. The Pestering Prophet (Elijah)

Elijah tells Ahab in I Kings 21:19: “… Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.”

And concerning Jezebel:

The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

I Kings 21:23

Here we see an example of the Preeminent Precept. It is a precept that is key to the understanding of the whole Bible. The Preeminent Precept is that God is holy and God is just, and He shall judge righteously. Under this preeminent precept there are three principles I want to look at very briefly:

No. 1. God is not mocked.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Galatians 6:7

Don’t be fooled. Don’t let anyone else fool you. And don’t fool yourself. No one “gets away with” sin. Ahab and Jezebel tried to make a mockery of God. They sat on thrones and ruled over men and women – but there was One Who ruled over them – and held them accountable.

Following up on the guarantee that God will not be mocked is the principle of sowing and reaping. We reap what we sow. And the second principle under the Preeminent Precept is:

No. 2. Sin contains its own seeds of destruction.

Things done in the Spirit – love, joy, hope – have seeds of life in them. Sin has its own seeds – seeds of death. Drugs and alcohol seem like such harmless fun – but the Bible says at the end they bite like an adder – a poisonous snake. When you take a drink or use drugs, you’ve grown a flower which looks harmless, but it will bloom into deadly poison.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Proverbs 23:31-32

When you decide you are jealous of someone or you want to hurt someone else out of spite, you are taking a bite out of a piece of fruit that may taste sweet, but it will make you as sick as a dog.

Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

Proverbs 26:27

He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.

Ecclesiastes 10:8

If you decide to step outside God’s boundaries of sexual purity, and flirt and fool around and experience a little emotional pleasure or physical pleasure, then you have scattered some seed on that side of the fence, and the branches will grow out into every part of your life, and cause God to have to come and hack them down and throw them into the fire.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

I Corinthians 6:9-10

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:15

1. God is not mocked.
2. Sin contains its own seeds of destruction.
3. God will repay.

… it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Romans 12:19

When Cain slew Abel – the first murder – Abel’s blood cried up to God from the ground. All throughout the Bible, the cries of the oppressed, the helpless, the wronged, cry out to God. He hears them and He is just and righteous, and He will make things right. The blood of Naboth and his sons cried up to God from the earth… and God determined to repay.

Be very careful about your actions in this life. You can do wrong to someone in this world in such a way that the earthly powers can not make it right. But you can not wrong someone and cover it up in such a way that God will not find it out and avenge the wronged person. You will have to “get over yourself,” because you can not “get over” on God.

The Preeminent Precept is preeminent because it must be grasped for a proper understanding of the Gospel. We don’t always grasp God’s perfection, and His fairness, and His justice, and His holiness – because we don’t have anything to use for comparison. We ourselves are so tainted with sin that we see “fairness” through a dark and cloudy lens of self-interest. God is light – but we have attempted to reduce the dramatic contrast of the Light by making ourselves seem bright, too. Until we see how black with sin our own heart is – until we see the hopelessness of the midnight of our soul – until we realize that we are buried in a pit of sin and unrighteousness – we will never fully realize how bright and shining and gloriously radiant God is.

Ahab had a glimpse of this:

And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.

I Kings 21:27-29

But Jezebel did not. Three years went by. As she and Ahab sat around the royal dinner table enjoying the herbs from the garden which used to be Naboth’s vineyard, did Ahab jump every time he heard a dog bark?

The preeminent precept is that God is just and holy and righteous, and that He will judge sin. It held true in the case of Ahab and Jezebel. God’s promises always come to pass.

We have seen:

I. The Pious Patriarch
II. The Pouting Potentate
III. The Poisonous Puppeteer
IV. The Pestering Prophet
V. The Preeminent Precept

In part four we will look at:

The Poignant Payment

Wholly Holy

April 7, 2009 at 11:13 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration | 21 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

When we speak of the “holiness” of God, we often focus on the idea of “cleanliness” and “freedom from defiling sin.” This is sometimes referred to as “living a holy life.” However, this is only part of the meaning of the complex idea of what the Bible means when it says that God is “holy.”

The word “holy” was originally derived from a root word which had a connotation of “cutting” (setting apart) and “culling” (removal from). This helps give a fuller understanding of God’s holiness. Not only is He perfect and completely free from sin, but He is utterly unique. Our Creator is not like any of His creations. Man is created in God’s image, but we are just that: an image.

In Leviticus Chapter 22 God calls priests from among His people to be set apart – in special cleansing rites, in devotion to Him, and in abstinence from unclean activities.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD. Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD. What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him…

Leviticus 22:1-4

Christians today are “royal priests.” (I Peter 2:9) Are you motivated by love for God to keep yourself from uncleanness, from the defilement caused by breaking His law? Do you have a righteous fear of the Lord, recognizing His complete uniqueness, majesty, power, and perfection? Our God is not the “Man Upstairs” or our “Co-Pilot.” He is the all-powerful, omniscient King of glory.


Entries and comments feeds.