A God Who is Holy
Updated: Mar 24
Have you "missed the mark" when it comes to living for God? There is grace and forgiveness found in Him. Check out today's blog to learn more about the holiness and forgiveness of God.
A God Who is Holy - Set Apart for a Purpose
“Therefore, be holy, because I am holy”
(Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7 and I Peter 1:15-16)
Holiness … an almost outdated idea in our fast-paced, technologically advanced modern society and pop-culture. Holiness … a term that can conjure up images of ancient people wearing robes in temples thousands of years ago. Holiness … a concept we tend to associate with the Old Testament of the Bible. Yet, as Billy Graham once said, “No matter how much the world we live in changes, three things remain true: Human nature does not change. God’s Word does not change. God does not change.”
If God does not change, then God is still a holy God and regardless of how our society bombards us through the media, politics, education, and technology with messages, ideas, concepts and images to the contrary … God’s standard for our lives is unchanged.
What exactly does holy mean? We often associate the word "holy" with the meaning "perfect" but holy has a deeper and more significant meaning. The Hebrew word for Holy is קדוש - kodesh. "Hebrew is a unique language when it comes to word studies. Every word carries the meaning of the root word that it derived from originally. In this way, the Hebrew word for “holy”, kodesh, comes from the root word “Kadash”.
In simpler terms, it means to be set apart for a specific purpose (Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, vituralbookword.com publishing, Jeff Benner). There are times when aspects of moral righteousness or Godly devotion are connected to “holy” people. Nevertheless, on its own, the term holiness does not refer to piety or perfection. When the Bible calls something holy, it is not speaking of purity or righteousness. Rather, it is something “set apart” from everything else in order to do a job." 1
In Leviticus 11:44 and 1 Peter 1:16 we read “Be holy as I am holy.” "Many have understood this to mean that we are required to be perfect like God. If we could be perfect on our own or simply encouraged to do so, we wouldn’t have a need for the sacrifice of Jesus. But we know that’s not true. We simply cannot do it. In these verses, God is not putting something on us that we cannot carry out. We are not required to be perfectly sinless on our own.
He is saying he wants us to choose to be uniquely different from our surroundings and focused on the way He is. The meaning of holy in this case points to the fact that we are not of this world. Holiness is not about being absolutely perfect, but instead, it is about being separated from what is sinful. We cannot make ourselves perfect and blameless, but we can choose to be set apart for God. Thus, we can choose to be holy." 2
Are you familiar with the story of how The Lord freed the Hebrew people from 400 years of Egyptian captivity and slavery? Even if we have not read the story for ourselves, most all of us are all at least somewhat familiar with the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. I invite you to read the book of Exodus over the next month. For the purpose of this devotional, we will focus on Numbers chapter 13 and 14. I encourage you to read these two brief chapters before we go further and pray that The Lord speaks to you through His Word…
The Israelites “wandered in the desert for forty years.” Have you ever wondered why? God freed over two million people with a mighty hand and within fifty days had given His mitzvot (Hebrew for “commandments”) including the Ten Commandments, to Moses at the top of Mt. Sinai in the Sinai desert. Of those 50 days, Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. Within a year, the people had completed a Tabernacle (also called a Tent of Meeting) for the presence of The Lord to dwell among them. A Tabernacle made to the exact specifications of God gave them in every detail. A Tabernacle that was fashioned in the pattern of the heavenly one.
For two years the Israelites experienced God’s daily provision. He guided them as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He provided fresh manna from heaven every day … a honey-sweet bread-like cake and enough for each person’s fill. He provided quail in abundance when they wanted meat and water from a rock in the middle of a dry desert. Their clothing and sandals never wore out. They even had the spoils of Egypt … given to them by the Egyptians, just as The Lord foretold Abraham they would. (See Genesis 15:12-14).
So, if The Lord guided them as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night … then why the wilderness wanderings for forty years? To get the frame of reference, it is important to read all of Numbers 13 and 14. These two chapters tell the story of the 12 men (each a leader from one of the 12 tribes of Israel) who went to spy out the land of Canaan.
Forty days later the men returned. To Moses, Aaron and the entire community what they said was this: “We entered the land where you sent us and indeed it does flow with milk and honey – here is its fruit! However, the people living in the land are fierce and the cities are fortified and very large.” … They also saw all the peoples living in the area of the Negev, in the hills and by the sea along the Jordan.
“Caleb silenced the people around Moses and said, ‘We ought to go up immediately and take possession of it: there is no question we can conquer it.’ But the men who had gone out with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people, because they are stronger than we are,’ and they spread a negative report about the land they had spied for the people of Israel by saying, ‘The land we passed through in order to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. All the people we saw there were giant! ... We looked like grasshoppers in comparison!’” (Numbers 13:25-33)
“At this all the people of Israel cried out in dismay and wept all night long. Moreover, all the people of Israel began grumbling against Moses and Aaron.” (Numbers 14:1-2).
“Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the entire assembled community of the people of Israel. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and said to the whole community of Israel, ‘The land we passed through in order to spy it out is an outstandingly good land! If The Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us – a land flowing with milk and honey. Just don’t rebel against The Lord. And don’t be afraid of the people living in the land – we’ll eat them up! Their defense has been taken away from them, and The Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!’” (Numbers 14:5-9).
Are there any parallels that can be drawn in your own life? Do you see application for your life in some way? What about realizing just how good God is and how much He longs to bless you beyond your grandest dreams and greatest ideas? Have you allowed fear to keep you living in the wilderness when God wants you to go forward into a promised land? Have you allowed "giants" in your life intimidate you into living small? What are some of the ways that you get in the way of God’s best for you and for your life? Can you list the times you did things your own way instead of trusting God? What were the results?
Human nature does not change … the people had seen miraculous signs and wonders from God. He provided for them. Even more, He dwelt among them. And yet they would not trust Him. They focused on the giants instead of God’s promises and faithfulness.
They listened to and believed the “fear factor” report of the many …
instead of the “faith factor” report of the few.
Fear can be very powerful. The voice of fear can be louder than the voice of trust. Fear's insidious vice grip around our heart can choke out life, if we allow it to be more powerful than our faith. The whole community not only wanted to appoint a new leader and return to Egypt, but they were also about to stone Joshua and Caleb to death! God was angry at this generation for their unbelief. (Lack of trust.) While God forgave the people, two years turned into forty and He made them wander another 38 years, until the generation that had been freed from captivity in Egypt died in the desert. They would not enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief. I shudder and grieve to think of the good things I missed in my life that God had for me because I was so insistent on my way and so convinced that I knew what I wanted out of life … and was so unwilling to trust.
When we don’t trust God, we will wander in a desert of some kind.
To bring this devotional full circle … God is so holy that He cannot look upon sin (an archery term that means “missing the mark”). When Jesus Christ died on the execution stake, the cross, for my sins and your sins and the sins of the world – He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we would be free from sin. And God looked away. His Father removed His presence from Jesus Christ as He hung there on the cross as the sacrificial lamb for our sins … and in that, the Son of God who became man, experienced the greatest agony there is … separation from the presence of His Father, God.
I think that it may be easy to associate the fact that Jesus Christ was sinless with our own struggles, culture and time in history … but it is important to remember that Jesus (His Hebrew name is Yeshua) was and remains, Jewish. In addition to all the things we can relate in our own lives as sin … The Mosaic law of God’s teaching and instructions are listed in the Torah. There are 613 mitzvot (Hebrew for “commandments”) that The Lord gave to Moses … 10 of those 613 are the Ten Commandments. Jesus kept every single one. Among those 613 mitzvot, He faithfully observed the Sabbath and God’s appointed times such as the Holy Days and Feasts. Jesus said,
“Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets.
I have come not to abolish, but to complete. Yes, indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah –
not until everything that must happen has happened.”
Reading through the Torah (Genesis – Deuteronomy) might shed a whole new light on Jesus Christ and just what it meant to be Jewish … and sinless. And perhaps give us a new perspective and even deeper appreciation for His sacrifice and final atonement for our sins.
God forgave the sin of the Israelites … but the consequences remained. Why? Sin is serious in God’s eyes, including the sin of not trusting Him. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Of anyone in the universe, God is the only one entirely worthy of our trust. When we truly trust God, we also tend to walk in obedience. And as we walk in obedience, we tend to remember that we love and serve a holy, pure, righteous, glorious, unequaled, majestic, unchanging God and King of the Universe.
It is imperative to remember that while God works everything out for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28); that His extravagant, costly grace does not necessarily cancel the consequences we live with when we sin. And His lavish mercy is not a license to live as we chose in complete disregard to His Word. God is a holy God. And one day each of us will stand before Him and give an account of the choices we made and how we lived our lives while on earth. God is holy.
How has God shown His goodness and faithfulness to you? How can you choose to be set apart for a purpose? In what areas of your life can you decide to trust God wholeheartedly? If that is challenging, what is getting in the way?
This blog is by Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching Founder and Christian Life Coach, Jen Stone-Sexton. She is currently accepting new clients. You can learn more about Jen here.
Jennifer Stone-Sexton © 2022. Freedom to Flourish Life Coaching. All Rights Reserved.
Credit for Quotes 1 and 2: Hebrew Meaning of Holy – Set Apart For A Purpose by Doug Hershey, February 7, 2016, Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries
All Scripture references and quotations used with permission: Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern, Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., Clarksville, Maryland USA & Jerusalem, Israel
Photo Credits: Cover Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash | Photo 1 of the Dead Sea by Keith Chan on Unsplash | Photo 2 of the Jordan Valley by Eddie & Carolina Stigson on Unsplash | Photo 3 by Alex Shute on Unsplash | Photo 4 Ein Gedi by Robert Bye on Unsplash | Photo 5 by Aaron Burden on Unsplash