Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Holy God

"I will reveal to the nations of the world my holiness among my people. They will live safely in Israel and build homes and plant vineyards."  Ezekiel 28:25-26 (NLT)

What do you think about when you hear the word holiness? In Christian culture, holiness is often defined as being perfect, sinless, or set-apart. In the Bible, the words holy, consecrated, sanctified, hallowed, and sacred are used interchangeably. They can be used of God—as the One who is holy; and they can be used of people and things that have been made holy by God: set apart for His service, purpose, or to display His glory.

In the verses above, God is making a statement about Himself regarding His holiness. At this time, His People had been exiled to Babylon because of their rebellion. Israel had become very corrupt and many were worshipping other gods. Because of their unfaithfulness, God allowed enemy nations to come in and take over. God's people were forced to live in submission to foreign powers after God had graciously led them to their own land.

But God promised to be merciful. He told His People (through the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others) that He would bring them back to their homeland after a time. In Ezekiel 28, we read these words: "I will reveal to the nations of the world my holiness among my people. They will live safely in Israel and build homes and plant vineyards."

I find this interesting because God is talking about setting Himself apart and revealing His glory to other nations by how He treats His People. He isn't saying, 'I am a great God because I am holy.' He says, 'I am holy because I am a great God. I love My People. I will care for them even though they rebelled against Me. I will keep them safe and provide for their needs.'

God's holiness isn't about keeping our sin at a distance, as if He can't handle being in our presence. In His anger, He sent His People away; but in His love, He restored them. His holiness draws us near. Why? Because we need Him. He only wants us to recognize that. He doesn't want us to try and make it on our own. He knows we can't have true life without Him.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that a holy God expects you to be perfect. "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" doesn't mean sinless; It means complete or finished. It's closely related to the word Jesus used on the cross when He said, "It is finished."  He was talking about bringing His purpose to a conclusion—to have done what He came for. He came to bring forgiveness to all, and it was done. Our completeness, our holiness comes from Him. It is not of ourselves. It is a gift.

We have a holy God. He is our righteousness. We bring nothing to the table except our broken, sinful, and needy hearts. But what does He bring? Everything! He brings His love, His mercy, His power. He brings Himself; and that's more than enough to meet our every need.

Trying to save ourselves with our own goodness and effort is not only futile, it's exhausting. Trying to provide for ourselves, protect ourselves, and sustain ourselves is futile too. Living this way isn't truly living. It's dying a slow death. If you want true life, cry out for mercy, forgiveness, and faith that God will meet your every need—spiritually, emotionally, and materially. Just rest in His love, His goodness, and His power. Let Him make you holy and complete, lacking in nothing. That is true worship. That is true submission to a holy God.

For no one is abandoned by the LORD forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love.

(Lamentations 3:31-32 NLT)

Photos by Roma Flowers, cristiano galbiati, and Adam Jackson. Freeimages.com
Scripture taken from Matt. 5:8, John 19:30

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