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Holiness

The God of the Old Tes­ta­ment was the Holy God. The word holy means sep­a­rate, dif­fer­ent, unlike any­thing else that exists.

The Holy God of the Old Tes­ta­ment revealed Him­self to His cho­sen peo­ple who were able to behold His glo­ry. The glo­ry of the Lord was a spe­cial divine man­i­fes­ta­tion of the Per­son and Pres­ence of God. It con­sist­ed in the vision of light, majesty and beau­ty and was accom­pa­nied by the voice of the Lord and His holy angels. It cre­at­ed in the per­sons who observed it over­whelm­ing feel­ings of fear and fas­ci­na­tion, as well as pro­found con­vic­tions of peace, well-being, and joy.

In this way did Moses expe­ri­ence the Holy God in His divine glo­ry on Horeb, the moun­tain of God., before the passover, and in the wilder­ness after the exo­dus from Egypt.

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and to, the bush was burn­ing, yet it was not con­sumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!“And He said, “Here am I.” Then He said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are stand­ing is holy ground.” And He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abra­ham, the God of Isaac, and tile God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God (Ex 3:2–6).

Moses said, “I pray thee, show me thy glo­ry.” And He said, “I will make all my good­ness pass before you, and will pro­claim before you my name ‘The Lord’; and I will be gra­cious to whom I will be gra­cious, and will show mer­cy on whom I will show mer­cy. But,” He said, “you can­not see my face; for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand upon the rock; and while my glo­ry pass­es by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cov­er you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.” (Ex 33:18–23)

Oth­er select per­sons of the Old Tes­ta­ment also expe­ri­enced the pres­ence of divine holi­ness and the glo­ry of God. Abra­ham, Isaac, Jacob, Eli­jah, and Ezekiel had such expe­ri­ences, as did Isa­iah whose clas­sic vision has become a stan­dard part of the Church’s litur­gi­cal prayer.

In the year that King Uzzi­ah died, I saw the Lord sit­ting upon a throne, high and lift­ed up, and His train filled the tem­ple. Above Him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he cov­ered his face, and with two he cov­ered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to anoth­er and said:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; and the whole earth is full of his glory.”

And the foun­da­tions of the thresh­olds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke, And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a peo­ple of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then flew one of the seraphim to me, hav­ing in his hand a burn­ing coal which he had tak­en with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is tak­en away, and your sin for­giv­en.” And I heard the voice of the Lord say­ing, “Whom shall 1 send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isa 6:1–8)

The psalms also sing of the holi­ness of God and pro­claim that all cre­ation speaks of God’s glo­ry (see Ps 8, 19, 93, 104, 148, et. al.).

The main teach­ing of the Old Tes­ta­ment and the foun­da­tion of all of its life was that God’s peo­ple should share in His holi­ness. This was the pur­pose of the entire Law of Moses in its com­mand­ments of moral­i­ty and worship.

For I am the Lord your God; con­se­crate your­selves there­fore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile your­selves with any swarm­ing thing that crawls upon the earth. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; you shall there­fore be holy, for I am holy. (Lev 11:44–45)

The peo­ple were to be holy and to gain the wis­dom and right­eous­ness of God through their ser­vice and wor­ship of Him. All of the so-called Wis­dom writ­ings of the Old Tes­ta­ment, and all of the teach­ings of the prophets and psalms are cen­tered around this same fun­da­men­tal fact: God’s peo­ple should acquire and express the holi­ness, wis­dom, glo­ry, and right­eous­ness of God Him­self. This, and noth­ing else is the mean­ing and pur­pose of man’s life as cre­at­ed and guid­ed by God.

The ulti­mate per­fec­tion of God’s pur­pose for man is ful­filled in Christ. He alone is the ful­fill­ment of the law and the prophets. He alone is the “Holy One of God” (Mk 1:24, Lk 1:35, 4:34). He alone is per­fect­ly right­eous and whol­ly with­out sin. Thus, St Peter speaks of Jesus to the peo­ple after the event of Pentecost.

The God of Abra­ham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glo­ri­fied His ser­vant Jesus, whom you deliv­ered up and denied in the pres­ence of Pilate, when he had decid­ed to release Him. But you denied the Holy and Right­eous One, and asked for a mur­der­er to be grant­ed to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are wit­ness­es (Acts 3:13–15).

The apos­tle Paul con­curs with the teach­ing of Peter by refer­ring to Christ not mere­ly as holy, right­eous and wise, but as Him­self the very holi­ness, right­eous­ness and wis­dom of God Him­self in human flesh.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wis­dom, but we preach Christ cru­ci­fied, a stum­bling block to Jews and fol­ly to Gen­tiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the pow­er of God and the wis­dom of God.

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wis­dom, our right­eous­ness, and sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion and redemp­tion; there­fore, as it is writ­ten, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord” (1 Cor 1:22–24, 30–31).

The glo­ry of God is revealed in the per­son of Christ. This is the con­sis­tent wit­ness of the apos­tles who beheld the “King­dom of God come with pow­er” on the moun­tain of the Trans­fig­u­ra­tion (see Mt 17:1–6, Mk 9:2–7, Lk 9:28–36).

And the Word became flesh and dwell among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glo­ry, glo­ry as of the only Son from the Father (Jn 1:14).

Now if the dis­pen­sa­tion of death, carved in let­ters on stone, came with such splen­dor that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its bright­ness, fad­ing as this was, will not the dis­pen­sa­tion of the Spir­it be attend­ed with greater splen­dor? For if there was splen­dor in the dis­pen­sa­tion of con­dem­na­tion, the dis­pen­sa­tion of right­eous­ness must far exceed it in splen­dor. Indeed, in this case, what once had splen­dor has come to have no splen­dor at all, because of the splen­dor that sur­pass­es it. For if what fad­ed away came with splen­dor, what is per­ma­nent must have much more splen­dor. Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

And we all, with unveiled face, behold­ing the glo­ry of the Lord, are being changed into His like­ness from one degree of glo­ry to anoth­er; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of dark­ness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowl­edge of the glo­ry of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor 3:7, 18, 4:6).

In and through Christ, by means of the Holy Spir­it, all men can share in the glo­ry of God and become par­tic­i­pants in God’s own holiness.

His divine pow­er has grant­ed to us all things that per­tain to life and god­li­ness, through the knowl­edge of Him who called us to His glo­ry and excel­lence, by which He has grant­ed to us His pre­cious and very great promis­es, that through these you may escape from the cor­rup­tion that is in the world because of pas­sion, and become par­tak­ers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:3–4).

The par­tic­i­pa­tion of men in the “nature of God” already begins in the Church of Christ, the final fruit of the sal­va­tion his­to­ry of the Old Tes­ta­ment. In the Church, the King­dom of God is present which is “right­eous­ness and peace and joy in the Holy Spir­it” (Rom 14:17). In the Church of Christ already begins that per­pet­u­al praise of the Holy God which exists now in the heav­ens and will fill all cre­ation when Christ comes in the glo­ry of His King­dom at the end of the ages.

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is to come! (Rev 4:8b).

And he said to me, “These words are trust­wor­thy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spir­its of the prophets, has sent His angel to show His ser­vants what must soon take place. And behold, I am com­ing soon.” Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophe­cy of this book (Rev 22:6–7).

Let the evil­do­er still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the right­eous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am com­ing soon, bring­ing my rec­om­pense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the begin­ning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Out­side are the dogs and sor­cer­ers and for­ni­ca­tors and mur­der­ers and idol­aters, and every one who loves and prac­tices false­hood. I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this tes­ti­mo­ny for the church­es. I am the root and the off­spring of David, the bright morn­ing star (Rev 22: 11–16).

He who tes­ti­fies to these things says, “Sure­ly I am com­ing soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord be with all the saints. Amen (Rev 22:20–21)