“Your name is holy and worthy to be praised above all others.”

Post 6 of 28

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

—Leviticus 19:1-2

Old Testament “holy” — קָדוֹשׂ (qādôš) — sacred, divine, separate

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

—1 Peter 1:13-22

Coffee and hello
Hello, my name is holy.

New Testament “holy” — ἅγιος (hagios) — sacred, belonging to God

“Your name is holy” points us back to who God is—God is sacred, divine, and separate from everything else. The very word itself—holy—finds its meaning in God. That which is holy is that which is sacred and divine, like God. In the Old Testament, with its laws and emphasis on sacrifices and offerings, the emphasis of holiness leans heavily on separation, purification, and clearly outlining the difference between the secular and the sacred.

In the New Testament, the sacrificial system as it had been long practiced begins to fade. Holiness becomes more about the Church—the body of Christ in this world—becoming holy. Apparently, our name is also to be holy, too. No longer is holiness defined by specific times and places; rather, “holy” is determined by what we (the Church, these words were not written primarily for individuals) in the places where we exist and with the time that we are given.

In other words, the way we “live” (our words, actions, attitudes, etc) are not determined by the place where we stand (i.e. holy ground or sacred ground), but rather the holiness of the place where we stand is largely determined by the way in which we live as the body of Christ wherever we may be. The same goes for time—a particular time is not “holy” simply because it falls between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. in any given time zone on a day labeled as “Sunday” on the calendar.

I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies…

—Psalms 18:3

Old Testament “worthy” — הָלַל hâlal — Psalm 18:3 could more literally be translated “I call on Jehovah, who is halal. Most of us have at least heard the world halal in connection with Muslim eating habits. Halal food is food with is worthy, appropriate, or not forbidden to be eaten. Just as my Muslim friends are forbidden to eat non-halal food, so we ought not to praise any one any thing above the LORD, who is halal — most worthy, most appropriate, and in no circumstance is ever forbidden to be praised.

Why?

Because God is holy.

———————–

See the prayer from which this post was taken here.

 

Where does my help come from?

Most High, Most Holy, and Most Loving

Post 2 of 28

Jesus modeled to his disciples a prayer that began with “Our Father in heaven” which, at the time, was likely considered a near-blasphemous statement, if not outright heresy. God was flesh and blood human and to associate God in anyway with a human identity was not appropriate. Interestingly, our Muslim friends today hold similar ideas about God — the greatest of sins is to lift up any human being to God-status or to lower God down to the human level. This is a great obstacle in thinking about the identity of Jesus, the Messiah, for Christian faith does both of these things.

Love is the very nature of God

Nonetheless, I think that in calling God “Father,” Jesus is attempting to teach us something about God. Rather than being an impersonal, capricious, disinterested Deity, God is personal, loving, and involved in the daily affairs of God’s creation. God is a Father, not in the biological sense but rather in God’s authority, responsibility, and loving care of all that God has created. We can address God as Father, knowing that God is paying attention, has our best interests in mind, and is always working for the good of those who love God.

Even so, we cannot lose sight of the fact that God is the Most High — the greatest, most-powerful, highest authority, the One that stand above all. Even the greatest of humans barely registers on the height chart of God’s heavenly door frame. He is the Most High, worthy of all worship, adoration, and praise.

The child asks of the Father whom he knows. Thus, the essence of Christian prayer is not general adoration, but definite, concrete petition. The right way to approach God is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father.

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

God is Most Holy — completely “other” from humanity and all that has been created, yet unafraid to mingle with humanity, calling us and raising us out of the mess of our messed-up lives. God is perfect in God’s plans and purposes — in God’s holiness, God is perfectly just, perfectly compassionate, and perfectly loving.

Finally, God is the Most Loving — the perfect model of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. There is no greater love than the love of God, and in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that love (grace, mercy, and forgiveness) is on full display in all of its perfection.

We praise you, Lord, because you are most high, most holy, and most loving.

 See the prayer from which this post was taken here.