This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.
Holy appears more than 550 times in the Bible (NIVUK).
Holiness appears 24 times. Holy is defined in the Collins Scrabble Dictionary as ‘of God or a god’. That wasn’t the first meaning that came to my mind. ‘Set apart for God’ is my understanding. Holy things have to be handled in special ways.
In the Bible (often called the Holy Bible) the word holy is often paired with certain words. The seventh day has to be kept holy as the Sabbath. Genesis 2:3
God’s people were a Holy nation. Exodus 19:6
Holy place and most holy place (sometimes translated as Holy of Holies) were mentioned in early instructions to priests in the book of Exodus.
We read of places where God met with people as being holy: a Holy Mountain, the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple.
God’s name is holy. This theme is part of the worship in the Psalms, for example Psalm 30:4.: Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
To jump to the story Isaiah has a vision of God’s holiness click here.
Another prophet, Jeremiah, wrote of The Lord and his holy words, holy dwelling and holy places.
A third prophet, Ezekiel contrasted holy things with common or unclean things. Ezekiel 22:26
Nebuchadnezzar recognised the spirit of the holy ‘gods’ in Daniel. Daniel 4:18
Other prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah all use a word translated as holy.
Earlier when Moses heard God’s message from the burning bush he was told that he was on holy ground. Exodus 3:5
The New Testament tells us about events about one hundred years later than the most recent writing in the Old Testament. It begins with the good news told by Matthew.
Mary was found to be pregnant with Jesus the Messiah through the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18
The apostle Paul wrote:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Ephesians 1:4
We also read in the New Testament of holy prophets, holy faith, holy city, holy angels, holy ones and holy people. ‘Blessed’ and ‘holy’ are paired together. Revelation 20:6
Isaiah has a vision of God’s holiness
Sometimes I lose track of time, but some years stand out in my memory. In one such year I realised that God wanted me to be a prophet and King Uzziah died. Learning God’s will for my life was a terrifying experience.
I saw the Lord on his throne in the temple. Above him angels were flying I recognised that they were seraphs, because they had six wings. One pair of wings covered their faces, another covered their feet. They used the third pair to fly. They were praising God, calling out, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.’
Their voices were so loud that the doorposts and thresholds shook. The temple filled with smoke.
I was overawed. All I could think about was my unworthiness to be in the presence of the Lord and his holy angels.
‘Woe is me’, I cried out in my realisation that my lips were unclean and I was in the presence of much holiness.
One of the seraphs took a live coal in tongs and touched my lips with it. He told me that my guilt was taken away and my sin atoned for.
Then the Lord himself spoke. ‘Who shall I send? Who will go for us?’
Without stopping to think I replied, ‘Here I am send me.’
Then the Lord gave me a message for the people. I don’t know how I dared to reply to him with a question, but he mercifully replied to it. All I can do is pass on to the people what the Lord tells me. Sometimes I barely understand the message myself.
Do click through to the passage (Isaiah 6) I have based my story on. The language is far more beautiful than mine!
Revelation 4:8 is a New Testament passage echoing Isaiah’s vision.