The Holiness of God

The Holiness of God

Written by Mark G. Johnston |
Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Through the atoning blood of Christ our Savior, we can draw near to God by faith and worship Him “in the splendor of holiness” (Psalm 96:9). This is our highest privilege and deepest joy.

The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Hab. 2:20). The prophet Habakkuk wrote in a time of international crisis when the security of Israel was under threat from the approaching Babylonian army. The man of God was deeply troubled and perplexed over the fact that God would permit such an enemy to overthrow His people and carry them into exile—so much so that he dared to offer not one but two complaints to the Almighty, asking God to justify His actions. But God neither rescinded His decree nor explained what He was doing. He did, however, punctuate His lengthy responses with these words, which declare the “otherness” of His being, wisdom, and ways, reflected in the “otherness” of His earthly sanctuary.

The temple and its predecessor, the tabernacle, were intended to be breathtaking visual aids to help Israel appreciate the nature and attributes of God for whom these structures were designated as the meeting place between God and man. The mere sight of these physical structures was intended to give God’s people a potent reminder that God, in both His essence and character, is higher than all human thought or imagination. He is, as Moses learned when God appeared to him in the burning bush, “Yahweh” (Ex. 3:7–8): “I am who I am” or “I will be what I will be,” the One who is eternally self-existent.

These structures were also intended to allow God’s people to catch a glimpse of heaven, God’s dwelling place, not only to see what it is like but to realize that it is suffused with the glory of His presence.

There are several places in the Bible where we are given breathtaking insights into the wonder of what this is like. Ezekiel’s vision of God in the opening chapter of his prophecy nearly defies description. So, too, in key sections of Revelation, it is almost impossible to conceptualize the glimpses of heaven revealed to John. But the most memorable and enlightening glimpse of heaven’s glory is found in Isaiah’s vision of God in the temple.

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