What is Holiness, Part 1
We as Christians speak about holiness, and yet many of us do not know what holiness is. We do not know what it looks like. I think that without an understanding of what true holiness is it is hard to understand that it has disappeared. So we are going to do some detective work to find clues that will lead us to true holiness.
To understand holiness, we are going to begin at the beginning, the beginning of creation. Here we find the term used for the first time in Genesis 2:1-3. “So the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts (inhabitants). And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested (ceased) on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [as His own, that is, set it apart as holy from other days], because in it He rested from all His work which He had created and done.”
We see here that God separated the seventh day as His own. That alone makes it holy. His day is the seventh day which is called the Sabbath. The Scripture tells us how to keep the day. Exodus 34:21, “You shall work for six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; [even] in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest [on the Sabbath].” We see here that God set the seventh day apart and made it holy, and that means that we too must be like Him and rest from our work just as He rested from his work.
But if you think that this is not for us today, we read in Mark 2:27-28, “Then Jesus told them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’” We see here that this day is for all men because it gives witness to the Creator, and so Yeshua/Jesus says that He was the Lord of this day. Our Lord Yeshua is the Lord of God’s day the seventh day, the Sabbath.
This is our first clue to holiness, a specific day, His Appointed Time.
In Exodus 3:5 Moses sees a burning bush and he is drawn to it. “Then God said, ‘Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet [out of respect], because the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’” Why was this ground holy? Because God was present. We see this also when Joshua encounters the Captain of the Lord’s army in Joshua 5:15: “The captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy (set apart to the Lord).’ And Joshua did so.” We see a similar situation at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:10-13 when God came to the people on the mount, and He instructed Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate (make sacred or holy) them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.” Again we read in Exodus 25:8, “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” So we see that God dwelt among His people in the Sanctuary; and in the Sanctuary there was the outer court and the holy place, but then there was the holiest place on earth, and that was the Holy of Holies. It was here that the High Priest could only enter once a year, on the day called Yom Kippur, and at that only with the blood of the sacrifice, for the atonement of the people. It was here that the mercy seat and the cherubim that covered the Ark of the Presence (also called the Ark of the Covenant) were.
But there is also one other place that is holy, and that is the heavenly Sanctuary, the one that Moses was to copy exactly. Isaiah 6:1-7 tells us Isaiah’s experience within the throne room of God. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’ Then one of the Seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’”
Revelation 4:8-11 tells us again about the heavenly sanctuary. “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’”
Holiness requires us to come to the One True Living God on His terms and not ours. We must come with a reverence, even a submission as we see by the taking off of our shoes (slaves did not wear shoes). We are to come to Him with a clean heart which comes with repentance. We see here a second clue to what holiness is, and that is any place where God’s presence is, especially in His Sanctuary.
Let’s keep searching for clues to holiness. If we want to find out about holiness then we need to go to the most holy place, which was the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies sat the Ark of the Covenant, also referred to as the Ark of the Testimony. In Exodus 25:10-22 we see that God instructs Moses to build the ark. He tells him to place a cover on the top which He called the Mercy Seat. “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.”
So what was this testimony that God gave them? Well, a testimony is something that gives witness to; and what gives witness to God? Let’s take a closer look.
Hebrews 9:3-4 tells us, “And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid roundabout with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the Covenant.” The manna not only tells us of a God who provides for His people, but that Yeshua/Jesus, the true manna from heaven, is the bread of life. Aaron’s rod tells us that God is watching over His word. Who is His word? Yeshua, the Word made flesh. The Hebrew word for “watch” is “shoked.” It is also the same word for “almond,” and that is what Aaron’s rod budded with. “So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses placed the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds” (Exodus 17:6-8). God also had Moses put in the ark the tablets of the covenant, otherwise called the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were not just a list of “do”s and “don’t”s, but they are a guideline to the nation of Israel in which we have been grafted into as God’s people, to guide us in the way of holiness. “See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do this in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a God so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-7). Yeshua tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me keep My commandments.” Yeshua the Word made flesh, the God who not only provides for us the True Manna of Heaven but also watches over His word, the holiest witness in the Holy of Holies, was God’s Word, Yeshua who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Today people think that they do not have to keep these commandments, but unless we want to be a people of lawlessness, we will keep God’s commandments for they are our wisdom and understanding, they are our witness to the God of Israel, our God. How else can we be light without the light of God’s Word? How else can we be holy unless we obey His holy commandments? Every servant obeys His master. God told Moses to place the Ten Commandments in the Ark of the Testimony to show man that the way to holiness is through obedience to His Word.
1). Exodus 20:1-3: “Then God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.’”
2). Exodus 20:4-5: “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, or likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
3). Exodus 20:7: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”
4). Exodus 20:8-11: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male servant nor your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
5). Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
6). Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder.”
7). Exodus 20:14: “You shall not commit adultery.”
8). Exodus 20:15: “You shall not steal.”
9). Exodus 20:16: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
10). Exodus 20:17: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant nor his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Just think about how many of these Yeshua expanded and taught on. Revelation 21:8, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” This covers many of the commandments. I say they are worth keeping.
Our third clue is the obedience in keeping the Ten Commandments, the testimony that was in the Ark of the Testimony, in the Holy of Holies.
If the sanctuary is where the presence of God resides then I ask, the place where you worship God, being your home, your church, your own tabernacle, your body: is it holy? Then I ask, how do you approach God? How do you worship: like He is common or like He is holy? He has spoken to us what is required of us: Holiness! “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD” (Hebrews 12:14). So we must ask ourselves these questions, because without holiness we will not see God. We will continue finding more clues in our next newsletter. Till then you have three clues to help you.