God is Holy
Advent 2021, Week 1
By Zach Dietrich
Introducing Advent: The term “Advent” means “coming.” It has Latin roots and is most often used to describe Christ’s incarnation and second coming. As Christians, we celebrate Jesus’ arrival and look forward to his return. The forward-looking aspect is a comforting reminder to press on living for Jesus in this life.
The liturgy of the traditional church calendar celebrates Advent in the lead-up to Christmas. In the Western church, the four Sundays before Christmas make up Advent. The Eastern church begins celebrating in mid-November.
As Evangelicals, we see no mandate in Scripture to practice certain festivals. However, we do see God placing special events and seasons in the lives of his people to remind them of his blessings and the hope of promises yet to be fulfilled.
This Advent season, our desire for Soteria is to use this opportunity to celebrate the incarnation and rest in the assurance of Jesus’ return.
Week One Scripture Reading: John 1:1-5, 14-15
When you wake up to a snow-covered morning, all brilliant and silver, I doubt you roll over and harumph, “Oh, brother! There’s white and boring stuff again.”
No. You smile at each snow-decorated tree. The dawn light dances with unsettled snow and invites you to come and play. Before your mom and dad even give permission, you are rummaging through the closet where the boots and mittens were stored last spring so you can begin creating a new world of fortresses and snowmen.
A snow-covered morning reminds me of the holiness of God. If you’ve never heard the word “holy” before, I want to explain it to you before someone ruins it.
Too many people hear the word “holy” and think of the lady who tells you not to run at recess. When you hear holy, I want you to think of snow. White and perfect, yes. But also beauty and happiness. Is snow boring or ugly? Neither is our holy God.
When I think of God’s holiness, I often first think of his sinless perfection – like whiter than white snow. That’s true, but it’s much more than that. When we learn God is holy, it first means separateness or uniqueness. There is no one who is like God.
God is not like you, and God is not like me. God would be pretty disappointing if he was like us. Nor is God like your grandpa and grandma, as wonderful as they are. God is not like your favorite teacher or closest friend. There is no one like God.
When God saved Israel from Pharaoh at the Red Sea, Moses sang, “LORD, who is like you among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)
Because God is separate, God’s holiness also means he is without sin. God always tells the truth and does what is right. He can’t be tempted by evil. He is spotless, unstained, perfect.
Moses also said that God’s holiness is beautiful. Holy is beauty. God is the most holy and the most beautiful. God is more dazzling than the blinding rays of the sun bouncing off ten million snowflakes. More majestic than any snowy peak in the Tetons or Glacier National Park. God’s holiness is the highest beauty there is or will be.
Quite some time ago, a pastor named Jonathan Edwards said it like this: “Holiness is a most beautiful, lovely thing. Men are apt to drink in strange notions of holiness from their childhood as if it were a melancholy, morose, sour, and unpleasant thing; but there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely. ‘Tis the highest beauty and amiableness, vastly above all other beauties.”
Because God is holy, he is completely happy. Holiness is not the opposite of happiness. Holiness and happiness go together. God is overflowing with happiness because he is holy.
Another pastor, also from a long time ago, said this: “I am persuaded that God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with his holiness. Holiness and happiness are like light and heat. God never tasted one of the pleasures of sin. Christ has a body such as I have, yet he never tasted one of the pleasures of sin. So likewise, through all eternity, the redeemed will never taste one of the pleasures of sin; yet their happiness is complete.”
Think of that. God is the happiest because he is the holiest.
God is holy. His holiness, far from being drab or boring, means that God is bright and beautiful and overflowing with happiness.
When we understand holiness that way, we remember the dark, dirty chains of sin. When we understand holiness that way, the First Advent of Jesus Christ will shine more brightly.
Reflection Questions: How does knowing that God is the happiest because he is the holiest affect how you view him? Think of a command of God. How does this command increase happiness when you pursue it?
Prayer: Father, we confess that we often see your holiness as stuffy or boring. Please give us grace and faith to believe that holiness is akin to happiness. We ask that this truth changes how we think about you and your gifts each day.