THE NAMES OF GOD: The Holy One of Israel
Ps. 71:22, 78:41, 89:18
As baby names have shifted over the years so have Gods names. In `52 my oldest brother was named, Jack Allen. Brother Jack named his son Matthew Peter. Pete, as he prefers to be called, just named his son, Grayson Noah. (I wasnt consulted.)
In those same 55 years we have gone from calling God holy to calling God love. Every Sunday 50 years ago we sang todays closing hymn: Holy, holy, holyto keep us morally pure. Today we tend to think that Gods love is so complete our beliefs or actions dont matter. So we tolerate everything, and judge nothing. All we need is love!
We see this in the areas of salvation, sex and violence. In salvation weve gone from worrying whether recent fire victims will get into heaven before a holy God to expecting a loving God to, per one Surveyor, send everyone to heaven except those who reject him. In sex weve gone from good boys/girls dont before a holy God to a casual love is sex before a loving God. In violence weve gone from a reluctance to enter World War II before a holy God to threatening Iran with World War III before a tolerant God.
The name, the holy one of Israel, combines both concepts. God is holy in the sense that God is set apart from sinful creation, but God is love in that God chooses to live among the broken creation to heal it through Israel. God is holy love. Actually if you have to choose between the two, the Bible describes God as holy more than loving.
The Holy One of Israel can best be seen in the layout of the tabernacle, and later, temple. The tabernacle was in the middle of the camp because love motivated God to help the people. However, holy love set God apart within the tabernacle. Greeks and Romans could traipse right in to their gods presence. The people could only get so far as the court with the Hebrew God. The priests could enter the Holy Place, but only the High Priest could enter Gods most intimate presence once per year. Holy Love.
As to salvation, holy love matters. To say all good people go to heaven is to traipse in upon God like the pagans without need of Jesus. Holy love tells us that all deserve hell, but God comes to us in Jesus to save us through Jesus! Jesus is the way.
As to sex, holy love matters. Given the free sex culture that we live in I have been surprised to counsel two young men in recent months who have both told me the utter emptiness of their one night stands. I usually hear this from women, not men! But the Holy One of Israel would say that when we allow people to traipse in to our physical holy of holies, be we male or female, we violate our uniqueness. Holy love reserves sex for marriage, the only place truly safe enough for this holiest of holies intimacy.
As to violence, holy love matters. Casual World War III talk about Iran makes me nervous. I opposed the Iraq war from the get-go because of our rush to war. I believe that the Jesus of holy love teaches in Matthew 5 that we must exhaust every non-violent means of resistance before warturn the cheek, walk the extra mile. Lets exhaust non-violent means of resistance with Iran. Lets divest like worked with South Africa. Lets see if these sanctions work. Lets work with other countries like with North Korea.
Is your God only about love? Or, do you serve the holy One of Israel of holy love? It will make all of the difference in the world!