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"Holy, Holy, Holy" (part 5)

Look at the stars tonight when you go outside. Who is the one who makes them and puts them into place? Just think about it, there is not a single one missing among the billions in the solar system. "Oh God who is like unto Thee, majestic in your holiness, mighty in your deeds, you cast the stars and you name them and put each one in place?" I once heard a Christian scientist expound on this text. He said that based on the knowledge we know today from theoretical physics and astronomy, there is exactly the right amount of mass in this universe and it has to be exactly as big as it is for earth to be exactly like it is. If there were a little bit more mass this earth could not exist as it does, if there were a little bit less in the universe, this world could not exist. The fact that there is not a single star missing is because the Holy One put them into place. There is none like him, he is radically beyond conception—he is kadosh, kadosh, kadosh. Isaiah in 55:6-9 is describing God’s transcendence; God is over against, above and beyond. He is finding metaphors to convey what is actually inexpressible, because it defies three dimensional mindsets - it defies the rational mind. He comes up with all these metaphors to try to explain that God is other than us, his ways are not like ours, he is not a man ... he is God. He is not just a god, he is The God, who is holy, holy, holy. The holiness of God is the highest value that we can ascribe to deity. It is the ultimate doxological predicate; which is to say it is the ultimate thing we can say of God in worship and praise, because this is the term that demarcates God’s difference from everything else in the universe. Holiness is the very term he chooses to describe himself, "you shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev 19:2).

What is holiness? (Again I need to drill this into you and into myself. We have got to be seized by the holiness of God.) It is his otherness, his transcendence, his difference, his distinctness; it is that what makes him unique and set apart from the common and ordinary. As the church—you, me, we—have lost sight of this dimension of the holy. Where are the Isaiahs of our time? Where are the prophets? Not those who predict what is going to happen next in the European Union or in Israel (as if they had a clue). Where are the prophets that speak about God’s holiness as Isaiah did? I don’t want to be critical but I do want to be honest; I am tired of hearing posturing, pompous TV evangelists urging us on into silliness. They call for mighty men; what happened to the mighty God? They promote a prosperity gospel instead of a gospel of brokeness and humility, and the presence of a God who is holy, holy, holy. Why is it we thrive on superficiality and we flee from holiness? Is it the fear of being burned beyond recognition?

* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.

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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

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