Ask my friend Jeff about how his life was changed and made forever different from meeting saints in the Soviet Union, like Ivan spending 25 years in the Gulag just for being a Christian. They had to move him from place to place because he refused to stop testifying of the love of God through Jesus Christ. They beat and broke the bones in his feet so he couldn’t walk out into the yard and witness to other prisoners, so he would crawl out. Finally they left him to die with his prison door open—emaciated and unconscious, they were wagering on when he would succumb—walking in occasionally to check if he was still alive. The Lord came in a vision and touched him and wakened him from his unconscious state; completely healed and restored. He stood up and he walked out of his cell and those communist persecutors got a glimpse of the holiness of God. They called together all 5,000 prisoners and asked him to speak of this to them.
Ask Jeff, who participated in an underground worship service outside Moscow, what it was like to meet Ivan and many other pastors who had been in prison? Ask Jeff why he didn’t speak when he was invited to come up and address this audience of 200, why instead he could only weep uncontrollably? It is because when you come into the holiness of God you are undone. Jeff said, "All I wanted to do was crawl under the pew and get on my face before God." Where are the Isaiahs who call us to this holiness? Where are the men of God who speak about this from personal experience and not just from abstract study? I think one reason we don’t make a difference in this world is because we have lost sight of God’s difference, distinction, his holiness. To enter the holiness zone is to be changed.
Moses had his close encounter of the holy kind in Ex. 3:5. There he saw a bush burning and yet it wasn’t consumed. The LORD said to him, "Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground." Moses had entered this dimension of the holy where the natural had been enveloped in the supernatural. A bush that should have been consumed wasn’t, because the holy God was there. The holiness of God not only demarcates who he is, but also describes those persons places and things which come to be included in this dimension, which come to be included as part of his otherness, his distinctiveness, his holiness. People, places and things can pass from the realm of the profane into the dimension of the holy. The Hebrew word kadosh is often used in the Bible as an adjective (e.g. holy ground, holy nation, holy name, holy mountain). The favourite designation of God by the rabbis was, the "Holy One of Israel." Holy used as a verb means to sanctify things. Sanctify the Sabbath, sanctify Aaron and his sons for my service. You can consecrate and make holy the utensils in the Temple to be used for God’s service. Ponder this staggering thought, God with us is Holy Spirit.
* 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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