God is holy. That does not just mean that He is pure and sinless. It does not even just mean that He is righteous. God’s holiness means that He is pure, sinless, and righteous, but it is more than that. God’s holiness means that He is completely Other. He is Himself and completely unlike any of His creation (there is a kind of likeness between God and His creation, but I cannot go into that here, and I believe that that is just another way in which God is so holy, so other, so completely unlike His creation, that even that statement must be qualified).
Generally, we associate light with holiness. The Bible also does this and there is great truth in it, but so that we may see how far beyond our thoughts is the reality of God’s holiness, God also gives us images of darkness and destruction for His holiness.
In my distress I called upon YHWH, and cried to my God for help; my voice came before Him in His temple, and He heard my cry for help. Then the earth shook and quaked; the foundations of the mountains were trembling. They were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke came from His nostrils, fire from His mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also and came down with thick darkness under His feet. He rode upon a cherub and flew; He sped upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him passed thick clouds, hailstones and fiery coals. YHWH also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His voice, hailstones and fiery coals. From Psalm 18
… In wrath remember mercy.
God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah.
His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, and there is the hiding of His power. Before Him goes pestilence, after Him comes plague. He stood and surveyed the nations. He looked and the peoples shook. The ancient mountains were shaken, the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, the tent curtains of the people of Midian shaking. Did YHWH rage against the rivers, or was Your anger against the rivers or Your wrath against the sea, that You rode on Your chariots of salvation? Your bow was made bare, the rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah.
You cleaved the earth with rivers. The seas saw You and writhed in anguish. The sun and moon went away at Your arrows, at the radiance of Your gleaming spear.
… Decay enters my bones, and I tremble in my place, because I must wait patiently for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us. From Habakkuk chapter 3.
These are just the passages that come to my mind the most readily. There are others, for example, in Job 38:1, God answers him out of the whirlwind. In Exodus 34:5, when YHWH came down to show His glory to Moses, He descended in a cloud. I also think of Isaiah 6, where in the presence of the One who is called, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is YHWH Sabaoth [Lord of Hosts], the whole earth is full of His glory,” the foundations of the temple shake, the seraphim cover their faces and feet, and the temple fills with smoke.
The Bible tells us also that God is a jealous God. In Exodus 20:5, in the ten commandments, we are forbidden to put anything before God because He is jealous. In Exodus 34:14, we are told that the name of YHWH is Jealous. In Isaiah, 42:8 and 48:11, “I am YHWH, that is My name; I will not give my glory to another,” and “For my own sake, for my own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another,” respectively. There are many more verses and passages which proclaim the awesome majesty and the jealous exclusivity of our God, but I have not the space to go into them all here; besides, they are so numerous I do not even know where to find them all!
As Malachi and others ask, Who can stand in the presence of God? Who can endure the Day of His coming? He is great and awesome, and His holiness is a dreadful terror. He is a consuming fire, and who can dwell with the Everlasting Burning? (Ex. Exodus 24:17, Deuteronomy 4:24, Isaiah 33:40.)
One other thing which I wish to bring up are the miracles in the Old Testament. The prophets pray for something to happen and God makes it happen; or God tells them something will happen, they announce it, and it does happen. Nowhere do they simply speak to nature and nature responds. The nearest we have is Elijah at the beginning of 2 Kings, where he says, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume your men.”
In the light of what I have just discussed, everything in the New Testament seems to me to proclaim that Jesus is God. In Isaiah, God says, “There is no God beside me” (44:6,8 45:21). In Jeremiah 10, we have the following:
There is none like You, O YHWH; You are great, and great is Your name in might. Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? Indeed, it is Your due! For … There is none like You.
Over and over again in the New Testament, Jesus is mentioned alongside God the Father.
John 10:28-30, “I give them eternal life and they will never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of His hand; I and my Father are one.”
John 17:3 “Eternal life is this: to know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.”
2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
2 Timothy 2:1 “… Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 John 1:3 “… our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”
1 John 5:20 “… we are in Him who is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ, who is the True God and eternal life.”
There are many, many, many more like these; I cannot find them all, right now. However, they occur at the beginning of almost every letter of the Apostle Paul’s (I think it might be every one except for Romans), and in numerous other places besides. In John 5:26, Jesus says that He has life in Himself as does the Father. I cannot see how this can be anything other than a claim to be the I AM WHO I AM, YHWH Himself, for who but God uncreated and immutable can have life in Himself? In fact, in John 5 Jesus continually says that “even as the Father … the Son.” We are told in John 5:23 and in 1 John 2:23 that to honor Jesus is to honor the Father, to deny Jesus is to deny the Father. In Matthew 10:32-33, Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26, 12:8-9, we are told that if we acknowledge Jesus before men, we also will be acknowledged before God, but that if we are ashamed of Him before men, we also will be ashamed before God. In these same passages, mere verses before Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26, we are told that if we take up our cross and lose our life for Jesus’ sake we will find life eternal.
In light of the utter majesty and aloneness of God, it is utter blasphemy to say these things about Jesus unless He is God. Because God is so holy, it is blasphemy to put anyone other than God beside God or give honor to anyone but God. If Jesus is not God, it is blasphemy for Him to say that our eternal destiny depends on whether or not we receive and honor Him. If Jesus is not God, it is blasphemy for Him to ask us to lose our lives for His sake and promise that if we do we will find them. It would be idolatry of the worst sort for us to give our lives to anyone but God; Jesus Himself said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. We are told in no uncertain terms that life is God’s. That is why the Israelites had to pour the blood out on the ground to God; because the blood meant the life, and in that way they acknowledged that the life of the animal they had slain belonged to God. If an animal’s life belongs to God, how much more does a human being’s life belong to God? (For one reference I can remember where to find: Genesis 9:4-6.)
Jesus’ miracles are also a case in point: He simply speaks to the wind and the sea, and it obeys Him. The disciples clearly recognize this as a display of more than prophetic power, and wonder who He is (Matthew 8:25-27, Mark 4:39-31). When He forgives the sins of the paralytic, and the Pharisees murmur, “This man is blaspheming! Only God can forgive sins,” thus recognizing His forgiveness of the paralytic as a claim to be God, He does not tell them that they are wrong about God’s exclusive right to forgive sins and about Him; they are very right. God is a jealous God, He is a righteous God and a Savior, and He will not share one speck of His glory with another, and Jesus is that God. He simply heals the man, as proof that He is God; for only God’s power can heal, and, therefore, if He were a blasphemer how could He heal? (Matthew 9:2-6, Mark 2:5-11, Luke 5:20-25.)
Another thing that is very telling is that Jesus acts in His own name. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you,” or “but I say to you,” (Matthew 5:22,26,28,32,34,39,44, John 1:51, 3:3,5,11, 5:19,24,25, 6:26,32,47,53, 19:1,7) whereas the prophets always proclaim, “Thus has the Lord spoken!” Later, when Peter and John “heal” the lame man in Acts, they do not simply tell him to be well in their power. They speak in the name, not even of God, but of Jesus of Nazareth. Unless Jesus of Nazareth is God, this is blasphemy, for God is holy and alone and He will not share His glory with another.
Before His ascension, Jesus says, “All authority has been given Me in heaven and earth; go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Here, too, I see blasphemy unless Jesus is God. He says that all authority in heaven and earth has been given Him. That means all authority. How can all authority belong to anyone but God? For Jesus to be given all authority both in heaven and on earth is for Him to be given an authority equal to that of God Himself.
The distance between the mightiest archangel and a worm is nothing compared to the distance between God, Holy, Almighty, All-knowing, Uncreated, Dwelling in Unapproachable Light, and that archangel. For Jesus to claim all authority, the very authority that is God’s, and for Him to put Himself side by side with God – “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son” – and to put the stress on His commandments – not the commandments of the Lord, as all the prophets did – is blasphemy, for if He is not claiming to be God, then He is saying that God is less than God – unless, of course, He really is God. And, then, He tells us, “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The prophets of old said, “Be strong and courageous, for the YHWH is with you, for your God goes before you.” That is what was told the assembly of Israel in Deuteronomy 1:29-30. Throughout Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, the kings do not ask if the prophet will be with them when they go up to fight; they ask if God will be with them. It is the same with Judges; it is about whether or not God is with them, not whether or not their prophet is with them. And, now Jesus tells us that He will be with us always. Is this not claiming the honor and supremacy of God? If He is not God, what does it even matter, really?
Equally, the claim that Jesus is our High Priest and Advocate with the Father necessitates Him being God (Romans 8:34, Hebrews, 1 John 2:1). Because God dwells in unapproachable light, holy and lifted up, exalted and untouchable, only God can intercede with Him. Job asked, “For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, that we may go to court together. If only there were someone to mediate between us, to bring us together.” (Job 9:32-33) However, as the same book tells us, (15:15, 25:5) God does not put any trust in His holy ones [angels] and even the heavens are not pure in His sight. No creature can approach God, for the greatest of created beings cover their faces and feet in His presence and can only worship and cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” There is a gulf between these seraphim and the Infinite Holy One, the Uncreated Light, such that that the difference between them and a worm is insignificant; indeed, drops out of sight. Before God, even they are not holy at all, and they know it.
Lastly, in Revelations 22:13, Jesus called Himself, “The First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” In the Old Testament, the First and the Last is a name of God. In Isaiah 44:6, it says, “Thus says YHWH, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, YHWH, Lord of Hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides me.” The First and the Last is already the name of God by implication, for God is alone and immutable, and there is none before Him nor can there be any after Him; to Him alone belongs supremacy and preeminence in all things. His power, His knowledge, and His wisdom span all things. However, God also clearly tells us that The First and The Last is His name and His alone by declaring Himself The First and The Last and immediately following it up with: there is no God besides me. God is holy, jealous, and alone in majesty; He will not share His name, His prerogative or His glory with any other. Jesus Christ has claimed the name of God, He has claimed the prerogatives of God, and He has claimed the glory of God. Unless Jesus Christ is, in very fact, God, He has blasphemed Him. The Jews of His day understood that. That is why when He said, “I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven,” they condemned Him to death for blasphemy. God is Holy and God is King, and no one but God can sit down at His right hand.
Copyright 2017 Raina Nightingale