by Justin Browning
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” Isa. 6:3
The root meaning of holy is “to cut or separate.” Essentially, anything considered holy is cut off from and separated from common use. Using this perspective, material things and individuals are holy as they are distinct from the common world and devoted to God. The Bible speaks of the following in respect to this word:
Holy Ground (Exodus 3:5) Holy Men (2 Per. 1:21)
Holy Assemblies (Exodus 12:16) Holy Women (1 Pet. 3:5)
Holy Sabbaths (Exodus 16:23) Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15)
A Holy Nation (Exodus 19:6) Holy Hands (1 Tim. 2:8)
Holy garments (Exodus 28:2) Holy Kiss (Rms. 16:16)
A Holy City (Nehemiah 11:1) Holy Faith (Jude 20)
Holy Promises (Psalm 105:42)
As John Piper puts it, “almost anything can become holy if it is separated from the common and devoted to God.” * But when you consider this definition as it relates to God, something very unique happens. What can you separate God from to MAKE Him holy? The very qualities that characterize Him in being God means that He exists separate from anything that is not God! There is an infinite difference between He, the Creator of All and all of His creation. God is, in His very existence, totally one of a kind. He is in a league of His own. He is in a class by Himself. It is in that sense that we say God is utterly, completely, authentically holy! Stay with me here: If the holiness of man is derived from being separated from common things and devoted God, from what is God separated and devoted? The answer: It can only be God Himself! There is no higher purpose, no greater reality, no more a noble course or cause than that of His. He is ultimate; therefore, He is the One to which He must conform and be devoted to. See what He says of Himself.
Samuel 2:2 “There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides thee.”
Isaiah 40:25 “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”
Hosea 11:9 “I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.”
In summation, God is holy due to the fact that He is God and not any created thing. He truly is incomparable and completely unique. This holiness of His determines all that He is and all that He does, and characterizes who/what He is as God that no one else will ever be. We can call it His holiness, His majesty, His greatest, His expanse, and many other things. But as our limited language runs out of words to give us a glimpse into who our God is, HOLY SAYS IT ALL!
*From John Piper “Holy Is the Lord of Hosts” (1/1/84)