Psalm 99 tells us in simple terms that God is holy. You may say, we have known that for a long time now. Actually, it is the very first thing we were told about God, that He is holy. And we were told what it meant that God was holy. It means that He is different, and sublime. And He won’t be ridiculed. This is what we were told to believe.
However, Psalm 99 talks about God’s holiness in terms that are quite different from how we use to believe in God. It does not say that God is far off and unreachable in His holiness. On the contrary, it says three things about God’s holiness that places Him in our midst, in our hearts, making him the One that takes our hand and leads us in difficult times.
In the first place the Psalm tells us that God loves what is right, that is, that people should treat each other as equals. God hates it when people look down upon, discriminate against, and humiliate one another. That is not right. That is unholy.
And this, of course, would also include people who are affected by HIV and AIDS. To discriminate against them, or try to humiliate them, that would be an attack on the holiness of God Himself, God who is the God of righteousness, the One who loves what is right.
Secondly, the Psalm tells us that the holy God is the One who listens. To strengthen this point, the Psalm even tells us a short history – as part of a long one – of how God has listened to people who addressed Him on urgent issues. God listened to Moses and Aaron. He listened to Samuel. Yes, God listens. He is the Trustworthy One. So, God being holy means you can fully trust Him.
And that is wonderful news to all who are being victimised by HIV and AIDS, and by the people who tell them that they may not have any hope. On the contrary, our God is holy and trustworthy. He listens. He acts. He takes the hand of those that are in distress, and leads them to hope and salvation.
God is also holy in a third way. He forgives people. His relationship with people is very important to God. God regards all people worthy of His love. He forgives them all that needs to be forgiven, and He loves all people.
The holy God, then, is not far away. He is not distant. He does not sit somewhere up there, waiting for people to make mistakes to that He can punish them.
No, the holy God is near to us. The holy God cares for us. It is important for the holy God that people should be treated with dignity and love. Our relationship with Him is at the top of his priority list.
To think about or discuss: Do you think that we can try to be holy in the same way as God is? We can never be as perfectly holy as He is, but do you think it is worth a try to be holy in seeing other people as worthy, in being trustworthy ourselves, and in regarding our relationship with one another highly?
Written by Christina Landman (UNISA)