By Kenneth G. Symes
It is an interesting fact that very little has been written on this name of God. And yet it is clearly stated to be one of His names. Speaking of the God of Israel the Psalmist wrote:
“The LORD is great in Zion; and he is high above all people. Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy,” Psalm 99:2-3.
Again the Psalmist wrote:
“He sent redemption unto his people: He hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name,” Psalm 111:9.
Thirty-one times the prophet Isaiah addresses God as “the holy one of Israel.” As recorded in Isaiah 57:15 Isaiah specifically states:
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy…”
As there is no other name that more truly defines the character of God and His requirements that He places upon His people than this name, it is a name worthy of our consideration.
The word holy denotes the quality of the state or condition of being sanctified, or consecrated, to that which is spiritually pure and sinless. It is this holiness which gives to God grandeur and majesty, and more than anything else, constitutes His fullness and perfection. It is the quality of God’s character as perfect, pure and sinless and establishes the reason that He alone deserves man’s reverence and worship.
The Hebrew root is qdsh of which the basic meaning is separateness and is associated with the thought of purity and righteousness. It denotes that He is apart and above all else in the universe (cf. Isaiah 44: 6). He stands alone in relation to the world as Creator and LORD. His holiness separates Him from the heathen deities and the impurity and corruption of their nature and worship.
The beauty of the LORD is seen in His holiness. The psalmist wrote:
“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,” Psalm 90:17a.
It is also the source of His jealousy (Exodus 34:14). Because of His holiness He cannot allow His people to worship another god.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness,” 1 Chronicles 16:29.
We must also note that all sin is against the glory of God’s holiness (cf. Romans 3:23).
In the book of Genesis God’s holiness is implied in the dread which His presence inspired (cf. Genesis 28:16, 17). The first use of the term being directly applied to Jehovah (LORD) is found in Exodus 15:11. From that point on, where God reveals His name and nature, His holiness is consistently stressed (cf. Isaiah 57:15). In the New Testament Jesus Prays: “Holy Father,” John 17:11.
In Jewish thought “holiness” is an equivalent general term for “Godhead”, and the adjective “holy” is synonymous with “Divine” (cf. Daniel 4:8, 9, 18). The Lord’s “holy arm” (cf. Isaiah 52:10; Psalm 98:1) is His Divine arm, and His “Holy Name” (Leviticus 20:3) is His Divine name. For many Jewish people, Hakadosh Barukh Hu, “The Holy One blessed is He,” is a synonym for the sacred name of God.
This name of God becomes the fundamental quality that His people are to exemplify.
“For I am the LORD your God: Ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy…” Leviticus 11:44.
Note the words of Peter recorded in 1 Peter 1:15-16.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy.”
We cannot be holy as God is holy because He has never sinned. But, we, as His children by faith, are called to live our life (translated conversation in the KJV) following His holy example of separating (being sanctified) from sin and walking in His righteousness. In so doing we will be blessed indeed (cf. Matthew 6:33).
God is the Holy One. He alone is the one set apart as utterly perfect and unique, utterly transcending the realm of the finite, the fallen, and the imperfect. He is the only God worthy of man’s worship, for He alone, in the ultimate and eternal sense, is Holy. He alone is Hakadosh, the Holy One.