Friday, January 30, 2009

Holy Means Whole:Yahweh is Holy

Psalm 99 has been called the holiness chapter and Leviticus has been called the holiness book. In Psalm 99:9, we read: “Exalt Yahweh our God, And worship at His holy hill: For Yahweh our God is holy.” In Leviticus 20:26, we read in part: “I Yahweh am holy.” If I asked you what is more important, God’s personal name of Yahweh or God’s character of being holy, how would you answer?

Recently, I was taken to task for not keeping the main thing the main thing in a sermon I preached. This criticism was done graciously and I was able to accept it graciously, I am happy to report. Similarly, in seminary we were supposed to write a topic paper for our master’s degree that identified the main unifying theme of Scripture. At that time, I chose the word holy, but I was left dissatisfied with my definition of holy and my placing holy as a character trait next to God Himself. I wanted the main thing to be the main thing then, even as that was my intention when I preached more recently.

In the last 2 months, I learned a great deal about priorities when it comes to categories of parts and wholes. I want to chart this out, using bold letters to indicate what is the main thing or what is more important and more urgent. And I've grouped tightly together and have italicized those parts and wholes that are less important than the first kind of parts and wholes. That same grouping is also those parts and wholes that are to be seen as equal to each other. The chart then looks like this:

Component(s) – Integrated Person (ex. funny, chubby, member of 3 Stooges - Curly)

Portion(s) – Mass (ex. slice - pie)
Member(s) – Collection (ex. players - team)
Feature(s) – Activity (ex. round wheel - smooth ride)
Material(s) – Object (ex. china - vase)

Having seen this chart, I think all will agree that God’s name of Yahweh or God’s name of Yahshua (Jesus) is more important than the components that make up God. Yet Yahweh is by his name an integrated person. And it is no small thing to say that “Yahweh our God is holy.”

Names mean more than just one thing. A name for God says more than that God is god and not man. It says something about even ourselves in a comprehensive way. So I now acknowledge that not only did my sermon not keep the main things the main things, but I did not do it either, when I was in seminary and wrote about holy. In my weak defense, neither did many systematic theologies or sermons that I studied.

Now I realize I must write about holy as a description of the wholeness of Yahweh God’s components as a person, but I must write even more about His name and the name of His son who died on the cross for my sins. The personal things must remain the main things even as they were for me as a young Christian. So I will eventually have to create another blog titled:

An integrated name is more significant than the whole of components. Being whole in components is more significant than each of the components, but a name is what best expresses that integration. If you must choose between a person who is integrated and having the whole of the parts, choose the integrated person who is identified by their personal name.

We use names all the time, so we sometimes take them for granted. But people who study names say that they are positively descriptive. They make sense in terms of the person or nonsense in terms of the person. A name is positively joined to some features and negatively separated from some other features.

For example, to say that Yahweh is God does not tell you everything about Yahweh, but certainly one of the central components of who Yahweh is. Yet the trait of being God and not man does not match the integration of all who Yahweh is as a person. For one He is not just God, He is the One God. God tells us what Yahweh is, but does not fully tell us who God is.

We can be steered off course by placing God’s character of holiness ahead of His personal name. The main thing must remain the main thing.

Yahweh as a name is mentioned nearly 7000 times in the Old Testament (Covenant Writings) alone. Then we need to add to that the number of times that Jesus appears in the New Testament (Covenant Writings), because Jesus’ name in Hebrew is Yahshua (or shortened, Yeshua), which means “Yahweh saves.” Then we need to add to that the number of times that LORD appears in an English translation of the Greek New Testament as a substitute for Yahweh, and we will find His name is very important. I will need to add up the full numbers some day. But frequency often says a lot about importance.

So let’s all keep the main thing the main thing even as we learn about holiness and wholeness. And let’s then also keep holiness ahead of things like justice, truth, love and goodness. Yet like Jesus, Yahshua, once said, “Do the former without neglecting the latter.” So God's name of Yahweh comes before all else, including the trait of holiness, yet it is not His name without His holiness.

In Yahshua (Jesus),

Pastor Jon