Tough Questions Answered

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Why Is the God of the Old Testament Worthy of Worship? His Holiness

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Skeptics of Christianity love to point out all the difficult passages in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. By noting these difficult passages, skeptics explicitly or implicitly imply that Christians are foolish (or even deranged) for worshiping the God described in the Old Testament.

My problem with this implication is that the number of difficult passages are dwarfed by the number of passages that clearly describe the greatness of God. These passages come in a wide variety and they are found all over the Old Testament. The skeptic’s approach is, therefore, totally unbalanced – it does not take into consideration the totality of Scripture.

So, to the skeptics who question why I worship the God described in the Old Testament, it’s not only his wisdom, his majesty, and his beauty, but his holiness.

The Old Testament manifestly proclaims that God is holy.  According to Norman Geisler in his Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation, holiness “refers to [God's] absolute moral uniqueness as well as His total separateness from all creatures.”

How does the Old Testament connect God with holiness?

God Is Holy

“Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders” (Exodus 15:11)?

“I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44-45).

“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy’ ” (Leviticus 19:2).

“You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins” (Joshua 24:19).

“There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you [God]; there is no Rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).

“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:29).

“Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy” (Psalm 99:5).

“The LORD Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness” (Isaiah 5:16).

“When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel” (Isaiah 29:23).

Geisler reminds us that “numerous biblical passages speak of God as ‘the Holy One’ (Ps. 71:22; Ps. 78:41; Isa. 5:19; 29:23; 43:3; cf. 48:17; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9; Jer. 51:5; Hosea 11:9, 12; Hab. 1:12; 3:3; Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35; 4:34; John 6:69).”

In subsequent blog posts, I will look at yet more reasons to worship the God of the Old Testament.


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Comments

  • sean

    What do you mean by holy?

  • Pingback: On the nice and ugly sides of the Biblical God | lotharlorraine()

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello Bill, I posted a response on my own blog:

    http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/on-the-nice-and-ugly-sides-of-the-biblical-god/

    I hope you take no offense at that and I’m looking forward to learning your answer(s) to this tough question.

    Respectfully, Marc.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I defined it in the blog post. You must have missed it.

  • sean

    Huh. Indeed. I dunno if separateness and uniqueness are grounds for worship, but if the unique meant uniquely good, which I know it does, I suppose that would be good grounds for reverence. Worship still seems a bit strong to me though. Thinking about it, it’s quite probable that the difference in connotation of the term worship in our definitions is the issue here.

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