Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Story of God | God's Holiness from The Bible Project by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins

Emmaus City God's Holiness The Bible Project Story of God Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

The Bible Project | God's Holiness: Jesus is the Only One Able to Make a World Full of Beauty and Life

The Story of God: The Messiah

The Story of God: The Covenants

The Story of God: Heaven and Earth

For this post, I'm including a video and the manuscript for an Animated Explanation of God's Holiness by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins via The Bible Project, a wonderful new and free video series on YouTube.

Animated Explanation of God's Holiness by The Bible Project

Produced by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins

You've probably heard the word, "holy," before or at least sang it in a church song once or twice. And for most people, this idea is just connected to being a morally good person. And so, God is holy because he's morally perfect. 

Yeah, that is part of it, but in the Bible the idea of holiness is even bigger and more rich. What it is really describing is how God is the creative force behind the whole universe. He's the one and only being with the power to make a world full of such beauty and life. And so all of these abilities, they make God utterly unique, which is the meaning of the word "holy."

So a helpful way to think of God's holiness is by using the sun as a metaphor. The sun is unique, at least within our solar system. It's really powerful. It's the source of all this beautiful life in our planet, so you could say that the sun is "holy." And you can actually take this metaphor even further in that the whole area around the sun is also holy. Because the closer you get to the sun, the more intense it gets. All this beauty and power that generates this life is also dangerous. The sun, if you get too close, will annihilate you. 

And in the same way, there's this paradox at the heart of God's own holiness because if you're impure, his presence is dangerous to you. Not because it's bad, but because it's so good. And so the first time we see this paradox of God's holiness is in the story of Moses and the burning bush. God tells Moses to take off his sandals because he's standing on holy ground. And Moses covers his face in fear and God says, "Don't come any closer." It's intense. 

Emmaus City God's Holiness The Bible Project Story of God Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

 Actually, that intensity of God's holiness is explored even more in the stories of Israel's temple, which was the main place where God's holy presence was located. And at the center of the temple was this room called the "Most Holy Place." It's the "hot spot" of God's presence. And whether you're an Israelite living in the land around the temple, or a priest working right in the temple, you're in proximity to God's holy presence which is dangerous. 

Yeah, this is a problem. So, how is this supposed to work? In the Bible, the solution is you need to become pure. Like being morally pure. And that's easy enough to understand. But the Bible spends a lot of time talking about another kind of purity, being ritually pure, which is a state in which you separate yourself from anything related to death, like touching things like diseased skin, or dead bodies, or even certain bodily fluids. All these make you impure. And becoming ritually impure isn't necessarily sinful. What's wrong is waltzing into God's presence when you're in an impure state. And so that's why God gave the Israelites very clear instructions for knowing when they were impure and steps to become pure so that they could enter the temple again. So that's what the book of Leviticus is about. 

But it doesn't stop there. This idea keeps developing. So later in the Scriptures we find this really interesting story by a prophet named Isaiah. And he has this crazy vision where he's in the temple and he's right in God's presence. He's totally terrified. He knows the rules. He shouldn't even be in there. And he's worried about being destroyed. And then this crazy creature called a seraphim flies over with a hot coal and then it sears Isaiah's lips with the coal and says something really weird: "your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for." So this burning coal somehow makes Isaiah pure.

Emmaus City God's Holiness The Bible Project Story of God Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities
It's remarkable because normally if you touch something impure, it transfers its impurity to you. But now here's this new idea where you have this coal, this very holy and pure object, and it touches Isaiah and transfers its purity to him. Isaiah is not destroyed by God's holiness. He's transformed by it. The implications of this are huge.

But there's one more development, this time from another prophet, Ezekiel. And he has this vision where he's standing at the temple and he sees water trickling out from it. And then that water turns into a stream, and it grows into a deep river that starts flowing into a desert leaving this trail of green trees behind it. And then it flows into the Dead Sea, making everything fresh and alive. So instead of becoming pure first and then going into the temple, here God's holiness comes out from the temple making things pure and bringing them to life. 

What does it all mean? We don't know until we meet this man, Jesus. And he claims that he's fulfilling all of these ancient visions in surprising new ways. So Jesus went around touching people who are impure, people with skin diseases, a woman with chronic bleeding, or dead people. And when he touches them, their impurity should transfer over to Jesus. But instead, Jesus' purity transfers to them and actually heals their bodies. 

Jesus is like that holy coal in Isaiah's vision. And Jesus claimed that he was the embodiment of God's own holiness and that he and his followers were God's own temple so that through them God's holy presence would go out into the world and bring life and healing and hope. 

And so this why Jesus described his followers as having streams of living water flowing out of them. So this is our part of the story where we find ourselves now. 

But where is this all heading? The last pages of the Bible end with a final vision of God's holiness. This time it's by a guy named, "John." And in his vision, we see the whole world made completely new. The entire earth has become God's temple. And Ezekiel's river is there flowing out of God's presence, immersing all of creation, removing all impurity, and bringing everything back to life.

Next post: The Story of God | God's Multi-Ethnic Family from The Bible Project by Tim Mackie and Jon Collins

 – Sully

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