May 11, 2014

El Hakkadosh: "the Holy God"

Isaiah 5:1-17

The LORD Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by his righteous acts.
—Isaiah 5:16


In today’s reading from Isaiah, we discover that although God planted a vineyard with “the choicest vines,” the vineyard “yielded only bad fruit.” Through Isaiah, God speaks bitterly here about the spiritual decline of Israel and the consequences of rejecting him.

Why does God get so upset about Israel’s disobedience? He is angry because of who he is: El Hakkadosh, “the Holy God.” This name for God comes from the Hebrew word kadosh, meaning “one of a kind, utterly unique, set apart, holy.” Isaiah uses this name at least 30 times throughout his book.

Showing himself as El Hakkadosh, God reveals himself to Israel as completely upright or righteous. He walks a straight path. His exalted moral character sets him apart from the gods of the surrounding nations. He is not merely a useful dispenser of wishes and desires but is holy in and of himself. Because he is holy, God expects, even demands, that his people Israel be holy too.

So El Hakkadosh, “the Holy God,” became outraged when his “beloved vineyard,” his children Israel, produced only sour grapes. They had become corrupt and unrighteous.

In and through Jesus Christ, who is the true vine (John 15:1), we too are set apart for the Holy God. May we, by the power of his Holy Spirit, produce good fruit for him!

Holy God, you are perfect in holiness and righteous! Yet you have given your Son to make sinners holy. Help us to live holy lives that produce the fruit of righteousness. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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