Monday, October 22, 2018

The Holiness of God

The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side.
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols; all gods bow down before him.
Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O God.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
 
Ps 97:1-9 
Though it didn't reach my house, I experienced San Diego's Witch Fire in 2007. To live through a wildfire is a fearful thing. But I also know that, because of the way humans have settled certain parts of the earth, we have placed ourselves in the way of nature. We can only avoid its impact for so long before it finally makes itself known. And if humans don't start wildfires, nature itself eventually does.

And a wildfire begun by a lightning strike is, I think, the image Psalm 97 is intended to create. The holiness of God is not to be toyed with, and we cannot stand in God's way when God's holiness breaks forth. Like a wildfire intended to burn and cleanse in order to make way for the renewal of nature, so God's holiness refines and consumes in order to allow for new life.

I naturally fear that which is intended to purge me of all that has become comfortable to me. But something must rid me of my need for idols and my preference for that which is not God. If not divine holiness, then what?

You are indeed like a refining fire, Lord. Cleanse my life and purify my intentions. And do not take away my fear of your power, but give me the grace to face it with faith. For I pray in the Name of the One whose blood washes me clean...