Key Words: Holy Holy Holy

Date: 8/15/2010
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Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Holiness
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Key Words: Holy, Holy, Holy

In this series on Key Words - the words we use in worship, in sacred actions and responses - we saw that Amen is a one word affirmation, "let it be so." But the earliest use is a covenant word. Therefore, Jesus is God’s Amen (2Co. 1:20). Also, Hallelujah is a call to the congregation to praise the Covenant Lord and in the NT signals that the Lamb of God has conquered (Rev. 19:1, 3, 4, 6).

This week, we will consider the word "Holy" and especially its threefold usage, "Holy, Holy, Holy." The Hebrew root for "holy" (qadosh) appears as a noun, verb and adjective over 850 times and has two associations, separation and brightness. It is God’s Godness as well as His purity from evil. Our English word "holy" first is used in Wycliffe’s Bible (1382). This word is at the heart of God’s self-revelation and his call of Israel (Ex. 19:6; Lev. 19:2). So, in the highest sense, holiness belongs to God alone (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 15:4). Yet, believers are consecrated to be like God in this (Eph. 1:4; 2Cor. 7:1, Titus 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:15).

 In Isaiah 6:2 and Revelation 4:8 the threefold, "Holy, holy, holy" is found as the continual cry of angelic beings in heaven. Isaiah 6:1ff says, "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne . . . Seraphim stood above Him . . . one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’" Similarly in Revelation 4:8 "the four living creatures . . . day and night they do not cease to say, ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.’" In our liturgy, from the earliest records of the Christian Church, this is in the preface to the Eucharist, called "The Sanctus." This has been called "the most ancient, the most celebrated, and the most universal of Christian hymns." The Sanctus reminds us that we join with the sinless angels and glorified men (Heb. 12:22) as we participate in the heavenly liturgy, joining heaven and earth (Rev. 4:8). The Sanctus is a verbal sign of one of our greatest privileges: access to the Most Holy Place through Christ (Heb. 10:19ff).

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more