When we read the word “holy,” we usually get a picture in our mind of someone with a halo around their head, as depicted in some of the early paintings. Alternatively, we may picture someone who is a real prude with a life devoid of fun. What do you picture in your mind when you hear the word “holiness“? You may have guessed by now what the “this” in the title refers to. Without holiness, no one will see YHVH…
Throughout Scripture, we are called upon to be holy and to sanctify ourselves. Have you ever asked yourself what this really means? What does it truly mean to be holy or sanctified and why should we pursue it? We each have our own perception of this concept, but our perception may not be the truth. So, how should we understand it when YHVH says we have to be holy? It seems to be important as the writer of Hebrews wrote that without this, no one would see YHVH.
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see YHVH.
What does it mean to see YHVH?
We first need to find out what exactly is meant by the words “to see YHVH.” From the The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, we learn the following:
SEE [Heb rā˒â, nāḇāṭ; Heb and Aram ḥāzâ; Gk blépō, horáō, eídon, theáomai, theōréō, anablépō—‘see again (after sight has been restored),’ etc.]; SIGHT [often in RSV as paraphrase of verb; Heb mar˒eh—‘what is seen,’ pānîm—‘faces,’ neg̱eḏ—‘ (in the) presence/sight of,’ ˓ayin—‘eye, (in the) sight of’; Gk eídos, hórama—‘sight, what is seen,’ theōría—‘spectacle,’ enṓpion, katénanti—‘before, in the sight of,’ anáblepsis—‘recovery of sight,’ etc.]. In addition to references to the physical sense of sight, that which a blind person lacks (Acts 9:9), which can be restored by healing (e.g., Lk. 7:21; 18:41–43; Jn. 9:7), and which often fades with advancing age (Gen. 27:1; 1 S. 3:2; 4:15; 1 K. 14:4; cf. Ps. 38:10 [MT 11]), “see” is widely used in biblical figurative language.
To “see” can be to experience, for example, good (Ps. 34:12 [MT 13]; RSV “enjoy”; Heb rā˒â), evil (Ps. 90:15), or death (Ps. 89:48 [MT 49]; Lk. 2:26). Another basic figurative use of “see” is for the process of receiving information or coming to understand something (e.g., Gen. 37:14; 1 S. 12:17; 1 K. 20:7; Job 34:32). These two figures, which are simple and common enough that they do not rely greatly on any metaphorical picture, underlie most other figurative uses of “see.”
Statements that human beings have seen or will see God Himself do not refer to a perception of a physical aspect of God by human physical senses but a process of coming to some amount of understanding of God, often just a simple realization of His greatness or some other aspect of His nature, either by a revelatory vision (Isa. 6:1–5; Ezk. 1:26–28), by their own purity of heart (Mt. 5:8), or by their acquaintance with Y’shua Messiah (Jn. 14:9; cf. 1:18). It is stated that on one occasion Israel’s elders “saw the God of Israel” (Ex. 24:10; cf. v 17), but there is a differentiation between this experience of the elders and the further experience of Moses, which was itself limited (33:20–23). Moses’ character was such that he displayed understanding of God which could, in a metaphorical sense, be called “seeing him who is invisible” (He. 11:27). Even though passages concerned with “seeing God” are thus figurative expressions, ideas of “sacred space” — places where God’s presence is more likely to be experienced — are involved (Sinai, Ex. 24:10; the temple, Isa. 6:1). When it is denied that human beings can see God, this means that the limitations of human mental capacity or human holiness make “seeing” God impossible (Ex. 33:20–23). 2
Consider for yourself what is meant by “to see YHVH.” What do you think is meant by this? Here is David Stern’s interpretation of this verse.
This verse in John 14:9 gives us even more insight…
To see YHVH, is not to, physically, perceive Him with our eyes. It is more a spiritual experience, a deeper understanding of who He really is. A revelation of Him, if you would. I have noticed that when I compromise in keeping YHVH’s commandments in any way, I feel far away from YHVH. When I read the Word in times like these, it is without any special meaning to me; it almost seems empty. However, if I pursue set apartness with dedication, I experience Him. I experience Him in His Word, and in creation and even in every little thing that happens. That to me is seeing YHVH. And although we will never be able to claim perfect holiness, these times gives us a glimpse of eternity with Him. This makes it worth pursuing set apartness, and it motivates me to do more; to search for more ways to please Him.
So, if we want to see YHVH, we need to know how to be sanctified. That is the reason for this study; I want to know exactly what this sanctification entails and, hopefully, by now, you probably want to know this too.
Peter quoted the Tanakh when he wrote “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15–16
15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Take note of what Peter wrote here “be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.” From this, we know that holiness is linked to our behavior, it is not a state of mind. It is something we have to do.
This quote is from Lev 11:44, Lev 19:2 and Lev 20:7, 26 and in these verses, we find another clue as to how to attain this holiness. It reads “consecrate yourselves.” This also confirms to us that it is something we have to do.
We now have three words we can find the meaning of for better understanding namely “holy,” “sanctify” and “consecrate.” The understanding of these three words, in context, is key to understanding what we need to do. These three words share the same verbal root “qadash” say “kaw dash.” The Strongs numbers are H6942 and H6944. We shall look at each of these three words separately to see how the contextual use of it gives it slightly different nuances.
Lets start with consecrate as this is what we need to do to attain sanctification and holiness.
The Hebrew word “qadash” is often translated as consecrate. This word is used approximately 170 times in the Tanakh.
7727 קָדַשׁ (qā·ḏǎš): v.; ≡ Str 6942; TWOT 1990—
1. LN 53.44–53.52 (qal) be sacred, consecrated, i.e., dedicate to service and loyalty to God, and so involving proper conduct (as prescribed) of any person or object so dedicated (Hag 2:12); (nif) be consecrated (Ex 29:43); (piel) consecrate, dedicate (Ge 2:3); (pual) be dedicated, be consecrated (2Ch 26:18; 31:6; Ezr 3:5; Eze 48:11+); (hif) set apart, consecrate, dedicate, regard as holy (Lev 22:2); (hitp) consecrate themselves (Ex 19:22);
2. LN 88.24–88.35 (qal) be holy, i.e., be in a state of having superior moral qualities, with behavior which is positively unique and pure, in contrast to other corrupt standards (Isa 65:5); (nif) show oneself holy (Lev 22:32); (piel) make holy (Lev 20:8); (hif) regard as holy (Isa 29:23b); (hitp) show holiness (Eze 38:23);
3. LN 11.12–11.54 (pual) saints, God’s people, i.e., pertaining to persons who belong to God, and as such constitute a religious entity (Isa 13:3+); 4. LN 88.24–88.35 (hif) honor as holy, i.e., feel reverence to honor something or someone as holy (Isa 8:13)4
To consecrate means to be sacred, to be dedicated to service and loyalty and so involving proper conduct, to be dedicated, to be holy and to be set apart. It also means to be holy and to be YHVH’s people. So, set apartness is a characteristic of YHVH’s people. The opposite of consecrate is to defile. This gives us a good understanding of what set apartness is about. Let’s search some more. We now know what consecrate means. Let’s look at the meaning of the other two words.
The word for holiness is from the same root as consecrate.
The main Hebrew root denoting holiness is qdš, “to be holy; sanctify,” which appears as a verb, noun, and adjective over 850 times (with cognates in Akk, Ar, Aram, Eth, Phoen, Punic, Syr). Other roughly synonymous Heb roots include bdl, “to divide” (Hipʿil verb); ḥnk, “to dedicate” (Qal verb and noun); ḥrm, “severely dedicate; put under ban” (Hipʿil verb and noun); rwm, “contribute, devote” (Hipʿil verb and noun); nzr, “separate, consecrate” (verbs and nouns); ʿbr, “devote” (Hipʿil verb). The main Heb antonym is ḥll, “profane, desecrate” (verbs, nouns, and adjectives; cognates in Akk, Ar, Aram, and Syr) with the approximate synonyms gʾl, “desecrate” (verbs); mʿl, “betray; commit sacrilege” (Qal verb and noun); and the noun piggûl, “desecration.”5
A few words stand out here: sanctify, to divide, to dedicate and to separate. Here are a few more quotes to broaden our understanding of what holiness is.
A fundamental element in the nature of YHVH.
This is a very profound quote!
HOLINESS; HOLY A fundamental element in the distinctive nature of God as revealed in Scripture and a basic response to His grace on the part of the people of God as they become molded into His likeness.6
Holiness is the nature of YHVH and is a basic response to His grace as we become molded into His image. Grace empowers us to live righteously, to walk as He walked, to be set apart. Please listen to this short teaching on grace.
Holiness is not inherent in creation
Holiness or set apartness comes by YHVH’s dictates.
Holiness is not inherent in creation but comes by God’s dictates. He sanctifies or sets apart the Sabbath (Gen 2:3; Exod 20:11), Israel and its priests (Exod 29:44; 31:13; Lev 21:8, 15; 22:9, 16; Ezek 20:12; 37:28; cf. also Exod 29:43), classes of creation like the firstborn (Num 3:13; 8:17; cf. also Exod 29:43), and sanctuaries (Exod 29:44; 1 Kgs 9:3, 7; 2 Chr 7:16, 20; 30:8; 36:14). But if He is the source of holiness for creation, creation—specifically His people—must maintain God’s holiness and His name’s holiness which, in this context, are nearly synonymous with his honor, reputation, and glory.5
Should the people sin, God or his name becomes desecrated (see sec. C. 2. b.) and His Holy Spirit, an aspect of His character, is grieved and may abandon them (Isa 63:10, 11; Ps 51:13). In addition to obedience, people bless, sanctify, and rejoice in God and His name (Isa 29:23; Ps 30:5; 97:12; 99:3, 5, 9; 103:1; 105:3; 106:47; 145:21; 1 Chr 16:10, 35; cf. Ps 22:4; 29:2; 96:9; 1 Chr 16:29; 29:16; 2 Chr 20:21; even divine beings: Isa 6:3). The people, too, are charged to emulate God’s holiness by keeping the commandments (Lev 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:26; cf. 20:26). Inscriptions may declare and recall his sacred character (Exod 28:36; 39:30; Zech 14:20). 5
Please go back and re-read these two quotes. This is very important! The creation, including us, were not created holy. Days and things that are sanctified are done so by setting it apart for a special purpose. Think about the sabbaths, the seventh day as well as the feast days, the Tabernacle and its implements. For people, holiness is attained through the keeping of YHVH’s commandments. Keeping the commandments is how we set ourselves apart from the world.
To be holy, or set apart is to uphold YHVH’s honor, reputation and glory. To not keep his commandments, thus sin, is to desecrate His name. it is natural for those who are in the world, to sin.
We are, therefor, not to do as the world does.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of Elohim is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
The world says rest on the first day of the week, YHVH says rest on the sabbath day (Ex 20:8). The world says keep Christmas, Easter , Valentines day and Haloween, YHVH says we are to keep His feasts (Lev 23). The world says same sex marraiges are good, YHVH says it is an abomonation (Lev 18:22.) The world says if a child is unwanted, kill it, YHVH says do not kill for He forms life in the womb and know that person even before he/she is born (Ps 139:15-16.) The world says eat anything, YHVH gave dietary instructions which He directly linked to holiness (Lev 11:44.)
We gave you all these examples to show you what conforming to the world means as opposed to being set apart.
YHVH’s set apart way is explained to us in His Word. He gave us instructions on how to live. We are to study His word and learn how He wants us to live. Paul said in this verse that we are to renew our minds. Before we become believers we are “programmed” in a certain, worldly, way by the media, the school system and worldly roll models. We do as the world does; we belong to the system. However, when we become believers, we are to renew our minds by studying YHVH’s Word, all of it, from Genesis to Revelation and learn how He wants us to live. That is how we know what YHVH’s will is and what is good, acceptable and perfect in His eyes. When we then live that, we become sanctified.
The third word is sanctification.
The act of making something or someone clean or holy. …In the OT, especially in the prophets, sanctification was understood as the whole process by which God is cleansing our world and its people. His ultimate goal is that everything—animate and inanimate—be cleansed from any taint of sin or uncleanness (Ezek. 36:25–29; 37:21–23). Heb. qdš occurs as a verb, “to be set apart, consecrated,” and an adjective (“sacred, holy” [thing, place, person, etc.]), whether that quality was applied to God, or places, things, persons, or times sanctified by (or to) God. The people were to be a “holy nation” (Exod. 19:6). In order to facilitate their sanctification, God established a holy priesthood (Exod. 29:1; 1 Sam. 7:1). 7
From this definition, we learn that sanctification is synonymous with consecration. It is the process by which something or someone is purified or made holy. Paul gives us a good explanation in Romans 6:19 of the meaning of sanctification.
19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Impurity and lawlessness are other words for sin and sin is transgression of YHVH’s commandments (1 john 3:4). Not keeping His commandments is lawlessness and is sin resulting in impurity, either physical or spiritual. For more information on clean and unclean you can read the articles we have written about the topic. Here are the links. “Spiritual uncleanness and shadows” and “Uncleanness and separation…are these laws still for us”
From these three words, we have gleaned some valuable insight as to how we are to sanctify ourselves. Set apartness is, however, not something we achieve the moment we start keeping the commandments, it is a process. Paul said in Romans 6 that we are to present our members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. To be a slave to righteousness is to dedicate ourselves to living righteously, according to YHVH’s instructions.
Why do we want to be set apart?
First and foremost, we want to be set apart because we will otherwise not see YHVH as the writer of Hebrews states in our first quote.
There are, however, other reasons to be set apart
2 Corinthians 6:17–18
17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says YHVH. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18 “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says YHVH Almighty.
6:17. Enjoying God’s presence requires personal holiness. Paul cited a portion of Isaiah 52:11 and Ezekiel 20:41, passages that speak of Israel’s redemption. God’s people are redeemed from pagan bondage (come out from them and be separate) in order to be clean before God (touch no unclean thing) and thus enjoy fellowship with Him (I will receive you). 8
From this verse, we learn the first reason to be set apart. The first one is fellowship with YHVH. This is related to seeing YHVH. We have learned in a previous article ” Praying in Y’shua’s name,” that we can not come before YHVH in a sinfull state. He does not hear the prayers of sinners. We are therfor to come before Him through Y’shua. However, we are also to live a righteous life like Y’shua did. For we know that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4), we are therfor to live righteously, keeping YHVH’s commandments.
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;
The second reason to be set apart is in order not to be judged with the world. In the meantime, YHVH will discipline us for our own good so that we may share in his holiness.
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
Where does Y’shua fit into this?
In the book of Hebrews, we read that the people are sanctified through the blood of Y’shua.
12 Therefore Y’shua also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
So, if Y’shua sanctifies us as believers in Him, do we still need to keep the commandments in order to be set apart? Is our belief in Y’shua not enough?Let’s see what it taught in Scripture about that.
19 You believe that Elohim is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
From this verse in James, we actually need to read the whole passage, we learn that faith without works is useless. The works mentioned by James are YHVH’s commandments. Faith is not a state of mind, faith is something we are to do.
This is what Paul taught about the law/instructions/Torah:
12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Did he say it is not necessary anymore? No, he kept the commandments and taught others to do the same. He even paid for the sacrifices of a few men in order to convince those, who were spreading rumours about him, that he was still keeping the commandments. Next, we can look into what Y’shua taught.
Did He say that He came to make YHVH’s instructions obsolete? No! He taught that He did not come to take YHVH’s commandments away, He came as a fulfillment of the Scriptures.
These are His words:
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
One of my Facebook friends wrote a very good explanation of this verse. He said “if the word fulfill was meant to mean take away, as it is taught, the verse would read “I did not come to abolish but to abolish.” That does not make any sense, does it?
When we accept Y’shua as our Saviour, we are to start living as He lived. He kept the commandments!The process of sanctification starts when we become believers and it will continue until we breathe our last breath. The question is where do you want to end up in the kingdom? Do you want to be the most or the least?
We also read the following in the book of Revelation:
12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of Elohim and their faith in Y’shua.
Consider what is written in this verse, we will rephrase it for better understanding. Here is the endurance of the set apart ones who keep the commandments of Elohim and keep their faith in Y’shua. This will be the only way in which we will be able to endure to the end, by keeping the commandments and keeping our faith in Y’shua. Is it not amazing how much truth is locked up in one verse and YHVH in His faithfulness shows that to us.
From this and the other quoted verses, we see that both are necessary. Faith in Y’shua and the keeping of the commandments!
In conclusion, we have learned what it means to see YHVH and that set apartness is needed for us to do so. We are called to be set apart, to come out of the world and be separate. This journey, with the goal of increasing set apartness, is to be walked by keeping the commandments of YHVH. His commandments teach us how He wants us to live. We do need His grace to achieve this. We are empowered by His grace to live the life He wants us to live. The forgiveness we get through the sacrificial death of Y’shua is grace actualized.
3 If You, YHVH, should mark iniquities, O YHVH, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.
This same grace empowers us to keep on living the set apart life and if we do, we will see YHVH. We hope you are blessed by this study and convinced to start or continue to live a set apart life for YHVH.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus.
- Bromiley, G. W. (Ed.). (1979–1988). In The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans.
- Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : a companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed., Heb 12:14). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Wright, D. P. (1992). Holiness: Old Testament. In (D. N. Freedman, Ed.)The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday.
- Jenney, T. P. (2000). Sanctify, Sanctification. In (D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck, Eds.)Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
- Lowery, D. K. (1985). 2 Corinthians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 571). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Tags: come out of her, consecrate, dietary instructions, feasts of YHVH, halo, holy, keep commandments, kosher, make holy, my people, righteous, Sabbath, sanctification, sanctify, set apart, Sunday, Y'Shua, Yhvh
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