The Holy One – Gospel in Life

The Holy One

Tim Keller |  April 10, 2011

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  • Sanctification
Joshua 5:13-6:5
RS 329-05


We’re looking at the characteristics— also known as the “attributes”— of God according to the Bible. This sermon looks at the holiness of God by way of an enigmatic and little known incident in the life of Joshua. We’ll get glimpses of the 1) Holy Lord; 2) the Holy Servant; and 3) the Holy Servant Lord.

Joshua 5:13–6:5

When we look at a lesser-known event in Joshua’s life right before the battle of Jericho, we can learn three important points about God’s sacredness or holiness: God as holy, Joshua as a holy servant, and Jesus as the holy Servant Lord. This helps us see God’s holiness from a fresh angle, beyond common examples like the burning bush or Isaiah’s temple vision.

1. God as holy

When Joshua meets the leader of God’s army, we see the challenge of winning over Jericho. God often reveals His holiness first when He introduces himself. His holiness shows He is perfect, unlike anything or anyone else, and doesn’t accept anything impure. This holiness shows us our own shortcomings, which can be both attractive and scary. Only people changed by God can truly appreciate it because it demands complete obedience to His will.

2. Joshua as a holy servant

Being holy isn’t just about not sinning. It means having a deep, single-minded dedication to God, not mixed with any other aims or desires. The Pharisees showed good behavior for selfish reasons, and a woman might do things to help her children succeed. These examples highlight the need for total devotion to God. As Christians, we’re asked to live in a way that stands out, attracting others with our honesty, kindness, purity, and generosity. This is how we respond to the challenge of living up to God’s expectations without copying the world’s habits.

3. Jesus as the holy Servant Lord

Three main insights come from Joshua’s meeting with the mysterious figure. First, God’s readiness to become human to save His people is shown by the Angel of the Lord, a way God can be present among sinful people. Second, the drawn sword represents the results of sin and the separation it causes between people and eternal life. But the sword isn’t used against sinners, instead, it’s for them, as Jesus later takes on the punishment for our sins. Finally, God’s holiness and our process of becoming more like Him enable us to take on big tasks, reminding us that through Jesus, God is for us, not against us.



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