In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. --Genesis 1:1-2
Open the beautiful, sacred text of the Bible, translated here from the original Hebrew, and within four English words - FOUR - we read of God's holiness.
In the beginning, God…
In the nothing, God.
Before dawn, God.
God is beyond space and time and matter. He can not be contained by these things because he created these things. In fact, add in the fifth word to see exactly that: In the beginning, God created…
So this forever, eternal God created all things, is above all things, and outside all things. He stands alone and apart. He is entirely different, completely other, there is nothing like Him. He is HOLY.
First four words, guys. Ooooh, this Book is so good! But let's not stop there. Take a look at the end of verse 2.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
When I read this, I remember the births of my two little girls. They entered our world and were immediately placed in my arms. Cuddled high against my chest, my face hovered just above theirs. I took my first look at those precious beings, memorizing their features. I wanted to see them, but I also wanted them to see ME. At birth, babies can only see about 8 inches beyond their noses so I got all up in their personal space. I wanted them to SEE and KNOW me as their mother, to feel my love.
God didn't just create; He hovered over his creation. He said, "Look at me. I am your Creator and I am your Father. Know my voice, seek my face, feel my love - for I am near." He is NEAR.
It's an interesting thing to think simultaneously about God's holiness and God's nearness because God's holiness is the very thing that requires our separation from Him. He is different, set apart, good. And, quite simply, we are not. To be near us in our not-goodness would deny His being set apart as wholly good. But out of His deep love for us and through his astounding grace, He made a way to be both holy and forever near.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. --John 1:1-3
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. --John 1:14
The book of John starts in the same way Genesis does (In the beginning), but John tells us, in the beginning was the Word. We know from verse 14 that John is calling Jesus Christ "the Word" and we'll look at why in a moment. But for now, let's focus on this: in the beginning was Christ, and Christ was with God, and Christ was God. Forgive me as I copy/paste/edit my previous words, but:
In the beginning, Christ...
In the nothing, Christ.
Before dawn, Christ.
Christ is beyond space and time and matter. He can not be contained by these things because these things were created through Him. Christ is HOLY.
And while God was near as he hovered over his creation, Christ was NEAR as he became flesh and dwelt among us. Christ stepped down from His heavenly, holy home to walk our dirt. He robed Himself in our skin to live among us - THAT'S the level ofnearness we're talking about here. And He did it for the cross before Him.
God is holy and near, despite His holiness requiring His separation. How? Because Jesus Christ is holy and came near. Because Christ. Because in the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh.
John calls Jesus the Word because he had come to see the words of Jesus as the truth of God and the person of Jesus as the truth of God in such a unified way that Jesus himself - in his coming, and working, and teaching, and dying and rising - was the final and decisive Message of God.
In the very first verses of the Bible, God teaches us of His holiness and nearness. We are newborn creation gazing into the hovering face of our Maker as He whispers to us Who He is and how He loves us. He continues to do so throughout the Bible, but these whispers are collected as one in the work and personhood of Jesus Christ. Jesus was full of grace and truth. God's loving grace was exercised in Jesus and that profound truth is the ultimate Message God has for us.
But now in Christ you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. --Ephesians 1:13