QEDOSH YISRAEL: holy one of Israel

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you go through deep waters and great trouble,

I will be with you.

When you go through rivers of difficulty,

you will not drown!

When you walk through the fire of oppression,

You will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43:1-3 NLT

The meaning of His name:

Just a few days ago I got that phone call no one wants.

Someone I love is dying.

As my knees buckled beneath me and I sank into a kitchen chair, all the weight of the world seemed bent to crush my heart. NO! Not yet, I need him.

I want him to live forever!

And even though I know he will, I want him here- with me, just a phone call away. I want his strength and the years of stories and his wisdom and all that balance he brings. I want him.

And so I asked questions… and I wanted to pretend… and I hoped the doctors got it wrong… and I looked up every little tidbit of information to be sure— and it is.

I am going to lose this one I love way sooner than I’d ever dreamed.

And nothing takes away the pain.

Except Someone. This One who calls Himself the Holy One of Israel.

A strange name, isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever grasped it until now, the meaning of this name. Always before, Holy One, sounded sort of far off and distant— and more than a little frightening.

In the midst of this beautiful soliloquy about His ransoming us and rescuing us and being with us and calling us His own, He highlights this name as if somehow I’d be not frightened, but assured by it.

Why in the world would He tag Himself with such a title here? Am I missing something?

Am I missing who He is?

Opening my study books in order to search for that missing something that fogs my understanding, I discover more. For one thing, the prophet Isaiah loved this particular title for God. He used this name over and over again as he wrote to warn his people about the perils of turning in their time of need to other gods.

He didn’t camp out on how nice God is or how much compassion He shows— instead, he warned them away from their default sins by calling attention to God’s extreme holiness.

He urges us to listen carefully in the midst of the thunderous cacophony of suffering. To pay close attention when that phone call comes. I hear Him warning me to turn away from anything and everyone who might distract me from His beauty.

In the midst of my pain He wants me to absorb myself in who He is.

Just a few paragraphs later, Isaiah wrote:

“The LORD,

your Redeemer,

the Holy One of Israel, says:

I am the LORD your God,

who teaches you what is good and

leads you along the paths you should follow.

Oh that you had listened to my commands!

Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and

righteousness rolling like waves.”

Is 48:17

And so I find that …

I have stumbled onto the only path to peace in the midst of turmoil.

This peace has nothing to do with pretending away the pain, nor is it found in a prescription meant to make me not feel so much. It does not involve 5 steps to pull myself out of awfulness. In fact, this way I have found has nothing to do with escape.

And it has everything to do with who God is.

Quedosh Yisrael… Holy One of Israel… and of me… and of you.

It is the holiness of the God I have given my life to that makes me not afraid of all that life throws my way.

In those deep waters and great troubles He will be with me. When difficulties overwhelm and oppression rages and people die before we’re ready— He promises His presence.

And because He is holy He will speak to me and lead me and whisper my name in the dark.

I am still grieving—still wishing this one I love would linger longer than it seems he will.

Everyday I weep for what will not be.

But the peace that holds my heart still is all wrapped up in this One who knows and weeps along with me.

And that’s enough.

From my heart,