My Lent Words 6: Holy enough to approach

Qados is translated by the word holy. Opinion is divided as to whether this is based on brightness (can’t look at it), or separateness (too far away) but in fact both ideas are helpful.


Holiness is the characteristic of God. It is the adjective most often twinned with the name of God in the Old Testament. When Isaiah sees the Lord on the throne the seraphs are crying:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ (Isaiah 6:3)

For Isaiah, God is too bright to look at. Doing so, he feels ruined.

‘‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’’ (Isaiah 6:5)

When God invites me into his presence, he covers or blots out my sins and I can approach the unapproachable.

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