O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.
Family scripture study again. We got through five verses tonight (2 Nephi 9:19-24. This pace is killing my children.) Ok. "Got through" might be stretching it a bit. Tonight we got hung up on verse 20. I pointed out that it seemed odd that Jacob would use God's omniscience as proof that He is holy. I asked why but no one could come up with a good reason. A simple Google search, "define holy" did not help ("dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred").
Nathaniel had a heated argument with anyone who would engage (no one) explaining how God could not be holy because He can't dedicate Himself to Himself... or something... there was definitely a tautology going on in his argument.
I think the problem was our rudimentary definition. After giving up and ending our study session, I put the kids to bed and then in quiet consulted my Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Geoffrey W Bromiley edited by Gerhard Littel and Gerhard Friedrich. This was dubbed "Little Kittel" by my professor Dr. Dennis Rasmussen--at least it was from Dr. Rasmussen that I heard this nickname--because the editors managed to abridge 10 volumes into a mere 1,300 pages. This "little" book was one of the best investments I made in college.
According to Little Kittel, in Old Testament times, "God's holiness expresses his divine perfection." And then specific to the later chapters of Isaiah (like those Jacob was just quoting) Kittel says, "the Holy One of Israel is more fully manifested as the God of redemption rather than judgement. God is incomparable (45:25). In his holiness lies his mystery (45:15). This mystery is redemption; hence salvation and holiness are now firmly related (45:18ff. etc.)."
Given this explanation, Jacob's words in verses 20-24 make complete sense. Perhaps when we pick up here tomorrow I won't have to tune out Nathaniel. ;)