READ: Today’s reading is Leviticus 22:1-8, but the extended passage is chapters 19-22.
In this passage, God informs Moses that he needs to tell Aaron that he and his sons need to remember to treat the holy offerings the Israelites consecrated to Him with reverence so they won’t desecrate God’s holy name, because He is God. Then, He proceeds to lay out a series of rules that tell what all could make them unclean and what they must to do avoid becoming unclean, as well as what they will need to do to become clean again.
THINK: In this section we are asked to read the passage again, noticing our reactions toward God about what we’ve read. It asks if we feel drawn closer to God or repelled from Him, and then, we are encouraged to talk with Him about it, exploring what could be the possible causes for our response. Then, the challenge comes to ask God to show us more of ourselves — “the memories, opinions, and feelings you bring to him on this day.”
This is where I began to wonder just what holy actually meant. So, I looked it up. I had what I thought was a rudimentary idea, but I wanted to make sure I knew for sure. It means consecrated, set apart, separated. Another definition is “set apart for a special purpose.” That definition I could grasp. But then: why the urge to be holy as God is holy?
I know how to set apart a thing or a person for a special purpose. But how does that apply to God? How does one define God as holy, when He is the one who does the defining? If he is above all things, and has created all things, and therefore, has dominion over all things…is that what makes Him HOLY? Is He holy because He is unchangeable? Because He is omniscient? Omnipresent? Omnipotent? I think I’ve discovered that the answer to all of these questions is: YES.
But what really struck me about that passage is just how unattainable true holiness really is apart from Christ. With all the rules the Levites had for being able to approach the Holy of Holies, it was no wonder they had to enter with a rope tied around their wastes. If they forgot even one thing, the Holy and Just God would have to punish their sin. Therefore, the only way that person was going to get out was by being dragged out. But, because of Christ, the veil to the Holy of Holies has been rent from top to bottom and, now, we are all free to enter in, to have a personal relationship with God, because Christ’s death and the shedding of the blood of the perfectly pure, sinless sacrifice paid the price for every sin for the rest of eternity. So long as we accept it. We no longer have to worry about whether or not we have asked forgiveness for every single one of our sins before we can go to God. We can come to Him with those sins, known and unknown, and ask Him to show us where we need to ask forgiveness and He will tell us, and then we can ask forgiveness for all of them and repent.
That is the only way that we can be holy as God is holy. Because, without Christ, we can never be seen as sinless. Without Christ, the best we could do is hope we hadn’t forgotten any of the rules, and had covered all of our bases, before we approached God.
You see with the God of the Bible and Christianity, there is no such thing as “good enough” or a balanced scale. You can never attain a state where the scales tip heavier on the side of your good works because as long as there is even a speck of dirt on the other side, you are all bad and deserving of an eternity in Hell, because a Holy and Righteous and Just God cannot and will not wink at sin. The wages of sin is death. Plain and simple. That is the holiness of God. And that is why we need Christ. Because of His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary, the debt of our sins has been paid. If we accept Christ, God will look at us and only see His Son standing in our place, saying: “His sins are paid for. I took care of that bill. He can come in.” Without Christ as our vouchsafe, we would all be doomed to Hell.
But as harsh as that sounds, it was God who provided that way out. God, who cared so deeply about His creation that He said, “He is not willing that any should perish” and that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God must punish sin because He is Holy, but He doesn’t want to because He loves His creation.
PRAY: This section challenges us to (maybe) ask God to help us increase our belief that He is holy, and then to ask Him to show us how this truth interacts with our first reaction.
LIVE: “Use this silent time to rest in the presence of the holy God, who has just made himself known to you. Let go of your own words and let yourself enjoy the experience.”
And with that, I will leave you. Take some time and let the weight of what the word HOLY means to you. See what God wants to show you. Then, if you’d like, drop on back by and share, if you’d like. I’d love to hear from you.