In the last post, we considered the time Moses was told that his actions showed that he did not believe God and treat Him as holy; asking what Moses did not believe, and what does it mean to treat God as holy in our own callings/vocations/dailyness… We move now from the “you did not believe” into discussing our call to “be holy as I am holy.”
We previously defined holy: “God is Holy, that is to say, set apart, vastly different, especially as He is the One Being that is the source of all that is created, He alone having no source. It is His Supremacy in everything, as well as His purity in everything. Our holiness comes from Him, it is to be set apart by Him for Him; having our hearts roused to be in awe of Him, and our hearts made alive, purified by Him and for Him.” To be holy, then, is to be His, set apart by Him, walking in the obedience that the Holy Spirit leads us into.
Priests are Holy to the LORD
To begin, consider with me for a moment the rich symbolism found in this Old Testament garment, the priest’s turban, and the spiritual reality that the very same is even now written upon our own foreheads. The turban covered the forehead, and had written upon it “Holy to the LORD.” Holy to YHWH. The covenant Name, known to and used by His people. A name that set God apart from all the false gods of the surrounding cultures, and a name that set the Israelites apart as His people. We too are set apart, and sealed for the day of redemption!
Priests turban, “Holy to the LORD” Ex 28:36
His name will be on our foreheads Rev. 22:3-4
We are His priests, now! Here and now! A kingdom of priests, the fulfillment of the promise given in Exodus 19:5-6. Holy to the LORD, set apart among all others, to show forth the radiance of His glory, to proclaim His excellencies, to love others like He does, and to be the salt and light–making disciples, teaching them to observe all that He commanded (Matthew 28:18-20; Titus 2:11-15).
The priests of the OT had the special task of teaching the people, they were to speak and spread the truth of God’s words. This here and now kingdom of priests should be no different. We are a kingdom of those willing to pass on what we have learned, remaining faithful to God’s words, abiding in His words. One does not choose to be a priest, but is appointed by God: Ex 28; Numbers 3:10, 18:7–those who try to pry their way into the priesthood deserve death. We however have this calling…
The call to ‘be holy’
The New Testament quotes the Old Testament call from Leviticus; the same God, the One who does not change, has not changed His mind about holiness. Pause here to read 1 Peter 1, the whole chapter.
He still calls His people to be holy, and Peter emphasizes “in all your behavior.” He sets us apart, and calls us to be His, to be like Him, to look to Him to complete the work He has begun in us. Peter is not mistaken; he is not asking us to be whitewashed tombs or to attempt behavior modification.
What do we ‘do’ with this call then? Perhaps a better question is: how does He enable me to obey this call?
The Spirit will enable you, beloved. We walk by His strength, we are filled with His power and little by little learn to obey. Throughout our years on earth, He shows us new things to surrender, to put off, to put on…This is not an ‘all at once’ work, it is a life of faith and repentance, that will be manifested in our words and deeds.
2 Cor 7:1 Our call is to perfect holiness in the fear of God!!! It is a call to a life of action, not to sudden perfection. In light of the promises, “therefore” reminds us that we cannot separate this from the previous idea. Because He dwells with and in you, you have this call to a life of perfecting holiness.
This fear is not the same as being afraid of an enemy, it is not the fear expressed in Ecclesiastes by the Qohelet who tries to hide from God while eating and drinking because all is vanity… It is Coram Deo, living before the face of God, giving Him the reverence due His Name. With a healthy fear of God we will treat Him as holy in all we do, in whatever circumstances we are in, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit!
It is Lucy and Edmund in the book titled Prince Caspian–following Aslan because He invited them back onto the path, and is leading them toward the adventure set before them. Lewis beautifully describes the breath of Aslan strengthening and changing these children into Kings and Queens of Narnia. And the sweet comfort that came to Lucy as she buried her face in Aslan’s mane!
We are holy to the LORD as we are faithful in utterance! We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. We believe, therefore we speak. (2 Cor 4) We not only proclaim His excellencies, but also the story of how He has been active in our life all along, drawing us to Him, and now making us more like His Son (Romans 8).
He is daily with us, and we delight in that; we do not demand mountain-top experiences, but enjoy walking with Him at His pace; while we make it our aim to please Him (Colossians 1:9-11; 2 Cor. 5:1-9). He is holy, and we want to treat Him as such.
Resting, No more striving or grasping…
How often in the history written in Scripture we see people grasping at the roles of judge, prophet, priest, and king. People rushing ahead, making demands, coveting power, not waiting for God’s timing, taking by force what they cannot have: glory apart from Him.
In Christ, in God’s providence and perfect timing, a kingdom of priests reigning has begun. And those priests may be tempted to fear the mark of the beast as they listen to the poor theology of those who attempt to turn the book of Revelation into an allegory. But we need not fear! We are holy to the LORD. We listen to His words, remain in His words, and let Him breath on us, (remember, Aslan?) empowering us through His Spirit dwelling in us. We do not grasp for glory apart from Him, we wait for what Jesus prayed for in John 17, and our hope is sure.
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Add this to your confession this week, beloved; that you are a stranger here, and this world will never be your home. You are not going to acquiesce, nor will you be able to create a heaven on earth. You are a priest, abiding in His word and willing to proclaim His excellencies. You are to be good steward of this temporary earthly dwelling, yet not try to worship it or mistake it for a sanctuary or temple.
Yet you will:
‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their [a]produce. 6 Take wives and [b]become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. 7 Seek the [c]welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its [d]welfare you will have [e]welfare.’Jeremiah 29
And you will do all things knowing they are not ultimate …
But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7
And you will…
[pray and give thanks] on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:1-2