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Archive for the ‘Holiness’ Category

Leviticus is one of the books of the Bible many people confess they “can’t get through.” But I’m convinced that in giving us 66 books, God intended us to read and study each of them with diligence. I expect to receive insight from the book of Leviticus. I have not been disappointed.

For I am the Lord your God; so consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy. . . 5 For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; therefore you shall be holy, for I am holy.
Leviticus 11:44a, 45 (Amplified)

At first glance, these verses can be daunting–how can I be holy like God? One only need read the five books of the law to see the holiness of God and how unreachable that standard is for any human.

But then I consider the character of God and remember that God wouldn’t command me to be what was impossible for me to be.

God is holy–only God can make me holy.

Only God can set me–my life–aside for holy work. This is not something I can do for myself. I could never make myself holy–nor could any water or oil or ritual of man make me holy.

Holiness–the work of sanctification (being set apart for God)–is something only God can do.

So what is my part?

I must prepare. I must be available. I must obey.

See also Leviticus 19:2, 20:7; 1 Peter 1:15

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Two mountains which figure prominently in the Bible when taken together, represent the character of God.  One mountain is characterized  by a consuming fire.  On that mountain, God displayed His judgment and His holiness.  The other mountain is characterized by blood and sacrifice.  On that mountain, God displayed His consuming love and mercy.

Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai is the backdrop for Israel’s receipt of the Law.  The mountain is where God met Moses and is primarily characterized by fire:

  • Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.  Exodus 19:18
  •  The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.  Exodus 24:17
  • Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.  Deuteronomy 4:11
  •  The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire.  Deuteronomy 5:4
  •  Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.  Deuteronomy 9:10
Mount Zion
The other mountain is Mount Zion (found within the land given to the tribe of Judah).   Mt. Zion was sometimes called The City of David, and descriptions of Mt. Zion paint a very different picture from those describing Mt. Sinai:
  • Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed-This Mount Zion where You have dwelt.  Psalm 74:2
  • But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.  Psalm 78:68
  •  Those who trust in the LORD Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.  Psalm 125:1
  • And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.  Joel 2:32
  • Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.  Revelation 14:1

Paul makes the case for the two mountains in his letter to the Hebrews:

For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. . . . And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.   Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.  Hebrews 12:18-29

It is the same God of both mountains, so we should keep both mountains in view:

  • one where God laid down His law, a place of judgment.
  • one where God laid down His life, a perfect sacrifice, a place of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
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Jesus said,  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”  Matthew 23:27.

He meant they appeared to be clean on the outside, but inside they were nothing but a grave, full of the bones and carcases of dead men.  Jesus was getting at the issue of holiness.  Holiness is not outward compliance with rules and regulations . . . that is the definition of legalism.

Holiness is a heart transformed, desiring to go God’s way.  For the  truly holy man or woman, no outward rules are required.  The desire to please God, to obey God, to maintain fellowship with God will keep him or her from evil.  The Christian has very few outward restraints on his or her conduct.  The restraint is borne out of relationship with God.

May your heart be transformed so that you require no outward rules to make or keep you holy, but only a desire to please the heart of the Father, a love for the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit.

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