Ye shall be Holy: for I the LORD your God am Holy

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Ye shall be Holy: for I the LORD your God am Holy

#1 Post by AmosAU » 2 weeks ago

Here is a new short article just completed. I believe we have much to learn from the ancient instructions given to Israel. I also believe that the principles contained in the OT, are life promoting to all the servants of YHWH, in every age.

Ye shall be Holy: for I the LORD your God am Holy

Who was this said to? And, what does this really mean?

This verse it taken from Leviticus 19: 1, 2;

Lev. 19:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

This commandment of YHWH was made to the nation of Israel as part of the due process in their receipt of the Torah and Commandments.

But, what does it really mean? God is Holy and man is NOT holy. So the question remains, “How can man who is not holy, become holy?” Man is inherently flesh and blood, and God who is holy, is Spirit.

This question needs to be unpacked by realizing it needs 2 answers of explanation and/or application.

If we start immediately prior to the giving of the Ten Words (Commandments), by reading Exodus chapter 19: 1 - 7;

Exo. 19:1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.
3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

1) It should be understood that this involved the whole nation, all the tribes of Israel. It must also be understood that this was prior to the “sin of the golden calf.” So prior to this incident of the golden calf, there had been a covenant made or cut, between YHWH and the entire nation of Israel; “a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”

How could this then make sinful humans “holy” as YHWH God is Holy?
By Association!
This is why conduct and deeds of people or a nation is critically important as it reflects back on the God they belong to.

What is imperative in understanding the meaning of verses like these, is their cultural background at the time they were written. This was an ancient near eastern (ANE) people living amongst peoples of similar cultural backgrounds. This included the belief that how each nation lived, would reflect on the god (s) they claimed to worship and obey. The historically common belief at that time was that each nation were “owned” by the god/god's they worshipped and were associated with. Thus the need for the Israelite's to be holy, reflecting the type of God they belonged to and were owned by. The belief in ownership by God, is a separate topic in its own right.

However, following the incident of the golden calf, it was necessary for YHWH to make a change or amendment to this covenant. Of all the nation, it appeared that the tribe of Levi were the only tribe that were not directly involved in this sin. When commanded by Moses, the Levites subsequently took swift action against the ones responsible for the “golden calf image.”

2) It was the sin of the golden calf that made it necessary for Moses to be given the instructions contained in the book of Leviticus, and indeed for its inclusion in the Torah. By their involvement with the golden calf, Israel as a nation had committed spiritual adultery against YHWH, their God, master and husbandly owner.

This is why the tribe of Levi were chosen for the priesthood. The Levites, replaced all other tribes privilege to become “a kingdom of priests.” However, all tribes were still to become or remain a “holy nation.”

This whole change of structure within the nation, made the following amendment to the original covenant and intention of YHWH. Until this time, YHWH was responsible ALL the work in providing for, and caring for His “chosen people.” This included protecting them, giving them their daily sustenance and providing everything they needed for life itself. BUT things now changed, where due to their error, the nation would need to do some of the work involved in creating a “habitation” for YHWH to dwell amongst His people.

If we remember that on seeing the people dancing in front of the golden calf, Moses threw the tablets of the Testimony down and broke them. These had been prepared by and written on by YHWH Himself. This account is contained in detail in Exodus chapter 32.

What happens next? This is the first instance of YHWH stepping back and requiring man to step forward and become a co-worker with Him (YHWH).

Exo. 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I (YHWH) will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. 2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. 3 And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
4 And he (Moses) hewed two tables of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone.

It is seen here that Moses now had to make/cut a new set of stone tablets, but it was YHWH that wrote the Ten Words on them. So man became a co-worker with YHWH in determining his own future. Prior to this, he only had to obey YHWH. To put it another way, work shifts from the sole responsibility of “heaven” to now include earth (man's efforts). Israel as a nation, now became involved in bringing YHWH into their midst.

Prior to these events, it will be remembered that Israel were led by a pillar of fire by night, and a pillar of cloud by day. These were above their heads, in heaven. (Ex. 13:17-22) (This didn’t change) With the creation of the Tabernacle, this would symbolically bring YHWH down from heaven, (above their heads) into their midst here on earth. The presence of YHWH would dwell between the Cherubim on top of the ark of the covenant, in the Holy of Holies within the tabernacle. (It would later be within the first Temple built by Solomon.)

Once again, it was man's efforts to create this structure and all the furnishings and implements that were used in the officiating of all the sacrifices and rituals, at their allotted time (Moed) The instructions for all this work was given to Moses by YHWH Himself. Again, Heaven and earth involved in creating a dwelling place here on earth for YWWH to inhabit.

If we consider the structure of the Tabernacle and its contents, this was a microcosm of the creation account of Genesis chapter one. In Genesis chapter three, we can bring even more clarity and understanding into this situation.

Gen 3:8 And they heard the voice of יהוה Elohim walking about in the garden in the cool of the day, and Aḏam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of יהוה Elohim among the trees of the garden.

I believe it can be reasonably assumed that YHWH had been in regular contact with Adam and Eve since their creation. If this is correct, then in a way, the Tabernacle was a means of reinstating direct contact with YHWH, bringing Him down from heaven, to reside among us here on earth! This direct contact is something that Adam had lost for mankind. Hence the need for this “Royal Priesthood and holy nation.” (Ex. 19:5,6)

Regards, Amos.

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