Today’s reading: Leviticus 19-20, Hebrews 7
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:1-2).
The first two verses of Leviticus 19 set God’s expectation for his people. His message was very clear. Be holy. The problem was…his people needed help understanding exactly what it meant, and how holiness was to show up in their daily living. What about you? Do you know what it means to be holy and how it shows up in your life? To be honest, I needed a little help connecting the dots.
The Hebrew word for “holy” means to be set apart for a specific purpose. The purpose for which the Old Testament Israelites were set apart, and the purpose for which Christfollowers today are set apart, are the same. We are to be used for God’ purposes, to bring glory to him. That makes sense to me, but what does it really look like to be set apart? How does it look to be different than others?
It is no surprise that the Israelites needed help connecting the dots too. The next 35 verses of Leviticus 19 are a painfully detailed description of God’s expectations for how his people were to act. In the Old Testament, this was the recipe for being set apart. Have you ever wondered why some people think the Bible is a book of don’ts? This is why. In 37 verses of Leviticus 19, the words “do not” appear 26 times. Nevertheless, for God’s people in the Old Testament, the law outlined in Leviticus was the recipe they were to follow to be holy. Set apart. Different from others.
Fortunately for us, we are not under Old Testament Law. Jump forward to Hebrews 7 with me.
For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken its place. And that is how we draw near to God…it is Jesus who guarantees the effectiveness of this better covenant (Hebrews 7:19, 22).
We no longer have to rely on sacrificed animals and priests to be the mediator between us and God. Jesus, our high priest, is our eternal mediator. Under the new covenant, Jesus’ death on the cross was the once and for all payment for our sins. If we accept him as Savior and Lord, his blood will cover our sins and make us perfect and acceptable to God on judgement day.
Makes sense, but again, how is being holy supposed to show up in our daily actions today? Fortunately Jesus collapsed all the Old Testament do’s and don’ts into two guiding principles for our lives.
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
When our actions consistently demonstrate that we love God and love other people, we will look different than others. Holy. Truly set apart.