Leviticus: IV. Holiness

Submitted by Kyleigh on Sun, 03/20/2011 - 10:04

I apoligize for not posting more of this sooner. It's been done almost a month now, though I just finished editing it today. It's been a bit of a crazy month. There's one more section after this, and then hopefully a summary poem... which I've yet to write any of yet, so we'll see if it ever shows up.

 st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } 4. Holiness Leviticus 18-22. “Grandfather,” I said. He turned to see me. “Why does God care about even the little things in life?”

            “What do you mean, Josiah?” I asked.

            “I was reading in the Torah today,” I said. “I’ve been reading from a copy of Paul’s letter that father has, but this morning I was reading Moses’s writings. In Leviticus it seems that God is concerned with so many little details of life.”

            He nodded. “He does hold us accountable for even the minor details of our lives. There is right and wrong in everything, and without His guidance, we would always choose the wrong.”

            “But why does it matter so much how we live our day-to-day lives? Why does it matter that we help the disabled and the outcast?”

            My grandfather smiled to himself. I wondered if he had asked that question as a boy as well. I wondered why God would want to concern Himself so much with the small affairs of men. Weren’t there more important things?

            “The relationship between us and God is initiated by Him, for the sake of His glory and His covenant people,” grandfather began. “He is a holy God, and His people must be set apart like Him, and reflect His character in our lives. This makes us a peculiar people to those who do not know the Lord God, but it makes even the little things in life beautiful to those who know Him. Which laws in particular were you struggling with?”

            “Why there is so much emphasis on relations between men and women, on loving your neighbor, and the civil laws? I know Jesus declared all foods clean, and that is why we may eat anything, and that He was our sacrifice, so we no longer need the temple, but what about civil laws? Why is it no longer necessary that we follow those?”
            “I will answer your questions in the order you asked them. Marriage is a picture of Christ and His people – you know this from the teachings of Paul. The nations have defiled marriage by lying with those not their wives. Israel was set apart in this way, in keeping God’s law, and honoring Him instead of dishonoring Him, themselves, and each other by disobeying His commands. The basis of our morality is the character of God. We must be careful to guard that, and the sanctity of marriage as a picture of Christ and the church.”

            I nodded, and grandfather went on.

            “The same is true of loving our neighbors – and the outcast as well. In Leviticus it talks about the social expression of love. Again, all of this is rooted in the character of God. He tells Israel to live a certain way because He is the Lord. This is why the commands to love our neighbor and to live in purity do not change, even after Christ, because the character of God does not change.

            “The laws about loving your neighbor teach us how to live in community, bending self-love outward to others. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. What did He say is the second greatest?”
            “To love your neighbor as yourself,” I replied promptly.

            “Only when you love God with all your being can you even think to love your neighbor as yourself. Josiah, have you ever loved God with all you are, even for a moment?”

            I shook my head. I knew that this condemned me to death by God’s law. But I also knew the other half of the story.

            “Yet Jesus did this every moment on earth, and He bore God’s punishment for our failure to do so. Our debt of love is due to whoever needs it – even the outcast. Do you understand that?”

            “Yes, grandfather. But what about civil laws?”

            “Israel was a political entity, and as such it needed civil laws. Again, these laws set Israel apart from other nations, reflecting God’s holiness. The laws were a scaffolding, not complete in themselves. Other nations would lead Israel away from God. These laws kept them holy and undefiled. They showed the seriousness of sin, and Israel became a peculiar people to the nations, a display of God’s glory.

            “These laws make no sense to those who do not worship God. They seem trivial and petty to people who do not understand the Holiness of God. They seem useless to those who don’t know that only the holy can draw near to Him. We now draw near through Christ, Israel had to through sacrifices, laws, and priests. Our holiness is now shown in a different way, because our holiness is in Christ. Josiah, do you display His glory in your lifestyle? Do you have a growing desire for holiness?”

            Grandfather returned to his work, leaving me to ponder Christ, the law, and my own pursuit of holiness. I considered His unflinching demands of justice, and then rested in knowing that He makes holy.


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