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Be Holy … because I, the LORD your God, am Holy

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

Ladies, I love turning the pages of a new year. Looking back gives me pause to celebrate the good times of the year past; likewise, to learn from the not so good. But when I look ahead, I feel as if God has dumped a ton of white fluffy snow on the days to come, for me to make fresh tracks on. And so, since it’s the beginning—well, almost the beginning—of this year, let’s begin at the beginning of God’s principles, with holiness.

God is holy. Indeed, God is utterly pure and transcendent in His holiness. Defining holiness is pretty well impossible. The Bible dictionary online takes a stab at it as infinite perfection. In The Message introduction to Leviticus, Eugene Peterson says this: “Holy means that God is alive on God’s terms, alive in a way that exceeds our experience and imagination. Holy refers to life burning with an intense purity that transforms everything it touches into itself.”

The four living creatures around the throne of God in heaven elevate God’s holiness to the third power: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8). Way back when, Moses and Miriam recognized the holiness of God: “Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).

Can you imagine what crossed Moses’ mind when God told him to tell the entire nation of Israel to “be holy”? Was it possible? Could they “live holy in a culture that didn’t have the faintest idea what holy was” (MSG Leviticus introduction)? Maybe yes, after all, they were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Maybe no; sin got in the way, demanding obedience to the law. Could they follow it? Would they follow it?   

Is it possible for you and for me to “be holy”? The answer is a resounding yes: …you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you by your forefathers, with the precious blood of Christ… (1 Peter 1:18-19). The law, in and of itself, is not the way. Jesus, who came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17), is.

Amen! And amen! Christ died for us so we can be holy.

Nancy P

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