“Obey my laws, because I am the LORD and I make you holy.” Leviticus 20:8 (GNB)
The Book of Leviticus is pre-eminently the book of the law with instructions governing the lives of the people of Israel. Laws and instructions about marriage, sexuality, medical matters, the economy, festivals, sacrifices, morality, the giving of tithes and many more subjects are found there. The punishment for trespassing to us of a modern era is, in some instances, quite shocking, and the call to be holy because God is holy, seems to be completely unattainable. If holiness was to be reached by scrupulously obeying every single instruction, it seems like a hopeless case right from the beginning.
Is it ever possible to be holy? Is it possible for me to become holy? Our idea of what holiness means is very often distorted by the notion that holiness is synonymous with super faith. Nothing can be further from the truth – as holiness is not something that I can attain by my own strong faith or my deeds of goodwill or whatever. God Himself is M’Kaddesh, the Lord who makes us holy. Only He can make us holy and this is not trying to slip through the back door to avoid a difficult subject.
The word “holy” means to be different or set apart. When we speak about God as holy, it means that he is completely different from what we can comprehend. For us to be holy also means that God makes us completely different from what we were. In the age that the Book of Leviticus was written, it meant that he made His people completely different from the surrounding nations amongst whom the moral and religious laws of God were lacking. His laws were not meant to make life unbearable, but to set His people apart from the heathen nations.
To us holiness does not mean to be super religious, but to be different from the world, different in the way we talk, think, behave, and especially about the way we think about a Supreme Being. Holiness is a gift of God through faith.
Prayer: We thank you, Holy God, that you set us apart so that we can praise Your holiness. Amen