The Holiness of God and the Call to a Holy life.

Ezra 8:28-36

“Then I Said to them, “You are holy to the Lord, and the utensils are holy; and the silver and gold are a freewill offering to the Lord God of your fathers.”

 

            Of all the attributes of God, his holiness remains central and governs all aspects of his nature. When we think of one attribute that captures the essence of God, we think of his love. However, in the heavenly temple, we find that the attribute that the angels proclaim in a continual anthem of praise is his holiness. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is given a vision of heaven with God sitting on a throne. In the midst of his throne room, Seraphim hover above him. The word “Seraphim” refers to “Fiery beings” and describes angelic beings who were brilliant as flaming fire, symbolizing the power and purity of God. They proclaim an eternal anthem of praise that celebrates the holiness of God. So powerful is their cry that even the thresholds of the temple were shaken at their voice. This same imagery is repeated in the New Testament, in which John is given a vision of heaven. Once again, we find angelic beings proclaiming the holiness of God (Revelation 4:8).  

            The word holy has the meaning of absolute moral purity. Central to the word's meaning is the idea of apartness and separation. God‘s holiness means that he is completely set apart from any association with was is evil. He is absolutely good without any hint or taint of sin. To describe God’s holiness, John uses the analogy of light, that God’s light is so pure there is no speck of darkness (unlike our sun, through so brilliant that it blinds our human eye, yet has observable dark spots). With God, there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  

            As divine image bearers, we are likewise called to be holy and separated from sin. So central is this in our Christian life that John states that “if we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth”  (1 John 1:6). To willfully remain in sin is an indication of our disdain for the holiness of God and for God himself.  

            As the people return to the land of Israel, Ezra reminds the priests that they are called to be holy to the Lord. In other words, the priests were to be set apart for, and only for, the service of God. Furthermore, the utensils were also holy. In other words, they were never to be used for daily or ordinary use, but they were only to be used in the context of the service of the temple. Just as the priests were set apart from all other Jews to serve God, the utensils were set apart from all other utensils to serve God. 

            In the Old Testament, only the priests were set apart for God’s use. However, when we come to the New Testament, we discover that all believers are called to be priests and set apart for God’s use. In other words, our whole life is dedicated to God alone and for his service. This call to be a holy people is not just for “full-time” pastors and ministers but for everyone who is a follower of Jesus. No matter our career or activity, where we are at, or what we are doing, we are to live in dedication to the service of God. There is no difference between the secular and the sacred. We are not just to worship and serve God Sunday mornings and the rest of the week go about our own business. Every activity, every event, every purpose, and every place is sacred so that everything is brought into the context of our relationship with God. Start this week by praying every morning for God to use you and glorify himself through you in every moment of the day, for you are holy to the Lord.   

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