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Focus Verse of the Week

"You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." - Leviticus 20:26

Leviticus 20:26Classic Commentary


No one can explain the phenomena of Israel and the Holy One of Israel adequately without realizing the fundamental distinctive of Yahweh's transcendence. The pagan format of a "below-above" interpretation of reality was challenged by the audacious claim of Israel to be created by and related to the only Holy One. It is apparent that Moses understood this division of reality. He bowed in awe, because an Other had confronted him One who is not to be manipulated and who desires a relationship prior to any service. Israel's existence was marked indelibly by the nature of its deity, "I am holy" was the basis for their worldview, history, spirituality, and purpose (Leviticus 11:44).

Various manifestations of the brightness of the glory of God were constant reminders that the Holy One was in the midst of his people (Exodus 13:21 ; Exodus 15:11 ; Exodus 40:34). More than simply a show of searing brilliance, however, the God of Israel appears in ways that indicate his desire to communicate his very nature to his own.

The One who is Other in nature and character provides the means by which Israel can live in the full reality of his nature, and in turn can come to share his aversion to all that is fundamentally unreal. This is shown most graphically in the distinction between the clean and the unclean, the sacred and the profane, the holy and the common throughout Israel's practical worship. Yahweh, who has sanctified a day and a bush, moves in deliberate steps to reveal actualized holiness in everyday life. All of life is seen as having the option of moving from the natural to the spiritual, from the relatively secular to the totally Holy. Sinai, the tabernacle, Israel's two camps, (one for the clean and one for the unclean), and ultimately the temple, each with their accompanying physical elements and human ministers, point to one goal: the possibility of dwelling with the Holy One (cf. Zechariah 2:13 ; Zechariah 14:20 ).

(Adapted from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

A Thought to Keep

Israel's way of life brought everyday matters (the profane) under the authority of God (the holy). Their concept of holy did not divide life into two spheres as the pagans around them did, but brought the profane under the holy for a whole life. Do we do the same?