Do you have a special item you keep “for good”? Like the “good” plates for entertaining, or that special shirt for “good” occasions? It occurred to me that this is similar to holy relationship.
Stay with me. All will make sense … ish.
If we treasure something, either for sentimental reasons like an heirloom, or for investment reasons like I-worked-really-hard-for-this, we take special precautions to keep it safe and “good as new”. We protect it and set it apart from everyday use.
Another interesting thing about those, “for good” items is that they reveal something about the owner; who or what is important to them. When the heirloom, or what we’ve invested in, comes out on show, it demonstrates not only priorities and taste, but relationship as well.
When God chose Israel, He designed them “for good” and made them holy. They were intended to reveal to the world His priorities, character and relationship.
If we skim over the Leviticus passage (Exodus 25:1-Numbers 10:10), we see an awful lot of rules and regulations. But as I wrote in Holy Lives, God established these to instruct His people, to take good care of them and to keep them safe.
Before they entered the Promised Land, Israel had to learn who God was, what was expected of them, and how to represent Him in a world at odds with Him.
Our God is holy. He is pure and perfect in every way. The moment humanity chose to step out of relationship with Him by sinning, we distanced ourselves from Him … we set ourselves apart and caused the rift.
By establishing the process of holy sacrifice, Yahweh taught His children that the consequence of disobedience is death. And not only that, but He was prepared to pay the price and suffer the penalty of our choice. He healed the rift:
8 Abraham answered [Isaac], “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”Genesis 22:7-8
Once we are reunited with the Author of Life through holy sacrifice, we too are set apart from those who are in opposition to God. Our task then is to stay in the world, but close to Him in holy relationship. This is the only way in which we can succeed in being God’s representatives.
However, holy relationship is not based on ritual, rites, or religious rigmarole:
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.Hosea 6:6
The religious procedures were there to inspire right attitude:
6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts …, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.Deuteronomy 30:6
And demonstrate right relationship … Holy relationship:
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.Micah 6:8
We’re kind of like that special crockery handed down from Aunt Maude. It was once perfect and beautiful, but now it has “character”.
Whilst guests may admire the charm of the “good” crockery, they can also see the link; the relationship. It’s not treasured because of its financial value. It’s cherished because of who Aunt Maude is/was.
And that’s kind of like us. We’re not perfect. We’re chipped and broken. But in the Father’s eyes we have great worth because of who we are and who He is. The greatest value we have is that which He has bestowed upon us.
However, it’s important to remember that “for good” is not “too good”; the primary purpose of crockery is to get dirty. And, while guests may appreciate the plates, they’re more interested in the fellowship shared around them, and the food served upon them. Dishes permanently stored in the cupboard unused are useless.
Obviously, this analogy is as airtight as a colander, but the main point I picked up studying Leviticus was the overwhelming amount of bloodshed and religious rigmarole come from a heart of love.
Instead of seeing the mandate, the wages of sin are death as an ultimatum from an overbearing God, we should see it as a lesson taught by a loving parent. Just like the laws of physics, it’s a fact:
The result of human disobedience is distance: hd=D3
God’s law serves to keep us safe and close to Him. Its purpose is to keep us set apart from sin and disobedience so that we can be used “for good”, demonstrating the Father’s love.
God’s holiness will always be a serious matter, but so too is His love. Because God’s message will always be about genuine, holy relationship between a holy God and His beloved children.
- Is this interpretation of God’s law too simplistic?
- Is OT law still relevant?
- If so, how do we blend the “Old” and “New” law?