from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
At times, God told Israel that they were a people holy to the Lord. They were holy because He had chosen them and made them so. For example:
You are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6, NASB)
At other times, they were commanded to be a people holy to the Lord. Being holy was their own responsibility.
I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:44, NASB)
How can we reconcile these approaches to being God’s holy people? Were they holy because God had made them holy, or were they to be holy by their own decision and effort? What makes God’s people holy?
- First, they were holy by God’s decision and God’s doing. God had separated them to Himself. He had chosen them as His own (v.6). Why?
–Not because they deserved it, but because of His great love (vv.7-8);
–Not because they had been faithful, but because He was faithful to His promises to Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob (v.9).
They were holy because God is holy. Whatever is God’s, whatever is separated to His service, is holy.
- In response to God choosing them and separating them to Himself, they were called to live as His holy people. They had to obey and separate themselves from the ways of the people around them (vv.2-3). They must not serve their gods (vv.4-5). They must obey God (v.11) and trust Him in times of need (vv.17-23).
God is holy, and He is the only source of holiness, so holiness is always His choice and His doing. But we must respond in faith and obedience. Those who did enjoyed all the continuing blessings of being God’s people (vv.12-15). Those who disobeyed were judged and buried in the wilderness. They never received God’s promised blessings (Hebrews 3:12 – 4:3).
Holiness is a living relationship with the holy God. Only He can initiate the relationship, but we must allow God to be our God in our thoughts, words, and actions.