I had mentioned in this post back in November that I was studying the life of Moses with my local BSF group. We started with Exodus and we have recently completed Leviticus. I wanted to revisit the idea of holiness, a central theme in Leviticus, and share with you a few nuggets of truth that have been reinforced throughout this bible study through Scripture, notes, lectures and discussions shared among the participants.
The book of Leviticus is filled with instructions on how to approach and worship God by way of offerings, rules and regulations related to ceremonial purification, and guidelines for holy living. The instructions are detailed and God makes it clear that they are to be followed just as He commanded. We also learn about the different holy days that were to be observed annually, which, in one way or another, served as a reminder of the Israelites’ relationship with God.
After reading chapter after chapter of detailed directions on how to worship God, the first thing that came to mind was, “why in the world did God make it so difficult for us to approach Him?” This is where the paradigm shift comes in. The question really should be, “why in the world did we leave God’s loving presence in the first place?” God deeply desires to be in fellowship with His people. In both Exodus and Leviticus, God’s intention to dwell among His people is brought forth repeatedly. We see this in Exodus 29:45-46 where it says, “Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.”
God deeply desires to be in fellowship with His people.
Here’s the problem. God cannot dwell among sin. It’s against His nature. 1 John 1:5 clearly states, “…God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” Therefore, all the detailed guidelines for approaching God through offerings, for atoning of sins, for purification, and finally, for holy living, were absolutely necessary processes that the Israelites had to undergo in order to be in the presence of God. It says in Hebrews 12:14, “…without holiness no one will see the Lord.” God could have easily dismissed our relationship as unworthy, but instead, He went to great lengths to provide ways for us to fellowship with Him.
As we fellowship with Him, God calls us to be holy…
As we pursue holiness, God promises abundant blessings.
As we fellowship with Him, God calls us to be holy, to be set apart for Him, unblemished by the world. The more we fellowship with Him, the more likely we will naturally pursue holiness. We see this in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” However, God knows of our sinful nature, that we are less than perfect beings, prone to mistakes. It is God’s grace and mercy that has allowed us to be made perfect thru His Son, Jesus Christ. Thru Christ, we are no longer under the constraints of the law but under God’s abounding grace. Paul explains it very clearly in Romans 8:3-4, “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
God promises to the Israelites that if they follow His decrees and obey His commands, among many other blessings, He says, “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:11-12). But He also warns of punishment for disobedience in the latter half of Leviticus 26. I was reminded in one of the BSF lectures that God is like a loving parent who is ready and eager to shower His children with blessings, but He cannot reinforce disobedience. It makes me wonder whether, sometimes, I shortchange myself and block God’s blessings by disobeying Him.
This is what God desires,
for us to remain in Him as we trust and obey His Ways.
As we pursue holiness, God promises abundant blessings. I don’t know, from my human perspective, I feel that God got the short end of the stick in this situation. If you think about it, God really does all the work in this relationship. He is the generous giver and we are the undeserving receivers of His love. And what He asks in return is simple. This is what God desires, for us to remain in Him as we trust and obey His Ways.
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