February 21, 2007


Leviticus 20:7-14, 22-26

"I have set you apart from the nations to be my own." Leviticus 20:26


We may not know what God looks like, but we know what God means when he asks us to be holy. As with our parents, it's all in the instructions: "Don't run into traffic; don't touch a hot stove; stop hitting your sister; apologize to your teacher; listen to your doctor."

No one likes "don'ts," but they're terrific for keeping us from getting hurt. "Don'ts" teach us the limits within which we can enjoy life; they're the beginning of holiness, of being a people set apart to reflect God's holiness. Limits are necessary because it's our nature to do things that oppose God's will. We need limits.

Holiness begins by being set apart by God, forgiven and made clean, and empowered to live God's way. People who reject God live by the ways of this world, as the Canaanites did. God said he would remove the Canaanites from the promised land because they opposed his will and did all kinds of detestable things in their worship of other gods. That made them unholy.

God came to live in Israel's midst at Sinai to teach them how to be holy, living God's way. Our Lord Jesus came to live among us and die for our sins so that we might become like him and enter God's holy presence, enjoying new life. Reflect on Christ's holy sacrifice for us on that unholy cross. "Just as he who called you is holy, so [may you] be holy in all you do" (1 Peter 1:15).

For the sake of Christ's suffering and death, O Lord, help me to grow in holiness, becoming more like Jesus. Thank you for coming to live among us and to give us new life. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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