You shall be Holy

Malcolm Baker delves into Scripture to understand the true meaning of holiness

“You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (Leviticus 20:26). This verse from Leviticus explains that to be holy, one is not necessarily morally pure, as many suppose. Scripture shows that God sometimes required the prophets to act beyond or even contrary to the Law. Elijah was required to eat unclean food (1 Kings 17:2-6); Hosea to marry an adulteress (Hosea 1: 2-3; 3:1); and Isaiah to appear naked in public for three years (Isaiah 20: 2-4). Holiness is that one is separated from all other peoples, by the Lord, to the Lord. We are His possession.

The verses in Genesis 2:2-3 do not contain any anthropomorphic expressions. This teaches us, particularly in the account of creation, how great the gulf is between the Creator and the created. The verb wayyišbōth has been translated or interpreted incorrectly as if to signify ‘to rest’ or to ‘cease work’ . There is no mention of rest or refreshment in this particular portion of Scripture. It is rather, ‘and He abstained from His work.’  God is separate from His creation.  When history began, there was only one holiness in the world, holiness in time.  The first thing God made holy was a portion of time, the seventh day. God separated the light from the darkness.

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