Scripture: “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 22:31-33 ESV
Observation: Chapters 21-22 of Leviticus record the Lord’s further instructions to Moses regarding the priests’ and laity’s protocol when presenting offerings before their holy God. As for the priests, both they and the animal sacrifice must be unblemished with the understanding that Israel’s Holy God will not accept second best. People must also be undefiled, whether caused by disease or coming in contact with a dead body (human or animal). And if one becomes desecrated, they must follow the cleansing protocol before presenting their sacrifices before the Lord. Lastly, while means of remedy are available in most instances, no priest who suffers a malformity or blemish may enter into the Holy of Holies because it is where the presence of the Lord resides. They may fulfill other duties of their priestly office but not that of the animal sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.
God concludes his instruction (most of which is a reiteration) by ordering all of Israel to keep his commandments, for disobedience is tantamount to profaning his holy name (verses 21-22 above). And he reminds them that he is Yahweh, who sanctifies them and has brought them out of Egypt (verse 23 above).
Takeaway: As mentioned in previous Daily Focus devotions, to be sanctified does not refer to perfection but to being set apart for God as his holy people. Still, this is a two-way transaction: he seeks to be set apart for us and desires us to set ourselves apart for him. And all aspects of this process are initiated by him, for outside the work of the Holy Spirit, our sinful hearts would reject God. Hence, at the immeasurable cost of the life of his Son, our Lord reconciled us to himself to set us apart from worldly idol worship that competes for our affections. And like Israel, he reminds us that we are his first love, as evidenced by emancipating us from our Egypt of oppressive sins.
And this is our Gospel: that our unblemished Christ, who knew no sin, became the sanctified sacrifice for our sins to make us righteous (sanctified, set apart) for God (2 Corinthians 5:21). And his Holy Spirit works in us a deepening love for him that motivates us to obey his commands so that the Father and Son “may be sanctified” among us, we who are God’s chosen people.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the extraordinary sacrifice of your Son to set us apart as your chosen people. Would you please help us to cooperate with your Holy Spirit to set you apart from all other affections of this world so that we might glorify you and enjoy you forever? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling