“My Holy Nation”
“And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.”
Yesterday we saw that the Lord designated Israel to be his “kingdom of priests.” This meant, not only that Israel would have priests, but that the priests would guide the nation. Moreover, Israel had a priestly role within the whole world as the nation through which God would make himself known to all nations.
A similar meaning adheres to the phrase “my holy nation” (goy qadosh in Hebrew). Holiness has to do with something being set apart for a special, sacred purpose. As a holy nation, Israel will not be like the other nations. This will be fleshed out in specific beliefs and practices, such as: monotheism, the Sabbath, rule by judges, etc. Yet Israel’s holiness is not simply a matter of separateness from the world. It also elucidates Israel’s special calling as God’s representative in the world. Israel will be different, not simply for the sake of differentness, and not only for relationship with God, however crucial this may be. Rather, Israel’s differentness allows the nation to fulfill its role as the one through whom all families on earth will be blessed (Gen.12:1-3).
As Christians, we are a holy people. Like Israel, we have been set apart from this world for relationship with God and to fulfill his purposes. Our holiness consists, not just in our being different from our neighbors, but also in our devotion to God’s mission through us. If you are holy in your workplace, for example, this does not mean you must speak in “Christianese” and display Christian symbols in your office. It does mean that you will choose to be a person of integrity and compassion, reflecting the truth and love of Christ in your daily work. It does mean that you will see your workplace as a primary context for you to live out your high calling to serve the Lord. From God’s perspective, when you are at work, you are a “saint,” a holy person set apart for his purposes. Together, we are God’s holy nation, both when we are gathered for worship and fellowship and when we are scattered into the world as God’s special representatives.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When you think of holiness, what images, actions, or ideas come to mind? How can you be a holy person in your workplace? family? neighborhood? church?PRAYER: Holy God, even as you once set apart Israel as your holy people, so you have set us apart to know you and serve you. How thankful I am to be one of your “saints.” This is nothing I’ve earned, as you know. It is what you, by your grace, have called me to be.
Help me, dear Lord, to live as a holy person. Preserve me from thinking that my holiness has to do with a show of religiosity. Rather, may I be holy as you are holy: truthful, compassionate, forgiving, loving. Help me to live out this call to holiness in every aspect of my life. Amen.