Read: Leviticus 10-12, Matthew 26:1-19
Let’s face it, once we’ve read through the incredible story of creation, the flood, Joseph and the exodus from Egypt, the Bible can get a little boring. It feels as though we’re in the doldrums and may never get out. But just because we don’t live under the old covenant doesn’t mean that the ideas and reasoning behind all those commands no longer apply to us.
But all of that was for the priests, wasn’t it? Yup, it sure was.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
Now that we’ve established that we are priests, we can look at some of this in a different light.
Before we start trying to make any distinctions, let’s find out what we’re trying to distinguish.*
HOLY: Properly, whole, entire or perfect, in a moral sense. Hence, pure in heart, temper or dispositions; free from sin and sinful affections.
COMMON: Usual; ordinary. Of no rank or superior excellence.
UNCLEAN: Not clean; foul; dirty; filthy. In the Jewish law, ceremonially impure, not cleansed by ritual practices.
CLEAN: Free from extraneous matter, or whatever is injurious or offensive. Free from dirt or other foul matter. Free from moral impurity; innocent.
There are some that believe God pulled some of His instructions out of a hat simply to see if Israel would obey. But since God had purpose in everything else He’d accomplished up to that point, I find it difficult to believe He’d throw in a few random instructions just to watch His people squirm.
In some cases, the instructions were for health reasons and, in other cases, the instructions were for cultural reasons. In everything God required of His people, the end result was that they were set apart. They were not like the other nations in the way they lived or worshipped. All of the parameters set before them set them on a straight and clear path to God Himself.
If we look at these instructions in that light, they certainly do apply to us.
God wants us to be set apart. Pure in heart. Free from sin and sinful affections. Why would we even want to be ordinary? God wants us to be free from extraneous matter. Why would we even want to foul up our lives with dirt or anything that is injurious or offensive? Just as these things applied to the priests under the old covenant, they apply to us all today.
Being set apart doesn’t mean we’re a weird cult with special Kool Aid. It simply means that we’ve been called to live a different life, free from distractions that would separate us from God. Everything we choose to keep in our lives that doesn’t make us clean or holy is a roadblock or pothole in our path to God. It hinders our relationship with Him.
God is not a backyard bully trying to make us do tricks to be mean. All He wants is a clear path between He and us. Jesus’ blood left the door open, but it’s up to us to distinguish that which either clears or clutters our path.
*As usual, my definitions are coming from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.