A Holy Nation #1

Monday, January 20, 2014

“For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45 KJV).

Today’s Scripture summarizes a book most burdensome to many.

An individual with whom I recently spoke had difficulty fathoming the necessity of the “strange” Old Testament kosher food laws (Leviticus chapter 11). In fact, the entire book of Leviticus (27 chapters) contains what many call “nit-picky” rules and regulations.

Leviticus—whose name is derived from Levi, the tribe of Israel’s priests, the main people of the book—abounds with JEHOVAH’S highly detailed instructions to Israel regarding blood sacrifices and food offerings, sexuality, clothing, health laws for lepers (those who contracted various skin diseases), a complex calendar of yearly feasts, farming practices, servitude and real estate, tithing, clean and unclean foods, an elaborate system of divine judgment in response to their disobedience, et cetera. The average Bible reader stumbles over this book. Why was God so strict and demanding? Did He just enjoy bullying Israel and controlling her every move?

Moses advised Israel in Deuteronomy 4:6-8: “Keep therefore and do [God’s statutes and judgments]; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statues, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”

As today’s Scripture indicates, JEHOVAH is “holy,” and He wanted Israel to be “holy.” “Holy” in this sense means, “set apart [sanctified],” not sinless. Just as JEHOVAH was separate from the false idols of the heathen (Psalm 96:4,5, for example), so He wanted Israel to be separate from the nations of the world. He had redeemed them from Egypt (a type of the world), and now they were to live like His people!

Now, we begin to see why God was so “demanding” in the Mosaic Law….