“I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples.”
If you asked people to name their LEAST favorite book of the bible, many would choose Leviticus. It’s full of rules and regulations, many we can’t imagine following. I get that. I find myself wanting to skim over all the detail about braided, colored threads and golden hoops. Yet, when one takes a step back, we see a much bigger picture: God is intentionally establishing a nation that is distinct from all the others. Why? Because the others were rotten, and God wanted something very different.
Leviticus 20:22-24 “You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples.
He separated the Hebrews by creating a written, moral standard so that they might know for certain the difference between right and wrong as well as a penal system to deal with those who broke that standard. God wanted people to treat him and each other with respect and love. The other nations did as they pleased – to point that God detested them.
God also established rituals and customs that further identified the Hebrews as distinct and separate. Much of these were abolished through Jesus. For example, dietary laws were abolished (Mark 7:19, Acts 10:9-16, 1 Corinthians 10:23-33) as well as the whole of the sacrificial system by priestly intermediaries (see the whole book of Hebrews). Jesus is our perfect mediator as well as perfect sacrifice. He satisfied both obligations fully, perfectly, and for all time.
Going back to the Hebrews for a moment. We know that they failed miserably in following the lifestyle that God outlined and required of them. The Old Testament is one big story of them mistreating God and themselves and of God continually trying to talk sense into them. It eventually ended with the land vomiting them out, just like the other nations God described in Leviticus.
Things are different now. God changed everything. Humans won’t follow the rules, including you and me. God changed all that with the New Covenant in which he gave us a new heart and placed his Spirit directly in us. Now, those who God calls to be distinct are born-again. In a sense, he has brought us to the land of milk and honey. He has made us a separate people from all those around us.
It’s easy to forget all that and get caught up in the cares of the world. We find it hard to take time for a Sabbath rest or truly relish in the Word of God. We find it hard to trust in God’s provision to live within our means. I could go on and on.
For those who are truly born-again, nothing will separate us from the love of God in Jesus. Yet, we may sorely miss out of God’s best for us the more we look like the peoples around us.
How about you? Do you look distinct and separate from the world around you? Do your neighbors know you as someone different, as salt and light, and can they tell you are a disciple of Jesus because you have love for one another?
My guess is that you would say you have room for improvement. I certainly do. How do we change all this? How do I recognize all the benefit of following God so that I might do the things to make me separate and distinct? The answer is that you can’t, but God can. Here’s the thing you can do:
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Open up your bibles – today – and start relishing in the Word of God. Relish in Him.
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.”
Looking for a place to start? How about immersing yourself in Isaiah 55?
Father, feed your sheep. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers