Holiness means being set apart for a special purpose. Exodus 28 and 29 describe in detail how God wanted the Israelites to set their priests (Aaron and his sons) apart. To someone like me whose idea of shopping for clothes is hitting the sales rack and purchasing anything that fits (since not much does fit outside of the little girls department!), the idea of elaborate robes woven with special fibers, bells, jewels, stones, etc is not easily understood. What does stand out to me in these chapters is God’s desire for holiness and sacredness, from the sacred clothing to the choice cuts of meat that must be set aside for the offerings to the Lord.
What is difficult for me to wrap my head around is the idea that as a Christian, I AM considered holy because of the final sacrifice of Jesus. I get hung up on all my mistakes…all my imperfections and faults. If this describes you as well, take heart, and read these words from the book of Hebrews Chapter 10 with fresh eyes:
8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). 9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,
16 “This is the new covenant I will make
with my people on that day,[c] says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”[d]
17 Then he says,
“I will never again remember
their sins and lawless deeds.”[e]
The notion that Christ’s sacrifice, against the backdrop of what I’ve just read in Exodus 28 and 29, is almost too precious to comprehend! What is particularly encouraging is the verb tense used in verse 14. The word hagiazo is used for “who are being made holy.” It is in the perfect tense, which implies that the action is still in progress.
The next time I fail miserably and feel anything BUT holy, I need to remind myself that those verses were written in the perfect tense. I am a holy work in progress.