Last week Steve looked at the story of the Israelites exodus from captivity in Egypt, and the series of mysteries and confusing messages Moses was subjected to – from a burning bush, to striking a rock for water. Wrapped up in that is a huge implication for how we understand our relationship with God; it’s not about waiting for some divine revelation but instead choosing to actively follow. That’s where God meets us – in our willingness to engage.
This week, Steve goes deeper with how engagement, rather than separation, is bound up in the definition of holiness. Throughout the Old Testament and even into the 20th century, many have interpreted holiness to mean separating ourselves from the world similar to how there’s always a separation between God and us, because of our sinful nature. Steve contends, however, that this misses the point. Absolutely, God’s holiness makes him different than other gods and the ways of this world, but different doesn’t mean separated.
As Steve puts it, “For the people of Israel, the holiness or differentness, of Yahweh – the God of the Bible - was assessed in relation to the difference of his character to those of the many other gods of the Ancient Near East region, who were famous for their unfeeling, irrational, angry and capricious natures. But, in contrast, the God of the Old Testament was faithful, long-suffering, engaged and trustworthy.” To serve a God, who at his very core is love and grace, means that God’s relationship with his creation, the world and those who inhabit it, is at this very core of his holiness.
And all this poses huge questions for us about what this kind of holiness looks in the 21st century and how we live it out? What do you think?