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Holy, Holy, Holy: The Demands of the Holy (part 4)

Point Three: God's holiness intersects with and becomes manifest in people.

Notice how time is reckoned in Exodus 19:1-3 (ie. the specific month, the specific day). This must be an important announcement. The LORD God greets his people at the very place where he had been waiting for them to come, Mt. Sinai. In vv. 4-6 he says to them, "The whole earth is mine but I am entering into a covenant relationship with you, so that you can become my people—set apart (different, distinct, unique) from all others." You are to be a holy nation; in other words a community, a congregation, a group set apart unto the Holy One. A people, by way of contrast, different from the world. And what is it you are set apart for? To be priests in my kingdom – you are priests unto the King. Priests are those who can approach, who can draw nigh unto the LORD on behalf of the people, and on behalf of the LORD they can return to the people with blessings, words of instruction, teaching and chastisement, as is appropriate. Consider this brief list from the Bible:

  • People are holy unto God

  • Those who serve the holy God partake of his holiness

  • He calls his priests holy

  • The High Priest is uniquely consecrated and made holy unto God

  • He calls his prophets holy

  • Israel's Messiah is spoken of as holy

  • Yeshua's apostles are called holy

  • Followers of Jesus—believers like you and me—are called holy

In this teaching, I am pointing you to an extraordinary mystery. The mystery is this, that God desires more than just to have a people set apart for him—he desires to be the very presence and power indwelling his people. The Hebrew in Exodus 25:8 suggests to us something extremely profound. It says, make me a sanctuary (vasuli mikdash) so that I might dwell among them (v'shachanti betocham). So that I might dwell (shachanti) is from a word you have heard before, shechinah. But the real interesting part of this phrase is betocham. If God was referring to the sanctuary (mikdash) as in, "build me a sanctuary so that I might dwell in it," he would not have said betocham. Instead, he would have said betocho. Israel's sages recognized very early on that what God is suggesting here is yes, build me the sanctuary because it is going to demonstrate and embody the various aspects of our relationship. But what I truly desire is to dwell not so much in it, but in you my people. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob spells this out in detail in Exodus 29:42-46, "I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God." Our Holy Father desires to dwell in his people, in the sanctity of space and time, in the sanctuary of his created world.

* This is an audio transcript, listen to the original message here.

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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

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