“You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’” Leviticus 19:2 NASB
Another amazing TRES DIAS RENEWAL weekend! Wow! This was amazing. If you have never experienced one of these with me- with us. Please ask. I invite you. They are every spring and every fall.
At one point in the weekend Pastor Matt and I were commenting on the exegesis of a passage in the morning chapel and the word “perfect” came up. We went on to share that the Biblical definition of perfect is not what the modern view usually means. I have taught on this a lot in x44. Biblical perfection means the journey (or expedition) to be complete or holy as God is holy. To take on the image of Christ – Christoformity.
Today the word translated perfect seems to be the source of condemnation and guilt. How we (the modern church) have abused this verse. We see this quote from Leviticus in Matthew (5:48 in the Greek version, not exactly what it says in Hebrew). We have been taught that Jesus preached that the goal of a religious life is holiness and that anything less than perfect holiness is sin, missing the mark; and as that is true – we are also taught to not wallow in the filth. Don’t live in it, you have been set free! Oh, what trauma we have caused for all who fell under that burden of continual condemnation! Because we didn’t pay attention to the Hebrew grammar or the meaning of qādôš. (The English transliteration is Kadosh.) Don’t live that way! You are free from this shame! You have been redeemed, renewed, and completely set free, own it and live it!
The definition of qādôš generically means to be “set apart.” That was a theme of a tres dias weekend a couple years ago, but has sort of stuck with the community as an ongoing metaphor for life, as it should be. When you dive in to study this word, you find that the same word was generic word that could mean set apart for anything, in fact a regular use of the term was that an animal sacrifice would be “set apart” for death, or prisoners were “set apart” waiting for their sentence. As it does mean this in the ancient world, words often take on a deeper biblical meaning or find a second skin, per se in redemptive thinking. In this way, the word qādôš means spiritually to be completely “devoted.” We are dead to sin that we might be alive in Christ which is characterized by devotion.
That means this crucial passage in Leviticus should be read as God’s desire for reciprocity or multiplicity. We are to be as devoted to Him as He is to us. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being committed. A heartset to be all in.
John Walton (my Hebrew mentor from my early days at Moody Bible Institute) points out that the verb tense in Leviticus 19:2 is an imperfect form/indicative, not an imperative. I know I am speaking Greek to everyone here, actually Hebrew… but hang in there with me. You can do this! I am going to shepherd you to a new level of depth before the Lord. Understanding the grammar has a startling implication.
God is not commanding platonic perfection or even holiness. Walton suggests that the verse should be read, “You are holy because I am holy.” In other words, according to Walton, this is a declaration of the character of His people, not a command for moral improvement. It is not something we achieve but something we are, based entirely on the declaration of God. God declares Israel qādôš because Israel is “HIS” in the same way that today you are “HIS”, you are God’s recreated “holy ones”, the very image of him to a broken world. You are the very representation (or manifestation) of Jesus to those that come in contact with you. You are Holy because God is in you. Your room is the sacred temple of the holy spirit. That is your sanctuary, the body of Christ. Does your house look holy to others? Do you need to clean your room?
This view of holiness and exegesis of these verses has some amazing truths that I want you to see. God is not judging us on some standard of what the philosopher Plato defined as perfection which is what we think of the word today. Holiness (perfection) is not commanded, having a heart to be made complete is. Devotion (the real idea of holiness) is an imperfect verb, that is, a continuous progressive activity not yet completed (an expedition of pursuing holiness and praying that you might be found faithful). It is here and now, but also te be attained. It’s what we are while we are on the way. “On the way” toward YHVH is what qādôš is all about.
If you were on this last Men’s tres dias weekend, Dave Donehay gave you a verse towards the middle of the page in his notes for the study talk- rollo. It was Isaiah 30:21. You will notice a few verses before in verse 16 Isaiah quotes Exodus 34:6 (again, it is a better quote when read in Hebrew, you can hardly tell it is a quote in English but don’t get me started) where God gives the description of himself as gracious and compassionate. This is what I shared in the tres dias weekend closura. The Hebrew Idiom for Hesed and Shalom means a balance in living – Chanan/Racham embodies a life that looks like Jesus: loyalty, faithfulness, mercy, compassion, love, grace, devotion, sacrifice, and allegiance. (HESED)
A few verses later you come to the verse that Dave shared, Isaiah 30:21 which has another Hebrew Idiom for living in devotion to this life. If you are a STAR WARS person this is going to blow you away- The Hebrew words are “Zeh Hadderek” which is translated, “THIS IS THE WAY” – walk in it. Sound familiar? Anyone finish the book yet this week?
You are hereby exempt from the burden of holy perfection! That must feel good, but don’t thank me, thank God!
Live redeemed today! Claim it, take a step in the right direction. One small step at a time. Align your trajectory. Walk straighter with Jesus. Avoid the “cowpath” of life. Let the Holy Spirit deliver you into a better walk of life. This is the way.
PS, if you want a double portion study today, try this- It is a post after a previous tres dias weekend: TRES DIAS RENEWAL WEEKEND – KOINOS | EXPEDITION 44