Throughout the book of Leviticus, God constantly describes his own holiness and calls His people to also be holy. Holiness, as we’ve learned, is a simple concept. We worship God in a way that pleases Him. We live according to God’s created order; meaning we serve Him as King and treat all other people as our equals. Living a holy life really comes down to one thing: Denying self and revering God as the absolute authority.

The book of Leviticus is full of laws that were written for Israel in a specific context. These laws reflected God’s character and led the Israelite people to be more like God. The question I want to ask, then, is: Why should we strive to be holy? God loves us anyway. He has promised that He will never forsake us. Why would anyone put his own desires and plans aside to please a God who promises to love him anyway?

“If you follow My statutes and faithfully observe My commands, I will give you rain at the right time, and the land will yield its produce, and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest, and the grape harvest will continue until sowing time; you will have plenty of food to eat and live securely in your land. I will give peace to the land, and you will lie down with nothing to frighten you. I will remove dangerous animals from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword. Five of you will pursue 100, and 100 of you will pursue 10,000; your enemies will fall before you by the sword.”[1]

God’s promise

            God’s promise here is simple. He promises to provide three things to the Israelites IF they keep His commands.

  1. Physical needs
  2. Security
  3. Success in war

Keep in mind that these promises were given in the context of community, specifically to a nation. If the nation remained holy, God would provide food, security and success to them. We often talk about our reasons for obeying God, and we always try and give really spiritual answers. We obey God because we were designed to bear His image, so it is the only way that we can live according to our created purpose. We obey God so that we can build up our treasures in Heaven. We obey God because God deserves to be honored in everything we do. These are all true and good reasons, but in this passage I recognize something that is awe-inspiring. God wants to reward us in our current circumstance when we choose to live holy lives. In fact, He promises to do so!

 

A holy nation

Israel was called to be a holy nation and these promises were given to Israel as a nation. Since God is God of everyone, I am convinced that these promises also belong to any nation that would revere God as holy and follow His commands. This means that the greatest thing we can do for our national security and prosperity is inspire others to live holy lives before God. When a nation is holy before God, we can see certain evidences of God’s blessings on that nation.

  1. The physical needs of the people in that nation would be provided.
  2. That nation would be secure, protected from outside invasion and from inward hostility.
  3. The nation would be successful against its enemies

We must keep in mind that God does not promise the opposite to nations that are not holy, but He also does not promise to keep them from destruction. This means that a nation could appear to have these blessings and still not be holy. So we, as God’s people, still must be discerning and still must always refer back to Scripture to discover what is right and what is wrong. It also means that when nations strive for holiness, they can be absolutely secure in these promises!

 

A holy church

Since these promises were offered to a nation, I can’t apply them directly to the church (universal or local), but I can apply the principle because God has proven to be consistent. If we choose to live holy lives as a church, we can be confident that God will provide our needs as a church. If members of a local church: 1)Honor God as King, 2)Genuinely love people, 3)Are wholeheartedly committed to their local church (which is rooted in their own community), God will provide for the prosperity and the longevity of that local church. Secondly, God will provide a level of security for that church so that the church will continue to have an influence for Him. Finally, that church would be successful against its enemies (though I am convinced it would not wage a physical war). If the people of a church are living holy lives, we would see evidence in our churches:

  1. The church would be provided for
    1. Not only does God promise to provide, but people would be so in love with God that they would yearn to give more and more.
  2. The church would have some level of security, especially peace within its walls. There would be no fights or quarrels among God’s people.
  3. The church would have a decent impact for Christ in its community.

I think these promises remain true for groups within the church, and families as well. If we find this difficult to believe, simply look at the thriving Chinese house churches despite being outlawed and persecuted. We strive to live holy lives because God has called us to holy lives, but His calling is not without His promises! As Christians, we can trust that God literally fights for us in this world, and promises to do so as we strive to live holy, God honoring lives.

A holy family

We might also speak of these promises in the context of family. A family that strives to live as holy not only honors God, but also receives part in these promises.

  1. God will provide for the family in its most basic needs. Thus, families do not have to worry about sacrificing holy lives to make it financially in a world that denies God. God promises to reward our holiness!
  2. God will provide some level of security for the family, at least providing a peaceful household for us. When members of a household strive to live holy lives, there is peace within the home.
  3. Holy living families have a great opportunity to be cornerstones within their communities, and cornerstones within the local church.

With all that has been said, there is a calling on us to live holy lives; first as individuals, then as families, then as a local church, then as a universal church and then as a nation. God’s promises are real. When we choose to pursue this sort of life, we will have no reason to fear, for God provides our every need!

[1] Leviticus 26:3-8 (HCSB)

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