“Do not treat my holy name as common and ordinary. I must be treated as holy by the people of Israel. It is I, the LORD, who makes you holy.“ – Leviticus 22:32 NLT
OK, let’s be honest. It seems like there is an awful lot of repetition in the book of Leviticus. And chapter 22 is a prime example. It seems like everything in this chapter has been covered already. So why is God belaboring the point with Moses and requiring that he communicate these conditions to the people yet again? Maybe it’s because God is trying to drive into the heads of these people just how important holiness is to Him. Once again, He warns them to treat His name as holy and not common. They are to show Him respect. They are not to treat God as if He is just another one of the many gods that are out there. He is not a possible option, but the one and only God of the universe. They were even to treat the items they sacrificed to God with a certain level of respect, because they were consecrating or setting them apart to God. They were dedicating them to Him and to offer animals with defects to God would be the same as profaning or desecrating His name. It would be showing Him disrespect and not honor. To do so would be unacceptable and it would nullify the effects of the sacrifice.
God demands and deserves our best. But how often do we give Him the leftovers of our time, our gifts, our attention, our affections, our day, and our lives? We profane His name when we give Him the sacrifices of our lives, but they are full of defects and flaws. We offer Him our prayers, but at the end of the day as we lay in bed falling asleep. We offer Him our times of devotion, but squeezed in between reading the paper and checking out our Facebook page. We give Him our tithe, but only after we’ve made sure we can take care of all our needs and wants first. And we’re okay with all of it. We have learned to treat the God of the universe as common. We assume He will be fine with what we do. He will accept anything we bring to Him, because that’s just the way He is. But a reading through Leviticus reminds us that our God is deadly serious about holiness and wants His people to treat Him with awe and respect. There’s no room for casual flippancy or easy familiarity. He is still God. He is still holy. He is still the Lord. He is Jehovah, “the existing One” – whose name was so holy it went unpronounced among the people of Israel. Yet the name of God rolls off our lips with regularity and a familiarity that borders on blasphemy. We talk of God as a commodity, rather than a divine, holy deity. He is there to provide for our needs, provide solutions to our problems, and guarantee a better life than the one we’re currently living. We expect much from God, but don’t feel that He demands much of us. We have learned to believe that He accepts us as we are. We have confused grace with complacency. Our God appears to have lowered His standards. He is less demanding and more accepting. He is more tolerant and a whole lot less legalistic than He used to be. But this is not the God of the Bible. His standards have not changed. He has offered a way to receive forgiveness from sin, but He has not changed His view on sin. He has given His own Son as payment for the punishment for sin, but that doesn’t mean sin is no longer costly. He no longer demands that we keep the law perfectly to attain righteousness, but that does not mean the law is no longer valid. God is still God. He is still holy. He still expects His people to be holy. He has called us to a life of righteousness and holiness. He has set us apart to live lives that are distinct and different. As Peter clearly reminds us, “For he himself has said, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:16 NLT).
Father, I do it every day. I offer unacceptable sacrifices to You. I give you the dregs of my time, talent, and treasure. I treat Your name as common and act as if You are no more special than one of my casual acquaintances. Give me an increasing awareness of Your holiness and a growing appreciation for who you are. What we value, we treat with respect. What we believe is costly and priceless, we handle with care. I have become too familiar and flippant in my relationship with You. Forgive me. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men