“You have been set apart as holy to the LORD your God, and he has chosen you to be his own special treasure from all the nations of the earth.” – Deuteronomy 14:2 NLT
The people of Israel were no different than anybody else. At least when it came to their worthiness. They were no better than any other nation. They were no more deserving of God’s love than any other people group on the planet. There was nothing about them that set them apart except for the fact that God had set them apart – for Himself. These chapters are all a reminder to the people of God that they belong to Him. As they get ready to go into the Promised Land and occupy it, Moses is reminding them that they are to live distinctively different lives. They have a different standard by which to live. God has called them to live lives that are reflective of their unique relationship with Him. Rather than blend in and fit in with the surrounding culture, they were to stand out and be set apart from it. In every area of their lives. The external appearance of the people should reflect their internal status as the chosen and holy people of God.
From the food they ate and the clothes they wore to the way they worshiped, everything was to be different. They were not free to eat anything they wanted. They were not free to dress like the surrounding nations. All of these rules and regulations seem highly restrictive to us, but they were really God’s way of ensuring that His people stood out from the crowd. They were designed to keep the people of God from living like the Canaanites and other people groups who occupied the land. God did not want them eat like them, act like them, worship like them, or treat one another the way they did. So God provided the people of Israel with divine standards for everything from food consumption to debt reduction. Even their treatment of the poor was to be distinctive. God was blessing them so that they might be a blessing. That was part of the original Abrahamic covenant. They were going to be enjoying the blessings of God in the land, so they were required to pass that blessing along to those in need. “…as the Lord your God has blessed you, you must give to them” Deuteronomy 15:14b NET). Even to the point of suspending or forgiving debt. This would have been unheard of among the people who lived in the land. Word of this kind of relationship between brothers and sisters would have spread quickly among the pagan nations. News of forgiveness of debt and compassionate care for the poor would have gotten the attention of all the neighbors of Israel. It would have set them apart as different and distinct. But it would have also illustrated the heart of God.
We are called to live lives that are set apart. Not to inconvenience us, but to mark us as belonging to God. We are His and as such, we are to live lives that illustrate our unique relationship as His called out ones. We only are a people holy to GOD, our God; GOD has chosen us out of all the people on Earth as His cherished personal treasure. And we should live like it.
Father, You have called us out and set us apart. Yet so often we fail to live distinctively different lives. We would rather blend in than stand out. We would prefer to reflect the world’s standards than live according to Yours. Forgive us and continue to call us out. Show us how to be in the world but not of it. May our lives reflect our unique relationship as Your sons and daughters. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men