“Then he said to me, “The north and south rooms adjacent to the open area are holy rooms where the priests who come before GOD eat the holy offerings. There they place the holy offerings–grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. These are set-apart rooms, holy space. After the priests have entered the Sanctuary, they must not return to the outside courtyard and mingle among the people until they change the sacred garments in which they minister and put on their regular clothes.” – Ezekiel 42:13-14 MSG
I find it really interesting that in the middle of all the detailed descriptions of the layout of the future Temple complex, Ezekiel’s “guide” points to a set of rooms and describes them as “holy.” Wouldn’t the entire Temple be holy? The whole structure would be dedicated to the worship of God, so wouldn’t the entire structure be holy? Well, in a sense, yes. But the use of the word “holy” in this context gives us another important aspect of its meaning. It simply means “set-apartness or separateness.” These rooms were dedicated or set apart for a distinct purpose. “Here the priests who offer sacrifices to the Lord will eat the most holy offerings” (Ezekiel 42:13 NLT). These rooms would also be used to store the grain, sin, and guilt offerings. Even within the Temple complex, there was going to be a place “set apart” and made distinct. It would be dedicated for a specific purpose and was not to be used for anything else. When the priests were done ministering in the sanctuary, they had to leave the clothes they wore in this room and change into “street” clothes, because even the garments they wore were holy or set apart. Before they could enter the rest of the Temple or go into the more public or common areas, they had to remove their “holy” clothes, because those clothes had been dedicated to God.
All this makes me think about how we have been set apart by God for His use. We are His people. We have been made holy or set apart by the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. We belong to God. “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12 NLT). God set us apart for a purpose. We are now dedicated to Him and should be used only in the way that He sees fit. We no longer belong to ourselves. The priests could not use the holy garments any way they saw fit. They couldn’t use the holy rooms for any purpose they came up with. Those things belonged to God. We belong to God. We are only to be used for His purposes, not our own. When God commands us, “You must be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16 NLT), He is telling us that we must be set apart, distinct and different, just as He is. We must reflect His holiness. We must remain dedicated to His use. To take what is holy and set apart and use it for some other purpose would be to profane it. When we use our bodies for purposes other than those for which God has set them apart, we profane them and fail to remain set apart for His use. “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (1 Peter 2:5 NLT).
Father, You have set us apart for Your use. We belong to You. But we regularly profane ourselves by taking what You have dedicated and set apart and re-purposing it for our use. Forgive us and remind us daily the reason You have set us apart through the sacrificial death of Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men