Holiness in the Land
Open Your Bible
Leviticus 20:1-27, 1 Peter 1:15-16
BY Erin Davis
Incest, bestiality, adultery, child sacrifice. Ick. These aren’t exactly the images we want to sit with and savor as we sip our morning coffee. And yet, to truly understand the depth of God’s grace, we must occasionally have a staring contest with our depravity. Like colors blended in an artist’s palette, God’s Word combines with our own human experience to paint a very dark portrait of our state without Christ—one that showcases that we are all capable of every sin, even the ones that seem unthinkable.
Consider the Bible in panorama. The book of Genesis shows us that sin can evolve from eating forbidden fruit to murdering your sibling in a single generation. King David’s story reveals that even men and women after God’s own heart can be overcome by desire for something that isn’t theirs. The gospels teach us that a people who have longed for a Messiah for generations will gladly execute Him when He finally arrives. While it’s true that the Bible is one long story of God’s redemption, it’s also true that God wouldn’t need to set things right so often if we didn’t set them sideways with such frequency.
Leviticus is, among other things, a book of rules. Because sin has made us naughty by nature, we don’t like rules. We can come to a chapter like Leviticus 20, which begins with rules against child sacrifice and ends with a call to stone mystics, and feel like it doesn’t apply to us. And yet, if we allow God to illuminate our heart’s true condition, we’ll see that our need for God-given guardrails remains.
Part of what makes God, God, is His holiness, His set-apartness. It stands to reason that part of what makes us God’s children is our holiness, our set-apartness. So what if Leviticus is more than a bunch of rules? What if it’s more like a map that moves us away from our rebellious nature and toward a way of living that is wholly set apart (Leviticus 20:8)? What if the message of this book is not, “Do this, not that,” but rather “Do this and live”?
When we stare down all we are capable of, when we consider just how far we are willing to go to get what we want, and just how many people we are willing to hurt along the way, when we realize that our bent is to call good things bad and bad things good (Isaiah 5:20), when our eyes are pried open by the truth about who we are without Jesus, the guardrails stop feeling like barbed wire. They become profound mercy that keeps us from driving our lives straight off the cliff.
Jesus, thank you for being a set-apart God. Thank you for rescuing me from me. Teach me to embrace your call to holiness with a joyful heart. Amen.