Summary: A holy God wants us to know that holiness is what He longs for in us.
Several weeks ago, when I deposited a check at the bank, I asked for $100 in cash.
“How would you like it?” the teller asked.
“Twenties is fine,” I said.
“Oh, I thought you might have to give half of it to your wife. Her name is on the check, too.”
I said “It’s hers, too. We eat at the same table. We sleep in the same bed. We pastor the same church. We do everything together.”
“Oh, isn’t love wonderful!” And she was right.
My life changed when I fell in love with Sue over 40 years ago. When we married, Sue rescued me from my propensity toward self-centeredness. I no longer had to be alone. I no longer had to do things alone. Since then, every activity, every meal, every decision I have made, I have made with the knowledge that it would impact her as well as me. Oh, life hasn’t always been a bed of roses. We have experienced rough spots. Sometimes we have felt distant. Sometimes we have felt angry. And sometimes I made decisions which did not take her into account, some of which I later regretted. But with a large measure of love and forgiveness our life has been full of joy and grace and wonderful experiences as we take each other into account.
For Moses and Aaron and the people of Israel, life changed when God showed his love for them and brought them out of Egypt, freeing them from slavery. They were now in relationship with a God who not only cared about them, but who had the power to do something about their plight. This God
• had created the world,
• had made a promise to their ancestors Abraham & Sarah that he would bring them into a new land,
• had miraculously led them out of Egypt,
• had established a covenant with them at Mt. Sinai that they would be his people and He would be their God.
That is the story of Genesis and Exodus in short. By the end of Exodus, these people not only remembered God’s miraculous work among them in the past, they constructed a tent in the center of their camp that symbolized God’s presence with them now. And every day, there in the center of the camp, that tent served as a reminder that they were not alone. Every time they looked in the direction of that tent, they were reminded that God was there with them. And on special occasions, they could see a cloud and a fire to help them realize God’s presence.
Only a few times in my life have I experienced a special awareness of God’s presence. I remember once when I knew that God was riding in the back seat of my car. I was a student on my way back to college from Iowa to Kansas. That night as I drove alone, I had the distinct feeling that God was back there. I was almost afraid to around and look. Now, many years later, I still recall that experience.
How would your life change if, like the Israelites, you were reminded every time you lifted your eyes that God is nearby? Would it change the way you think about God? Would it change the way you think about yourself? Would it change the way you act?
You probably didn’t see a cloud or fire above this building when you came this morning, but have you thought about the fact that God is here even though you can’t see him? The Bible says in Leviticus when people worshiped, they brought their offerings “to the Lord.” Their ceremonies took place “before the Lord.” They knew they were worshipping in the presence of God. For them it meant a specific place. Now we don’t have to gather at a specific place to experience God’s presence. That changed when Jesus came. The Bible says in John 1:14 that when Jesus came “he tabernacled among us and we have beheld his glory.” So wherever God’s people gather, God is there. And Paul says in I Corinthians 6 that every Christian is a walking temple where God is present. So we need to ask what kind of a portable tabernacle for God are we? Is it one where he is pleased to dwell?
We have been examining Leviticus, the 3rd book of the Bible. Leviticus used to be the first book Jewish children studied. If they were going to understand how to live a holy life in an unholy world, they needed to understand what a holy God expected. And just because Leviticus is way back in the OT doesn’t mean it is not important for us today. As with all of OT scripture, it points back to what God has done and it points forward to what God was going to do through Christ. Specifically, this book drives home the point that God expects his people to be like him, to live holy lives. As we read in chapter 11, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”