Respect For Things Holy
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:14-16).
One characteristic of God often ignored by folks in general today is His holiness, and His requirement of us to be holy as well. We must approach God with reverence to be acceptable before Him. This has always been the case. He told Israel long ago, “'For I am the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; thus you shall be holy for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:45). In fact, if you'll notice, the first four of the ten commandments deal specifically with treating God as holy by living holy ourselves (Exodus 20:3-11).
The promise had been given to Israel that after they entered the promised land of Canaan, that if they would keep God's commandments He would bless them, but if not, they would be cursed. Israel would suffer horrendously in the future because of their lack of regard for the holiness of God. To profane things which God has declared “holy” is a sin, then as well as now, whether it be the Scriptures, marriage, church, worship or behavior. It would do well for the church, or spiritual Israel, not to make the same mistakes Israel of old did.
Israel's Lack of Respect for God
Israel's problems began with their disobedience. To protect Israel from the evil influences if idolatry and other pagan practices, God had commanded them to drive the other inhabitants completely out of the land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 7:1-5). Israel got lazy and did not do so. The commandment was easy enough to understand. They were to make no covenant with the idolaters. The Lord said if they did not do this, they would succumb to idolatrous practices and be led astray. Israel did not take this warning seriously enough, that is, they did not treat God's word as holy. Consequently, the future of Israel would show numerous digressions into apostasies, idolatry, disloyalty, immorality and ultimately the consequences of destruction and captivity.
Israel had been forbidden to follow after other gods (Deuteronomy 7:5). But, they began to live by the code of “I do what I think I want to do” rather than “I do as the Lord directs.” (Judges 21:5). Sounds much like prevailing attitudes today! Many grow to adulthood today completely ignorant of righteous principles of honesty, integrity and consideration for others. The parents have tremendous effect of future generations, good or bad (Judges 2:10).
The children of Israel had also been forbidden to intermarry with idolaters (Deuteronomy 7:3,4). Again, they did not treat God's word as holy. Again, the consequences were apostasy, sin and destruction.
Today, the will of God deserves no less respect than it did then, but sadly, our nation holds His teachings and commandments with about the same level of respect as Israel of old did. Who can look at this nation's divorce and remarriage situation, often in direct violation of God's holy word (Matthew 19:4-6;9) and think otherwise? On Israel, they began to think all gods were more or less equal. That's the sentiment often expressed today as well. The Dali Lama is not Jesus; he is not in the same category, but many believe him to be (John 14:6). To put Mohammed, or Buddha, or any other religious leader on equal footing with Christ is to treat the Son of God with contempt.
Israel Did Not Respect Holy Men
“Then the Lord raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. And yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do as their fathers.” (Judges 2:16,17).
What a striking parallel! These judges were calling the people back to God, and speaking the truth. But often the truth of God is not popular with man. If you take your stand for the truth, then you will be unlikely to win a popularity contest, but you will please God and He will take care of you.
We need holy men and women today to serve the Lord faithfully and fully. Holy men need to step forward and prepare themselves to become elders of local churches, dedicated to leading them according to God's revealed word (Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17). We need holy disciples who will follow the lead of godly elders that the church may prosper. We need holy preachers and teachers who will proclaim the truth in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2-4; Titus 2:15). We need holy disciples going about and teaching God's word everywhere, urging all to treat God as holy (Acts 18:26; 8:4).
Israel Did Not Have Respect For Worship
The sons of Eli became priests in Israel, but had no respect for the holiness of God, their own positions, nor the commandments of God ( 1 Samuel 2:12-16; 17:22-25; 29). They did evil as they sacrificed to the Lord. They cared little for God and His will. They refused to honor God, and were dishonorable men themselves. They had betrayed the trust God had placed in them. They were and will be judged.
We need to understand that our worship, too, has been regulated in the word of God. To treat worship as holy is to obey God's instructions concerning it. There is a difference in worship and every day activities. Some churches, to attract crowds, have changed the work and worship of the church from what God commanded to something more in line with common things. Their might be entertainment, drama, musical shows, fairs, carnivals, games and even gambling. Some will involve the church in politics, or in gambling. Some have sponsored beer tents. The Lord spoke of this same thing happening during Israel's days and through Ezekiel said, "Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” (Ezekiel 22:26). When we do similar things today, we also “do violence” to God's law and “profane” (make common) His holy things.
It is time we treat God as holy, and never regard His will with anything less than careful consideration and obedience.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 14.6; June 2007