Hi, welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host for the Daily Challenges. Yesterday we read the story of God giving 10 Commandments to his people, Israel. I asked you to think about what these commandments say about God.
The first four are the most direct – first, as we hear about God’s past actions, we see he’s a gracious and saving God. He saved Israel from slavery even when they didn’t deserve it. He showed grace.
Because of this, he deserves thanks. The laws aren’t about earning God’s love, forcing him to behave in a certain way. The laws are about showing thanks, recognizing they were helped when they couldn’t help themselves, and that they should now depend on the one who came to their rescue.
The Israelites can show thanks through their respect and devotion. We can see this in how he will not tolerate worship of other gods or statues of idols. The Israelites are to worship God, or YAHWEH alone. He saved them, not the other supposed gods.
Even his name is so special, or holy, that it can’t be used inappropriately. Finally, because he rested on the seventh day of creation, and he’s holy, that makes the day holy as well, and he wants his people to keep it that way.
We mimic this kind of thing in our relationships with powerful people. Before meeting royalty, or a head of state, imagine the briefing you’d get. Here’s how to refer to the Queen, don’t speak until she speaks to you, no hugs, etc.
In God’s case, are these arbitrary rules, meant to suppress a nation of former slaves? Is God just like a despotic ruler, who enjoys telling people they have to follow his made-up rules?
No, they flow directly from him, and his nature. He is holy. He is good, perfect, awesome and untouchable. One prophet, Isaiah, had the experience of a vision of God in heaven. He described holiness using these images:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” – Isaiah 6:1-5
In the face of holiness, a man trembles and cries out in distress at his unworthiness, because he knows he isn’t holy. God is perfect, good and sinless, and we are imperfect, inconsistently good, and sinful.
Many colourful examples are is in the last six commandments, where God describes the kinds of human behaviour that are not holy, that lead to this kind of alienation.
God knows the world is full of people dishonouring parents, murder, adultery, stealing, lying and coveting, and he wants his people Israel to be different, to be set apart for him, like a holy nation.
But they are simply human! They will only be able to do this by God’s grace and love, not their own power.
Tomorrow we’ll see how unholy people can know a holy God. But first,
Question: Around whom do you feel inadequate and unworthy? How do you react? How do they draw you in, or push you away?