2 summers ago, I had the opportunity to travel around Europe with my family. We had the most wonderful trip! We ate the best food, saw the best things, and made the best memories. However, you know what wasn’t the best? Lugging my (albeit overpacked) cumbersome suitcase through the crowded, cobblestone streets of our destinations. I can remember this one time in particular, we had just arrived in Heidleburg, Germany and we couldn’t wait to exit the train and explore the city. However, our excitement quickly turned to dread upon hearing the phrase “just a mile or so walk”. Disheartened by the lack of taxis, we reluctantly piled up our baggage and began the journey to our hotel. I’ll never forget that “mile or so” walk. As my shoulder bag slipped from my arm, blisters welled on my feet, and sweat formed on my forehead, I was sure we would never find the hotel, and vowed to never put myself in that situation again.
Every time I remember this story, I have to laugh at myself and remember the book of Exodus. I remember being so miserable on those streets in Heidleburg that day, can you imagine how the Israelites must have felt as they carried all their altars and bronze and gold not to mention the Ark of the Covenant itself, wandering from place to place with no end in sight? I can’t even imagine the exhaustion those men must have been under as they held those golden rods on their aching backs, walking through the hot, desolate desert for days on end. Why would they do this? Why did they subject themselves to such physical anguish for years and years?
Because it was worth it. And because, those rods and altars and tents they carried would build their temporary place of worship and this place would be holy.
What does this word, “holy” mean exactly? For Christians, this word is thrown around a lot. “Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty” we all know the hymn, we’ve heard it so many times before. But what exactly makes something holy? What turned the draperies and clothes that the Israelites carried into the holy dwelling place of Yahweh?
God’s presence makes something holy.
The ark of the covenant, though beautiful and ornate in itself. Was just an ark, until it was entered by the Spirit of the living God.
For those of you unfamiliar, this temporary dwelling place was called the Tabernacle. It was complete in 3 parts: a courtyard, with a bronze altar for sacrifices, the Holy Place, where only the priests could enter, and the Most Holy Place (sometimes called the Holy of Holies) where God Himself dwelled on the ark. This Most Holy Place, was so sacred that only the High Priest could enter and only after he had confessed all His sins, otherwise the sheer holiness of God could strike Him dead.
So what does all of this mean for us? Anyone who’s taken their Bible history classes knows that the Tabernacle no longer exists and, in fact, the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn in two when Jesus said “it is finished”. So what happened when this veil was torn? Where did the Spirit of God go to reside after His home in the Temple was destroyed?
The power of God, the spirit of our Lord, the innate holiness and goodness and mightiness of the Creator of the Universe, went into us, His children, His followers.
This is what Christ’s sacrifice means to us. When Jesus reascended into Heaven after His resurrection, He gave us an important job. He charged us with the responsibility to follow His example and lead others to Him, but He did not leave us without the adequate tools to do so. Christ’s giving us His spirit was His way of staying with each one of us, guiding us through our day to day lives.
This is powerful. Imagine the power that was present in that innermost Holy Place. The power that could strike down a man in an instant. That power is now present inside you and inside me.
This makes us holy.
Holy not because of anything we’ve done, or any merit we deserve but simply because we are in-dwelt with the presence of the living God.
Think of it this way: we are all broken, messy, fragmented people. We are jars of clay in which God has boldly placed the precious spirit of Christ. Picture a jar, cracked and broken, barely holding together. Now, what would happen if you were to place a light inside that jar? The light would shine through the broken parts and illuminate the darkness! This is what Christ’s spirit can do through our cracks and our imperfections.
“His power is made perfect in our weakness”.
1 Peter 1:16 tells us, “Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
We don’t have to be perfect to be holy, because we have Christ’s perfect holiness inside of us already! My question is, if we know this, how are we afraid of anything? We are equipped with everything we need to conquer any adversary or challenge that comes our way because we are of God’s holy army and we have the author of holiness Himself fighting for us!