Holiness Unto the Lord"The Holy Spirit comes to us to make holiness real."
I love our holiness tables. I often find myself gazing at the phrase upon them, “Holiness unto the Lord,” and wondering what it meant to the Israelites when they heard it for the first time. It surprises me that we only find that exact phrase a few times. At first, it may seem a bit difficult to connect a golden plate on the high priest’s head (Exodus 28:36) or the bells horses wore (Zechariah 14:20) with our desire to live in the holiness He offers in a very different time. I think three important, irreducible things face us from Scripture every time we look at the inscription on every holiness table.
Being: What is most basic is what is most real. I wonder what you think is the most essential thing. If you say atoms, physics, gravity or quarks, you will be off the mark considerably. The essence of all that is is holiness. The nature of our Creator is what is truly behind it all. Everything else that exists invisibly or visibly receives its existence from the One who is Life — and His living being is holy.
It is no wonder then that He has made the way in Himself to bring us into His very nature. He will settle for nothing less. Everything He does in His people has this end: “I have come to re-constitute you into the image I made you for originally.” Sin tries to mar that eternal purpose, but it cannot succeed if an open heart yields itself to Him.
So, every Sunday morning as I look at the pulpit and the band behind it, I am pointed to what is ultimate, real, essential, true and beautiful. It brings my heart and mind into a much-needed perspective.
Relationship: “Unto” is an interesting word. It is an invitation to offer something that can actually come into the presence of a blast furnace of pure, unadulterated holy love. There are some aspects of holiness that bring honest fear and reservation, like my tendencies to want my own way or hidden resentments. But if I am willing to bring those like a sacrifice to the altar, my Savior has promised to remove guilt and shame and to completely cleanse my conscience. What He must have is my constant willingness to bring all that I am, absolutely without excuse or self-defense, to Him.
Every time I am tempted to think that what is occurring in that place of worship is about me, I see those words again and I am reminded that all of my life is to be “unto” Him. And the only thing that is truly acceptable to Him is what He alone can do in me for Himself. Even more astounding is the reminder that He has come to me first. He desires intimacy far more deeply than I do.
Personal: The word here is “Yahweh,” not Lord. Of course, we want to be respectful of His holy name. But our God revealed His desire for a closeness that is only possible by mutual knowing (Exodus 3:14). You cannot be truly vulnerable or unreservedly close to someone who will not give you their name. I am not called to sacrifice myself to anyone other than the One who makes Himself known to me by name.
So, as I sing, pray, give, listen and respond each week, it is always to Yahweh, which is the name of the Trinity. Jesus, the Holy One sent by the Father, came to show true holiness to us. The Holy Spirit comes to us to make holiness real. And, in grateful response we accept the essence of the Triune Holy One, which is to agree with the offer of His nature in us for the world. All of Him for all of me. All of me for all of Him.