Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘You shall be holy; for I Yahweh your God am holy.Leviticus 19:1-2
The Hebrew word for holy is qodesh, and in use throughout the Bible, it is a term that is used of things that are designated as uniquely relating to God, or just for God’s use, or in connection with the worship of the one true God.
Here are some examples, in no specific order, of those things that are considered qodesh: God, his Name, the Sabbath, the Tabernacle, the ground around God’s presence, the firstborn, garments of the priests, food offered to the priests, the anointing oil, the altar, offerings, festival days, vessels and furnishings of the Tabernacle, Zion.
As these things were recognized as holy by the people of Israel, they themselves became set apart, a holy people dedicated to Yahweh. The word used in these instances varies slightly from qodesh to qadosh. It is more typically, though not exclusively, used of God and the people of Israel. In usage it appears to apply more to those who do holy actions, while qodesh seems to apply more to things that are intrinsically holy.
Because holiness has this component of action that produces more of itself, the apostle Peter used this understanding as a way of encouraging the early believers to remain set apart.
As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:14-16
We become holy by recognizing and honoring the holy God and his Word. As we are drawn further and further into actions that are based on his instruction, due to his holiness, we ourselves become more holy, more set apart, more consecrated for his use.
Peter quotes Moses’ relating of God’s Word from Leviticus 11: “Be holy, for I am holy.” This is an admonition for God’s people to continually strive for by overcoming their former ignorance and blind passions. And based on Moses perspective in Leviticus 19, we know that God’s people “shall be holy, because God is holy.”
For us today, we can know that by recognizing the holiness of God and doing holy things, we also shall continue to become holy.
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