One purpose of this story is to demonstrate God’s demand for holiness among his people. The word “holy” and its variants appear over 800 times in the OT, referring to God or the holiness of his people. If we read the commandments of the Torah, we can see how the holiness of God is reflected in Israel’s life in distinctions like unclean and clean, holy and common, and sacred and profane. Chrisitans may be tempted to disregard these ancient ideas of cleanness and uncleanness because of texts like Acts 10:9-16, but in Israel, these were God-given commandments for how to live and worship God, not only according to God’s expressed will but according to God’s revealed nature, the Holy God who dwells in Israel. (cf. Zech. 2:13-8:23; 14:20-21).
The holiness to which Israel is called has the component of justice—which, again, reflects the nature of God who is holy, just and righteous. Holiness is never understood (properly at least) as only a concern for right ritual, cleanness, and restoration from uncleanness. Israel also witnesses to God through acts of justice, provision, and care for the needy (Lev. 19; Ps. 68:5).
The word hagioi, “saints” or “holy ones,” is a term used over 60 times in the NT. As one writer puts it, “They [the believer/saints] are to be separated unto God as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1) evidencing purity (1 Cor. 6:9-20; 2 Cor. 7:1), righteousness (Eph. 4:24, and love (1 Thess. 4:7; 1 John 2:5-6, 20; 4:13-21).” The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit—opened up for believers through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus—provides “gifts of the Spirit” that guides believers in holiness, as the Apostle Paul teaches. (2)
1.In your opinion, what are the qualities of a holy person?
2.Before you read the next session: can you name any of the “gifts of the Spirit”?