Beit Gamaliel

The House of Gamaliel: The confluence of knowledge and faith.

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Holy? Or, Holey?

profaneAs a people seeking to live uprightly before God, do we bring unholy things and lifestyles to God? Are we expecting that somehow God will make them holy? No amount of prayer will make adultery right in the eyes of God. Church attendance cannot cause God to accept idolatry, or a lying tongue, or homosexuality, or any other sin we want to drag into the fray.

I love the Canadian Tenors. If you haven’t listened to them, you should. One song that is a favorite in our home is Hallelujah. Most people know it as the song from Shrek. Written by Jewish songwriter Leonard Cohen, the song, about David and Beth Sheba’s illicit love, has been around for decades. The lonely melody is accompanied by an equally haunting chord structure. I love the song.

Recently, while attending a Christian worship service, I was slightly shocked when the song was sung during the service. Traditionally, in Christian services, a song is sung or performed during the collection of the offering, referred to the offeratory. It was during this offeratory that Hallelujah was sung. It was out of place, like bacon in a Jewish home. Over the ensuing several days, I contemplated my feelings of why this has bothered me. It is not that it was wrong, per se, just out of place.

In the course of time, my mind settled on a scripture from Haggai:

If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?'” And the priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?” And the priests answered, “It will become unclean.” Then Haggai said, ” ‘So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. (Haggai 2:12-14 NASB)

The principle delineated in this passage is simple: when something that is holy touches something not holy, the holy becomes unclean. Conversely, when something unholy touches something holy, it does not become holy, but rather that which is holy becomes unclean. This, as a life principle is difficult. While Judaism and Islam teach clear lines between these, Gentiles have notoriously blurred these lines between what is holy and what is unholy. And yet the prophetic voice of Ezekiel could not be clearer: “Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. (Ezekiel 44:23 NASB)”

As a people seeking to live uprightly before God, do we bring unholy things and lifestyles to God? Are we expecting that somehow God will make them holy? No amount of prayer will make adultery right in the eyes of God. Church attendance cannot cause God to accept idolatry, or a lying tongue, or homosexuality, or any other sin we want to drag into the fray. There is no amount of money to be tithed that can make God look the other way when it comes to our sins.

May we live a life of simple purity before God, presenting our bodies as an unblemished sacrifice to Him. And may He give us the strength to stand against the temptation to pursue every fleshly desire that passes through our hearts and minds.

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