The Worldview of God’s Law: Spiritual Practice (2)
God’s people are to pursue holiness in all things, at all times.
“Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” Leviticus 19.2
We have seen that the people of Israel did not have a heart to obey the Law (Deut. 5.29). They were coming to a land that had known generations of pollution and corruption at the hands of pagan peoples. They would not be able to drive all these peoples from the land; moreover, the neighboring nations, with whom they could expect to have dealings, would continue in pagan practices. Thus, once established in the land, the people of Israel, as they strove to practice a stewardship of holiness with all the gifts of God, would have faced dangers leading to corruption and pollution within and without. Against these they would have to exercise continual vigilance.
Israel would need to assume a mode of continuous purification in order to continue in the pursuit of holiness. Sins would arise within each person’s soul. Communities would be subjected to various kinds of injustice. Pagan ways would waft into the cities and souls of the nation. Corruptions from a world stricken with sin – disease, filth, disaster – would threaten Israel’s peace. For all these contingencies of pollution and corruption the Law of God provided means of purification.
Ongoing vigilance against corruption and pollution was therefore written into the Law of God. Judges must keep watch over their communities. Priests must be prepared to offer sacrifices and cleansing rites of various kinds. The people must make use of these institutions in order to remain pure before the Lord. They were to understand that they would sin, and that sin would find its way into their communities. But they were not to be become complacent about this. Constant vigilance leading to purification was to be an important component of their stewardship before the Lord.
The same is true today. Through confession, the practice of church discipline, ongoing instruction, and the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit, the covenant people of the Lord today must be ever vigilant against the corrupting and polluting influences of sin. We will forfeit the blessings we seek if we do not strive to keep our ways pure before the Lord at all times.
For a more complete exposition of the promises of God, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, from our online store. Subscribe to Crosfigell, the devotional newsletter of The Fellowship of Ailbe. Sent to your desktop every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Crosfigell includes a devotional based on the literature of the Celtic Christian period and the Word of God, highlights of other columns at the website, and information about mentoring and online courses available through The Fellowship.