“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” (Ezekiel 44:23).
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).
“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
Resetting holiness. Has the church lost this all-important standard? Has the desire to become a seeker-friendly church (which I have nothing against) and the like caused us to shift our focus from how God calls us to worship, live, and operate?
Have we become like the temple that Ezekiel witnessed, whose people caused the glory of God to leave that place?
Studying Ezekiel 8, we see while there was “worship” going on in the temple, it was not God’s worship. The people who were to live in a covenant relationship with God were bowing down to false gods and giving themselves over completely to idolatry. The people who were to live pure and holy, a sanctified (set apart) people, their lives and practices now celebrated the things God called abominations. Things that were wrong and out of order of the true reverence of God were now being declared to be right and acceptable.
In that, I wonder how far the modern church has drifted from God’s holy standards and how close we are to being like those people of old. Those who “worshiped” wrongly behind the walls believing it did not matter and that nobody, including God, saw them (ref. Ezekiel 8:12).
While we may not be involved in those exact things, and while I have nothing against the modern uses whereby we usher in worship, I must wonder if in our coming together, we are coming in the right spirit. When David penned the words, “Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:1-2), I see in those beautiful verses what God deserves, and I must ask myself are we giving Him what He deserves?
Are we magnifying His glory in our building and in our lives, or are we chasing His glory away from the center of what we call worship, as seen in Ezekiel 10?
For God’s glory to be strong with us, we must be strong in God! God doesn’t want us to honor Him with our mouths only, but He wants us to live and worship Him from the heart (Matthew 15:8; Isaiah 29:13).
And, my friends, it is from the heart where the resetting needs to begin, a heart that longs for more of God. It is worship that invites His presence to come closer rather than repelling. We want God’s glory permeating the atmosphere as in the days of old when they were overwhelmed in worship by His presence in a good way (1 Kings 8:10-11).
But for that to happen, things must change. Wherever God’s presence is, things cannot go on as before. He is a holy God, and the environment where He resides must be holy. There is a transformation that must take place where the people worship.
God’s desire has always been to be near His people. And in Ezekiel 43, he sees a light of hope. Instead of seeing God’s glory moving away from His people, God’s glory is moving toward His people, toward His temple (43:3-5).
With that also came a message of warning: “And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me. And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile . . .” (43:6-7).
God cannot reside in an unsanctified place. The people’s responsibility was to get in line with what God wanted. For Him, there has always been a line between holy and unholy (Leviticus 10:10). There must be a resetting of holiness as the standard then, as well as now: “This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy . . .” (Ezekiel 43:12).
In all of this, you may be wondering how exactly do we go about the business of resetting holiness?
First, I must say that resetting holiness should always begin with repentance. God’s glory left the temple because of the people’s sin. Sin corrupts. Sin interrupts fellowship with God. Sin will prohibit Him from coming to where you are. They were to “put away” from them those things that defiled the place of worship (Ezekiel 43:7-9).
James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (see also Isaiah 1:16 and 2 Timothy 2:21).
Then, there must be the restoration of proper worship. They had to do more than take the wrong things out. They had to bring in or adopt the right things, the right ways.
For them, the focus was on the altar and how it was to be consecrated, respected, and used (Ezekiel 43:13-25). They had to fully honor God in His service. They do this by honoring the way He prescribed things to be done.
How this restoration of true worship may look for us today is for us to refocus on why we are here, what we are doing here, and who are we honoring here. Answering those questions will help us to realign our purpose for being here, which all boils down to one complete, overall answer: God.
Why are we here? – God.
What are we doing here? – God.
Who are we honoring here? – God.
When we keep those three things in proper perspective, we reset holiness as the standard in our lives and in our worship, and the glory of God can take over the atmosphere.
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