VesseIs of Holiness
The Israelites Reach Mount Sinai
On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”
So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.”
The People Consecrated
When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Sometimes the idea of Holiness seems incrediby arrogant on God’s part. What kind of being would be so egotistical that they would think it appropriate to make the entire world think and act like them. The recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 had a take on this issue, and, on par for Hollywood, they voted for individuality instead. Well almost. Everyone should be free to do their own thing, but we are also hoping the girl who never dances – by choice will change her mind and dance with the guy who is always dancing… because the manipulation of Romance somehow gets a pass. Also training cats and dog, to do unnatural things (to them) that look cute to us gets a pass as well according to the view numbers on youtube. I bet, if we dug deep enough in a Socratic style, we might find a core value of Independence that we always supported – but a lot of our notions of freedom are a bit hypocritical.
There is something about connectedness that does seem right to us. Its why romance gets a pass. It is why parenting gets a pass. It is why we adapt our ways of life so that pets can seem more like a part of the family than a wild animal sharing living space with us. Tolerance is not the same as that connectedness. Tolerance says, what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours and as long as you don’t cross that fence between us, we will get along fine. Segregation is the child of tolerance. Connectedness is discovering that you actually need one another. Can you imagine even further than John Lennon, a world where religions did exist, and they learned from one another: the value of history from the Jews, the importance of mission from the Christians, the love of the community over self from the Muslims, the gift of simplicity in Buddhism… 1 hold on before you call me out as a heretic… I don’t think we could make that kind of multi-faith community work. I mean, you cannot even got all the non-denominational Christian churches together. It is difficult enough trying to get everyone in the same church to agree on anything. No, even with that kind of cooperation, something would still be missing.
That is why God sent His Holy Spirit. The goal may be worthy enough, but our ability is lacking. We can catch God’s vision for our world, but without being empowered by His spirit, we are incapable of doing much with it other than making a mess. It is not just that we struggle with sin. It is that we are not made to do this by ourselves. The most important connection we can have is one with God, and without it, we cannot hope to connect right with anyone, or anything else. In our need for each other, we find our need for God revealed. That connectedness, where life flows together in joy and harmony, is Holiness – and we are called to be vessels filled with it. the world may fear or mock us, but our connection to God and one another will be a witness to their own need of it themselves, for without it you lose love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control and are eventually left with only fea, envy, and hate, which grow inward to become self-loathing and self-destruction.
How are you receiving God’s Spirit today?
How does the Holy Spirit help you connect to the rest of the world around you?