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On Holy Ground We Tread

Exodus 39:30
They made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription, like the engraving of a signet, “Holy to the LORD.”

 From burning bush callings to Red Sea crossings to covenantal signings to tabernacle workings to priestly anointings, we can think of this memoir called Exodus as the plate on the holy crown of divine Scripture, bearing the inscription on every page, “Holy to the LORD.”

At first glance, that holiness has felt heavy at times, hasn’t it? It’s billowed from a mountain peak, thundered through thick, impenetrable clouds, swept through the city as a thief in the night to kill the firstborn of the impenitent, proclaimed death to Sabbath violators, demanded sacramental circumcisions and sacrifices and tithes, and more. Holiness has seemed fierce, like a tempest; not calm, like a peace that passes understanding. It’s seemed burdensome, like a load of bricks on a slave’s back; not easy, like a lover’s pendant worn around the neck. It’s seemed perilously dark, like the unexplored ocean depths; not light, like a lamp by our bedside.

Yet, even as I pen these words, even as all the difficult, shadowy portions of Exodus flash back before my mind in a slideshow of unanswered questions, my steps feel lighter now than before; my eyes, still squinting through the fog, have become keener by the vision. I see a little further into the great chasm of divine mystery, a little more of the Form of Righteousness that Moses saw day by day. That holiness born from ceremonial and civic expressions is the back of Providence—not His face. That the picture of divine uniqueness will look remarkably different from the peak of Zion looking down then from the base of Sinai looking up. That the abiding presence of Almighty God through this pilgrimage of earthly life is far better a thing to grasp, even if grasping Him takes everything we’ve got, than Egyptian comforts and golden calves and all the milk and honey money could buy.

Without a doubt, God’s call to “Be holy as I am holy” is an invitation to a one-of-a-kind life of which there is no like. And only those who make holiness their crowning achievement, those who engrave on their affections as a spiritual signet the proclamation, “Holy to the LORD,” will find that to be true.