Yesterday we read about the events leading up to Jesus’s death, and the hope that we have with Jesus as our “middleman,” the high priest who sympathizes with our weakness.
Today we read about God’s plea to the Israelites to be holy and then about Jesus’s crucifixion and burial. The idea of holiness is that we, as children of God, are called to be set apart from the world. Yet holiness is also a call to be in a close relationship with God. The long list of requirements for the Israelites were put in place so that they may be complete and whole in God, able to live to the fullest. And Jesus came that we might have life. As such, looking different from the world means looking like Jesus.
As we have been exploring, the dichotomy between the Old Testament and the New Testament is the beauty of the Gospel. God gave the Israelites the rules in Leviticus so that they might be holy as He was. The place where God’s presence resided, the Holy of Holies, was separated by curtain. Only the chief priest was allowed to enter, and he could only enter once a year to present an offering. The purpose was to separate the Holy God from sinful man.
“Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.” -Matthew 27:50-51
Yet, when Jesus took His last breath on the cross, the curtain split in half. The significance was that sinful man could now be in the presence of God; in fact, the presence of God would now come and take its place among men! Through a relationship with Jesus, man could now become holy – set apart. When the curtain split, all of the physical strivings to be holy could now cease. God was now saying, you are holy because I am holy, and you are Mine.