“You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the LORD.”
I went through a few chapters this morning before anything seemed to invite consideration. There were, of course, sections that are controversial, such as chapter 20 and all the judgments passed down on the various forms of sexual sin called out therein. But I feel that I must focus on this concept this morning: sanctification.
These two verses contain several bits of instruction which I would like to unpack.
God tells the Israelites — possibly the priests, specifically, in the context of the passage — that they shall not profane [His] holy name. God’s Name is to be kept sacred and sanctified. And it is not merely His Name in the sense of what the Israelites are to call Him, but His reputation. The Israelites are to guard God’s reputation through their actions. He expects them to obey His commands and thereby set themselves apart; sanctify themselves and to sanctify Him by extension. He states this explicitly, saying that He will be sanctified among the sons of Israel. There is no tacit command, no implicit requirement. This is right out in the open. The way to guard the holiness of God’s Name; God’s reputation is to sanctify Him myself.
God continues. He reminds the Israelites that He is the LORD Who sanctifies [them]. They are to sanctify Him, but this is in response to His sanctification of them. Their relationship with Him will be marked by action on His part and response on theirs. He sanctifies them and they, in response, sanctify Him in their midst. He gives more context than that, though, as He reminds them that He brought [them] out from the land of Egypt, to be [their] God. He came and got them.They were not looking for Him.
All of this is a parallel to the life of the New Testament (NT) believer. We were not, as a rule, looking for God when we met Him. He came to find us and call us into relationship with Himself. He set us apart. He saved us. In response to this, He wants us to treat Him as holy; unique among all relationships in our lives. And this is echoed in so many of the instructions to NT believers. For example, God calls me, as a husband and father, to love God first and best and most. And He tells me that doing so; that loving Him first and best works itself out in loving everyone else in my life better and more fully than I otherwise could. He acts. I respond. The pattern repeats like a dance.
And it is that dance metaphor that I catch on this morning. I used to go dancing in ballrooms and learned that two things are necessary for good dancing to happen: a strong lead and a good follow. Two leads will battle for guidance of the dance. Two follows will go nowhere at all. A weak lead and a good follow may manage to not be terrible, but will not experience the best dancing. A strong lead and a bad follow will move around the floor, but with less grace and beauty than could have been achieved. A strong lead and a good follow is glorious. The lead nudges and the follow moves in that direction. The lead pulls and the follow is drawn in. Having seen and experienced the combination of strong lead and good follow, I know that the best dancing happens under those circumstances. Likewise, the best walk with God happens when God is the lead (not me combating Him for the lead) and I am a good follow. Under those circumstances, my walk with God feels effortless and looks, to all the world, as holiness should.
This morning’s verses remind me that my walk with God has much in common with dance and that I sanctify Him best when I follow His lead. He sanctifies me so I respond by sanctifying Him. He draws me out of bondage to sin and I respond by living in that freedom and following Him to still greater liberty.
Father, please teach me to be a good follow in our dance. I would flow across the floor of life like those who have moved me in their dance. May my walk with You be as beautiful and as joyous and as moving as those dances, Please make me a follow worthy of Your lead.