Of the many scholarly subjects that have been tackled by the Rabbis, Bible scholars, and sages over the centuries, few topics are as challenging as comprehending and coming up with a proper Scriptural definition of “holiness”.
The mere contemplation of this seemingly inscrutable aspect of God’s nature instantly raises a number of difficult questions.
What exactly does the Lord mean when He says “You shall be HOLY as I am HOLY”?
When Moses used the word “holy”, what did he mean?
Is being holy only a “spiritual” thing or does it include our “physical” or earthly lives as well?
One aspect of holiness that both Jewish and Christian scholars agree on is that is that to some degree the words “HOLINESS” and “SEPARATENESS” are synonymous.
In other words, holiness is simply the setting apart of something or someone for service to God.
That is exactly what the Lord did with the Levites when He separated them away from the other tribes of Israel to be of service to the Lord
However, I think you realize and would agree that by this point in our study of Leviticus, just saying “HOLINESS” equals “SEPARATENESS” is a bit of an oversimplification.
It doesn’t tell us anything about the nature of holiness or how holiness is different from other possible states.
And it doesn’t answer the question of what is the main characteristic of holiness?
I have across many explanations and I have found one of two problems with them.
They either focus too much on the “spiritual” or they focus too much on the “physical”.
If an explanation of holiness is going to be true to the Word of God, it must take into proper account BOTH the spiritual and physical.
Our physical or earthly lives are meant to be a reflection of the HOLINESS of our God, who is a spiritual being.
And we’re going to see moving forward that what we eat, our physical food or diet, is also to be a reflection of the Lord’s holiness.
Therefore, if I were to come up with one word or adjective that would properly capture the essence, nature, and meaning of holiness, I would use the word WHOLENESS.
The word COMPLETENESS would also be a good second runner up candidate.
When I say WHOLENESS, I am referring to a state of lacking nothing and a state where there are no imperfections.
It is a state that every human being in the world from the deepest recesses of our souls desires to be in, whether we realize it or not.
One may try to fill the gaping void in our soul with money, sex, or status, but as King Solomon who had all of those things in tremendous abundance realized long ago, only obeying the Lord’s commands and being declared HOLY by YHVH can satisfy us.
We’re going to take a deeper look at HOLINESS and more of its attributes as we move deeper into Leviticus.