TODAY’S READING: Leviticus 19–22
Leviticus 19 begins with God telling Moses to tell the people that they should “be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (v. 2). God then proceeded to lay out moral and ceremonial laws, all based on His character. Over and over again God stated the reason for the rule as being: “I am the Lord.” We do what we do to look like Jehovah. Chris Wright explains:
The superscription to the whole chapter expresses YHWH’s fundamental demand. It could be translated more colloquially, “You must be a distinctive people, because YHWH is a distinctive God.” In fact…YHWH is utterly unique and distinct as God. YHWH is not simply one of the gods of the nations, and not even like them…. For Israel to be holy then meant that they were to be a distinctive community among the nations…. Or to be more precise, Israel was to be YHWH-like, rather than like the nations. They were to do as YHWH does, not as the nations do.
Israel was to respond to their redemption by reflecting their redeemer. In doing so they would not only prove their own distinctiveness from the nations but also make visible YHWH’s difference from the gods of the nations. And that, as we remind ourselves so often, was their very reason for existence, their mission. If the people of Israel were to be God’s priesthood in the midst of the nations, then they had to be different from the nations.
Everything about the Bible centers on God’s plan to love and be glorified by all the nations. Jehovah repeatedly includes the stranger in His requirements and restrictions (19:33, 22:18), for God’s gospel has ever been universal. What appears to be boring text on rules and regulations is in reality an exhilarating call to live in such a distinctive way that all peoples of the world become consumed with a holy jealousy for the Jehovah we reflect. What can be twisted into legalism is actually a law of fruitfulness. If we will live, think, talk, and act like Jehovah, the result will be that all peoples of the earth will want that light and life they see in us—because it’s different.
Israel in Leviticus “was called to embody and demonstrate all this uniqueness in practical, ethical distinctiveness from all other nations (18:1–5). In all these aspects the relationship between God and the historical Israel of the Old Testament period was unprecedented (he had done nothing like this before) and unparalleled (he had done nothing like this anywhere else).” God did through Israel what He now does and wants to increasingly do through the church. In unprecedented and unparalleled ways, God wants us to live holy lives right in the middle of unholy peoples and unholy places. If we don’t live holy lives before and among the nations, then Jehovah reserves the right to forcibly eject us (20:22). “Israel was warned that if they did not remain obedient to the covenant with Yahweh, they…would be vomited out.” Let’s display God’s holy goodness and glory. Let’s live utterly uniquely among the nations. Let’s live noticeably distinct lives totally other than the wasted, selfish, lewd life offered globally. Let’s stop trying to look like the nations; let’s look different. Let’s live holy. Mauritania is a good place to start.
 Leviticus 19:3, 4, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 25, 28, 30, 31, 33.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 373–375.
 Ibid, 462.
 John V. York. Missions in the Age of the Spirit. Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 2001. 35.