We’d be having guests for a special meal. After a tasty main, I’d reach for the specially prepared desert, lift the cover, and horror of horrors, discover someone had already taken a nibble out of it! OK, it never actually happened, but only because when I’d made something special, I would stand guard over it, with a variety of threats to anyone who even thought about sampling it. Then I came up with a cunning plan. Make one to set apart for the special event, and a second smaller one for everyone to check out now. I still uttered the threats though, just to make sure…
The word ‘holy’ means ‘set apart’. A bit like my special desert. Untouched, unblemished, just how its creator intended it to be. Kept to be presented at exactly the right time.
Aaron, as the High Priest, was the official representative of the people before God in the tabernacle. He was to wear on the front of his headdress, a golden plate engraved with the words Holy to the Lord (Exodus 28:36-38). He was there, specially prepared for this place and this time. It was his role to bear away the sinfulness of the people, as he made sacrifices and offerings on their behalf. God could look upon him and see he was the one set apart for this duty: clean, prepared and ready to fulfil what was needed to render the people acceptable to Almighty God.
One day another man would come, holy, set apart, to bear away the sins of man once and for all, by offering himself as the sacrifice. A man who touched lepers, talked with prostitutes, shared meals with sinners, mixed with the basest of humanity, but still remained holy. He remained holy when he allowed his body to be whipped and nailed and crucified. He remained holy when he bore away all the vileness and depravity of human sin. My sin.
And because my sin was dealt with there, I am holy, set apart for service unto Almighty God. I can mix with ordinary, fallen humans and remain holy. I am called to offer my life – not as a sacrifice for sin, as only Jesus could do that – but to be light and salt in a dark and unsavoury world and still to remain holy. And to pray like I’ve never prayed before, that the people in this world might come to recognise the God of love who has done all this for them, that they too might know the peace and joy and wonder of being Holy to the Lord.