As I was reading Ezekiel a few weeks ago I came across a passage that I found very interesting. In chapter 20 verse 12 it says the following, "Also I gave them my sabbath as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy," or sanctified them. Personally, I've always thought of the Sabbath as a day to rest, not work, worship and the sort but I've never thought of it as a reminder that God made us holy. Now this passage occurs during a time when God is pronouncing judgment on the nation of Israel, through his prophet Ezekiel, during the exile in Babylon. A group of elders from Israel had come before Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord and find themselves being forbidden to do so by God himself, "Son of man, speak to the Elders of Israel and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Have you come to inquire of me? As surely as I live, I will not let you inquire of me, declares the Sovereign Lord.' Ezekiel 20: 3. God then proceeds to remind the elders of his long history with Israel- how he chose them, brought them out of the land of Egypt into the promised land and how they had rebelled against his commands to rid themselves of the vile idols of Egypt. For his names sake, he chose to still bring them out of Egypt into the wilderness, giving them decrees, laws and Sabbaths as the aforementioned sign that the Lord, their God, had made them holy. These they also rebelled against, incurring God's wrath against them. Since this verse is found in the Old Testament and applied to the nation of Israel in particular I thought it vital to see what the New Testament has to say about sanctification. I choose the following passages from among the myriad of them about this topic. 2 Thessalonians 2:23- "But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth." 2 Timothy 2:21- "Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." Hebrews 2:11- "Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters." Hebrews 10:10- "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." 1 John 1:9- "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 Thessalonians 5:23- "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming at the Lord Jesus Christ." What we find in scripture is the sacrifice of Jesus bringing to fulfillment God's original intention for his people- that they were made to be holy. Those that accept the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, and therefore become adopted into his family, undergo the process of being made holy by God. We take up the mantle that the Israelites so often rebelled against. So, how can we keep ourselves from rebelling against this holiness ourselves? One crucial way, it appears, is to remember that the Sabbath was given as a gift by God as a sign that we are holy. It is vital that we allow God to purify us so that we may be of use to him for any good work that he purposes. We must deny ourselves and set our hearts and minds toward living in a manner that is very often adverse to how the world lives but is pleasing to God. The Sabbath is not merely meant as a day for rest but also as a day to prepare ourselves to live holy lives the rest of the week, to not only work but to do 'good' work. This is a way in which we can honor and bring glory to God.
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