Holiness Unto the Lord
Zech. 14:16 Then all who survive of the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the festival of booths. 17 If any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain upon them. 18 And if the family of Egypt do not go up and present themselves, then on them shall come the plague that the LORD inflicts on the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths. 19 Such shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths.
Zech. 14:20 On that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the LORD.” And the cooking pots in the house of the LORD shall be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar; 21 and every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and use them to boil the flesh of the sacrifice. And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
The prophet’s vision is one of the advent of Christ. When the Messiah comes there were be a dramatic change in Jerusalem for the city will be made holy because of his presence. The vision goes beyond the birth of the Messiah, but takes us to a view of the kingdom which Christ will establish. This is a holy kingdom in which God’s holy nature will abound. Holiness will reach far beyond the Levitical priesthood and the consecrated utensils and bowls in the temple. The Messiah will usher in a new era where God’s holiness will become the character of God’s people and beyond.
Holiness will be revealed in nearness to God. When the presence of God fills the city then a dramatic transformation occurs. The depiction is vivid for now the horses become as holy as the priests. Every cooking pot in the city becomes as holy as the utensils and bowls from the front of the altar. All of this because of nearness to the holiness of God.
Neither the horses nor the pots make themselves holy, but it is God’s presence that creates the transformation. This is the view of the kingdom which is to come, which is to be ushered in by the Messiah. It is in the presence of the Messiah that everything is to become "holy to the LORD."
In my tradition we have embraced the phrase “Holiness unto the Lord.” We wrote it on our doorposts and hung it on banners in our church buildings for we were a church born out of the holiness movement. But somewhere along the way our understanding of the phrase began to disappear and little by little the signs came down. Now you have to look pretty hard to find that phrase anywhere in a holiness church.
|Church of the Nazarene, Portsmouth, OH|
If we understand this scripture properly we just might want to, once again, embrace the old phrase “Holiness Unto the Lord” — or the contemporary translation, “Holy to the LORD.” The phrase points to a day in which the kingdom of God is revealed in the messiness of what is happening here on earth. The things that are holy are those close to God. Therefore if a church were to embrace being “Holy to the LORD” — the church would embrace a deeper walk with Jesus Christ. It would be a place where everything in the building would be consecrated in service to Christ’s mission in the world and every parishioner’s home would be filled with cooking pots that are “Holy to the LORD.” These would be places of hospitality which become transformational because they bring a fresh taste of the kingdom to those in need.
We may not have horses but we have horsepower. For those who embrace life in the kingdom, even their material goods become tools for use in Christ’s kingdom. Our car becomes an instrument which is “Holy to the LORD” because of our proximity to Christ. When we embrace our nearness to Christ and recognize that he is making us holy, then our material goods are given over in complete and total submission to his service.
“Holiness Unto the Lord” should be a sign that screams everything about the nature of those who are living life in participation with our holy God. Could it be that we took down and hid our old signs because they no longer depicted the nature of who we were? Did the signs come down when we could no longer explain it to the next generation because we were not the visible representation of a people living in close proximity to Christ?
I long for us as a community of faith to deeply embrace our holy Savior, Christ. In doing so, may we experience the transformation that occurs in his presence. Then, possibly, without the need for signs or placards our lives will reveal that we are, “Holy to the LORD.”
Lord, I want to know you more. Please help me to live a life of faithful service in nearness to you. Amen.