Practical Holiness: You Are But Aliens and Tenants

I spend much of my time traveling from one country to another, where I am an alien.
I am at the mercy of those who will receive me. This photo is at the border of Zambia
and Zimbabwe, and you can see Victoria Falls near the center. 


Leviticus 25:23 The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. 24 Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.


This passage comes in the midst of a section on the practical applications of holiness. Already God has addressed holiness in the lives of the priests and in family relationships. Now, there are economic factors which are to be discussed. God gives instruction for sabbath and jubilee which have implications for the economy of the community. Much of this is seen in the Israelite’s relationship with the land. God has established a “clan” system for the land. Each family or “clan” is to have their own land. This is in direct contrast with the monarchs of the day who held the land and therefore, their own people as servants. The Israelites, in contrast, were free. 

God always made provision for the aliens who sojourned along with the Israelites. As a matter of fact, they served as a reminder to the people of Israel, that they were sojourners on God’s land. The ways in which they treated the alien among them would be a reflection of the way in which God would treat the Israelites. This was an affirmation of their relationship with God, which was a protected dependency in which all people received the benefits of God’s generosity and redemption. 


Holiness must always be lived out in very practical ways, or else it is not true holiness. Looking at, and caring for the needs of others, holiness is, by nature, the overflow of holy love found in the Triune God. This includes the ways in which we care for the alien among us. What God is telling the Israelites is that the way in which they care for these aliens and tenants is the way in which God will care for us. If that’s really true, it should make us wake up and consider the ways in which we are serving others. 

Sadly, the question of legal vs. illegal immigration has created an environment in which all immigrants seemed to be eyed with great suspicion. Followers of Christ, we are in danger of forgetting that we, too, are simply aliens and tenants in God’s kingdom. Just as we would want God to treat us, we ought to be willing to treat others. This was God’s message of practical holiness. 

There can be no holiness without practical holiness. Personal piety is entirely lacking if it doesn’t reach out and touch others in this world. We are simply aliens and tenants in God’s world, and this reality should lead us to live humbly before our Lord, and others. 


Lord, may the love of God flow in and through me to all of your children. Amen. 


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