The Promise of Holiness

The dome of St. Peter's in Rome. 


Ezek. 28:25   Thus says the Lord GOD: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall settle on their own soil that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 They shall live in safety in it, and shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall live in safety, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God.


After speaking oracles against many of Israel’s neighbors Ezekiel returns us for a moment of reflection upon the promise for Israel. This is the hope of restoration: when they return home and are restored, then the very holiness of God will be revealed in them. God will be sanctified in the eyes of those who do not believe because of the restoration of God’s people. 


Ultimately the Israelites were never to see this come to completion. It was, however, a word of promise for those who would be grafted into God’s family. Both Jews and Gentiles would have the opportunity of living in the promise of holiness. When the Messiah came, he brought the holiness of God into human form, making it possible for this holiness of God to made visible to the world. The result is a promise of restoration for those who will live in Christ. Embracing life in the kingdom of God, the vision is becoming a reality, “as if looking in a mirror dimly” but then we will see “face to face.” (I Cor. 13)

We press on then, to hold onto the promise that has already been given. Holiness is to be a present reality, reflected in the daily lives of those who are living clothed in Christ. But the promise of holiness is always seen in light of restoration. It is restoration in the image of God, made available for Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female. (Galatians 3:28) When the holiness of Christ is manifest in this world, then the restoration of individuals makes others stand up and take notice. God’s church ought to be a place that reflects this restoration, and when that happens then God is sanctified in the eyes of the world. 

The church becomes a living witness to the holiness of God when she lives in the promise of restoration. The Lord is on full display through the work of redemption in broken humanity. Expressions of truth and mercy are reflections of God’s holiness which ought to be seen in and through the life of the church. 

Through God’s holiness restoration includes the cure for sins and transformation in the present. We can live a victorious Christian life, unchained by the sins of our past. This is what God was offering Israel but they refused to embrace the gift. The entire gift presented through Jesus Christ is salvation from our sins and healing from the wounds of the past, restoring us into a reflection of him. This is the promise of holiness. 


Lord, may I be clothed in you today and everyday, reflecting your holiness in this world. Amen. 


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