7 “Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. 8 He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the Lord for the generations to come. 9 Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. 10 Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.
23 “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 24 500 shekels of cassia—all according to the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, 27 the table and all its articles, the lamp-stand and its accessories, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand.29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.
37 Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the Lord.38 Whoever makes incense like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from their people.”
Exodus 30:7-10, 23-29, 37-38 (New International Version)
The Meaning of Holiness
In these passages from Exodus 30, the Lord commanded Moses that in the tabernacle, Aaron was to burn holy incense on the altar on a daily basis. He also instructed Moses in how to make the sacred anointing oil and what it was to be used for. As I thoughtfully read this chapter, I noticed a theme throughout the text: the importance of holiness to the Lord. What does it mean to be holy and why was it important to God?
To be holy is to be set apart from all things. For example, suppose you set aside a certain article of clothing for a specific occasion. In a way, you are declaring that this piece of clothing is “holy;” only to be used for a certain event.
God, by His nature, is holy. That is because there is no one on earth or in the universe that can compare to Him. The Lord alone is eternal; perfect in all that He does; and through Him, all things were created.
Must Be Holy
With that in mind, all things that are associated with God, whether they be an article of clothing or a piece of furniture, must be set apart for the sole purpose of worshiping God. The Lord cannot be connected to something that is common or blemished in His sight. It would be like placing a black stain on a beautiful white fabric; the stain will standout causing the cloth to look bad.
How does one become holy in the eyes of God? Unfortunately, there is no ritual that man can do that can set him apart to God. Due to the sin that dwells within our bodies, we are forever blemished and there is nothing that we can do to remove it.
However, despite this truth, we find in the Bible people whom God set apart for His purposes. They were set apart not because of some good deed they did. On the contrary, they became holy because God declared them holy. Therefore, people are made holy by the one who is holy; the Lord God.
An Example of Holiness
An example of this is found in Exodus 30. In order to make the tabernacle and its furnishings holy to Him, the Lord had Moses create a special oil to anoint the building. Aside from being made of some the most valuable spices in the world, there isn’t really anything special about this oil. However, because the Lord declared this oil as set apart to Him, it was now sacred and any person who tried to use it for purposes other than the service of God would be punished harshly.
Made Holy in Christ
Just as the tabernacle was set apart to the service of God, we too, as followers of Christ, have been declared holy to God for the purpose of magnifying His glory. This holiness wasn’t achieved by any action of ours, but it was through our faith in Jesus Christ that we have been set apart to the Lord. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our imperfect selves; instead, He sees His beloved Son in us; for when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He comes into us and makes His abode within our hearts.
Therefore, if we are made holy to God in Christ, it is time for us to start living like we are set apart to Him. Our lives should not be consumed with fear and worry. Instead it ought to be filled with joy and courage, for if we are set apart as the Lord’s special treasure, He will not let anything evil or harmful happen to us. Let us draw strength from this truth and be bold in our faith in God.