And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you. (Leviticus 20:8)
In today’s verse, we see the full power of God at work on behalf of His people. Jehovah Makadesh – M’Kaddesh – is a powerful type of the redemptive work of salvation. Right back in the beginning, when God provides His people with the Law, He already promises the way to fulfill the Law. Even as He establishes His people in their new identity, He provides for this critical need – sanctification. Jehovah Makadesh reveals both the absolute power and holiness of God and His purpose that we should be set apart to Him. Perhaps more than any other, this name of God speaks to the heart of every believer, and to the spiritual need that sent Christ to the cross on our behalf. Jesus is Jehovah Makadesh who came in the flesh, suffered, died, and was resurrected to glory to keep this wonderful promise that He Himself will sanctify us.
To understand Jehovah Makadesh, we need to first look at the holiness of God and His requirements of consecration and sanctification.
Jehovah Makadesh literally means ‘The Eternally Self-Existent One Who Sanctifies.’ This immediately raises two significant truths. Firstly, God exists entirely separately, i.e. He is not dependent on His creation for His existence. Everything He needs is already contained within Himself – all the power, glory, majesty, and holiness that defines God is His alone. This means that He alone is entirely and eternally perfect and complete. God is absolutely pure and holy. Nothing can change this or affect it in any way. Unlike man, who can so easily defile himself by contact with sin, God cannot be defiled, not even when He comes in contact with sinners such as you and I.
This raises an important issue. When the unsanctified comes in contact with God, one of two things will happen. Either that which is unholy will be burned up or destroyed by His holiness, or God will intervene and sanctify the unholy, thus preventing the inevitable destruction. This is a critical truth. Nothing that is not holy can survive in the presence of God’s holiness. Jehovah Makadesh is God’s provision to protect His people from this truth. Jehovah Makadesh sanctifies God’s people so that they may enter into His presence and not be destroyed.
On our own, we can never be sanctified. The elaborate religious rituals and laws which God provided could not, in and of themselves, bring sanctification. No matter what the ceremony or the ritual sacrifice, Jehovah Makadesh had to be present in order for sanctification to occur. The Law, in essence, clearly highlighted the fact that man could not, without the direct intervention of Jehovah Makadesh, every hope to achieve sanctification. Unless God accepted the sacrifices and intervened to cleanse the people, the ritual was worthless.
In Jesus, we see Jehovah Makadesh powerfully fulfilled. God Himself, through His Son, came to be the perfect, once-and-for-all sacrifice. As both sacrifice and High Priest, Jesus was able to accomplish God’s sanctification for mankind for all eternity. The blood of Jesus cleanses and sanctifies, and presents us before the holy throne of God as pure and spotless. When God looks at believers, He sees Jesus, He sees Jehovah Makadesh fulfilled, He sees the cleansing, sanctifying blood of His Son.
While Jehovah Makadesh is universal, eternal, and perfect, we cannot forget that we have a part to play. Any relationship is bi-directional. There is God’s part and there is our part, and while we cannot sanctify ourselves, we must take hold of that sanctification in order for it to be effective in our lives. We do this through consecration – surrendering to the will of God, to be set aside for Himself and His purposes. Today’s voice points this out very clearly – God sanctifies after we keep His statutes and perform them. This is not the elaborate, ritualistic traditions and obedience of the Old Testament. It is belief in Christ, from which obedience to Him – God’s Living Word – naturally follows.
What today’s verse is essentially saying is that God sanctifies us through His Word, who is Jesus – the living manifestation of God’s written Word. Everything in Scripture, right from Genesis, points to Christ. Christians who come to salvation do not become Jews. We become followers of Christ. The elaborate Laws of the Old Testament do not apply, but the principles behind them do. Every law and every ritual had a practical and spiritual foundational principle behind it – living sanctified lives. In the Old Testament, Jews were required to first live the Law, then receive sanctification from Jehovah Makadesh. Believers, however, first receive Jehovah Makadesh through Christ. We are then expected to live out our sanctification in obedience and consecration to God.
Through Christ, we receive inward sanctification – the indwelling presence of Jehovah Makadesh – rather than outward sanctification which doesn’t last. We are covered by the blood of Christ, but Jehovah Makadesh continues to work in us to complete the work of sanctification. As we yield up areas of our lives to Him, we receive a little more of His sanctification. While as yet we are still sinners, and while the truth is that it will take us our entire lives to be completely sanctified, made pure and spotless before Him, in His eternal grace He covers us with Jesus. God’s sanctification is already complete and perfect. We, however, still need to grow into it. While we do, we share in Christ’s sanctification to protect us.
It’s so important to keep the holiness of God in mind when considering the critical truth of Jehovah Makadesh. God tells us that we should be holy because He is holy. At the same time, He knows that this is impossible in our own abilities. We are born into sin, continue in sin, remain tempted and distracted, and fall continuously. To demand that we be holy is as pointless as me commanding the sun not to rise. This is the entire purpose of Jehovah Makadesh, to effect that which is humanly impossible. But to receive what God in His grace and mercy has provided, we must first concede defeat. We must first acknowledge that we cannot, and we must first surrender to Christ.
Being ‘made holy’ means to be set apart. It means to be different. It means to reflect something that is at odds with the world and with the flesh. It means being different, being peculiar, being separated from what drives and controls others. If I cannot be holy in and of myself, I must yield that which prevents it. I must immerse myself completely in Jehovah Makadesh, trusting in His promise to sanctify that which I cannot. God’s sanctification already exits, and it is already perfect. But it requires my willingness to yield, to surrender all. Jehovah Makadesh only responds to sacrifice. What I lay down will be sanctified. What I hold back will remain unsanctified. As with all things of God, I determine how much I will receive by how much I’m prepared to sacrifice. My attitude doesn’t diminish the power and ability of God, who has already given all. It only diminishes the level to which I allow that power and ability to work in me to fulfill His promises.
Gracious Lord, we can only come to You in awe and thanksgiving, knowing that our holy God has given Himself completely to bring us to the place of holiness in You. We acknowledge, Lord, that we cannot do it alone. We need Your Son, we need His precious blood, and we need Your sancitifying power to work in us as we yield those things which are not of You. Help us to willingly be set apart to You.