Holy Nation

There are over fifty different things that the word of God denotes as being holy. In the next several essays we will examine those things in the scriptures that are called holy.

Recall that the word, "holy," means "to be separate." The things that are called holy in the scriptures are holy because God has made them holy and are separate for His particular purpose.

We will begin our study of holy things by looking at the phrase, "holy nation."

In Ex. 19:6 God said of Israel, "And ye shall be a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. This was in accordance to the covenant promises that God had made unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob:

1. Gen. 12:2, "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.

2. Gen. 18:18, "Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.

3. Gen. 26:3, "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father."

4. Gen. 35:11, "And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins."

5. Gen. 46:3, "And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation."

From the above we see that based on God's covenant promise God made Israel a great nation in the land of Egypt. They started out as a nation in the midst of a nation. Most people who go to live in a nation are absorbed into that nation and become a part of that nation. God preserved Israel as a separate people in all their sojourning in the land of Egypt. Furthermore, at the appointed time God delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage and made them a holy nation unto himself as we read previously in Ex. 19:6.

We normally think of a nation as a group of people united under a common government and system of laws under the rule of a common king or leader. Israel was a "holy" nation because she was a nation unto God.  God gave her, her government, laws and ordinances, and was her King (at least unto the time of King Saul). Furthermore, Israel was holy because God was in her midst and went with her:

1. Ex. 33:16, "For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth."

2. Deut. 4:7, 8, "For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto him, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments, so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?"

3. Deut. 4:34, "Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war; and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?"

Thus under the old covenant Israel was an holy nation unto God, for God had by covenant purpose chosen them; given them laws, statutes, commandments; given them her government; had delivered them out of Egyptian bondage; been in their midst; and was their king.

In the new testament we read of another holy nation in I Pet. 2:9, 10, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an ‘holy nation,' a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."

This "holy nation" is God's people in his kingdom (church) who are governed by his laws, ordinances, and commandments; who recognize Jesus as their king and that the government is upon his shoulders (Is. 9:6). Furthermore, they have Jesus in their midst: Matt. 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Just as Israel was a nation by covenant promise, so are these a nation by covenant promise: Heb.8:10 12, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

These people have all been born of the Spirit: John 3:5, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Furthermore, they pressed into the kingdom after hearing the gospel proclaimed: Lk. 16:16, "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." In addition, they have brought themselves and submitted themselves under the laws and ordinances of King Jesus: Matt. 28:20, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." They consider themselves to be citizens of the kingdom of heaven: Eph. 2:19, 20, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." They recognize Jesus as being their king: I Tim. 1:17, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." In addition, as Israel was made a nation in the midst of Egypt, so these people are a nation in the midst of the world. They consider themselves strangers, pilgrims, and foreigners in this world: I Pet. 2:11, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul..."

Most Holy Place

When God gave instructions to Moses and the children of Israel to build a tabernacle in the wilderness, they were to build according to the pattern God showed Moses in the mount. The tabernacle was essentially separated into three parts: the outer court; the holy place; and the most holy place. According to Ex. 26:33 there was a veil separating the holy place and the most holy place: "And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy place."

Situated in the most holy place was the ark of the covenant, the mercy seat, the two cherubims whose wings spanned from one side of the tabernacle unto the other and touched one another in the center. Also within the most holy place was the incense altar upon which the high priest burned incense.

In Ps. 99:1 we are told that the Lord sitteth between the cherubims: "The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved." Furthermore, God promised to appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat (Lev. 16:2) and to meet with and commune with Moses from above the mercy seat (Ex. 25:22). While all of the above has its natural and ceremonial significance to the children of Israel as they accomplished the worship of God under the law service, they were but figures, types, patterns and shadows of the true according to Hebrews chapters 9 and 10. It is only when we look at the antitype of the type that we see the real significance and thus real holiness of these things.

First, the ark of the covenant held the golden pot that had manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant (Heb. 9:4). Thus the ark of the covenant was a type of Jesus Christ. The first thing man did with the tables of the covenant was break them as Moses threw them down when he saw Israel dancing naked to their shame. Next, the tables of the covenant were placed in the ark where they were kept.
Jesus said in Matt. 5:17, 18, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily, I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

Jesus was the one who kept the law perfectly. Next, the ark contained the golden pot of manna. Manna was the food that God provided the children of Israel in the wilderness to satisfy their hunger each day. Manna was a figure of God's word.

When Jesus had fasted forty days and nights and afterwards hungered and was tempted of the devil saying, "If thou be the Son of God, command these stones be made bread." To which Jesus answered, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." It was Jesus alone who lived by EVERY word that proceeded out of the mouth of God. Additionally, when the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, the twelve princes of the twelve tribes of Israel each gave Moses a rod that was laid up before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness of which Aaron's rod was among the 12 rods. The next day the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds" (Num. 17:8). A dry rod is dead. Thus for it to bud, bloom, and bring forth almonds signifies life from the dead. Jesus is the one who DIED for our sins and subsequently AROSE from the DEAD. Thus we can see that the ark of the covenant was a figure of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Second, the mercy seat represents God's mercy. But how can God be just and punish men's sins and be merciful at the same time? Ps. 85:10, "Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other." God's justice (truth) and his mercy have met together in the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Thus it is no wonder that the mercy seat was situated on the ark of the covenant which represented the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The dimensions of length and breath are given for the mercy seat, but no height or depth. This teaches us that God's mercy toward his people is unlimited based on Christ's redemptive work.

Third, the high priest came alone into the most holy place with blood of others, first to sanctify himself, then to sanctify the people.  Jesus, however, as the High Priest after the order of Melchizedec went into heaven itself with his own blood and thru the Holy Spirit offered himself without spot to God. Subsequently Heb. 10:12 14 tells us, "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."

Fourth, the incense altar was situated in the most holy place before the mercy seat. Rev. 8:3, 4 speaks of this scene, "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar before the throne. And the smoke of the  incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." According to Rom. 8:34 it is Jesus "that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Jesus is our intercessor and high priest. Based on his sacrificial atonement for us he makes intercession for us and thus our prayers ascend unto God as a sweet smelling savor for they are savored with the sweet incense of Jesus
atonement and intercession.

Fifth, Jesus sits in the cloud of his glory upon the mercy seat. To him belongs all the praise, glory, and honor, for redeeming us from our sins and manifesting his mercy toward us.

Sixth, the covering veil separating between the holy place and most holy place has been removed. When Jesus died on the cross according to Matt. 27:51, "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom..." Next we read in Heb. 10:19, 20, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh." From this we notice that the veil represented his flesh and that through his death the veil is removed that we may see the grand and glorious workings of God toward us.

Seventh, the cherubims, witnesses who viewed the scene with the most holy place, were looking inward. Not it is the duty of a witness to bear witness. These two faithful witnesses, the old and new testaments, have been faithful to declare to the people of God the testimony of God's love, mercy, and covenant work of redemption and his intercession on our behalf to the praise, honor, and glory of God.

Holy Place

In our previous essay we considered the most holy place. In this essay we will consider the holy place. According to Ex. 26:33 there was a veil separating the holy place and the most holy place "...and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy place."  Within the holy place there was a table and a candlestick. The table contained the shew bread and dishes, spoons, bowls, and covers. The candlestick contained a shaft and six branches. Each of the branches contained three bowls made like almonds with a knop and a flower. The shaft contained four bowls with a knop and a flower. Also the candlestick had seven lamps along with tongues and snuff dishes for each lamp.

While only the high priest could go into the most holy place, both the high priest and the priests could go into the holy place to accomplish the service there. Before they could go into the holy place they had to be washed and they and their garments sprinkled with blood of the sacrifice. Also they had to have on the holy garments. Once they were washed and sprinkled and appropriately attired they entered into the
holy place thru the tent door.

There are several parallels between the old testament holy place and the new testament church. The table of shew bread contained twelve loaves of bread with two rows, six in a row. Thus they were 6 by 6. Today the canon of scripture contains 66 books of the old and new testament by which we obtain our spiritual food. Likewise the candlestick contained 22 bowls and 22 is the bible number representing the word of God.

The candlestick is used in the scriptures to represent the church. Rev. 1:20 reads, "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." The Lord told the disciples in Matt. 5:14 16, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Furthermore, only those who have been washed in the new birth can enter into the Kingdom of God (church). Please consider the following verses:

1. Tit. 3:5, 6, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior."

2. John 3:3, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

3. John 3:5, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Additionally, in the new birth we have our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Heb. 10:22).

According to 1 Pet. 1:2, we are "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."

In Rev. 1:5, 6 we who have been washed by the blood of Christ have been made kings and priests to God: "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.   Amen." As the priests of God we can enter into his kingdom to accomplish the service of God if we are appropriately clothed with the holy garments. In Rev. 19:8 we read, "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." Also II Cor. 5:21 declares, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Thus we see that we are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Next, we enter into the church as the priests entered into the holy place, through the legal and lawful way. We enter into the church thru repentance and water baptism: Acts 2:38, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

When the priests entered into the holy place they accomplished the service of God. Similarly, we, as members of the Lord's church, "are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).

Furthermore, we "are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that we should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

As the priests burned incense, with fire from off the altar, in their censors in the holy place, so we, based on the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ (fire from off the altar), come to the house of prayer (church) to offer up our prayers unto God.

Thus we conclude that the Lord's church is the new testament holy place of today.