The Lord Sets You Apart for Himself

“That you may know that I am the Lord your God.”

The sayings of our mouth and the meditation of our heart.

Ps 19:14 – Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer! (YLT)

What do the sayings of your mouth and the meditation of your heart reveal about who you think you are? Are they in agreement with the words of the Lord God and the meditation of his heart?

Meditating and resting.

Do you have a regular practice of meditating on God’s Word and resting in his promises? This is a vital part of the sanctification process, a separation and surrendering to the will of God for you.

Sanctification.

Sanctification is not an attainment, it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful people, and in which they begin their course as Christians, followers of Christ. It is a separation to God; it is the relationship with God to which their sole title is the death of Christ. Sanctification is God’s will, his purpose in calling sinful people by the gospel, and must be learned from God as he teaches it by his Word. It must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, for the holy character is built up little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and following the example of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification. The sanctification of the Spirit is associated with the choice of God; it is a Divine act preceding the acceptance of the Gospel by the individual.1

Lectio Divina.

I encourage you to practice Lectio Divina – taking in just a small bite of Scripture each day, and chewing on it all day, all week, all month, all year, all life long, giving Holy Spirit time and access to the deep recesses of your heart to cleanse and nourish your soul as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Pet 3:18).

“Lectio Divina”, a Latin term, means “divine reading” and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. …the stages…

lectio (reading)… meditatio (reflection)… oratio (response)… contemplatio (rest), where we… simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within… The movement of the prayer is towards silence… The practice of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the Scriptures has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and in our own day is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups. The Word of God is alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.2

Lectio.

Reading. Read the Word of God slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into you.

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

Meditatio.

Reflection. Think about the text and ruminate upon it so that you take from it what God wants to give you.

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

What word or phrase stirs you? Take some time to murmur and mumble the word/s, taking a kind of pleasure in making the sounds and getting the feel of the meaning. Take in what God wants to give you that will make you more yourself, created in his image and likeness.3

Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.

What if this command is more far-reaching than a simple literal interpretation that can be be enforced by human judges applied to physical bodies?

What if…?

Rom 9:22-24 – Now what if God, even though he was quite willing to demonstrate his anger and make known his power, patiently put up with people who deserved punishment and were ripe for destruction? What if he did this in order to make known the riches of his glory to those who are the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — that is, to us, whom he called not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles? (CJB)

What if God…patiently put up with people who deserved punishment and were ripe for destruction?
What if God had a purpose and plan in patiently putting up with such people?
Are you a person who deserves punishment?
Am I?

What if we simply don’t know who we are?
What if we do not know what a Sabbath of solemn rest is?
What if we have not yet heard God’s call?

Is a Sabbath of solemn rest only about resting our bodies from physical labor, or our minds from intellectual exercises?

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

Know that the Lord sets you apart for himself.

Ex 31:12-13 – And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you [set you apart for me]. (ESV)

Who are the people of Israel?

Those who put their trust in his person and power.

John 1:10-13 – He was in the world — the world came to be through him — yet the world did not know him. He came to his own homeland, yet his own people did not receive him. But to as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God. (CJB)

Those who fear God.

Acts 13:26 – “Brothers—you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles—this message of salvation has been sent to us! (NLT)

God will make this happen.

1 Thess 5:23-24 -Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful. (NLT)

“Between you and me” says the Lord.
Above all
You shall keep my Sabbaths holy.

Sabbath: to rest, cease. The basic and most frequent meaning of shabat is shown in Genesis 8:22: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (ESV)4

The Sabbath is a sign forever between God and the people of Israel.
That you may know
That I, the Lord, set you apart for me.

Sign: in the sense of appearing; a signal, evidence, mark, miracle; to come, i.e., to assent; consent.5

I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done.

Jer 31:31-37 – “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

It is the Lord who provides the sun to light the day and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea into roaring waves. His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and this is what he says: 36 “I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to abolish the laws of nature!” 37 This is what the Lord says: “Just as the heavens cannot be measured and the foundations of the earth cannot be explored, so I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the Lord, have spoken! (NLT)

By means of the truth.

John 17:17-19 – Set them apart for holiness by means of the truth — your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. On their behalf I am setting myself apart for holiness, so that they too may be set apart for holiness by means of the truth. (CJB)

Note the relationships. “Between you and me,” says the Lord.
On their behalf I am setting myself apart for holiness
So that they too may be set apart for holiness.

Set apart for holiness.
Set apart. Sanctified.

Set apart by means of the truth.
God’s word is truth.
“I will not consider casting them away for the evil they have done. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
God’s word sets us apart for holiness.

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

You’re the closest of all to me, God.

Ps 119:151-152 – But you’re the closest of all to me, God, and all your judgments true. I’ve known all along from the evidence of your words that you meant them to last forever. (MSG)

Can you say this about your relationship with God? “You’re the closest of all to me, God, and all your judgments true.” “I’ve known all along from the evidence of your words…”

Keep my Sabbaths.

Ezek 20:20 – and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. (ESV)

Are you ready to experience the truth of these words?

The promise became a prophetic sign of God’s faithfulness. The “sabbath” was the covenant sign of God’s lordship over the creation. By observing the “sabbath,” Israel confessed that they were God’s redeemed people, subject to his lordship to obey the whole of his law. They were his stewards to show mercy with kindness and liberality to all. By “resting,” man witnessed his trust in God to give fruit to his labor; he entered into God’s “rest.” Thus “rest” and the “sabbath” were eschatological in perspective, looking to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose through the redemption of his people, to whom the “sabbath” was a covenant sign.4

My Sabbaths…
Keep my Sabbaths holy…
That they may be a sign between me and you

Keep my Sabbaths holy
That they may be evidence
A signal
In the sense of appearing
To come
To consent.

Keep my Sabbaths holy
That you
That you may know
That you may know that I am the Lord your God.

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death [literally or figuratively]. (ESV)

Oratio.

Response. Leave your thinking aside and simply let your heart speak to God. This response is inspired by your reflection on the Word of God.

Prayer means yearning for the simple presence of God, for a personal understanding of his word, for knowledge of his will and for capacity to hear and obey him. It is thus something much more than uttering petitions for good things external to our own deepest concerns…

We wish to gain a true evaluation of ourselves and of the world so as to understand the meaning of our life as children of God redeemed from sin and death. We wish to gain a true loving knowledge of God, our Father and Redeemer. We wish to lose ourselves in his love and rest in him. We wish to hear his word and respond to it with our whole being. We wish to know his merciful will and submit to it in its totality. These are the aims and goals of meditation and oratio.6

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. (Job 32:8 ESV)

Contemplatio.

Rest. Let go of your own ideas, plans and meditations, your holy words and thoughts. Simply rest in the Word of God. Listen at the deepest level of your being to God who speaks within you with a still small voice. As you listen, you are gradually transformed from within. Take what you read in the Word of God into your daily life. The way you live is the test of the authenticity of your prayer.

Christ’s rest is not a rest from work, but in work, “not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections—of will, heart, imagination, conscience—because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development.7

*****

Resources/For deeper study:

1Sanctification: A. Noun. hagiasmos (<START GREEK>a)giasmo/$ <END GREEK>, NT:38), “sanctification,” is used of (a) separation to God, 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; (b) the course of life befitting those so separated, 1 Thess 4:3,4,7; Rom 6:19,22; 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14. “Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ, Acts 26:18; 1 Cor 6:11, and to which their sole title is the death of Christ, Eph 5:25,26; Col 1:22; Heb 10:10,29; 13:12.

“Sanctification is also used in NT of the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer, 1 Thess 4:3, and His purpose in calling him by the gospel, v. 7; it must be learned from God, v. 4, as He teaches it by His Word, John 17:17,19, cf. Ps 17:4; 119:9, and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14. For the holy character, hagiosune, 1 Thess 3:13, is not vicarious, i. e., it cannot be transferred or imputed, it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ, Matt 11:29; John 13:15; Eph 4:20; Phil 2:5, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Rom 8:13; Eph 3:16.

“The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification, Rom 15:16; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; cf. 1 Cor 6:11…. The sanctification of the Spirit is associated with the choice, or election, of God; it is a Divine act preceding the acceptance of the Gospel by the individual.”

From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 115, 271.

For synonymous words see HOLINESS.

  1. Verb. hagiazo (<START GREEK>a(gia/zw <END GREEK>, NT:37), “to sanctify,” “is used of (a) the gold adorning the Temple and of the gift laid on the altar, Matt 23:17,19; (b) food, 1 Tim 4:5; (c) the unbelieving spouse of a believer, 1 Cor 7:14; (d) the ceremonial cleansing of the Israelites, Heb 9:13; (e) the Father’s Name, Luke 11:2; (f) the consecration of the Son by the Father, John 10:36; (g) the Lord Jesus devoting Himself to the redemption of His people, John 17:19; (h) the setting apart of the believer for God, Acts 20:32; cf. Rom 15:16; (i) the effect on the believer of the Death of Christ, Heb 10:10, said of God, and 2:11; 13:12, said of the Lord Jesus; (j) the separation of the believer from the world in his behavior — by the Father through the Word, John 17:17,19; (k) the believer who turns away from such things as dishonor God and His gospel, 2 Tim 2:21; (l) the acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ, 1 Peter 3:15.

“Since every believer is sanctified in Christ Jesus, 1 Cor 1:2, cf. Heb 10:10, a common NT designation of all believers is ‘saints,’ hagioi, i. e., ‘sanctified’ or ‘holy ones.’ Thus sainthood, or sanctification, is not an attainment, it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful men, and in which they begin their course as Christians, Col 3:12; Heb 3:1.”

From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 113, 114.

(from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

2https://www.ocarm.org/en/carmelites/what-lectio-divina

3“Meditate (hagah) is a bodily action; it involves murmuring and mumbling words, taking a kind of physical pleasure in making the sounds of the words, getting the feel of the meaning as the syllables are shaped by larynx and tongue and lips. Isaiah used this word “meditate” for the sounds that a lion makes over its prey (Isa 31:4). They purr and growl in pleasurable anticipation of taking in what will make them more themselves, strong, lithe, swift.” From: Peterson, Eugene H. (1991). Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer (pg 26). New York, NY: HarperCollins.

4Sabbath: Shabat OT:7673, “to rest, cease.” This word occurs about 200 times throughout the Old Testament. The root also appears in Assyrian, Arabic, and Aramaic.

The verb first occurs in Gen 2:2-3: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

The basic and most frequent meaning of shabat is shown in Gen 8:22: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” This promise became a prophetic sign of God’s faithfulness: “If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever” Jer 31:36.

We find a variety of senses: “…even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses…” Ex 12:15. “Neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering” Lev 2:13 NASB, KJV, NIV, “do not leave out”. Josiah “put down the idolatrous priests…” 2 Kings 23:5. “I will also eliminate harmful beasts from the land” Lev 26:6 NASB, KJV, “rid”; RSV, NIV, “remove”.

  1. Noun.

shabbat OT:7676, “the sabbath.” The verb sabat is the root of shabbat: “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor…” Ex 23:12, NASB, KJV, “rest”. In Ex 31:15, the seventh day is called the “sabbath rest” (NASB, “a sabbath of complete rest”).

A man’s “rest” was to include his animals and servants Ex 23:12: even “in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest” Ex 34:21. “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” Ex 31:17.

“…Then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord” Lev 25:2. Six years’ crops will be sown and harvested, but the seventh year “shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord…” Lev 25:4. The feast of trumpets, the day of Atonement, and the first and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles are also called “a sabbath observance” or “a sabbath of complete rest” Lev 23:24,32,39.

The “sabbath” was a “day of worship” Lev 23:3 as well as a “day of rest and refreshment” for man Ex 23:12. God “rested and was refreshed” Ex 31:17. The “sabbath” was the covenant sign of God’s lordship over the creation. By observing the “sabbath,” Israel confessed that they were God’s redeemed people, subject to His lordship to obey the whole of His law. They were His stewards to show mercy with kindness and liberality to all Ex 23:12; Lev 25:1.

By “resting,” man witnessed his trust in God to give fruit to his labor; he entered into God’s “rest.” Thus “rest” and the “sabbath” were eschatological in perspective, looking to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose through the redemption of His people, to whom the “sabbath” was a covenant sign.

The prophets rebuked Israel for their neglect of the sabbath Isa 1:13; Jer 17:21-27; Ezek 20:12-24; Amos 8:5. They also proclaimed “sabbath” observance as a blessing in the messianic age and a sign of its fullness Isa 56:2-4; 58:13; 66:23; Ezek 44:24; 45:17; 46:1,3-4,12. The length of the Babylonian Captivity was determined by the extent of Israel’s abuse of the sabbatical year 2 Chron 36:21; cf. Lev 26:34-35.

(from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

5Sign: OT:226 <START HEBREW>toa <END HEBREW> ‘owth (oth); probably from OT:225 (in the sense of appearing); a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: KJV – mark, miracle, (en-) sign, token.

OT:225 <START HEBREW>tWa <END HEBREW> ‘uwth (ooth); a primitive root; properly, to come, i.e. (implied) to assent: KJV – consent. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

6Thomas Merton (2014). Contemplative Prayer (pg 45-46). New York, NY: Image Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

7Rest: anapausis (<START GREEK>a)na/pausi$<END GREEK>, NT:372), “cessation, refreshment, rest” (ana, “up,” pauo, “to make to cease”), the constant word in the Sept. for the Sabbath “rest,” is used in Matt 11:29; here the contrast seems to be to the burdens imposed by the Pharisees. Christ’s “rest” is not a “rest” from work, but in work, “not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections — of will, heart, imagination, conscience — because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development” (J. Patrick, in Hastings’ Bib. Dic.); it occurs also in Matt 12:43; Luke 11:24; Rev 4:8, RV, “(they have no) rest” [KJV, “(they) rest (not)”], where the noun is the object of the verb echo, “to have”; so in 14:11… (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

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