Holy to the Lord

Holy to the Lord – Zechariah 14:20-21       11/13/2019 We are now in our final week of studying Zechariah; this week we’re going to discover that holiness will one day be universal.  Everything and everyone will be holy.  Now, at the conclusion of the book, we look at the final teaching which deals with the sanctification of all things;[1] Zachariah 14:20-21. Notice that he talks about horses’ bells.  Why do we care about the bells on a horse’s tack?  This is a great example of our need to have some knowledge about the history and culture of the time the book was written in.  Based on the Mosaic Law, the horse was an unclean animal, what’s more, it was an animal used primarily as a weapon of war.  Now, in the Millennial Kingdom, it will be viewed as not just clean, but as holy.[2] Inscribing the expression “Holiness Unto The Lord” on anything is significant.  The expression “Holiness unto the Lord” (קֹ֖דֶשׁ לַֽיהוָ֑ה)[3] [qō´ ḏĕš  lă´ yhwh] were the words engraved into the gold plate on the head-piece of the high priest.[4]  To engrave these words on a horses’ harness serves to indicate that even the most common things, even those things which had formerly been considered unclean, will now be considered holy.[5]  Every detail of every day, from the bells on the horses to the bowls used for sacrifice in the temple will express the holiness of God.[6] In that day EVERYTHING will be considered available for God’s service, and therefore holy.[7]  The point is that the sacred will move out of religious practice and simply be a normal part of all of life.[8]  All of life will be redefined by Jesus’ presence.  Then we run across this business of Canaanites.  What is this reference to the Canaanites in Zechariah 14:21b?  This is probably a simile; the Canaanites were seen as a people laden with sin and under the curse of God,[9] equivalent, in the Jews’ minds, to our understanding of the Antichrist’s followers.  In context, this would refer to all unbelievers and foreigners.[10]  However, we’ve already established that there will no longer be any unbelievers or foreigners, all nations are now worshipers of God and therefore under His Kingship.[11]  It tells us that no unbeliever will seek to enter into the service of God, there will only be followers of Jesus Christ.  There will be no pretenders nor hypocrites serving God.[12] So, if one day we’ll be holy to the Lord, what exactly are we talking about?  And… do we need to wait?  Let’s start by examining holiness with respect to God.  “Holy” (קֹ֚דֶשׁ)[13] [qōdeš] is the primary attribute ascribed to the Lord God in the Hebrew Scriptures.[14]  The first time the word is used in the Old Testament is found in Exodus 3:5.[15]  The fundamental linguistic idea of is that of separateness or distinctiveness.[16] When speaking of God, His holiness points to His absolute uniqueness, His separateness from everything that He has created.  He, King Jesus, is the Creator of all things, and although He is the source of all things, they do not limit Him in any way.  So His holiness is a statement of His “apartness” from what He’s made.  It also indicates His majesty and awesomeness.[17]  When we look at the created order around us, we begin to get a sense of the wonder, power, wisdom, holiness of this God we serve.  The simple fact is that holiness is not so much an attribute of God as it is the foundation of His being.[18]  On the one hand, it conveys the reality of His complete freedom from moral evil, and on the other it communicates His absolute moral perfection.[19] His holiness is such that everything associated with God is also holy,[20] and it is at this point that humanity comes into consideration.  When we come to faith in Jesus Christ we become associated with this holy God.  The holiness required of humanity is that of character and conduct.[21]  It’s something that we are constitutionally incapable of doing.  This holiness only comes through the work of Jesus Christ in lives made new. We are made objectively holy as Jesus addresses our individual sin-problem.  But objective holiness, the simple fact of holiness independent of experience, is not enough.  We are also called to be subjectively holy.  This holiness is a process we enter into at conversion[22] as we learn to cooperate with the work of the Spirit of God.  The new self that we become in Christ is expected to be yielded to His service in a surrender that produces sanctification in our life.[23] So once again, as we conclude our study of the Book of Zechariah, I am reminded that, at the end of the day, it is still all about Jesus.  This holiness that will be universally experienced during the Millennial reign of Christ will only be possible because of what Jesus has done for those who have faith in Him.  It is Jesus who has taken that which is fundamentally unclean and transformed it into something fundamentally holy, that transformation required the suffering and death of Jesus Christ as a sin offering in our places. We, today, have been given the unmatched blessing of living after Jesus has completed His work of atonement.  He makes us holy right now as we submit ourselves to Him.  And… we now realize the benefits that His life and death purchased.[24]  I suppose the question of the hour now becomes, “Does your life reflect the reality that you’ve been made holy?”

[1] Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, vol. 32, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1984), 292.

[2] John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Zec 14:20.

[3]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Zec 14:20.

[4] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament: Volume 10, The Minor Prophets. Eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 626.

[5] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament: Volume 10, The Minor Prophets. Eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 626.

[6] Andrew Knowles, The Bible Guide, 1st Augsburg books ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2001), 394.

[7] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume III, Proverbs – Malachi, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1982), 989.

[8] Marten Woudstra, Zechariah, in The Biblical Expositor: The Living Theme of the Great Book, Volume II, consulting ed., Carl Henry, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1960), 377.

[9] C.F. Keil, Zechariah, Commentary on the Old Testament: Volume 10, The Minor Prophets. Eds., C.F. Keil and F. Delitsch, trans, James Martin, (Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA.: 2011), 626.

[10] John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Zec 14:21.

[11] John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Zec 14:21.

[12] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume III, Proverbs – Malachi, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1982), 989.

[13]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Zec 14:21.

[14] George L. Klein, Zechariah, vol. 21B, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 426.

[15] J.R. Williams, Holiness, in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 562.

[16] George L. Klein, Zechariah, vol. 21B, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2008), 426.

[17] J.R. Williams, Holiness, in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 562.

[18] J.R. Williams, Holiness, in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 562.

[19] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publication Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 497.

[20] J.R. Williams, Holiness, in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 562.

[21] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publication Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 498.

[22] R.E.O. White, Sanctification, in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1052.

[23] R.E.O. White, Sanctification, in The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1052.

[24] Donald F. Ackland, “Zechariah,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 582.

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