One of the primary desires of God’s heart is to reveal himself to us. For example, one of the names God uses to describe himself is Jehovah Mekaddishkem, which refers to the holiness of God (literally “I am the Lord who Sanctifies You”). This name is used twice in the Bible – and we can learn a lot from the study of this attribute of God.
Exodus 31:3 – “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.’”
Lev. 20:8 – “Keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord who sanctifies you.”
What exactly is God trying to reveal about himself when He says that He is the God who sanctifies? Well, if you look up the word in the Hebrew dictionary, you would find that the word Mekoddishkem is derived from the word kaddesh and it refers to “the setting aside of something; the separation or dedication of an object or a person for a unique purpose, a special calling.”
God is telling the children of Israel that they are to hold His statutes in the highest regard, to dedicate the commandments of God as Holy.
Because when we do, when we obey His Words to us, we are acknowledging that God is worthy of our obedience. In short, when we set Him apart in our hearts and minds, this obedience serves as a sign, a testimony to the work of righteousness that He wants to do in us.
When I was young, there were times when my father would come and say something like this – “Son, if you would like for me to teach you a skill, I need to know you are serious about learning it. If you can show me that you will take this matter seriously, and you will focus on it, work hard at it, I will show you how to become a skilled master at it.”
God is saying that if the Children of Israel are serious about treating His commandments as holy, then He will in turn perfect them. He is setting them apart for a purpose unto Himself, but He wants them to reciprocate. I am treating you with special regard, but I want the same from you.
When you and I treat God with a holy adoration, these acts of obedience serve as a sign of how serious we view the work that God is doing in us and through us.
Notice in the verses above that “sanctifying” is God’s work. “I am the Lord, the one who sanctifies YOU.” The Almighty God is the One with the ability to make us holy because He is Holy. He can give part of his nature, his holiness to whoever He wants to. He can set apart any vessel He wishes to, treat any heart as unique, or dedicate any person to Himself.
And this is what He does when you and I accept Jesus into our hearts and lives. When we acknowledge God’s Holy Son as our one and only Savior, who died as a sacrifice for our sins, we become set apart.
We take on the righteousness of Christ, we are freed from the wages of sin, and we are Holy in God’s sight by the covering of the blood of Christ. God “sanctifies” us – set us apart for His salvation. He chooses us for His purpose.
Consider what Paul tells us –
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” (Col 3:12-15).