And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD your God.'” (Leviticus 19:1-4)
What is the overall message of God’s law? How could a person summarize the law of God? In this statement to Moses, the Lord mentions a few of the commandments from His holy law. He speaks of proper treatment of parents. He calls for a weekly day of rest. He prohibits the worship of idols. Then, He provides a two-word summary of His law: “be holy.”
In this call to holiness, the Lord holds forth Himself as the reason for, and standard of, living holy lives. “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” God is holy, so He requires holiness to be a distinctive trait of His people.
What is the holiness of God? It has to do with His character. Holiness speaks of that which is innate with God. It is inherent or intrinsic to His character. Also, it contrasts that which is foreign to His being. In the Lord God there is perfect righteousness, and in Him no unrighteousness dwells. Complete moral purity abides in God. Conversely, in Him there is not even a trace of moral evil. In fact, everything about Him is spiritually pure and morally unpolluted.
This holy character of the Lord God is the standard that the law holds forth for humanity. God’s chosen nation, Israel, was given this standard in writing. All others have this standard written on the conscience. “(Gentiles) show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness” (Romans 2:15). Allwho are born into this world are measured by God’s law, which demands that the holy character of God be seen in their lives before God. This includes how they relate to God and to one another. The message of the law is: “be holy.”
O Holy Father, I worship You for Your perfect holiness. None is holy, O Lord, besides You. You are pure and righteous in all of Your being and all of Your doing. Father, I am aware of, and convicted of, my lack of inborn holiness. I confess that I could never produce a life that would measure up to Your holy standards. I thank You for the gracious forgiveness that is available in Your Son, Jesus Christ. I take comfort in, and find hope in, the righteousness that Your Son can bring to those who trust in Him day by day!
A decade and a half before Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, Billy Graham was in Boston to deliver a memorial address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The year was 1955, and he had just finished visiting many U.S. military installations in Europe. Below is an excerpt of his timeless message, which still rings true this Memorial Day as we remember with gratitude the sacrifices of so many for our nation.
In all the American idiom, there is no more endearing word than “buddy.” It is warm, with intonations of friendship, brotherhood and common purpose. We are assembled today to pay tribute to those, our “buddies,” who poured out their full measure of devotion upon the altar of freedom.
Thousands of you gathered here could tell dramatic stories of heroism which you yourself have seen acted out by your buddies on the grim stage of war’s theater. They have left this realm of time and space, they have out-stripped us in life’s races, but the sacred memory of their selflessness and the freedom they died to obtain will live forever.
Three weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with President (Dwight D.) Eisenhower at Gettysburg. He took me on a personally conducted tour of the Battlefield of Gettysburg, explaining the strategy used by both the Confederate and Union forces. Both of my grandfathers fought at Gettysburg. This famous battlefield, and hundreds of others like it, have become hallowed soil, where thousands of Americans have died either to preserve freedom, prevent aggression or keep intact the union of American states.
Some months ago when President Eisenhower was touring the Battlefield at Valley Forge and was being shown from one historic spot to another, he made this statement at the conclusion of the tour: “This is where they got it for us.”
What did he mean? He meant that those men, and thousands of others in all the wars that America has fought, purchased by their blood the freedoms that we enjoy today in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” That terse statement from the lips of our president has rung in my ears for many months. …
These battlefields of the world today are hallowed and holy to every American, and we pause to give them our highest honors, humbly realizing the sacred trust that these, our war dead, have handed to us.
I stood by the bedside of a boy in Korea whose spine had been torn away by a shell blast the night before, but by some miracle he was still living. He was unable to change his position; and if he lived, the doctor informed me, the rest of his days would be spent lying on his stomach. The army medics had patched him up the best they could. I gripped his cold, perspiring hand and said words of comfort to him. He made a statement I will never forget. He said: “It was worth it if it will keep America free!”
That’s what you call “getting it for us”! As we think of the selflessness and heroism of such fellows, we are reminded of the words of Jesus Christ who said: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
The freedoms we enjoy, the freedoms we take so much for granted, the freedoms we so often trifle with were bought not by the gold of our millionaires, nor altogether the genius of our scientists, nor the sacrifices of the people at home, but primarily by the blood, sweat and agony of those whose names on this day we honor—those who died that we might live!
They found, as have brave men of all ages, that there are principles well worth dying for. Their noble, unselfish sacrifice is a silent, eloquent rebuke to the self-centeredness of this generation. Let those who want “peace at any price” remember this day that thousands have died for honor and freedom and that what we have today has come at the price of shed blood. …
As I stood in the hospital quarter of the Danish ship “Jutlandia” in Korean waters by an American boy scarcely 20 years of age and watched helplessly as this young life ebbed away, I thought: What right have thousands of pleasure-seeking Americans to go on living when this lad in the early flower of youth has to die? And in that moment, the fact dawned on me that if he had to die for America, some of us must live for America. Sometimes it is far more difficult to live than it is to die. They have handed us a torch, and we have a responsibility to see that they have not died in vain.
Even though the sacrifices of our war dead have been great, yet the greatest sacrifice of all time was made by a man on a cross who died not only physically but spiritually that men might live. We have neglected Him too long! We have rejected His plan for peace, and as a result, we have fought, bled and died for centuries! I challenge the world at this hour to accept His program of heart regeneration that can transform the society in which we live, and we can know the meaning of genuine peace in our time. …
Yes the bells of liberty ring in America today because these men we honor today got through for us. The sacred memory of their sacrifice will always live in our hearts, and we have a sacred and holy trust—and we cannot fail them!
My mind goes back 2,000 years to another battle which was fought on a hill called Calvary. It was a battle of one young man against all the forces of evil. It seemed like a futile, hopeless struggle as Jesus Christ took on Satan’s task force single-handed. The jeers of the rabble, the spittle of the soldiers and the sneering of the people were incidental compared to the inner struggle which was taking place in His soul. But I watch Him, in fancy, as one hand is stretched out toward God and the other toward rebellious man, and He makes the connection and says: “It is finished.” He got through for us!
If we are to be strong spiritually, it will be through Him. Thousands today are finding a fresh, new meaning of life through Him. They are learning to say with confidence, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthened me.” We can best keep faith with those who have gone before by keeping faith with ourselves, with our highest ideals and with God.
Source: The Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton
August 31 Moses Pointing to the Lord for Battle Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies; do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. (Deu_20:3-4) Moses is another example of those who lived by grace in the Old Testament. He knew the necessity of relying upon the sufficiency of God, instead of upon the inadequate resources of man. One illustration of this is seen when he pointed Israel to the Lord for battle. When the children of Israel would enter into the Promised Land, innumerable battles would lie before them. These battles were inevitable, since godless nations had entrenched themselves in the land: “because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you” (Deu_9:5). Thus, the history of Israel documents one battle after another. Moses announced the truth that the people of the Lord need to hear as the battle draws near. “Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies; do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them.” So often, when the warfare appears, the foe seems invincible. “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you” (Deu_20:1). The natural temptation is to “faint . . . be afraid . . . tremble or be terrified.” Another temptation is to try to match the enemy horse for horse and chariot for chariot. The scriptures warn of the futility of turning to worldly resources. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel” (Isa_31:1). Moses knew that God’s people need a reminder that the Lord wants to be our hope. When we must go into the battles of life, the Lord accompanies us. “For the LORD your God is He who goes with you.” He is with us not only to comfort us, but also to battle on our behalf: “to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” The Lord can fight for His people in an unlimited variety of ways. He can change the hearts of those who oppose us. He can bring their plans to naught. He can trap them in their own evil plans. He can cause our enemies to turn and devour one another. He can effectively save us in any manner that He chooses. O Lord, my defender, I face many battles that leave me intimidated and fearful. My hope is often placed in my own worldly strategies or the help that man can offer. Lord, I look to You afresh to fight for me to rescue me any way You chose, for Your glory and honor, Amen.