“In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar” (Zechariah 14:20).
Under the Levitical worship system in the Old Testament, the high priest wore on his forehead a golden plate; and upon it were engraved the sacred words, “Holiness to the Lord.” It was always upon his headdress, being fastened there by a blue lace, so that the people of Israel might be accepted before the Lord (Ex. 28:36-38). But here the prophet Zechariah sees that same inscription upon the bells of the horses, and the common household vessels used by the people (verses 20, 21). “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord; and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts.”
Holiness stands for three things: separation from sin, devotion to the service of God, and a growing likeness to Christ – which is the necessary result of Him becoming the Almighty Dweller of our heart. Thus we see that holiness can never be an inherent and personal attribute; it must always be a part of us, in proportion to how much we are God-possessed and God-filled. They are the holiest persons who have the most of God.
Should there be a distinction between sacred and secular things?
If we are a son or daughter of the Lord, there must be an abolition of the distinction between sacred and secular things in our lives. Let me clarify what I mean by that statement. I do not mean that we are free to engage in whatever we choose, whether it is a godly activity or a godless one. Rather, I am referring to how certain people resemble ships which are built with watertight compartments; all their religion is kept carefully apart from the ordinary interests and pursuits of their everyday life. For instance, they go religiously to their place of worship on Sunday; but they would almost be horrified if you were to mention the name of God in their living room or at their dinner-table. They might even look at their guest reprovingly, as much as to say, “There is a place and a time for everything, but not here or now!”
With such persons, “Holiness unto the Lord” is good enough for the high priest and the sanctuary; but it has no place on the bells of the horses, or the common vessels of household use. Certainly the common laborer in the stable, or the ordinary homemaker going about her home duties, has no right to speak of such reverend topics – do they? Yes indeed, they do have a right to speak thus! Surely this rigid separation between “sacred duties” and “secular duties” cannot be justified in the face of the teachings of the New Testament; for we are there bidden to do everything we do – even eating our daily bread – in the name of the Lord Jesus, and for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17).
Our lives should not be categorized.
We often classify our lives into various categories, which we somehow feel ought never to be mixed or overlapped. We place our “religious life” into a box, which we only take out on Sundays; then we put our “work life” into a briefcase that we carry around with us Monday through Friday; and then there is our “family life” that we take out in the evenings before bedtime – and we must not forget our “friends life” and our “social life” and a hundred other categories that we divide our time into, and behave as if we can seamlessly switch back and forth between them at our convenience.
Yes, it is true that certain activities and engagements require certain blocks of time and attention to be set aside expressly for them. But we must never imagine that any one of these particular classifications and categories do not have an impact on our lifestyle or behavior in other realms of life. And above all the rest, our relationship with God – our “religious life,” so to speak – ought to have the most influence on how we live the rest of our lives. The condition of our relationship of love with the Lord will affect how we love our spouse, how we disciple our children, how we speak to our church family, how we behave towards our friends and neighbors, how we interact with our coworkers, and even how we treat the average person on the street.
How foolish it is to imagine that we can divorce our spiritual life from influencing every single thing that we do or say, by categorizing it into a “religious box,” as if it had nothing to do with our “everyday life!” Does a little child set aside certain times for its laughter, its tears, or its hunger? Of course not! Is it right, then, for a son or daughter of God to live as if their spiritual life was only meant to be exercised and practiced on Sundays only? Surely the life of God in the soul should and must equally express itself in all the outgoings of our existence, on the six weekdays as well as on the Lord’s Day! Surely it ought to be manifested as much in the kitchen, the office, or the workshop, as in the Church.
A holy life is a witness to the world.
In fact, we may venture to say that the needs of the world demand an entire and unbroken religious life! The world does not see us in either our private or public worship. It has no idea, therefore, of the anguish of our penitence, the earnestness of our desires for a righteous and noble life, or the persistency of our evangelistic endeavors. And if we do not give evidence of our religion in our dealings with matters that the men of the world understand, they will naturally and rightly conclude that our Christianity is nothing more than an impractical dream of superstition and emotion. But if, in our everyday lifestyle, they see that we are more patient, truthful, or honest than their worldly companions; then the children of this world will be prepared to acknowledge that we have indeed come into contact with sources of life and strength which are clearly realities, but which they know nothing about.
Everything must be done for Christ – and thus it is holy!
For these reasons, we should refuse to maintain the false idea of separation between things that are sacred and those that are secular. Yes, there are right and wrong things in this world. The wrong ones, of course, are to be fenced out of our lives; but all right ones are sacred. Everything that may be done at all must be done to Christ; and by being done to Him, it is rendered holy. The farmer with his horses, the wife and mother with the vessels of her household service, the student with her pen and textbook, the mechanic with his tools, the secretary with his record-book, and the photographer with her camera may all realize that those wonderful words – “Holiness unto the Lord” – are engraved upon their foreheads, and upon the instruments of their labor.
Each one of us, as we go about our lawful callings and responsibilities, may feel that he or she is serving God there as much as if they were entering the shrine of some holy temple, and ministering at God’s altar. Even the common pots and vessels that we use in our everyday work may be looked upon as though they were the vessels in which the blood of the Old Testament sacrifices was collected as it flowed from the altar of worship.
Lord-willing, Part 2 of this article will be published next week. If you would like to keep up-to-date with my latest posts as they are published, click the button below to follow Christian Family Reformation on Instagram!
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for the King’s glory,
Illustrations are in the public domain in the United States