Monday, April 12, 2010

Fruit of Holiness

“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” (Rom. 6:22).

In this verse we have yet another couple of references to the Exodus story. First, Paul says that we have been set free to become slaves of God. The entire Exodus narrative is built on this contrast. Who do we belong to? Who is our master? Who is our Lord? Yahweh comes to Pharaoh and says, ‘let my people go so that they may serve Me.’ And Pharaoh says, ‘no, I am their lord, and they serve me.’ It is a contest of “lords.” Another way this is illustrated in Exodus is in the question, whose house will Israel build? In the beginning of Exodus, Israel is building Pharaoh’s house, building his cities with bricks, but after Israel is freed to serve Yahweh, they are freed to build His house, the tabernacle. The second half of Exodus is all about building Yahweh’s house. Israel has become slaves to Yahweh, and this is why Paul says that we are slaves of God. This is also why Paul immediately thinks of holiness. Holiness is all about access, drawing near to God who is all holy. The tabernacle is God’s presence with His people, God with Israel.

But the last connection is in the word “fruit.” We should not miss the fact that the tabernacle is the palace of the Kingdom of Israel, and the entire nation of Israel camps around that palace like a great city. But that city is meant to be planted in the Promised Land. In one sense, we should see the tabernacle as the down payment of the Promised Land, proof that God is really going to give it to them. If God has pitched His tent with the tents of Israel, they know that He is in this with them. He will not stop marching until He comes to rest in the land of promise with His people. And that land is full of fruit: vineyards they didn’t plant, cities they didn’t build, and fertile with life.

This meal is the center of our community. Here in worship, our King meets with us. Here Christ is enthroned on our praises. This is the palace of our King, but the Church is the great city that spreads out, encircling this palace. And here at this table, you are given the fruit of holiness, the firstfruits of life with God in this world forever. When the spies came back from Canaan, they brought back a great cluster of grapes. They brought back a portion of the Promised Land with them. Here at this table, we have a portion of the Promised Land. Here is a bit of bread that was made here on the Palouse and some wine made from grapes grown in this world and fermented by human hands. And this is just the beginning. This is proof and down payment of the whole thing. Christ is risen, and he must reign until all of his enemies have become His footstool. So come, eat, drink, and rejoice.

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