In Old Testament times, one was recognized as a holy person through his or her response to the “Law of Holiness.” Holiness was measured by the level of one’s obedience to the religious law which regulated Israel’s community life, family life and worship experience. But more than that, the mark of true holiness presupposed one’s understanding of the basic reason underlying the nation’s complex legal code. The Old Testament “Law of Holiness” was based on the belief that life is a gift of God; that all earthly goods belong to God; that one of the duties of God’s human stewards is to share these goods with the underprivileged; that the elaborate temple sacrifices and other religious rituals signify the community’s disposition to return all things to God. In other words, the purpose of the religious law was to help condition people to order their lives in a certain direction.
There is, in the Old Testament, a simple story of hospitality extended to a prophet…
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