What Makes the Holy Land Holy? Or You, for that Matter?

The answer is the same.

Think about this question: What makes the holy land holy? Don’t rush by the question too quickly. Because its answer also explains what makes you holy in God’s eyes.

What Makes the Holy Land Holy? Or You, for that Matter?

(Photo: Painting of Moses and the burning bush. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

As often as we use the name, “Holy Land,” amazingly, the phrase only shows up in the Bible on rare occasions. In fact, you can count them on one hand.

The first man, Adam, had a name that means “man,” and it relates to the word adamah, meaning “ground,” from which God formed him. Accordingly, when Adam sinned, God cursed the ground to which Adam would return when he died. It seems surprising, then, that the first use of the noun form “holy” in the Hebrew Bible finds its connection with the ground. God told Moses at Horeb:

Remove your sandals, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. —Exodus 3:5

So, what makes the holy land holy? Or for that matter, what makes you holy?

Same answer.

This is Holy Ground

Although the ground itself held no intrinsic value, God’s presence there with Moses sanctified the ground—set it apart—from all other places.

  • When Moses constructed a tabernacle for God to dwell in among His people, the designations “holy place” and “most holy place” referred to the proximity of God’s presence.
  • The command God gave to the Israelites to “be holy” reflected His own holiness (Lev. 20:26).

Holiness . . . is something we are to do because of what we already are.
—C. S. Lewis

When God called Moses from the burning bush, the Lord promised to lead His people out of Egypt “to a good and spacious land” (Exod. 3:8). But He also purposed to make them holy—just as He does us.

Bush in wilderness near Jebel Fuga

(Photo: Bush in wilderness. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

This is a Holy Person

God displays His grace in that He can take the ordinary—whether a people or a piece of ground—and make it holy.

Paul noted:

The first man [Adam] is from the earth, earthy; the second man [Christ] is from heaven [and] just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. —1 Corinthians 15:47, 49

God can even take something He cursed—the ground, mankind, even all creation—and sanctify it through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins.

The "holy ground" where Jesus stood at Tabgha

(Photo: The “holy ground” where Jesus stood at Tabgha. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Just as God breathed life into Adam, one formed from dust, so He has done the same in us—and not just physically. For the One who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness” has made to shine in our hearts the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:6-7). God glorifies Himself through the earthen vessels of our lives.

The Holy Land is holy because God chose it—and set it apart for Himself.

It’s the same with you.

Question: How does holiness show up in spite of you? To leave a comment, just click here.


Going Places with God- A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the BibleLike This Post? Get the Whole Book!

This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible.

• These 90 devotional readings, each based on a specific place in the lands of the Bible, will help you apply the truths of God’s Word to your daily journey of faith.
• You’ll enjoy pertinent Scripture, inspirational quotes, photographs, maps, and a daily prayer.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts. Just keep it kind and relevant. Thanks!

  • Don McMinn

    Thanks, Wayne, for consistently providing us with interesting thoughts that feed our spirits.

    • You’re welcome, Don. I look forward to saying the same to you soon!

  • Rev. Bill Reeves

    I think I can say this about every post, but thank you for taking the time to make it interesting and informative.

    • How kind of you, Bill. You’re welcome. And thanks.

  • Ken Newberry

    This past Easter an Arab Christian friend told our staff at the Garden Tomb “What this Holy Land needs is more Holy people.” Only 1.5% of the population of Israel claim to be Christian. However 85% of those are Arab Christians, with the majority of those being born into Christianity. He thinks there is a critical shortage of believers in the Land. Guess nothing much has changed in 4500 years. Praise the Lord for God’s remnant!

  • Pingback: Mount Sinai—Why You Need God’s Word First of All | Wayne Stiles()