The promise of holiness
Torah Portion: Acharei Mot (After the Death) Lev. 16:1-18:30 Kedoshim (Holy People) Lev.19:1-20:27
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 22:1-19, Ezekiel 20:2-20
Messianic Scripture Galatians 3:10-14, Hebrews 7:23-10:25, Matt. 5;33-37, Romans 13:8-10
This week we again look at two Torah portions. The first portion is called Acharei Mot and deals with a long list of things G-d warns the people not to do when they cross over into the Land. Remember, they came out of Egypt where, for the last four hundred years, they were surrounded by a pagan culture. Now they would be entering the Promised Land and again would be encountering pagan people.
Here, in our first portion, we see G-d telling them to not become like Egypt or the other countries they would encounter. If they did become like those around them they would be vomited out of the Land. (Leviticus 18:27-28)
When we come to chapter 19 we begin to see how they were to withstand the evil around them. It is here I want us to spend most of our time and effort. All of us face the same challenge each day. When we interact with the world how are we to live? How are we to withstand the pressure to assimilate into the world in which we live?
I believe we see the answer in the first two verses of chapter 19. They read, “And the L-rd spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak to the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘you shall be holy, for the L-rd your G-d am holy.’” Pay attention to these verses. G-d did not command holiness from the people. Holiness is not a quality that can be commanded. Just as you cannot command a people to love one another. You cannot command holiness. Holiness can only be a choice made freely and from the heart of a person. However, G-d does make a promise to the people. He said, “You shall be holy, for I the L-rd your G-d am holy.” G-d is there to guide and help His people to advance, to become holy with His Presence. He promised to be with us as we go through each day. As part of the people of G-d how does this work itself out in our lives? Here in our portion we are given some traits of how a holy person looks. In our chapter we see verses relate to how a holy people or nation are to live. In Leviticus 19:9-10 we are to care about and care for the poor among us by helping feed the hungry. In verse 11 of the same chapter we learn we are not to steal or deal falsely, nor lie one to another. In verse 12 and on through this portion are listed the traits of a holy people.
Now of course scripture is filled with examples of Israel not fulfilling their role as a holy people. We read of the people being expelled from the Land because they became indistinguishable from the people around them. What does all this say to us living in our world today?
I believe each of us is called on to be recognizable as G-d’s people. By this I am not talking about dress or wearing some religious symbol around your neck. Rather I am talking about how we live each day. How we relate to the people we encounter along the way. Do they see a difference in us? Is our language different? Are we compassionate toward others? Are we fair in our daily dealings? Are we honest and considerate of others as we go through our day? The real question becomes, are we walking each day in His ways?
Being holy is more than just practical things we learn by rote. Rather, being holy must permeate our every action and thought. Why is this true? Because each day we are to conform our lives more closely to the Father. We learn from our failures. We repent and move on. As we live each day we should be striving to be more like Him. Why, “for He is holy.” I Thess. 5:23 expresses our target in life, “Now, may the G-d of shalom Himself make you holy through and through. May your spirit, soul, and body be preserved completely in every way, without blame, for the coming of our L-rd Yeshua the Messiah. (The Newer Testament translation by Brad H. Young)
Bless each of you this week with the realization of your walk in holiness each day.