Torah Portion: Acharei Mot, Kedoshim,Vayikra Lev. 16:1-20:27
HafTorah: Ezekiel 22:1-19
Tonight we have read two sections of Torah. The first covers the ceremonial duties of the priests, the Day of Atonement and personal relationships, what is forbidden and what we can and can’t eat.
It leads directly into the second section of Holiness. This is the issue I want us to look at closely tonight. Holy – what makes something holy? It is separated out for service or use in the service to G-d, for example Sabbath. At the end of Sabbath we read a prayer and included in that prayer G-d is referred to as “Ha Mavdil” , “The One who Separates.” G-d separates things or people out for His service. We are separated out by our faith in Messiah. In Lev. 20:7-8 we read, “be holy.” We also read the same words in I Peter 1:13-16. What does it mean to be holy? If G-d has separated us to Himself how are we to be holy? How does how we live affect our holiness or does it? We are separated by our faith in Messiah. That faith has boundaries, things we can do, things we can’t do. When we cross those boundaries, think of a shepherd and his sheep. He builds a pen for them. As long as they stay within the boundaries of the pen they are safe from wolves and attacks but if they get out, cross over the boundaries, they are open to those things that can harm them. The boundaries are those guidelines set out in scripture for us to live our lives by daily. In Lev. Torah portions of today we see many of those boundaries and also in the New Testament we see boundaries set for us.
In fact, in the New Testament we see examples of Yeshua commanding us to not be satisfied with just the commandments, but to go further. An example is when a man looks at a woman and lusts after her whether or not we act on it we have already broken the commandment. Torah only condemns the act. Another example hating our brother is equated with murder in I John 3:15. Here Yeshua and the apostles are following a Jewish principle that says that we are expected to go further than the written word to guard against leaving the sheep pen. This was later used as a basis for the oral law.
So holiness is staying in the sheepfold, living our lives in such a way to bring glory to the Father who has separated us by the blood of His Son. Even some things permitted to us should have limits. Wine is permissible but drunkenness is not. Certain foods are permitted but we are not to be glutens. Torah and the New Testament demands that even in permissible things we must live a life with limits. So we are to be holy. It is not enough to just outwardly follow the guidelines set for us but we are holy by going even further. By this we are being holy. Acts without our heart motivations are somewhat useless. We are to live each day separate from the world. Another example is the use of vulgar or foul language. Nothing in Torah prohibits it but as a separated out one we should know it is over the boundaries. How? The words that leave our mouth affect our heart. The words you speak make an imprint on your mind and heart. So holiness or our being holy is in our hands to live out day to day.
What is the difference between Holiness and spiritualness? Who are some examples of spiritual people who were completely unholy. Ba’alm tried to curse Israel. He was greedy. Caiaphas is an example of someone who was holy but not spiritual. He did not recognize Yeshua as G-d’s Messiah.
Sometimes we throw both in the same bag and assume a person who has one quality has both. This is a quality that we must be cautious about. As children of G-d we all have His spirit within us, giving us direct contact to Him. What is true however is there are many spirits which have no connection with G-d and need to be avoided such as mediums, fortune tellers and other things which many believers partake of. They can be misled into thinking it is from G-d when it is not.
My point is to always look at the entire picture. Do not accept that a person who claims to be spiritual is spiritual. They may be motivated by something other than a connection to G-d. Don’t be taken in by the word but rather weigh the claim in light of scripture. Be careful who you allow to pray over you or pray over your house. Be sure they are who you believe them to be.