Torah Portion: Acharei Mot(After the death)Lev.16:1-18:30 Kedoshim(Holy People) Vayikra/Lev. 19:1-20:27 Haftorah Reading: Amos 9:7-15, Ezekiel 20:2-20
This Shabbat we again have two sections of Torah to study. The first covers the ceremonial dress and duties of the priests when they were to appear before the L-rd in the Mishkan. It covers all the issues of food, what can be eaten and what is forbidden. We also read of forbidden relationships and about the Day of Atonement.
However, today I want mainly to spend our time looking at the section of Kedoshim. This portion’s name gives us a clue on what the subject of this section is. Holiness is the topic. I want us to explore what makes something or someone holy. To help us find an answer let’s look at one of the names of G-d we find in scripture. G-d is referred to as “Ha Mavdil.” In Hebrew this means, “The One who separates.” G-d separates objects and people out for His service. In Leviticus 20:7-8 we read, “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the L-rd your G-d. Keep My decrees and follow them, I am the L-rd, Who makes you holy.” In I Peter 1:13-16 begins with the words, Be holy. This brings me to my question this week. What does it mean to be holy? How does this affect our day to day lives as believers?
When we read Torah or the Messianic scriptures we see that our faith has boundaries, things we can do and this that are prohibited to us as believers. Think of this as a shepherd and his sheep. When his flock stay in the field or at night in their pen set up for them by the shepherd they are safe. However, when they go outside of his care they are vulnerable to dangers around them.
Our faith sets up for each of us a framework to guide us. There are things we can do and things we must avoid. Throughout scripture we read of these boundaries that can help us in our day to day walk. In today’s portion we see many of those boundaries listed as well as in other places throughout scripture. As the children of G-d these boundaries are very important for us. As with my example of sheep staying within their boundaries, when we stay in G-d’s boundaries for us we too can find safety.
In the Messianic scriptures we can read of boundaries. It is very important that we are able to recognize these boundaries and avoid sin rather than being trapped by something that, on the surface seemed innocent. Our boundaries keep us “set apart.”
Our language is important aspect of how we relate to the world. The words of our mouth can spread evil if we do not exercise control over our tongue. Torah says do not commit adultery. But if a man, begins with a casual look at a woman and it grows into a lustful look and thoughts about her he has already sinned in his heart. For men or women who engage in this type of activity they will find themselves outside of G-d’s guidelines for His flock.
My point is that each of us must realize that as G-d’s people we are truly set apart. We have a responsibility to live as holy people, a people above reproach, a witness to our faith. That can only happen when we allow G-d to cultivate holiness in our daily lives, in our speech, our thoughts and our actions. To do less presents a picture to the world that taints the holiness of G-d and ruins the effectiveness of who we are. We are to be different from the world.
These verses we study each week have application today as much as when they were written into scripture. In Amos 9:11-15 is part of our reading from the Prophets for this Shabbat. This passage should speak to us. Often Christians look at themselves as separated from the Hebrew bible and the people of Israel. Sometime the Hebrew bible is looked at as applying only to Jews with little to say to Christians other than maybe being a reference book.
In these verses of Amos we see a different picture. Here we read of Jews and non-Jews both being addressed equally as one body, “all the Gentiles who are called by My name…” Here Gentiles are included with the Jews. G-d said He is the G-d of all people. G-d’s love for Israel did not end with the coming of Yeshua. Rather we as non-Jews were given a seat at the table as a result of what Yeshua did for us.
We see this same thought in Acts 15:13-21. G-d does not expect us as non-Jews to become Jewish. Nor does He expect Jews to become Christians. However, there are things listed here that non-Jews are to do to preserve this coming together. These things prohibited are listed as sexual immorality, things polluted by idols, things strangled and from blood.
G-d’s will is that the family of G-d contain both Jews and non-Jews with each maintaining their own identity. I believe G-d’s original desire was for the non-Jews to live by this passage in Act. In doing that they would be able to fellowship with Jews who were living by the framework G-d set out for them.
It would have been a beautiful site to see a Christian fellowship embracing these guidelines set out in Acts, celebrating G-d’s holidays in scripture and finding a G-d given way for Jews and non-Jews to worship together instead of asking Jewish people who come to faith to throw away G-d’s guidelines for them.