When Earth encounters heaven
Torah Portion: B’Har (On Mount) Lev.25:1-26:2 and B’chukkotai (By My Regulations) Leviticus 26:3-27:34
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 32:6-27 and 16:19-17:14
Messianic Scripture Luke 4:16-21 and I Cor. 7:21-24
Today we finish studying the book of Leviticus for this cycle of Torah. In chapter 26:3-6 we read of G-d’s promise to Israel, “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield it’s increase. I will give you peace in the land.”
We all know the history of Israel and the expulsion of the people from the Land. This happened more than once with the last time being under the Romans. This expulsion lasted until 1948. These expulsions were brought about not so much by the armies of the Romans and others being stronger than Israel, but rather the result of Israel’s sin. Later with the growth of Christianity, the expulsion of Israel by the Romans was taken as proof by the church of G-d’s rejection of the Jews. They also claimed the church to be G-d’s replacement of Israel.
However, in our reading today we see G-d’s promise to never reject Israel.
“And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor will I loathe them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am the L-rd their G-d. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in sight of the nations, that I might be their G-d; I am the L-rd.” Leviticus 26:44-45
G-d never breaks His promises. His punishment of Israel for their sin was never to be seen as rejection or replacement with another people. Therefore, even when falling over one another in flight to escape their enemies (Leviticus 26:37) they remained bound by a mutual responsibility.
This idea of a covenant responsibility became a major element in the politics of the western world. Today, our country is framed by the idea of covenant. Our constitution spells it out clearly. We are all responsible for each other under the sovereignty of G-d. We are our brothers and sisters keeper.
Now on to my question. In Leviticus 26:2 we read, “My Shabbats you shall keep and My sanctuary you shall revere: I am the L-rd.” As we read this verse we can see the realms of both time and space. The Shabbat is a weekly occurrence and the Temple/Tabernacle was a unique place or space. As I said in my question to you this week, Leviticus 26:2 and Leviticus 19:30 have exactly the same wording in Hebrew. When something is repeated in scripture we can rely on the fact that this is an important principle that G-d wants to draw our attention to.
Shabbat is the most sacred time. The Tabernacle or Temple would be the most sacred space. As we think of these two concepts it is a temptation to get wrapped up in one and forget the other. We can get so wrapped up in gaining power in the realm of space, acquiring more and more that we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time.
Holy times can occur anytime as we go through our regular day. For example in Shemot 3:5 we read where Moshe was out for a day of herding sheep and then he saw a bush though burning was not consumed. Turning aside he encountered an angel of the L-rd who told him, “Do not come closer. Remove your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” That very moment was the time when ordinary ground became holy ground. Earth encountered heaven. The mortal encountered the immortal. In that instant of holiness Moshe was called, equipped and sent to be G-d’s messenger to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
In the Messianic scripture we read of people encountering holiness when at a moment in time, they encountered Yeshua. Each of us have had those times when we have encountered holiness. The time was right and we took that time and it changed us forever. May we always be aware of G-d’s holiness. It can touch us wherever we are, whatever space we are occupying, and whatever time we are in.
In Matthew 18:20 we read these words of Yeshua, “where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am among them.” We can and should expect to be standing on holy ground when we come together to pray and worship the Father in Yeshua’s name.
Each of us should always expect to meet G-d when we come together and also at other times during our day. We are in this world to bring light, to bring life to those whom we encounter. We encounter G-d and we reverence Him when we can come together as a unified body of the Messiah. We are one in the Spirit, never knowing when He might, like with Moshe, appear to us to send us to those who need to hear.
Bless each of you today.
Hazak, Hazak, v’nit’chazek!
Be strong, Be strong, And Let us be strengthened!