Torah Portion: Kedoshim (Holy People) (Leviticus) Vayikra 19-20
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 20:2-20
Today I want us to talk for a bit about holiness. Here in our opening verse the Father says to Moshe call all of Israel together and share with them these words of how they should live and conduct their lives to be holy, for I am holy. Right away this verse puts the question to us, “What is holy, what does it mean and how does it impact our lives as people of G-d.”
To begin, as you know, holy means to be separated out, to be unique. However it goes much deeper than that. That separateness must impact our lives in how we live each day. It should determine how we spend our time and how we relate to our world. Some groups in history have taken it to mean living in isolation from the world, to physically separate themselves from any human contact and spend their lives in prayer and reading. While both of those are important they miss the point that we read about here and also in other scriptures throughout the Bible.
As we read this Torah portion we can see that G-d is sharing with the people how He expects them to live in the world not out of it. It is almost like G-d is giving instructions on how to live out the 10 Commandments that were given earlier. How do we do this life now that we are children of G-d? We see this same approach in the New Testament, especially in Matthew 5. As believers we sometimes lose sight of the doing, the living and get stuck on the initial step of faith and sometimes go no further than the salvation experience.
Our life must be about doing our faith and not just about a one time experience. When we read the great reformer, Martin Luther, we see his approach to Matthew 5 as being only about how much we need forgiveness from our sins. This approach has been passed down through the years without looking at what is actually being said. Yeshua taught much like here in Leviticus that our life should be lived out each day as G-d’s adopted children. In Leviticus we read G-d’s instructions on how to be a holy people.
We read in our portion about how we must be generous in helping the poor. Lev. 19:9-10, how we are to deal fairly in our relationship, not to lie, Lev. 19:11. We are not to cheat to get ahead, Lev. 19:12, We are not to be cruel to people who are physically challenged, Lev 19:14 to be fair in judgment not being partial to either the poor or rich, Lev. 19:15, not to gossip Lev. 19:16. G-d covers the sexual side of life again in this portion. (Chapter 20)
My point being, if we are to live a holy life these verses should be characteristics of our daily walk. When we look back at Matthew 5, we see Yeshua stressing many of these same points. What is interesting in both of these cases, Leviticus and Matthew, as well as many other verses, is that many of these issues have to do with our battle with our flesh. Greed drives us to wanting more and more, however we can obtain it. Sex is one of the strongest drives that man struggles with. Here and in Matthew we see what each says. Yeshua said you need to control even that first thought, Matthew 5:27. He expands what Torah says about adultery.
Also we see in Matthew 5:22 where Yeshua speaks about hating our brother and then expands that to even what we say. In Leviticus 19:7 we see the same subject of hating our brother. My point here is that our life is not as we often hear, “We are free from the Law, we are under grace now.” This is true to a certain level but it has led to lawlessness and lives with no purpose even among G-d’s people. It has led to self-indulgence and no idea of how we are to live our life on a daily basis.
Even in Matthew 5:17 Yeshua speaks about the Law and His purpose being not to abolish it but to give His people a pattern of how to live it out everyday. My prayer for each of us is that we truly are a holy people, because our Father is holy.