“What Exactly Is Holiness?” by Ariel Ehrmantrout
Parashot Acharei Mot: After the Death
and K’doshim: Holy Ones
Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27
Haftarah Ezekiel 20:2-20
Priesthood Instructions: Philippians and Colossians
“What Exactly Is Holiness?”
This week is a double portion if you are following along with the Torah portion reading schedule and today is the 21st day of the counting of the Omer. Let us all say this blessing together, “Blessed are You Lord our God King of the Universe who commands us Mitzvot and Laws, and who commands us the Mitzvah of Counting the Omer; Today is the 21st day of the 3rd week of the Counting of the Omer. Praised are You Lord, for giving Teaching and Instructions to the Children of Israel.”
In review you’ll remember that the Lord has now called Moshe from among the Tent and tells Moshe to Command the priests to learn the ritual procedures. On the eighth day, the Priest can clearly distinguish between what is clean and what is not clean.
When a woman gives birth, remember that the shedding of blood brings about ritual impurities that result from childbirth. And anyone who is stricken with Metzora and is infected with what we call leprosy today must be clean before they re-enter the camp.
In the portion Acharei Mot Aharon’s sons the priests take good care to enter into the presence of the Lord only according to the strict ritual manner laid out by the Lord for entering his presence. Remember that they did not wish to end up like their older brothers Abihu and Nadav who were killed in the presence of the Lord.
This week we are going to focus largely on the parashot known as “K’doshim.” K’doshim is a Hebrew word that means “Holy Ones.” We are all called to become Holy Ones for God is Holy. He radiates holiness to the sanctuary and to the priests serving before Him. This is from the phrase ‘Ani Adonai m’kadish’chem,’ or I am the Lord who makes you Holy.
Please turn in your Bibles to Leviticus 19 and let’s begin reading in verses 1 and 2:
“And the Lord spoke to Moshe saying, speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: Be Holy, because I the Lord your God am Holy”
You see that Gods intention for the children of Israel is to be Holy. Remember that to be Holy means that you are to be set apart as separate from the world around you. The Hebrew word we translate as Holy here is KADOSH, which literally means “Apartness.”
There is a little joke about the behavior of Jewish people throughout the centuries that makes mention of this fact in that we all agree that God is One. We say it each Shabbat the God is One and His Name is One; that the Lord Elohim dwells in the perfection of Oneness–or Echad right? Yet he asks us to be apart and live lives of apartness–or Kadosh to the world–so Rabbi’s have laughed that this dichotomy between being One or Apart leaves us not really knowing what to do and this is why we can seem to be a little skittzo at times! But in reality as we will see– these are really one and the same request.
The Lord’s greatest desire is that we as his followers-whether or not we are Jewish or Christian dwell with him in the Oneness that He shares between the Ruach HaKodesh and His Son Yeshua. But for us to penetrate this unique Oneness–or Echad in Hebrew–we must be willing to live a life of Holy separation from the world around us. It has always been the case that God has required his servants to live lifestyles that revered His instructions and precepts, and that included walking in a faith walk that leads us away from the normal way things were done.
Remember our father Avraham in Genesis Chapter 12 beginning in verse 1
“The Lord had said to Avram. ‘Leave your country, your people and your fathers household, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great; and you will be a blessing; I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, and all peoples upon the earth will be blessed through you.”
You see very clearly that Abraham was called out–separated unto the Lord for a very special life, one made up of faith and Holy obedience to the Lord. As a result of Avrahams willingness to leave behind everything that he had grown up knowing as normal and comfortable, and his obedience to Gods instructions–God blessed him by making him the father of us all to this very day–whether you are Jew or Christian. Amen?
But as this portion clearly indicates, we are to be K’doshim unto the Lord. We are going to look at some steps that the Priests of the most high followed to emulate the Holiness of the Father. It is important to study the priestly office as we are priests of the most High today. Say, “I am a priest of the Most High.”
#1–In Leviticus 19:1-2 the Lord states that we are to be Holy as the Lord is holy; The Holy ones of the Most High are to develop the kind of character that honors the Holy One. According to the Talmud–holiness radiates; those nearest to God absorb His holiness. In this way, priestly privilege extends to those in proximity to God. However, higher standards in conduct come with the territory. This is why we have certain restrictions about the kind of foods that we eat and the behaviors that we engage in.
Holiness is more than a quality or a power; it has relational and experiential meaning, enacted and actualized in the life of the community. All Israel is then required to hold their parents in awe as co-creators of life, as part of community; we must keep the Sabbath as holy, and respect the down trodden in society. This community mindedness is the first step towards operating in holiness.
#2–Second, we are to operate in Holy love. In Leviticus 19:15 the Torah states:
“Do not be unjust in judging–show neither partiality to the poor nor deference to the mighty, but with justice judge your neighbor.”
Now all of us have read in the New Testament where Yeshua specifically indicates that we are not to judge anyone–found in Mattit’yahu 5. So what’s up with this? Did God change his mind? Of course not. According to the Torah, the emphasis on judgment forms the context for loving your neighbor as yourself.
Yeshua and the Torah are One and they are teaching us the same thing. The Hebrew words that both the Torah and Yeshua are using do not mean that we are not to correct behaviors that are less than appropriate, but what it means is that we are “not to take vengeance–or retain anger‘ against a fellow Israelite or a gentile living among you.
You see far too often we miss the holiness of God in our life because we sit idly by while the people in our lives commit every kind of sin under the sun–all in the name of not wanting to offend anyone–or more religiously–so that we are not to judge anyone. Many people are afraid to confront brothers or sisters in the Lord. Now lets be clear about what we are to do–we are not to judge those in the world for the things they are doing–but if you see your brother or sister sinning this Torah portion clearly states in Leviticus 19 and verse 17,
“that we are to rebuke our neighbor sharply so as to not share in his guilt.”
That’s right beloved, we are to correct one another when there are things that need to be corrected. This is not open season on condemnation, but it is appropriate to speak into each other lives about areas that are clear violations of Torah. For instance-adultery or spousal abuse in the church.
God demands that we be holy and recent portions show clearly what happened to priests who do not come to the Lord in the holy manner proscribed. If we are wiling to lay down our lives and correct one another–and be correctable–now this is the key–remaining correctable, then and only then will be able to step into the next dimension of holiness.
#3- God requires that a Holy life produce and bear holy fruit. In this portion the Lord lays down the rules for eating the fruit of new trees. You are not to eat of the fruit of a new tree for the first three years. Then the fourth year you are to pick all the fruit and take it to Jerusalem where you would then share the fruit with the poor. In the fifth year you are free to eat the fruit.
The reason that you are to treat the fruit as un-kosher for the first three years is that God was protecting the tree and ensuring that a greater harvest was to come. This story is an indication that through obedience as a lifestyle we will see fruit of the holiness of God in our lives. In each believers life there should be fruit that is fruit of righteous living. If you’re honest you will take inventory of your life, and you will be honest about whether or not there is any real fruit.
Fruit is not going to Synagogue or Church; fruit is adhering to the Word of God. Are you really doing Gods word. When the scripture says love your enemy–are you really doing it? The word says that the fruits of the Spirit are Love Joy Peace Gentleness Kindness Meekness Trustworthiness. Are you loving to all those around you? Are you peaceful at work? Are you gentle and kind to your significant “other” or your spouse. Do you keep your word even if it hurts you to do so–as it says in Proverbs?
Holy people are called to sanctify and redeem the land and must obey God; by not eating the fruit of the newly planted tree–you are learning the principles that will guide you directly to prosperity. You see beloved, by producing fruit–and then partaking only when God says it is okay to do so–you are obeying the Torah–which is the first step to redeeming the fruit that had been eaten from the forbidden tree.
#4-The fourth key to holiness is being kind to sojourners. Israel must be kind to sojourners (gentile unbelievers); As this portion clearly indicates–we were all sojourners-unbelievers in today’s language; Yet so many of us forget that we were ever not saved. We see people in varying transitions within the body of Messiah and we are quick to pull out the long stick of hypocrisy and take a good swing at anyone we feel is not living up to the standards of the Lord as we see it.
It is important for us–even as for our ancestors to remember that we were all unbelievers at one time; that it is only through the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior that we ever were led from our personal Egyptian slaveries. All of us were in bondage and were Torah violators. There wasn’t a single one of you –me included–that did not deserve to die for our sins against the Holy God we serve. So it is critical for us to be good to those who still need to know the Lord. The key to this fourth principle is not forgetting where you came from!
#5-The fifth step to holiness is raising Holy children. So many parents today do not want to parent they want to be popular–almost working out some missed High School popularity opportunity with their kids and their friends. However the scripture clearly indicates that we are to train up our children. Training implies a facet of a working relationship–in other words work is involved. Not playing–but working. Life is fast approaching and wishes to destroy our children. Even as the worship of Molech in this Torah portion.
In Molech worship the babies of the Children of Israel were burned alive in sacrifice. Yet before we repulse too quickly–aren’t we in a Nation that openly practices the same thing everyday in the name of a woman’s right to choose? Well a woman does have a right to choose–she can choose not to have sex. Between abortion and apathetic parenting our nations children roam the streets day and night and are open prey for the enemy. We need to lead our children in the study of Gods word! Don’t be afraid of them. Yes they will moan and groan a little at first–but they will eventually catch on–once they know it is inevitable. Additionally, get your children involved in active anti-abortion demonstration–making your voice to ring out with clarity before the Nation that we seek a sanctified life that will not tolerate sacrifice to a demon god.
Lastly, the final key to walking life as a K’doshim or Holy one is being totally sold out for God. This requires the death of your flesh. Galatians 2:20 states: “I am crucified with Messiah, it is no longer I who live but Messiah who lives in me. This life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself for me.”
The Key to walking a life of holiness is living a crucified life. There are two types of people in the body of Messiah today. The first is Brother Offendable. Brother Offendable is never satisfied. He never can stay in one congregation for any more than a few weeks. He is constantly, “searching for the anointing.” Ever time the preacher says something that is meant as a general critique of the body–it is meant as a personal attack against him. He sits at home wondering why the Rabbi hasn’t called, getting bitter and then turns to gossip and strife to settle any perceived problems.
The second is sister dead-to-self. Sister dead to self is always thinking of ways to help grow the work of God. She is the first to volunteer for any work to be done. She always tithes, and gives offerings to boot. When attacked, she blesses, when condemned she prays. When hurt she turns the other cheek–not bearing the grudge of hatred. She lives above the fray, in the prosperity of God, because dead people cannot be rattle, or hurt, or troubled with worry–because they are dead.
Which one are you most like? In this portion Gods states that if we do not live a holy life before Him, the land would open up and barf us out for failing to follow the Torah. Brother Offendable runs from the Torah–for it convicts him of sin, whereas Sister dead-to-self, runs to the Torah and is saved, because she changes behavior that keeps her in the presence of God. Holiness is a struggle that will cost you something.
Living a holy life will make you lose friends, husbands, wives and children. But it will also draw you into a life before the Master of the Universe, who will love you in a way that no one else in this world ever could. The whole Torah is a love letter between a Husband and his bride. If you allow Messiah to be Lord of every area of your life, from being Holy, to operating in Holy Love, to Bearing Holy fruit, being kind to unbelievers, and raising Holy Children, and being totally sold out then you will enter the place where father Avraham did.
God will cause you to ride on the heights of the land. You will be exceedingly prosperous. You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed and so will you name be made great–just like Avraham.
Or you can remain with the same old ways that you have always done everything–just going along with the flow until some day you realize that you wasted your life not serving the Living God.
Leviticus 20:26 says that we are to be Holy to God, because the Lord is holy, and that He has set us apart from the nations to be out God and for us to be his people. Today the Spirit is calling you to press into a holy walk of obedience to the Torah and the Testimony of Yeshua. Will you be like Abihu and Nadav–or will you be like Moshe and Aharon, keeping the statutes of our Lord, and entering into the promised land?
© 2010 Ariel Ehrmantrout, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
This Weeks Haftarah: Ezekiel 20: 2- 20
Today’s Haftarah Message: “Rock, Scissors, Parchment”
Today’s Reading Ezekiel 20:10 – 12: “10 Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the desert. 11 I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.12 Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy.”
In this week’s Haftarah portion, Ezekiel is reminding the “rebellious” Children of Israel what GOD has done for them. He did this by retelling to them the story of the Exodus from Egypt, and then giving them the Torah, and Sabbaths. This section of scripture is recited ever Sabbath – Why – so that we are reminded what GOD has done for us and we do not forget where we came from.
GOD has taken all of us out of our own Egypt – what ever it was sexual immorality, drunkenness, drug abuse etc. – and is giving us HIS Torah – GOD’s Teaching and Instruction – and HIS Sabbaths – GOD’s appointed festivals and feast days.
Unfortunately, all too often, we forget where we came from and become ungrateful for what GOD has done for us. This happens for 3 reasons, which are all discussed in Rabbi Y’Shua’s Parable of the Sower.
Matthew 13:3 –9 says “3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9He who has ears, let him hear.”
18“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.””
The first seed is the seed sown along the path. This is a lack of understanding of the Message of the Torah. By studying and asking questions, we can obtain the answers.
Matthew 13:19 says “19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.”
The second seed is the seed sown on the rocky places. When Persecution comes because of the message the Torah and the Testimony of Rabbi Y’Shua (and it will come), we must stand – Praising GOD in the midst that we are counted worthy.
Matthew 13:20 – 21 says “. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”
The third seed is the seed sown in the thorns. When we get bogged down by the worries of life and or the deceitfulness of riches, we are focusing ourselves on what GOD has not done for us as apposed to the true riches GOD has given us – HIS SABBATHS and THE TORAH. We cut ourselves off from study, and fellowship due to time constraints, and eventually even become ungrateful for what GOD has done for us.
Matthew 13:22 says “22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”
There was a forth seed. This seed produced a crop greater than what was planted. This “crop” of K’DOSHIM – Holy Ones – are made Holy by GOD Himself. These Holy Ones pursue righteousness by obeying GOD’s Teaching and Instruction.
Matthew 13:23 says “23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.””
Today, look at your life. You can tell if HE has made you a K’DOSHIM – Holy Ones. DO YOU KEEP THE SABBATHS?
Rabbi Shaun Sailor
[5th Year Torah Student and Student Rabbi Shaun S. Sailor appears the courtesy of Temple Ahavah Torah Training Center. If you enjoy Reb Sailor’s Haftarah commentary each week, take a moment and jot him and encouraging note at firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Thank You!! Rabbi Ariel Ehrmantrout