Parashah #30: K’doshim (Holy People) Vayikra( Leviticus) 19:1-20:27

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue

Parashah# 30: K’doshim (Holy People) Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:1-20-27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 20:2-20
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Peter: 13-21

Any credible commentary on this parashah should incite a sense of pause for any true believer because we are going to discuss G-d’s laws regulating personal relationships that must be learned and practiced as a holy people unto G-d. What an awesome responsibility. But to whom much is given, much is required. G-d in His mercy and unmerited kindness explains just how we are to accomplish a state of holiness as a people set apart for G-d’s service. The actual meaning of the Hebrew word kodesh is “separated” as in “refined.” When we refine something, we separate the substance we desire from extraneous substances that are mixed with it (See Matt. 13:36-43). So too, things that are kodesh are the ordinary events of life: remaining in the world but not of the world; separated from the undesirable elements (secular society and all the distractions of a secular lifestyle/Egypt), that would dilute or weaken a holy lifestyle. The doctrine of kodesh declares that we should not isolate ourselves from the world and everyday events; rather we need to refine them. Kodesh tells us that we cannot remain on our intermittent mountaintops forever. We must get back to living for G-d in the valleys of a secular world.
The Israelites had been taught how to live a holy life before they entered the Land because they were about to be exposed to the corruption of the Canaanite lifestyle. According to archaeologic research, the Canaanite paradigm for living was completely in contradiction to G-d’s instructions that apply (past, present, and future), to anyone who wants to be included in the remnant of a holy people. Ergo, G-d warned Israel to cling to a lifestyle consistent with His commands, rulings, and statutes and guard their hearts and minds from anything that is contrary to G-d’s laws/instructions. G-d expanded the 10 Commands that provide the underpinning for biblical concepts reiterated throughout G-d’s Torah. G-d’s Torah/instructions were and are not just for “Jews.” Once again, it is critical to the disposition of our souls to realize G-d’s Torah is for everyone who expects to be included as G-d’s holy people and ultimately as the Bride of Yahshua mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Penalties and violations for disobedience are also defined in this parashah which provides us assurance that we will be held accountable for that which we do or don’t do as it applies to G-d’s laws and instructions. This is also mentioned in the Book of Revelation 20:11-15 and Matthew 12:26 as two examples of “new” Testament references for those who think these laws and instructions were abrogated with Yahshua’s sacrifice.
An introduction to G-d’s admonishment not to mix with the manners, customs, and worship of pagan gods as the Canaanites is found in Lev. 18:1-5 with more detail provided in our parashah. In retrospect, most of American society at least, would have had a more difficult time relating to the contrast between the Canaanite pagan lifestyle and what was required of a holy people because the majority of Americans lived by the same biblical values we are discussing today. But the condition and total degradation of American society makes it very easy for religious leaders to simply compare and contrast the lawlessness and chaos in our world today with the fundamental laws and instructions G-d demands of a holy people. For example, it would have been difficult to imagine rampant abortion, murdering someone for no apparent reason, granting every right of an American citizen to illegal immigrants, or ordaining, supporting, and even pressuring religious institutions to accept and promote such an abomination. Children safely played at neighbors’ homes and rode their bikes to stores without fear of being kidnapped or murdered. Families ate at the table together, watched TV together, and worshipped together. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans celebrated a pagan Sabbath and other pagan holidays erroneously associating them with a reverence for G-d. Of course these pagan customs and traditions were promoted by the Catholic Church who is identified in the Bible as Edom (descendants of Esau), also called the whore (harlot) and her seven daughters in Revelation 17. Edom will be destroyed (Jer. 49:10,18-20; Mal.1:4; Ezek. 25:12-14 a truth which should at least ignite a spark of inquiry by Christians who continue to follow customs and traditions, even a Sunday Sabbath as to why they are living a life consistent with Canaanite paganism rather than obeying G-d’s designated holy days including the biblical Sabbath (Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown)? Chosen ignorance will not stand up to G-d’s judgment; a reality everyone should consider as we examine our values, beliefs, and expression of the two.
Back to the parashah proper and another comparison to today’s societies, every pagan system had its unique set or “moral standards.” Biblical moral standards in America are all but removed and ignored, resulting in total chaos and lawlessness. G-d, as the Creator of the universe and sovereign over any perceived national deities including those who have returned to the United States, (Ishtar, Moloch, Baal) says to His people, “You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees (18:4-5).
Chapter 19 begins with a reminder from G-d “You people are to be holy because I, Adonai your G-d, am holy.” Obedience to the biblical Shabbat is also repeated. An interesting addition is the command to revere parents. Respect for parents as authoritative earthly figures who ideally teach G-d’s instructions to the children makes it easier to respect G-d as the ultimate authority. Reverence for parents who are not G-dly and abuse or neglect their children is admittedly much more difficult to achieve. Children in such homes may not be taught anything of G-d or his commands/instructions and it does little to comfort them by saying “just hang in there,” or talk to G-d about it” when they don’t even know who G-d is.
On the other hand, many children today have been indoctrinated by social media to aggressively confront parents with pagan-based ideas that promote “independence without any parental involvement,” “self-gratification” without regard for the laws of the land or possible deleterious effects of their behavior on others, and unbridled sex outside of marriage. These are just a few examples of how paganized our world and American society has become.
Immediately after the command to revere parents, we are told to keep “my” Shabbats; I am Adonai your G-d (19:3). This is a type of signature defining the authority of the One who initiated universal, yes universal laws and instructions for mankind. G-d as our Creator knew man, animals, and the land need regular rest for optimal health and function. G-d created the seventh day, not the first as changed by the Catholic Church without any authority from G-d. The seventh day which starts at sundown Friday and runs to sundown Saturday is the biblical day of rest, period. We should not be so arrogant and prideful as part of G-d’s creation to assume that we can change G-d’s designated times, laws, and rulings for our convenience. Furthermore, we must remember that G-d is a jealous God, and that He demands allegiance to Him only (Ex. 20:5; 34:14). If we follow pagan customs such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc., human-initiated changes to Shabbat to make others happy or to keep peace in the family, YHVH as Yahshua makes this clear that we are not in Him and He is not in us (Matt. 10:34). It is only “whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” Verse 23: “Yahshua replied to Judas (not Iscariot) Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
We can easily see by comparing the concept of a holy people to scripture in the Old and “New” Testaments, that the rules have not changed. The physical sacrificial system changed with Yahshua’s sacrifice as the only One who can forgive sin, but that system will be reinstated as described in Ezekiel 40-48 during the millennial kingdom. No dear Christian, we are not “re-crucifying” our Messiah! The sacrificial system will be in effect for those who have not accepted Yahshua as Messiah and are survivors of the Tribulation.

The declaration “ I am Adonai your G-d”(19:3) is given 15 times in the chapter to establish His ultimate authority. YHVH as the Head of His family of holy people, Israel meaning all true believers in this context, was very clear about His will and how the people were to become holy and maintain that identity. Today we have been provided more revelation through the B’rit Chadashah (Refreshed, renewed covenant) with Yahshua’s expansion and clarification of His laws and commands to include our thoughts in addition to our deeds. Following G-d’s Torah/instructions should be a welcome learning opportunity for those who love YHVH/Yahshua. His Torah is not burdensome (Matt. 11:30) and it is not out of reach (Deut.30:10-14).
Although there are several other laws given for the various aspects of living a holy life, there is one more I want to emphasize today. G-d’s Law established economic and social principles for the poor, strangers, and the needy. One thing that the Law did not promote or support is the idea that the nation owed them a living. Unlike today where many government leaders and groups with a democratic socialistic agenda support and promote the idea that the government through tax increases and restrictions on those who work will support them, G-d has a different idea; the only one that works. While the poor had provisions set aside for them, they had to put forth effort in order to obtain their food. 2 Thess. 3:6-10 attests to G-d’s expectations for everyone, not just the poor, needy, or stranger: “Now in the name of the L-rd Yahshua the Messiah we command you, brothers, to stay away from any brother who is leading a life of idleness, a life not in keeping with the tradition you receive, d from us. For you yourselves knowhow you must imitate us, that we were not idle when we were among you. We did not accept anyone’s food without paying, on the contrary, we labored and toiled day and night, working so as not to be a burden on any of you. It was not that we hadn’t the right to be supported, but so that we could make ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command; if someone won’t work, he shouldn’t eat! We hear that some of you are leading a life of idleness- not busy working- just busybodies! We command such people- and in union with the L-rd Yahshua the Messiah, we urge them-to settle down, get to work, and earn their own living.”
Other areas addressed include the command for unbiased judgement, honesty in all business, acceptance of foreigners who wished to “convert” and live among the people, following G-d’s commands, reverence for grey-headed people and respect/honor for the elderly as those with wisdom. I encourage the reader to read the entire parashah to include these areas for additional learning.
Finally this parashah defines penalties for violating moral principles. I previously mentioned that we will be held accountable for every thought and deed when we stand before Yahshua. The point I want to make is that instructions, laws, or commands are worthless unless there are penalties attached for violating them. Punishment was to be administered immediately using a just system for determining the violation. This system is the only way to establish accountability for wrongs committed. We see evidence of what happens when there are no rules, laws are ignored, and justice no longer exists.
Societies would do well to study G-d’s Torah, particularly in the areas of his Commands, His Law, and other instructions, live according to them, thereby setting the example for the nations as G-d commands His people. Otherwise, continued violation of G-d’s standards for living will result in the myriad of curses described in (Deut. 28:15-69). Humanity is already beginning to experience some of these as a testimony to the truth of scripture regarding accountability. Let us repent and turn to the G-d of Avraham, Isaac, and Jacob while it is still day(John 9:4-6).
Haftarah: Ezekiel 20:2-20
This week’s haftorah mentions G d’s repeated enjoinders to observe the commandments, keep the Shabbat and avoid idol worship; reflective of this week’s Torah portion, which discusses many commandments, including the obligation to sanctify the Shabbat and reject idolatry.
The prophet Ezekiel transmits G d’s message, reminding the Jews how He chose them as His nation, how He took them out of Egypt and promised to take them to the Holy Land. In Egypt, G-d dispatched a prophet who exhorted the Jews to abandon their idols, yet they chose not to obey. He then gave them laws and statutes, including that of the observance of Shabbat as a sign between Him and His people. “But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they walked not in My statutes, and they despised My ordinances, which, if a man keeps, he will live through them, and My Sabbaths they desecrated exceedingly.”
The prophet goes on to mention G d’s punishment of the Jews in the desert, namely that they did not enter the Holy Land. He then admonishes the children not to follow their fathers’ ways, but to observe the laws and to sanctify the Shabbat. G-d’s Law has not changed. The punishment of the Israelites in the desert is a clear example for subsequent generations of all people that G-d means what He says and that unlike the United States where there is no longer expedient accountability for violations of the nation’s laws, G-d will rightly judge each of us according to our deeds.
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Peter: 13-21
We will concentrate on verses 13:16: “Therefore, get your minds ready for work, keep yourselves under control, and fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Yahshua the Messiah is revealed. As people who obey G-d, do not let yourselves be shaped by the evil desires you used to have when you were still ignorant. On the contrary, following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life, since the Tanakh says, “You are to be holy, because I am holy.” This scripture written by Peter to several Messianic believers who were living as aliens in the Diaspora. reflects on our parashah. Peter speaks of the coming reward for those who have believed but have yet to physically see the Messiah, trusting in his faithfulness even unto death and his glorious resurrection. Note that verse 9 that again validates the concept of progressive salvation: “And you are receiving what your trust is aiming at, namely, your deliverance.” The verbs used in this sentence are all action verbs in the progressive tense. Receiving is a process such as running a race as previously discussed. These individuals are on their way, their wilderness experience, their race to win the prize because as we see in verse 8: “Without having seen him you love him (see John Chapter 14 for the definition and requirements of being one who loves G-d as stated by Yahshua himself). “Without seeing him now, but trusting in him, you continue to be full of joy that is glorious beyond words.” Backing up a few more verses Peter describes the refinement process that is required for all those who profess to be true believers.” Verse 5-7 reads: “Meanwhile, through trusting, you are being protected by G-d’s power for a deliverance ready to be revealed at the Last Time. Rejoice in this, even though for a little while you may have to experience grief in various trials. Even gold is tested for genuineness by fire. The purpose of these trials is so that your trust’s genuineness, which is far more valuable than perishable gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory, and honor at the revealing of Yahshua the Messiah.” Take note once again that this genuineness is spoken of in the future tense. We have not been found to be “saved” yet. Can we work our way to heaven? No. However, we are expected to follow G-d’s commands, laws, and statutes if we want to be counted among the people set apart from the nations; a holy people, because the G-d we claim as our L-rd is holy; so says G-d. There is no other way than to trust in His faithfulness and obey out of love for our L-rd and Messiah.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart