Holiness | ACHAREY MOT – WEEK 30
By Asher Intrater
Leviticus 19:2 – “You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy.”
Be holy?! Are You kidding?
The weekly torah portion “kedoshim” in Leviticus 19-20 comes at the end of a long series of commandments for moral and spiritual purity. In some ways, it summarizes the goal of all the commandments – to make us holy as He is holy.
Kadosh – holy means pure, dedicated, saintly. It is a word that doesn’t fit anything in the human dimension. It relates to a God-only type of perfection. And God commands us to become holy as He is holy. (In Jewish tradition, a wife is made “holy” as she is set apart unto her husband at the wedding vow under the canopy.)
Holiness is the final purpose of God in creating human beings in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). He is perfect. He made us in His image. Ultimately, we are to be holy as He is.
Yeshua also taught us the same principle in the Sermon on the Mount. “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect” – (Matthew 5:48). Perfect here in Greek is telios, the final goal.
Leviticus 19 reviews the Ten Commandments (v. 3-13). It may be seen as a third “version” of the Ten Commandments along with Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. In reviewing the Ten Commandments, the Leviticus version adds, in connection to the commandment not to murder, the instruction not to gossip or go about talebearing (verse 16) and not to hate (verse 17).
These two aspects were repeated and elaborated on by Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-22). The Sermon on the Mount was undoubtedly connected to and based on Leviticus 19. Yeshua was quite familiar with the passage.
Leviticus 19 summarizes the Ten Commandments poignantly: “love your neighbor as yourself” (verse 18). This matches the summary in Deuteronomy 6:5 to “love the LORD with all your heart.” This dual summary of the moral commandments in Leviticus 19 and Deuteronomy 6 to love God and love our neighbor is a central tenet of the New Covenant (Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 10:27-28), Judaism, and Christianity.
Another reference to Leviticus 19 is found in the brief review of the Ten Commandments in the story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19, Mark 10). The Mark version mentions the commandment, not to “oppress your neighbor” (verse 19). This seems to be a quote from Leviticus 19:15 which also includes “not to oppress” as part of the commandments.
In Yeshua’s explanation of covenantal relationships (Matthew 18), He tells us to go to our brother to rebuke him in love if he sins against us, in the hope of saving the relationship (verse 15). Once again this seems to be a quote from Leviticus 19. In verse 17, right before the commandment to love our neighbor, we are told that we may have to rebuke him in order to help him get out of sin and in order for us not to hold a grudge against him.
Holiness is the opposite of sin, all kinds of sin; yet there is a particular emphasis or warning against the destructive nature of sexual sin. It is disturbing to note that this chapter on holiness (19) is located between two chapters (18 and 20) in which the major sections record a long list of abominable sexual perversions. In some ways these lists are an elaboration on the foundational commandment against adultery.
Throughout chapters 18 and 20, these sexual perversions are listed together with warnings against worshipping other gods. The association between sexual perversion and demon worship may be a reference all the way back to the sin of fallen angels in Genesis 6, which led to the worldwide judgment at the flood of Noah. Unfortunately, we see an alarming rise of this evil combination of sexual immorality and occultism even today.
The Torah portion “kedushim” is foundational to the entire biblical worldview. The salient point is the expectation that we will become holy as God is holy. However, it is not possible for a human being to be holy in himself. It is an impossible commandment to fulfill without a supernatural impartation of the grace of God.
We can become holy through the process of repenting, being born again, and being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). We are holy if we have the spirit of holiness living inside of us. The holiness is in the content, not in the container. A bottle of wine is not expensive because of the type of glass it is made of, but because of the quality of the wine within it. We are holy when we yield to the leading and working of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:2-14).
In the biblical language, being holy and being a saint is the same idea. Here is a surprising statistic. In all of the gospels, the followers of Yeshua were never called “saints” but only “disciples.” In all of the epistles, the followers of Yeshua are never called “disciples” but only “saints.” In the book of Acts, they are called sometimes disciples and sometimes saints.
During the gospels, the disciples of Yeshua had not yet received the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, the disciples were in the process of receiving the Spirit (Acts 2, 4, 8, 10, 19). By the epistles there is an assumption that the readers were being led internally by the Holy Spirit.
We are called saints; we are called holy; because the Holy Spirit lives in us and functions actively through us on a daily basis. The torah portion kedoshim, the Ten Commandments, the teachings of the gospel, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit all lead us in the direction of personal sanctification.
We were made in the image of God. We are being conformed to the image of Yeshua. We are to be perfect, holy, and saintly. This is God’s beautiful desire and destiny for all of us.
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About the Author
Asher Intrater serves as president and visionary on the leadership team of Tikkun Global Messianic network, a global family of ministries, congregations and leaders, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is the founder of Revive Israel Ministries, a five-fold ministry team based in Jerusalem, and oversees Aha’vat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv.
Together with his wife and full-time partner in ministry, Betty, they share a passion for reaching Israelis with the message of Yeshua, seeing these new Israeli believers discipled into leadership. In addition, they long to witness the full unity of the Body of believers worldwide—even as Yeshua prayed in John 17.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home in the United States and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books and tracts, including: Covenant Relationships, Who Ate Lunch with Abraham, All Authority, Heroines and Alignment.
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