Tree of Life Messianic Congregation

A Fellowship of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua

Month: July 2017

Living Water

The feasts or Moedim, were and continue to be a part of the Mosaic Law that was given to the Children of Israel by God through Moses (Exodus 12; 23:14-17; Leviticus 23; Numbers 28 & 29; and Deuteronomy 16). Moedim means appointed times.  God calls them His appointed times.  They are not just Jewish feasts. The Jewish nation was commanded by God to celebrate seven feasts over a seven-month period of time, beginning in the spring of the year and continuing through the fall.


Notice that the feasts fall into three clusters. The first three feasts Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits occur in rapid succession in the spring of the year over a period of eight days. They came to be referred to collectively as “Passover.”


The fourth feast, Shavuot, occurs fifty days later at the beginning of the summer. Today in Christian circles, this feast has come to be known by its Greek name, Pentecost, a word meaning fifty.  This feast is also when the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit was given to the 120 disciples who were in the upper room.


The last three feasts Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles extend over a period of twenty-one days in the fall of the year. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the Days of Awe and are a time to reflect and repent.


Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot were the mandatory feasts that required all the men in Israel to travel to Jerusalem three times a year to offer sacrifices.


The Nature of the Feasts


Some of the feasts were related primarily to the agricultural cycle. The feast of First Fruits is a time for the presentation to God of the first fruits of the barley harvest. The feast of Shavuot is a celebration of the wheat harvest. And the feast of Tabernacles is in part a time of thanksgiving for the harvest of olives, dates, and figs.


Most of the feasts were related to past historical events. Passover, of course, celebrated the salvation the Jews experienced when the angel of death passed over the Jewish houses that were marked with the blood of a lamb. Unleavened Bread is a reminder of the swift departure from Egypt so swift that they had no time to put leaven into their bread.


Although the feasts of Shavuot and Sukkot were related to the agricultural cycle, they both had historical significance as well. Traditionally, we believe that it was on the feast day of Shavuot that God gave the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. And the Feast of Tabernacles is and was a yearly reminder of God’s protective care as the Children of Israel tabernacled in the wilderness for forty years.


The Spiritual Significance of the Feasts


All the feasts were related to the spiritual life of the people. Passover serves as a reminder that there is no atonement for sin apart from the shedding of blood. Unleavened Bread is a reminder of God’s call on our lives to be a people set apart to holiness. Throughout the Bible leaven has been used as a symbol of sin. We are to be unleavened, that is, holy before the nations as a witness of God.


The feast of First Fruits, or Yom HaBikkurim, is a call to consider our priorities, to make certain we are putting God first in our lives. Shavuot is a reminder that God is the source of all blessings.


The solemn assembly day of Trumpets is a reminder of the need for constant, ongoing repentance. The Day of Atonement is also a solemn assembly day a day of rest and introspection. It is a reminder of God’s promise to send a Messiah whose blood would cover the demands of the Law with the mercy of God.


In sharp contrast to Trumpets and Atonement, Tabernacles is a joyous celebration of God’s faithfulness, even when the Children of Israel were unfaithful.


The Prophetic Significance of the Feasts


What the Jewish people did not seem to realize is that all of the feasts were also symbolic types. In other words, they were prophetic in nature, each one pointing in a unique way to some aspect of the life and work of the promised Messiah.


1) Passover – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Yeshua was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening.


2) Unleavened Bread – Pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life, making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Yeshua’s body was in the grave during the first days of this feast, like a kernel of wheat planted and waiting to burst forth as the bread of life.


3) First Fruits – Pointed to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous. Yeshua was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in I Corinthians 15:20 as the “first fruits from the dead.”


4) Shavuot or Pentecost – Pointed to the great harvest of souls, both Jew and Gentile, that would come into the kingdom of God during the Church Age. The Church was actually established on this day when the Messiah poured out the Holy Spirit and 3,000 souls responded to Peter’s first proclamation of the Gospel.


The long interval of three months between Shavuot and Trumpets pointed to the current Time of the Gentiles, a period of time that was kept as a mystery to the Hebrew prophets in Old Testament times.


That leaves us with the three fall feasts which are yet to be fulfilled in the life and work of the Messiah. Because Yeshua literally fulfilled the first four feasts and did so on the actual feast days, I think it is safe to assume that the last three will also be fulfilled and that their fulfillment will occur on the actual feast days. We cannot be certain how they will be fulfilled, but my guess is that they most likely have the following prophetic implications:


5) Trumpets – (Called Rosh Hashana today.) Points to the Rapture when the Messiah will appear in the heavens as a Bridegroom coming for His bride, the Church. The Rapture is always associated in Scripture with the blowing of a loud trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:52)


6) Atonement – (Called Yom Kippur today.) Points to the day of the Second Coming of Yeshua when He will return to earth. That will be the day of atonement for the Jewish remnant when they “look upon Him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and receive Him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36).


7) Tabernacles – (Called Sukkot today.) Points to the Lord’s promise that He will once again tabernacle with His people when He returns to reign over all the world from Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-7).


One final note about the feasts. Six of them the first six are related to man’s sin and struggle to exist. The last feast, Tabernacles, is related to rest. It is the most joyous feast of the year. It looks to the past in celebration of God’s faithfulness in the wilderness. It looks to the present in celebration of the completion of the hard labor of the agricultural cycle. And it looks to the future in celebration of God’s promise to return to this earth and provide the world with rest in the form of peace, righteousness and justice.


Before we finish this review of the feasts, I want to briefly link an aspect of the feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot to a vital teaching of Yeshua.


Over the years, the various feasts had taken on some extra-biblical traditions that enhanced the experience of the celebration.  For instance, a roasted egg was added to the Passover seder to symbolize life. Chanukah was instituted about 165 years before Yeshua was born as an extension of Sukkot and to commemorate Israel’s victory over Greek occupation.  At Chanukah, huge menoras were lit and the city of Jerusalem was awash with light from the temple.

There were some customs added to Sukkot that we practice even today.  Sukkot is associated with the fall harvest and is also known as the Festival of Ingathering.  This was the time of the agricultural cycle when the vineyards were beginning to peak along with other tree fruits, such as lemons and figs.  Of course, water played a huge roll in the success or failure of their crops.


On the 8th day of Sukkot, a priest would draw some water out of the pool Siloam into a golden vessel, and then bring it into the temple with the High Priest leading the procession. As the priests approached the water gate, the shofar would be blown. This was accomplished during the time of the of the morning sacrifice, while the members of the sacrifice were on the altar; the priest would go up and pour the water mingled with wine upon the Altar. At the same time, the people would all be singing with joy Isaiah 12:1-6 (especially verse 6).

Isaiah 12:1-6  In that day you will say: “I will give You thanks, Adonai, for though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.  (2)  Behold, God is my salvation! I will trust and will not be afraid. For the Lord Adonai is my strength and my song. He also has become my salvation.”  (3)  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.  (4)  In that day you will say: “Give thanks to Adonai. Proclaim His Name! Declare His works to the peoples, so they remember His exalted Name.  (5)  Sing to Adonai, for He has done gloriously. Let this be known in all the earth.  (6)  Cry out and shout, inhabitant of Zion! For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”


On the last day of Sukkot, when the priests would bring water up from the pool of Siloam, we hear from Yeshua.

John 7:37  On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood up and cried out loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.


It seems that all living things get thirsty.  One of our first reflexes upon being born is to drink in the mother’s milk that satisfies and sustains us in those first critical hours.  Throughout our lives we have to stay hydrated.  Being thirsty is absolutely miserable.  And carried to the ultimate conclusion, the lack of water will end our lives.


We as humans also have a thirst for other things, earthly satisfaction, fame, fortune.  But none of those things will bring lasting happiness. The more we get, the more we want.


When it comes to spiritual things human beings are wired to seek something outside themselves.  Throughout the history of mankind, we see evidence of this quest in temples, idols and ritual artifacts.  But in the end, none of these things will satisfy.  At the end of the day we are still empty and thirsty.


Yes, we are predisposed to worship.  Someone has said there is a God-sized vacuum in all of us.  The only thing that can bring us everlasting satisfaction and happiness is putting our faith and trust in Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the One True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Belief in anything else will result in a life of emptiness and longing.


Yeshua said “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, ‘out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”


He was speaking of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, that would be given initially to the 120 Believers who were cloistered in prayer.  This new manifestation of God’s love and power caused these men and women of God to overflow.  Not only were they filled with the living water, it flowed out of them in the form of languages that they never learned.  It poured out to the ears of those nearby. Peter spoke and 3000 men were immediately convinced of the deity and Messiahship of Yeshua.  This power ignited a flame that swept the world.  Mankind has never been the same since the coming of the Holy Spirit.


This was what Yeshua spoke of when he said anyone who believes in Him would have living water flow out of them. It is significant that He said “living water”, mayim chaim. Running water, literally in Hebrew “Living Water” was required for ritual cleansing and the immersion pools known as mikvahs.


Living Water, not still, stagnant, water.


Yeshua gives us living water, life, and life abundantly.


That living water is available for the asking today.  It’s a simple as repenting of your sins and walking in God’s way.  If you have been thirsty lately, now is the time to drink up from this fountain of living water provided by Yeshua. Now is the time to let the Ruach HaKodesh, God’s Holy Spirit flow through your life, make you clean and satisfy that dry, thirsty soul.

A Matter of Perspective

20170715 Parashat 91 How’s your vision?

Our Torah Portion today is Leviticus 21.  It is a list of instructions to the priests concerning ceremonial cleanliness with regard to caring for the bodies of close family members.  There are also instructions as to who a priest may marry.  There are even more restrictions on marriage for the ones would be high priests.

All the above mitzvot involved actions that a priest should or should not do, but starting verse 18, there is a list of physical defects that would prevent tabernacle of temple service.

Leviticus 21:18  Any man who has a defect is not to draw near: no one blind or lame or disfigured or deformed,

I had originally prepared a sermon that listed each one of the defects and developed a spiritual application for each one.  But at the last hour, I felt led to go in another direction.  This morning I want to draw your attention to only one of the defects.  It happens to be the first one. Blindness.

A prohibition of blindness falls into the ‘well duh’ category. It is too obvious.  You can’t have a priest stumbling around with a knife, trying to offer the sacrifices or feeling his way around in the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies.  He must be able to see. He must have vision.  Today, I want to talk about the concept of vision.  Just to make sure, it should be obvious that I’m not talking about our eyesight.

We need to have a vision for ourselves, our family and our synagogue.  Where do you want to be in the Lord this time next year?  Do you have a plan?  What about your family?  Where do you see them next year, 5 years from now, 10 years from now?  How about Tree of Life Messianic Synagogue?  Do you have a vision for us as well as your part in it?  Do you even plan to be here next year?  Do you see yourself teaching a class, leading the youth, discipling someone who just gave their life to Yeshua?  Hopefully, you don’t see yourself sitting in the same spot next year?  We need to have a vision.

Luke 11:34  Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light. But when it is sick, your body is full of darkness.

What is this passage saying? It’s saying that whatever you focus on, becomes your character. If you are always focused on the negative, you become a negative person.

This may seem like a confusing scripture but I think it is extremely important. I don’t believe that this is talking about our physical eyes notice it says “eye” not eyes.


And in verse 35 it says take heed or watch out that the light that is in you is not darkness. This is talking about our perspective or how we see or understand things. Pro.23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” think- that is our understanding, how do we understand or conceive a situation that’s how you will react. Many times, the same circumstances will cause various reactions by different people-why? Because of the way each person perceives or understands the situation.

Here’s a story that illustrates the point of view concept.

One day, the father of a very wealthy family sent his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. The son spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

Upon the son’s return, the father asked, “How was the trip?”

“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yeah,” said the son.

“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered:

“I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless: Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”


I like this way of looking at things.


When other people take a long time to do something, they’re slow; when we take a long time, we’re thorough. When they don’t do something, they’re lazy; when we don’t, we’re too busy. When they succeed, they’re lucky; when we do, we deserve it.

Look at Luke 11:36.  If then your body is full of light, with no part of it dark, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its gleam.” . This means that if we have the right perspective we will make right choices. Life is all about our choices. Probably all of us can look back at situations in our lives and realize if we would have chosen differently, things could have been better or we wouldn’t have made a series of bad mistakes.


Dr. Pierce Harris, a pastor from Atlanta, Georgia, preached to some prisoners. One of the prisoners got up and introduced himself to the others with these words: “Several years ago, two boys lived in a town in north Georgia. They went to the same school, played together and attended the same Sunday School. One dropped out of Sunday School and said that it was ‘sissy stuff.’ The other boy kept on going. One rejected Christ; the other accepted Him. The boy who rejected Christ is making this introduction today. The boy who accepted Christ is the honored preacher who will speak to us today!”


Of course, the perspective we need is God’s perspective. When we look at things through God’s revelation and perspective we respond in ways that bless us.

Let’s look at a story from Luke chapter 7.

Luke 7:36-50.  Now one of the Pharisees was asking Yeshua if He would eat with him. Upon entering the Pharisee’s home, He reclined at the table.  (37)  And behold, a woman in the town who was a sinner, when she discovered that Yeshua was reclining at the Pharisee’s home, brought an alabaster jar of perfume.  (38)  As she stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to drench His feet with tears and kept wiping them with her head of hair. Then she was kissing His feet and anointing them with perfume.  (39)  Now when the Pharisee who invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this were a prophet, He would know what sort of woman is touching Him—that she’s a sinner.”  (40)  And answering, Yeshua said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he said, “Say it, Teacher!”  (41)  “A moneylender had two debtors. One owed him five hundred denarii, but the other fifty.  (42)  When neither could repay him, he canceled both debts. So which of them will love him more?”  (43)  Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Yeshua said.  (44)  Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you didn’t give Me water for My feet. But she has drenched My feet with tears and wiped them with her hair.  (45)  You didn’t greet Me with a kiss; but from the time she entered, she has not stopped kissing My feet.  (46)  You didn’t anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with perfume.  (47)  For this reason I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.  (48)  He then said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”  (49)  But those who were reclining at table with Him began to say to one another, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”  (50)  Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in shalom.”.


I really like this story. There is a lot we can see in it. What we are going to look at today is the two different perspectives shown by the Pharisee and the woman and the resulting actions caused by their perspectives. This Pharisee had such an opportunity, he had Yeshua HaMashiach at his home for dinner. But because of his perspective he really missed out. What wonderful things could have happened because Yeshua was at his house for dinner. We know that in the case of Zacchaeus, dinner with Yeshua changed his life. Yeshua declared that salvation had come to his house. Once when Yeshua was at Peter’s house Peter’s mother-in-law was healed. When Yeshua was at Mary and Martha’s house, Mary sat at His feet listening to the word and Yeshua said she had received the necessary thing: to hear the word of God. Mary got to listen to Yeshua teach at her house. Wow!! As we look at this story of the Pharisee we can think of lots of wonderful things that could have been. Even though this Pharisee had such a great opportunity, he missed out.


So, what Were the perspectives in this story?

THE PHARISEE: This Pharisee obviously thought he was “all right” as he was. That he was a good guy. According to the world’s way of looking at things he probably was.

THE WOMAN: This woman knew that she was sinful and needed a savior.

GOD’S PERSPECTIVE What is the true perspective-God’s perspective.

ROM.3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

EPH.2:1-8.  You were dead in your trespasses and sins.  (2)  At that time, you walked in the way of this world, in conformity to the ruler of the domain of the air—the ruler of the spirit who is now operating in the sons of disobedience.  (3)  We too all lived among them in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. By nature we were children of wrath, just like the others.  (4)  But God was rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.  (5)  Even when we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive together with Messiah. (By grace you have been saved!)  (6)  And He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua—  (7)  to show in the olam ha-ba the measureless richness of His grace in kindness toward us in Messiah Yeshua.  (8)  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God.

This is very important because until someone realizes that they need a savior they will not want Yeshua.

MARK 2:17. “Those who are healthy have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick do. I did not come to call the righteous, but the sinful.”

This doesn’t mean that some people are not sinners it means that people must recognize that they are and that they need a Savior.


LUKE 18:9-14. (Pharisee and Tax Collector) God is ready though the blood of Yeshua to save anyone who will realize that they are sinful and in need of saving. If anyone thinks that they are good enough on their own they make it impossible to for God to save them because they reject Yeshua. We must never forget that without Christ we would be lost.

VIEW FROM ETERNITY: This Pharisee thought he could make it to heaven on his own. There are many twists on this today. Many people feel that since God is good , He would not send any one to hell. In reality God doesn’t send them, people choose to go when they reject God’s plan of salvation. Some people think there is no eternity, you just die. This Pharisee must have thought that his being a Pharisee would get him to heaven. There are lots of religions today that teach that if you are baptized a member of their church that you will go to heaven. This woman on the other hand knew her only hope was God’s mercy and God’s way. She was looking to Yeshua for hope.


Again this is so important. You can find all kinds of opinions that will tickle your ears but here is the bottom line God is the one who makes those decisions. Isn’t it smart to look to Him to find the truth. Is there a heaven and hell? MARK 9:43-48. Yeshua was the biggest hell fire and brimstone preacher in the Bible because He doesn’t want anyone to go there. Two very important things we can see here is that there definitely is a real place of torment called hell. Heaven is real according to God’s word. Why would anyone want to miss out on heaven. Those who reject God’s offer of heaven will have to go to hell. The souls that He loves that reject Him will not have another chance JOHN 14:1-3. God made the earth in six days, and He has been working on heaven this long, it’s going to be great.

YESHUA: The Pharisee thought of Yeshua as just a man. Our scripture says he didn’t even treat Him with the same respect that other guests of those days received. The woman saw Him as her Savior. What a difference it makes. What does God say about it?

JOHN 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life! No one comes to the Father except through Me.

JOHN 11:25, I am the resurrection and the life! Whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, shall live.

JOHN 8:58, “Amen, amen I tell you, before Abraham was, I am!”

JOHN 8:24, If you don’t believe that I am, you will die in your sins.


1 John 5:11-13  And the testimony is this—that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  (12)  The one who has the Son has life; the one who does not have Ben-Elohim does not have life.  (13)  I wrote these things to you who believe in the name of Ben-Elohim, so you may know that you have eternal life.


MATT. 16:13-18. When Yeshua came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  (14)  They answered, “Some say John the Immerser, others say Elijah, and still others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”  (15)  He said, “But who do you say I am?”  (16)  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  (17)  Yeshua said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven!  (18)  And I also tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My community; and the gates of Sheol will not overpower it.

God’s revelation or perspective is very important. We have the choice to believe whatever we choose but if we choose to look at things with God’s view point we are blessed. Blessed means, “empowered to prosper.”


Let’s look at the responses caused by their perspectives.


The Pharisee took his acquaintance with Yeshua very lightly. He didn’t have a desire to serve Him. He didn’t consider it very special to be around Yeshua. He was critical of Yeshua. He was prideful when it came to others. He didn’t put any effort into getting to know Yeshua. He didn’t consider being with Yeshua as special.

The woman on the other hand found being with Yeshua so precious that she risked ridicule and insult to be with Him. She pursued Yeshua. This woman loved Yeshua. She brought Him costly perfume. She humbled herself before Him. What she did was beautiful worship. Her concern wasn’t in someone seeing her or what others thought of her. Her desire was to worship and please Yeshua.


My question is, what is our perspective? Our lives will show the view we hold. We might say we love Yeshua but are we like this Pharisee? Many times, people who call themselves Christians are very much like this Pharisee. What place do the things of God hold in Our lives? Do we have a desire to worship? Do we love spending time with Yeshua? Is His word important to us? Do we look down on others because we feel we are better? How much time do we give to the Lord? Will we take ridicule to be associated with Yeshua? Will we serve Him? Will we worship Him even when others don’t? Do we love Him much? What are we doing for Yeshua? Are we just living for ourselves? Are we willing to change for Him? Are we taking opportunities to draw close to Him, or are we more interested in what’s on T.V. than spending time with Him. Our lives will show our love for Him.


We need to ask ourselves, do we have God’s perspective when it comes to ourselves. I am not saying that as Believers we should see ourselves as sinners, but we should see ourselves as God sees us, saved by the precious blood of Yeshua and if we do, our appreciation will be evident. The more I learn what God has done for me the more I desire Him and love Him. What is our perspective when it comes to eternity? Do we really believe there is a heaven and a hell? Is it a reality in our lives? Col.3: tells us then to set our minds on things above. How do we see Yeshua? Do we see Him as our only Savior?


REV.3:20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.


Yeshua wants to spend time with you! He is knocking will you let Him come in and dine with you?


Kadosh Kiddush, & Kaddish

The Torah Portion this week deals with the subject of improper sexual conduct.  It is an exhaustive list of “thou shall not” commandments regarding intimate relations between close relatives, members of the same gender and even animals.  The reading from Romans Chapter One reiterates these commandments and offers a consequence for disobedience.  I am not going to teach specifically about this list of deviant behavior but rather discuss a broader topic.

In our Torah Class this morning Dr. Drennan spoke about the holiness of God.  Leviticus 18 and next week’s Parsha Chapter 19 also speak of God’s holiness.  Today it is common to hear that we are no longer under the Law or that the Law was nailed to the cross.  Even one particular Messianic teacher has said that because of the Law of Christ, the Law of Moses is dead and of no effect.  He concludes his teaching by advising any Jewish Believer in Yeshua that if he wanted to eat a ham sandwich, he is permitted to do so because the dietary laws of the Torah are no longer in effect.

Here at Tree of Life, we reject that interpretation of Scripture and take a much more conservative stance on God’s instruction.

Let’s set the scene for today’s lesson.  The Israelites had been rescued from the slavery of Egypt around 1445 BCE.  They were at Mount Sinai in the Arabian desert for a little over a year.  The Tabernacle was completed and about a month and a half later God told the Israelites to leave Sinai.  Many scholars place the writing of Leviticus in this relatively short time frame of the Tabernacle completion and the sending out of the spies into the land of Canaan.

Leviticus is too often neglected because many consider it to be a collection of arcane laws with little relevance to our lives today.  However, just a cursory view of Chapter 18 seems as fresh as today’s CNN or Fox News.  It sets out a standard of conduct for God’s people that is under assault today. This is part of God’s standard of holiness. He is preparing the Israelites for their future. We have three words today that could apply to Chapter 18.  Kadosh, Kiddush, and Kaddish.

  1. Kadosh קדוש

Kadosh is defined as “holy”.  Kedushah is “holiness”.  All of Torah and Leviticus in particular outlines God’s standard of Holiness.

Leviticus 18:3-4  You are not to act as they do in the land of Egypt, where you used to live. Nor are you to act as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, nor are you to walk in their customs.  (4)  You are to obey My ordinances and keep My statutes and walk in them—I am Adonai your God.

So how is Israel supposed to walk out this standard of holiness?  In very short order God tells them “Don’t walk like an Egyptian”. They had already reverted to the idolatry of the Egyptians when they made the golden calf.  The Egyptians practiced many other acts that God considered an abomination. God was telling His chosen people don’t go back to spiritual slavery from which they were rescued.

God was asking them to be a holy nation.  A morally pure nation.  In fact, He called them to be a nation of priests and kings.

Exodus 19:6  So as for you, you will be to Me a kingdom of kohanim and a holy nation.

God had specific requirements for the priests.  They had to be above reproach in their behavior and even in the way they dressed.  And now Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests!  Every man, woman and child was to be like a priest.

One of the things about priests was that they were separated to God.

  1. Kiddush – קידוש

The word Kiddush actually means sanctification, but it also means separation. So it also serves another purpose.  Kiddush is a blessing recited over the wine as we begin our Shabbat meal on Friday evening.  The following is a translation of the traditional blessing heard in Jewish homes all over the world.

[And the evening and the morning were] the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Blessed art Thou, Adonai our God, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.

[Respond: Amen.]

Blessed are You God, King of the Universe, who made us holy with his commandments and favored us, and gave us His holy Sabbath, in love and favor, to be our heritage, as a reminder of the Creation. It is the foremost day of the holy festivals marking the Exodus from Egypt. For out of all the nations You chose us and made us holy, and You gave us Your holy Sabbath, in love and favor, as our heritage. Blessed are you God, Who sanctifies the Sabbath.

[Respond: Amen.]

All right, so what does this have to do with our Torah Portion?  The Kiddush is what begins our observance of Shabbat.  It separates Shabbat from the rest of the week.  Shabbat is special.  It is to be set aside as a day of rest and as a day to honor God and our Savior, Yeshua.

God was telling Israel that He had physically separated them from Egypt and now he wanted them to separate themselves from the customs and traditions that they had come to know in Egypt. Don’t practice the things the Egyptians did.  Be separate.

  1. Kaddish קדיש

The word kaddish means sanctification and is a hymn of praise to God.  Originally, the Kaddish was recited by the Rabbi after his sermon.  But over the years it has come to be associated with the sorrow that comes with the passing of a loved one.  Here are the words in English.

Exalted and sanctified is God’s great name [Amen] in the world which He has created according to His will, and may He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His Great Name be blessed forever and for all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, elevated and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are spoken in the world; and say, Amen. [Amen.]

May there be great peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

I struggled in the composition of this sermon as to where to use Kiddush and Kaddish because both meant sanctification.  But what we see in Leviticus 18 is a clear cut call to be separated.  Be Holy.  Be pure.

The generic meaning of sanctification is “the state of proper functioning. To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is “sanctified” when used to write. Eyeglasses are “sanctified” when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God’s design and purpose.

Isn’t that what we are seeing in Leviticus 18?  God had a specific design and purpose in mind when he created mankind.  Sin entered in and perverted God’s perfect design. When a person participates in the behavior prohibited by God’s word, he is acting in direct opposition to the will of God.

I think sanctification, or being set apart for God requires each of us to live in a manner that glorifies Him.  But I believe it requires us to live in opposition to behavior that the Bible specifically prohibits.  Too often today, we see organizations that claim to be believers in the Word of God but then accept and in some instances celebrate the sins outlined in our Torah portion.  Today preachers are afraid to call sin what it is for fear of being labeled a bigot or homophobe or any other name that popular culture conjures up to advance their perversion.  The common expression is to “Hate the sin, but Love the sinner”.  That does not mean that we should accept the sinner’s lifestyle.

Recently, Target made the well publicized decision to allow people to use a restroom based on how they identified themselves, not how God identified them when they were born.  Of course this was nothing but a ploy to get the public to accept transvestites and homosexuality. If you see it often enough you just get used to it.

We as believers should fight against those that are trying to pervert the minds of our children and in some cases put our women and children in physical danger.  We should write to these businesses and express our beliefs.  If that doesn’t work then express your belief with your wallet.  I have not been inside a Target store since their outrageous decision.  There are other places to shop.  It is ok to be militant in following God’s word.

To summarize, we should follow the Lord in holiness, separate ourselves from those who live immoral lifestyles and sanctify our lives by living the way that God designed us to live.