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in Yeshua that if he wanted to eat a ham sandwich, he is permitted to do so because the dietary laws of the Torah are no longer in effect.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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.