Kedoshim – “Holy Ones”

This week’s Parasha is called Kedoshim and covers Leviticus 19:1-20:27. Chapter 19 reviews some of the Ten Commandments and includes a strong reminder that our lives are to be characterized by holiness. In fact, God states clearly, “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy”. God speaks as the Holy One, HaKadosh. We think of the word ‘holy’ as meaning to be set apart in a very distinct, sacred, and completely unique way. So we say that God is set apart, holy, kadosh; in a word – incomparable! He is without peer; the Creator of all mankind, the earth and everything in it, and the vast expanse of the universe. He is eternally and infinitely without time; in fact He is the Creator of time. And as we have read earlier in Exodus, He calls himself I AM WHO I AM. The fact that He is holy implies His absolute moral perfection, and this is why He stands opposed to sin.  That is all that should matter to us. Oh, if it were only that simple!

As the Creator of all things, God exercised His prerogative to summon the Jewish nation to holiness, based on the fact that He made us His own possession when He separated us from the nations. In 1 Peter 1:13-16, we read that, as Yeshua’s followers, we are also called to be holy in all our actions, just as the One who called us, Adonai, is holy.

In chapter 19, the first of the commandments that Adonai speaks about is that we should revere our father and mother, and that we should observe the Law. We are also forbidden to turn to or make any idols for ourselves, and that reminds us that He is the Lord our God. It is important that we remember to heed our parent’s instruction and that we regard them with honor.  We are not to malign them, but to cherish them. It doesn’t say to honor our mothers and fathers when they treat us well and are good to us; it simply tells us to honor them.  This may not always be easy to do, but it is what God commands.

The parasha instructs us that when we offer a sacrifice to the Lord, it is to be offered in a way that is acceptable. It should be eaten in the same day that we offer it; anything that is left on the third day should be burned up with fire, for it is tainted and not acceptable. Anyone who eats it bears his own iniquity and would be cut off from his people. This is not something that should be taken lightly.

He also tells us that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do this we will actually honor a great many of the Lord’s commandments. There is also a reminder that when we reap the harvest of our land, we are to leave some for the poor, that they may eat also. It should be a good reminder to us that we should share what we have with others, and be quick to help those who may be in need; and to be generous with our time, talents and treasures. After all, everything that we have is a gift from God.

There is also a reminder, and it’s an important one, that justice and righteousness must prevail in those who are placed in positions of leadership by the Lord.  No favoritism is permitted; the poor and the great should be treated the same by us as individuals, as a nation, and in courts of law. The Jewish people are also reminded that when a stranger comes into the land, they should not do harm to him, but treat him as if he is one of them. This reminder is premised on the fact that we too were once foreigners in another people’s land.  Chapter 19 closes out with the Lord’s command to observe all of His rules and statutes because He is the Lord, the Highest One.

Chapter 20 opens with the stern warning not to imitate the religious practices of the Canaanites and sacrifice our children to Molech, or we will surely be put to death. Those who followed Molech, who believed that sacrificing their children would bring them financial prosperity, remind me of how today in our own country we sacrifice our unborn children for our own convenience and deceive ourselves into thinking there won’t be a reckoning from God! This chapter also tells us that those who turn to mediums and necromancers, those who communicate with the dead, are foolish and will be cut off from their people. Then chapter 20 outlines the punishment for sexual immorality. In the case of adultery, both the adulterer and the adulteress were to be put to death. The Lord speaks to those who commit homosexuality, stating that both have committed an abomination and they should be put to death. That is a very heavy price to pay for indulging in prohibited sexual actions that the Lord detests. We should also remember that Yeshua told us that the sins that we commit in our minds are just as bad as doing them in the flesh. That is something to think about, brothers and sisters.

After Adonai outlines the punishments for Israel’s sin, He reminds them that they will indeed inherit their land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Unfortunately, our people did not follow those laws and the land was, for a time, taken from us. We see in I Corinthians 6:9-20 that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God, those that are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, or men who practice homosexuality, as well as the greedy, drunkards, and swindlers. But those that will turn from those ways and transfer their loyalties and obedience to our Lord Yeshua the Messiah are cleansed, sanctified and justified in the sight of God.

In Amos 9:7-15, this week’s Haftarah reading, God Most High, El Elyon, reminded the Jewish people that He would restore us to the land of Israel, and we have seen that promise come to pass in our day. We read, “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel, and they will rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them”. So we see that the Land would be restored back to the Jewish people of a different generation and not to a different people.

Brothers and sisters, we should remember that our actions have consequences and some are very severe, so we should not take lightly what the Lord commands us. After all, He is the One who gives us the very breath in our lungs.  He has called us to His will and commands it, so we must take seriously that the Lord has set us apart to do His work and be obedient. Who could be more worthy of our obedience and confidence than the Lord our God? We should ask the Lord every day to give us the strength and resolve to turn away from the things that displease Him and to focus on those things that will bring Him glory. If we do what pleases Him, then the Lord will say to us on that day, “Well done, My good and faithful servant”.