How Can Israel be Holy?

The Torah portion this week is a double portion, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27 and from the prophets we are reading Ezekiel 22:1-19. From the New Testament we are reading Matthew 15:10-20.

The Torah reading from Leviticus is so full of interesting and important instructions that I will have to do a special Facebook teaching on the Acharei Mot portion. In this prayer list I would like to concentrate on the Kedoshim text. The reading of the Kedoshim portion starts in Lev. 19:1,2:

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.”’” – Leviticus 19:1,2 [NJIV]

I have a problem with this command. My problem is this, how could the Lord God of Israel who took the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and has been dealing with them for several months in the wilderness of Sinai, dealing with their complaints, dealing with their demands, dealing with their rebellion, with the Golden Calf, etc. now come to Moses and ask him, to command this group of rabble rousers and problematic people to become a holy nation?

Well, that was my first reading of the text and from there came my question. Now, that I have read the text more than one time here are some of my observations:

  1. The Lord didn’t make it a commandment for the nation of Israel to become Holy!
  2. The Lord said to Moses “speak” – He didn’t say “command.” This I realize is important. You can’t command people to become holy. Just like you can’t command people to love one another. You can speak, suggest, encourage, edify, but not command. Because to love and to be holy can only be a choice made freely and from the heart of an individual.
  3. The Lord also made a promise to the people of Israel: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” In this promise there is no time mentioned. In this promise there is no room for doubt – it is emphatic “you shall be holy” and the reason that you shall be holy is because “for I the Lord your God am holy!” When I understood this, my heart calmed down. I hope that your heart is also calm knowing that our God is always faithful to His promises.
  4. The upshot of this text is that The Lord will make us a holy nation, a nation of priests to serve His world, the nations that he created, His people. The big question is how, will He, the almighty one of Israel, make us holy? Here is my understanding based on the following texts from the New Testament:

    “…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word… that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:26,27 [NJKV]

    “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:23 [NKJV]

  5. The Ephesians 5 passage is talking about the church, the community of the redeemed, the saints that have been sanctified by Yeshua and by their commitment to follow Him and to do God’s will. Yes, that group of disciples of the Messiah Yeshua that are going to be a glorious community (church) and clean and holy, and without blemish.

Now you might say that over 2000 years have passed since the good apostle Paul wrote these things led by the Holy Spirit of God and that this might never happen! Rationally you might be right, looking at it from our human point of view you might be right.

However, I have another historical event in which people who were grumbling and rebellious and fighting with each other, suddenly standing in the middle of the Sinai desert took three days to sanctify themselves, their bodies and their clothing and to prepare for the Lord to speak to them from the top of Mount Sinai. I remember that they all said, “Lord we will do and hear!”

My prayer for all my brothers and sisters and for those who are called by the name of the Messiah Yeshua (Christians) is that the events of the last 18 months around the whole world will be a wake-up call.

That the resurrection of a church that is in a coma, barely breathing, and being fed through a tube, but still desiring bread and circuses like ancient Rome, will happen, and that instantly the Lord will sanctity and glorify His bride before He returns to Zion in the clouds.

Waking up from a coma can happen instantly and recovery might take a short time, but it does happen and will happen. The Lord, will in the end have a church, a community that knows His voice and hears His voice and follows Him. A community of those who know their shepherd and know His voice!

My prayer is for all my brothers and sisters around the world to forget their denominational divisions, to forget the religious institutions that they were born into, to forget the dark chapters of Christian history, and turn directly and entirely to the Messiah Yeshua without any filters from Rome or from Scotland, England, Germany, Switzerland, or Czechoslovakia.

Turn your faces toward Jerusalem and say: “maranatha!” (“Lord come now!”) The Lord’s community (church) will be with an Israel that is sanctified and purified and made holy by the Lord Himself and by the sacrifice of Yeshua and by His blood! Holy, not only theoretically, but Holy practically, so that all might see us dressed in white and singing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb.

This will happen and we need to be ready for it by starting now as individuals to let it happen in our own lives.

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.