The reading this week is a double portion. We read the Torah portion Acharei Mot, from Leviticus 16:1 – 18:30. The reading from the prophets has a double tradition. Some read from the prophets Amos 9:7-15, and others read from Ezekiel 22:1-16, and from the New Testament the reading is from the book of Hebrews 9:11-28.
The tradition on this date of reading a double portion adds the next and especially important portion of Kedoshim (the Saints) reading from Leviticus 19:1 – 20:27, and Ezekiel 20:2-20, and 1 Peter 1:13-16.
As you can see, dear brothers, when we have a double portion for reading – there is much reading. The original purpose for the Sabbath meeting in the Synagogues was the reading of the Word of God.
We see this reflected in the book of Acts:
“…but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” – Acts: 15:20,21 [NKJV]
I do not have the words to express how important this is for all disciples of Yeshua. The disciples are recommended by the apostles, including Paul, to go to the synagogue and hear the Word of God read every Sabbath.
Of course, the reason is simple. People didn’t have a bible in their home, or on their smartphones and to hear the Word of God being read they had to go to the public place, where the Word of God was being read every Sabbath day.
This is the source of the tradition of reading from the Torah, and the Prophets, and we have added, from the New Testament. The most important source of information and of an understanding of God and Yeshua and of our faith is the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation. Therefore we at Netivyah and in the Roeh Israel Congregation put much emphasis on the reading of the Word of God, from the Torah, the Prophets, and from the New Testament.
The degree of ignorance of God’s Word in most Christian circles is dangerous. The danger is simple, preachers and pastors and even Messianic rabbis, often use the Word of God to enhance and sell their programs and projects and they use the Scriptures to teach or motivate the people according to their views or needs.
So, if the people who fill the churches know the Word of God they can at least “not fall into a trap that is being spread for them.”
If you were given a medication that you did not know much about it, what would you do before you put the pill in your mouth? You would read the leaflet that is inside the medication box to find out what you are going to put into your mouth.
I would like to concentrate on one of the most important and most elusive commandments that is found both in the Torah of Moses and in the teaching of the apostles. It sounds simple to be holy like God is holy, but when you try to put this “simple” commandment into practice you face the difficulty, of how, when, and what it takes to be holy like God is Holy.
Here are some ideas and suggestions that ought to make this elusive commandment better understood and easier to put to practice.
First, this commandment ought to not be a surprise for us. The same commandment and commission is found in Exodus:
“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” – Exodus 19:6 [NKJV]
Normally we humans try to form God in our own image with our own weaknesses and inclinations. In Leviticus 19, the Lord wants us to transform ourselves to be more like Him.
“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 19:2 [NKJV]
We are to be Holy like He is Holy.
The question is always “How can we do this?” “What do we have to do in order to be Holy?” Here is the genius of the Biblical texts. The Holy Spirit knew that we would have a hard time to understand the “how.”
Therefore, immediately after the command comes the instruction of how to do it, both what not to do and what to do is given to us right up front.
Please read the whole chapter 19 of Leviticus to get the full picture of what you ought to do and what you ought not do to be Holy like God is Holy.
“‘Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father and keep My Sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.’” – Leviticus 19:3 [NKJV]
If you want to be Holy you start at home. You revere, honor, respect, and serve, your father and your mother. Yes, all the way to their last day! The authority and obligation to father and mother does not run down when they get old and difficult.
Together with the respect to your father and mother – there is the respect to your own self. The keeping of the Sabbath is not a punishment from God it is a gift from God to give your life a rhythm of work and rest. Stress and relaxation.
The Sabbath is to bring some order into the human life and to know when to turn the switch of busy on and off. One of the reasons why people in the West suffer from marriage problems that often end in divorce is because they don’t know how important it is for the parents to dedicate at least one day, one evening, strictly for the family, the wife and the children.
No business doing, no work, no shopping, no cooking by the mother, prepare everything on Thursday and Friday so that you can give your husband and your children total attention.
Every family must have a time to give 100 percent attention to their wife and children. To have a significant dinner with the whole family and talk with the family about God’s Word and God’s place in the family life.
“‘Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the Lord your God.’” – Leviticus 19:4 [NKJV]
The Lord is a jealous God and He will not stay in your life if you worship idols. You might say to yourself “I don’t worship idols, I go to church every week.” You ought to know that anything that is more important to you than the Lord is your idol.
Remember that the Lord said to His apostles that if they love father and mother and family more than they love Him they are not worthy of Him.
“‘And if you offer a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, you shall offer it of your own free will.’” – Leviticus 19:5 [NKJV]
This command is one of the most abused commands both in synagogues and churches today. When we do the right thing it has to be with only one motivation, “To do the will of God from our heart and without any ulterior motives, like to become prosperous, or gain favor with the church, or to be praised by men.”
Please read the rest of the chapter and notice that the command that is repeated several times in the New Testament comes from this portion of the Torah:
“‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.’” – Leviticus 19:18 [NKJV]
To be Holy is not out of our reach it is like all of God’s commandments doable and reachable. It just takes a few not so complicated things that we need to do and a few not so hard things to stop doing. Don’t despair, try to do each one of the commands one by one.
If it is too late to do some of these commandments because your father and your mother are no longer with you, there is always the opportunity to repent and ask forgiveness and teach your children the importance to honor you and respect you and serve you when you get old.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.