The Parsha for this last Shabbat was ‘Kedoshim,’ and it is a dynamite chapter dealing with holiness and how to be ‘holy ones.’ We took a super look at that in our weekly shabbat that you can download and listen to here. Of particular interest is our critical look at ourselves in the Messianic movement and how we need to keep a balance between the greater commandments and those perceived as ‘justice and mercy.’
Here though, I want to share some of the thoughts I’ve had concerning how useful this chapter is for Messianic apologetics on multiple fronts! Frankly, this chapter is extremely useful in putting to rest multiple false teachings of Christendom, Judaism and the bilateral ecclesiology teaching of some Messianic Jews. A few foundational Scriptures:
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
6 For I am the Lord, I change not;
Leviticus 19 is the word of our God that shall stand forever and is profitable for doctrine. And, as we shall see, it concerns the unchanging Yahweh!
The tone is set in the first two verses,
19 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.
Moshe here addresses the ‘congregation’ directly. Unlike most times, he does not relay instructions through Aharon, rather, following exactly the instructions of Yahweh, he relays directly to the congregation. Now, the word used is not ‘kahal’ or, in the LXX, ‘ekklesia,’ however the word used עדה, edah, means ‘assemblage, crowd, multitude, congregation, swarm.’ This is to all the mixed multitude who came up from Egypt.
Of much greater significance is the first statement out of Yahweh’s mouth, “Ye shall be holy: for I Yahweh your Elohim am holy!” The reason the hear is to be holy is because God is holy. But, this is not a singular pointing to the reason for a given instruction. In fact, in Leviticus 19 you will find no less than 15 times that the reason for each of the laws or statutes given is because “I am Yahweh.” Period. No other explanation.
The phrase “I am Yahweh,” generally translated as “I am the Lord,” appears about 184 times in Scripture. Ezekiel has 84 appearances with 49 more in Leviticus. More than 37 of the uses in Leviticus build from chapter 18, culminate in 19 and taper through Leviticus 23 as if to place a giant highlight on this chapter and on the heart of the book of Leviticus, itself, the heart of the Torah.
The primary reason this is so very important is that Leviticus 19 defines the character of Yahweh through these statutes. Over and over, like a pounding drum, He says, ‘Do this. I am Yahweh. Don’t do that. I am Yahweh. Don’t do something else, I am Yahweh!…’
At least six times in the next couple chapters He says, “I am Yahweh who sanctifies you.” Obedience to these commands is a means of sanctification!
Now, here is something profound! We already know the commands are to the whole mixed multitude, the congregation! The commands that are given are often parsed by Christendom into majors, minors and no-longer-apply. The problem is that Yahweh does not order them that way or give any indication of differing levels of importance.
“Keep the Sabbath. I am Yahweh.”
“Don’t harvest fruit until the fifth year. I am Yahweh.”
“Do not steal. I am Yahweh.”
“Take care of the poor. I am Yahweh.”
“Honor your father and mother. I am Yahweh.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahweh.”
“No unjust scales. I am Yahweh.”
Simply, these cannot be parsed and separated, contrary to the false ‘threefold division of the law,’ taught in Christendom. Parsing the laws is an absurdity because we have to believe that in this area He is still Yahweh, but in that area He must not be Yahweh any more!!
If “I the Lord do not change” is true, and these laws reveal His character, then all of these laws do not and cannot change! Period!
‘Threefold division,’ the trash can is over there –>
From Leviticus 19, if this is the definition of the character of God, then ALL who follow Him and seek to know Him and be like Him in His holiness, will follow these as well as the rest of the ‘I am Yahweh’ commands… (Essentially, all of the Torah!) It does NOT matter whether they are red, yellow, black, white or green with pink polka dots. Jew, Gentile or anything else. Period!
‘Noahide’ and ‘Torah is just for the Jews,’ the trash can is over there –>
As if the previous statement is not enough, the bilateral ecclesiology/exclusionist proponents need to take a hard look at Leviticus 19:35 & 36. Yahweh hates unjust scales and unequal weights and measures. He does not have two different scales of righteousness or holiness depending on whether or not someone can trace some percent of their DNA to the Jewish root.
Bilateral ecclesiology/two law… the trash can is over there —>
Seriously, Leviticus 19 single-handedly disassembles multiple false theologies! Every one of these problematic doctrines find their demise at numerous other places in Scripture, but here they all collapse from the same pinnacle: “I am Yahweh!”
More discussion about these points in an excellent Shabbat message that focused more on a critical look at ourselves in the Hebraic, as well as repentance for our own sin…