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Parasha Kedoshim 5782

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Years ago I worked at O’Charley’s in Mobile and at one point while I was there I was in this season where my attitude was just complete crap. I mean, I was angry… Like people were scared to be around me kind of angry…
And what’s worse is that everyone there knew I was a believer, they knew I am a Messianic Jew and that I was working toward becoming a rabbi. And over the course of my employment there I had countless opportunities to share about Messiah with guests and coworkers, and my management would even have me sit down with University of Mobile students who were applying for jobs to share with them what the life in a restaurant is really like, particularly some of the worldly stuff the staff is often wrapped up in so they would know what they were signing on to deal with and work around.
But, during this particularly season I was just really angry, and I couldn’t really even tell you why specifically… And it was really only when I was at work. I would climb out of my car, walk up to the restaurant and upon clearing the threshold my entire countenance would change…
One day I was working a double, which was pretty common in my restaurant days, and one of my managers—we all called him Tolley—pulled me aside at the end of my first shift and said to me, “Man, I don’t know what is going on with you or what is wrong, but you haven’t been yourself in a while and something has got to change. You’re attitude, anger, and aggression is starting to effect your work, it is effecting the rest of the staff, and people are afraid to be around you… Something has got to give and fast or you’re going to end up losing your job...”
I was dumbfounded when he talked to me because I didn’t even notice anything was different, I was blind to it. So I skipped lunch and went straight to my car. This was back before smartphones and having every Bible we could imagine on our phones… And I would always carry a Bible with me everywhere I went. So I went out to the car, I grabbed my Bible and I sat there and prayed…
I said, “God, I don’t know what’s going on… I don’t know what’s wrong… But something isn’t right… My heart isn’t right, and I need You… I need You to reveal to me what is going on and fix whatever the problem is… Because people aren’t seeing You in me currently...” While I was praying I opened my Bible and started to read in Psalms, and to this day I can’t remember where I was reading in Psalms, just that it was in Psalms. And while I was reading and prayingI could feel this cloud lift off of me and that moment something broke.
Later I went back in the restaurant for my second shift and literally everything was different. I noticed as I stepped over the threshold that earlier in the day when I did something dark came over me, I can’t really explain it, but something dark would come over me when I walked in and it had me all out of whack. And apparently this had been happening for a while, every time I walked in the store. But when I came back in for that second shift something broke and everything was bright and right when I walked. And before I had a chance to say anything Tolley came up to me and said, “I don’t know what you did on break, but there’s the David we all know and need around.”
This is probably one of the most real world times I have ever experienced in which I could distinctly see what being Kadosh because Adonai is Kadosh really looks like.


And this is something we likely don’t always think about, what does the outside world see in us? What does the other drivers around us see when we are road raging? What does our attitude shown to the cashier at the grocery store or the sever at the restaurant actually say about our character? Our righteousness? Or more specifically, what does it portray of the Lord in our lives?
Our Parasha this Shabbat calls us to be Kedoshim, to be holy ones because the Lord our God is Holy… Is the world around us seeing His holiness in us? Or are they simply seeing another Joe Schmoe? Are they seeing the world or the Kingdom?


This week we read Parasha Kedoshim (Holy Ones), Leviticus 19:1-20:27, which details a series of Mitzvot explaining Israel’s call to be holy and applications on how to live out this divine directive as individuals and in the collective. Parasha Kedoshim opens with the words:
Leviticus 19:1–2 TLV
Adonai spoke to Moses saying: “Speak to all the congregation of Bnei-Yisrael and tell them: You shall be kedoshim, for I, Adonai your God, am holy.
And throughout the remainder of Leviticus 19 and 20 we see a series of mitzvot laid out explaining to us exactly how we are to live holy lives because Adonai our God is holy. But, one thing that is really interesting in Kedoshim is that we actually see a portrayal of the Aseret HaDibrot scattered throughout the Parasha. I believe this is specifically because the Aseret HaDibrot were given to Israel as a baseline, and throughout the rest of the Torah the Lord details to Israel examples of how each of the Ten are to be lived out day to day. For instance, the fifth command is to honor your father and mother, but how does one do that? What exactly does that look like? How do we know when we have crossed the line? Etc… Throughout the rest of the Torah we see other mitzvot that explains to us in more detail how to live this particular command out, such as the requirement to care for and provide for our parents as they get older and are unable to do so for themselves.
But, as I said, we see the Aseret Dibrot reiterated and scattered throughout Parasha Kedoshim:
“I am the Lord your God…” from Exodus 20:2 is found reiterated in Leviticus 19:3, 19:4 and throughout Kedoshim
“You shall have no other gods before me… “ from Exodus 20:3 is found reiterated in Leviticus 19:4
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” from Exodus 20:7 is found reiterated in Leviticus 19:12
“Remember the Shabbat...” from Exodus 20:8 is found reiterated in Leviticus 19:3 and 19:30…
“Honor your father and mother…” from Exodus 20:12 is found reiterated in Leviticus 19:3
“You shall not murder…” from Exodus 20:13 is found reiterated in Leviticus 19:16
“You shall not commit adultery…” from Exodus 20:14 is found reiterated in Leviticus 20:10
“You shall not steal…” from Exodus 20:15 is found reiterated in Leviticus 19:11
“You shall not bear false witness…” from Exodus 20:16 is found reiterated in Leviticus 19:16
“You shall not covet…” from Exodus 20:17 is found reiterated in a number of ways throughout Kedoshim ranging from equal weights and measures, to not taking another man’s wife, and, as the sages suggest, ultimately with the command from Leviticus 19:18 to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Now what’s interesting is that the majority of the Body of Messiah would have us believe that the Torah is of basically no value at all today. It is taught that at the Cross the Torah, or the Law, was done away with and now we are under Grace and none of that Law stuff matters anymore… Another way to word it might be that Yeshua came to rescue us from bondage to that horrible, overreaching, strict, impossible-to-keep Torah… But the reality is that Yeshua came to free us from sin, and the Torah helps us define sin so that we can try to avoid it, and 1 John 3 tells us:
1 John 3:4 TLV
Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness—indeed, sin is lawlessness.
So as we dig into Parasha Kedoshim today I want us to keep this principle in mind…
Yeshua came to free us from the bondage to sin, not from bondage to Torah—which is His own Word…
So as we look through Parasha Kedoshim and all the mitzvot contained with in, how do we best understand them? How do we interact with them as followers of Messiah today? And what role should they play in our lives today?
Well, for starters, I’d like to put the Torah, and especially Parasha Kedoshim, into context for us so that we can better grasp if and how the Torah fits into the life of a follower of Yeshua in the 21st Century.
Matthew 22:34–40 TLV
But the Pharisees, when they heard that Yeshua had silenced the Sadducees, gathered together in one place. And testing Him, one of them, a lawyer, asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Torah?” And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Now, it is very interesting what Yeshua says here. He could have started with anything from the Aseret HaDibrot or anywhere else in Torah. But instead He responds with the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) and, from Parasha Kedoshim, the latter part of Leviticus 19:18
Leviticus 19:18 TLV
You are not to take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am Adonai.
Which is part of what is recited with the Shema in Jewish liturgy every day. But, why these two commandments? When asked what the most important commandment in the Torah is, why did Yeshua immediately respond with these two specifically?
I believe it has to do with a concept we talk about today in the Body of Messiah called vertical and horizontal relationships—our relationship with the Lord (the vertical) and our relationships with other people (the horizontal). And in Matthew 22:40 Yeshua closes out His response to the question they were trying to trap Him with by saying this:
Matthew 22:40 TLV
The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In other words, the entirety of the Torah is in one way or another connected with these two commandments, or flows from these two commandments. The way I like to describe it is that every commandment or statute in the Torah either helps us in our vertical relationship (Love the Lord your God) or with our horizontal relationships (Love your neighbor as yourself). This is why Yeshua’s response to “what is the most important command” was actually two commands, it wasn’t that Yeshua can’t count to one… It was simply that He was making a declaration, love is the foundation of the Torah—the foundation of the Word of God as a whole. And how do we walk out our love for God and our love for our neighbor? Simple..., through interacting with all the commandments that hang on these two commandments.
And Parasha Kedoshim is overflowing with mitzvot dealing with our vertical and horizontal relationships—in fact, that is really the core of the entire Parasha.
Hence why Kedoshim begins, as we pointed out earlier, with the words…
Leviticus 19:1–2 TLV
Adonai spoke to Moses saying: “Speak to all the congregation of Bnei-Yisrael and tell them: You shall be kedoshim, for I, Adonai your God, am holy.
And virtually closes out with the words…
Leviticus 20:26 TLV
You are to be holy to Me, for I, Adonai, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, so that you would be Mine.
When we look at the world around us today, and this was very much the case in the ancient world too, the majority of the world around us is only concerned with one thing—themselves. We live in a very selfish, very self-focused world. And this isn’t any surprise, history has shown us that this has very much the case since the fall of humanity. In fact, I would suggest that selfishness was at the core of the idolatry of the nations that Adonai was calling Israel to avoid at all cost.
But the Torah isn’t focused on the individual… The commandments of the Torah, as we see in Kedoshim, are focused on how we interact with and serve Adonai and those around us. Let’s take a quick snapshot of Kedoshim as a sampling of what I’m talking about here…
Leviticus 19:4 TLV
“Do not turn to idols, or make molten gods for yourselves. I am Adonai your God.
Leviticus 19:9–10 TLV
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you are not to reap to the very corners of your field, nor are you to gather the gleanings of your harvest. You are not to pick the remnants of your vineyard, nor are you to gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. Instead, you are to leave them for the poor and for the outsider. I am Adonai your God.
Leviticus 19:12 TLV
“You are not to swear by My Name falsely, and so profane the Name of your God. I am Adonai.
Leviticus 19:14 TLV
“You are not to curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God. I am Adonai.
Leviticus 19:32 TLV
“You are to rise up in the presence of the gray-haired and honor the presence of the elderly. So you will fear your God. I am Adonai.
Leviticus 19:33–34 TLV
“If an outsider dwells with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong. The outsider dwelling among you shall be to you as the native-born among you. You shall love him as yourself—for you dwelled as outsiders in the land of Egypt. I am Adonai your God.
Notice how all of these verses we just read are focused on either our relationship with God or with other people. More so, notice how all of these are actually pretty straight forward and simple to keep. In the Body of Messiah today, most would have you believe the Torah is such a difficult thing to keep. That it is virtually impossible to keep and that since God knew we were going to mess it all up anyways He sent His Son to free us from the burden of the Law so we could truly be free.
But, out of the 613 Mitzvot in Torah there are only about 100-150 that we can actually keep today…
(Explain why that is and connect to internal/external of Matthew 5—Muder/hatred and adultery/lust)
And out of these, the overwhelming majority are commandments like what we just read from Leviticus 19, and like what we read through chapter 20 which is heavily focused on sexual sins and idolatry. All of which are pretty straight forward and shouldn’t really be considered difficult. In fact, they should be sought after and strived for in the Power of the Ruach HaKodesh because they are all focused on our vertical and horizontal relationships and they further explain how to live that out more effectively.
Yeshua came to free us from the bondage to sin, not from bondage to Torah—which is His own Word…
And I’ll be honest with you… and I don’t mean to get political here, but it is important to note. I think a significant portion of why the Body of Messiah finds itself in the place it is with regards to political ideology being a primary focus—in some cases even before the Word of God—is because of what the Body has taught about the Torah.
Think about it, the Torah commands us to take care of the widowed, the orphaned, the poor, and so on… This Parasha alone has several commands specifically to this end, such as not harvesting your fields all the way to the edges and corners so that those in need can glean. But, because we have an unhealthy perspective of Torah in the Body today we just ignore these commands and instead of living them out and taking care of the sick, the widowed, the orphaned, the poor, and so on we expect our government to do it for us. Then we get upset and complain because of the welfare system and other such programs. But, if the Body of Messiah was striving to live out the two most important commandments then this wouldn’t be such an issue for us because we wouldn’t be relying on the government to do the Body’s job…
But, as a whole and intentionally using broad brush statements here, the Body has rejected the Torah and as such, we have rejected the foundation of the entirety of the Word of God and in turn we have rejected the very explanations of how we are to live out our vertical and horizontal relationships.
And the truth is, we can’t live our neighbor until we truly live out loving the Lord our God. And here’s the Catch-22 of it all… We can’t truly live out loving the Lord our God unless we are loving our neighbor as ourselves. But they feed off of and into one another. We love and receive love from HaShem and in turn we love our neighbor through the love we have for and receive from the Lord. And the Torah gives us healthy and God-defined parameters of how to live out the vertical and horizontal harmoniously.
Jeremiah 31:30–33 TLV
“Behold, days are coming” —it is a declaration of Adonai— “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they broke My covenant, though I was a husband to them.” it is a declaration of Adonai. “But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” —it is a declaration of Adonai— “I will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart. I will be their God and they will be My people. No longer will each teach his neighbor or each his brother, saying: ‘Know Adonai,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest.” it is a declaration of Adonai. “For I will forgive their iniquity, their sin I will remember no more.”
Notice here that the Lord says Israel rejected and broke the covenant made at Sinai, time and time again we broke it. We can read through Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles and see over and over again Israel’s propensity for forsake the covenant of Torah and chasing after the ways of the world around us. But, in Jeremiah 31 the Lord says He will make a New Covenant with Israel and, once again, this is what it says:
Jeremiah 31:32 TLV
“But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” —it is a declaration of Adonai— “I will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart. I will be their God and they will be My people.
He doesn’t He will make a New Covenant with us that will eliminate the previous covenant. He doesn’t say He will make a New Covenant with us that will free us from the weight and burden of the Torah on our lives. No, He says He will make a New Covenant with us and that covenant will not simply be one we turn to stone tablets or parchment scrolls or even to a bound book to read, learn about, and attempt to live out… He says this New Covenant will be Him placing His Torah within us, written up on the flesh of our hearts.
And in Acts 2 we see the fulfillment of this promise as the Ruach HaKodesh who inspired the authorship of the Torah to begin with indwelled the hearts and lives of the Body of Messiah. And now, in a very literal sense, His Torah is placed within our hearts and lives. And listen to me closely here folks, Adonai didn’t place His Ruach within our hearts and lives so we could perform cool party tricks… His Ruach dwells within our hearts and lives to empower us to become Kedoshim, to empower us to live out His Word faithfully because it is no longer just something we read and strive to adhere to externally, it is now an internal reality flowing outward.
Yeshua came to free us from the bondage to sin, not from bondage to Torah—which is His own Word…
In Romans 12, Paul says…
Romans 12:1–2 TLV
I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice—holy, acceptable to God—which is your spiritual service. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world…” This is the ultimate call of the Torah… Is it not?
Leviticus 20:26 TLV
You are to be holy to Me, for I, Adonai, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, so that you would be Mine.
But we are unable to live lives that are truly holy and set apart on our own… We proved this over and over and over again throughout biblical history. So God sent His one and only Son to provide eternal forgiveness from sin, to give us eternal life, and to free us from the bondage of sin. He then gave us the indwelling of the Ruach HaKodesh so we could become Kedoshim because Adonai our God is Holy. And this is a gift free given for both Jew and non-Jew alike.
Now, I want to make this very, very clear so there is absolutely no confusion or misconstruing things here. Honoring and obey Torah has absolutely nothing to do with Salvation. It has nothing at all to do with trying to earn or gain anything. I am not talking about trying to earn up some etherial brownie points to buy our way into heaven… The mitzvot of Torah are not the blocks in Super Mario Bros that Mario and Luigi break and store up coins found within… We do not and should not strive to keep Torah to earn anything...
Our obedience flows from the Salvation that has been freely given to us, it is in response to what God has done for us.
As Peter words in in 1 Peter 1:13-16
1 Peter 1:13–16 TLV
So brace your minds for action. Keep your balance. And set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah. Like obedient children, do not be shaped by the cravings you had formerly in your ignorance. Instead, just like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in everything you do. For it is written, “Kedoshim you shall be, for I am kadosh.”
And continuing…
1 Peter 1:22–23 TLV
Now that you have purified your souls in obedience to the truth, leading to sincere brotherly love, love one another fervently from a pure heart. You have been born again—not from perishable seed but imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.
And the world is watching us to see if we are Kedoshim… They may not realize they are watching, but when they call the Body of Messiah out on their hypocrisy it is because they are watching… And even those in a fallen world can tell the difference between authentic, Ruach-led holiness and an attempt at a good show of it.
Yeshua came to free us from the bondage to sin, not from bondage to Torah—which is His own Word…


So what about your life? What about your theology? What about your convictions? When the outside world looks at your walk with the Lord are they seeing a holy one because your God is Holy and active and present in your life? Or are they seeing more of the world still lurking in your heart and life?
What about what you see when you run through the replay of your day? Do you see Messiah in your life? In your thoughts and actions? In your treatment of those around.
Yeshua says the most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength… And likewise, to love your neighbor as yourselves.


If our worship team will make their way back up to the stage.
Remember, we talked about vertical and horizontal relationships, and this being the key to Yeshua’s revelation of the most important commandments. When people look at our life, are they seeing the results of a right relationship with God as it transformations our relationships with those around us?
Or are they seeing the results of a relationship with God that is lacking as we continue to have zero concerns for the relationships with those around us?
The choice is ours… Salvation has been freely given, redemption and restoration freely available. The Lord desires nothing more than our relationship with Him to be fully restored and for our love of Him and from Him to flow in our restored relationships with those around us.
And His Word lays out for us His thoughts on what a holy relationship with God and holy relationships with our neighbors look like, and Parasha Kedoshim is a prime example of this.
So, I want to encourage us today, let us not look at the Blood Atonement of Yeshua as an opportunity for freedom FROM the Word of God, but rather as the opportunity to walk in full restoration IN the Word of God.
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