Acharei Mot/After the Death
HafTorah Amos 9:7-15
Brit Chadasha 1 Peter 1:13-16
The Art of Holiness…
This double Torah portion opens with strict orders regarding Aaron; ‘Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the Lord, and died; 2 and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.’
God recounts the events concerning the death of the two sons and their strange fire, adding that Aaron can’t just ‘come’ into the holy place whenever he feels like it. This chapter moves right into Yom Kippur, which is considered the holiest day of the Hebrew cycle.
Chapter 17 continues with the regulations regarding the eating of blood. God specifically states that ‘He will set His face against’ the person who eats blood; ‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ 12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood. ’Leviticus 17:10-12. This is repeated from Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 3:17 and continued in Deuteronomy and Acts.
In Leviticus 18 God’s people are given instructions concerning interpersonal relations and a morality reflecting God’s holiness. This was preparing the Israelites for a life far different from the Canaanites, whose life style was deplorably immoral. This is reiterated in Colossians 3:5 ‘Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.’
Leviticus 19 begins the parsha Kedoshim/Holy Ones. In the first sentence God instructs Moses to speak to the assembly of Israel and say to them, “Be holy because I the LORD your God am holy.” The beginning of Leviticus 20, God specifically mentions ‘giving children to the god Molech.’ This refers to the sacrificing of children through fire to the Cannanite god, Molech. In Leviticus 20:23 God is clear on His directives towards His people: ‘You must not live according to the customs of the nations…’ The thrust of all of this is in Leviticus 20:26 where God emphatically states: ‘You are to be holy to Me because I, the LORD am holy and I have set you apart from the nations to be My own.’
What does all this mean? It means that we are to be a set apart people, set apart to Him. We are to be holy for He is holy. But how does one become holy? Do you ever feel holy? I don’t think any of us ‘feels’ holy or considers ourselves holy. Holy/Kadosh is a term hard to define. What exactly is holy and holiness? And if we were to define ourselves holy because of our actions, would we be holier than another?
All people are created in the image and likeness of Elohim, hence we all are created holy, we have holy souls. Being set apart from the nations includes a walk that is patterned after God and is a following of His instructions and guidelines. But it isn’t us who can make us holy, it is God who makes us holy.
Exodus 31:13 ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.’
Hebrews 10:10 ‘By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua once for all.’
This latter verse might imply for some that through the blood of Yeshua we are sanctified so that we don’t have to obey God’s instructions anymore. We are sanctified yes! But God’s instructions have a purpose for our lives. And to ignore God’s instructions would be the polar opposite of the plan that God has for our lives. If it was the case that we no longer needed to obey the Torah, then the verses we find in the Brit Chadasha would be confusing and unnecessary, such as 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 which is a plea for purity. And 1 Thessalonians 5:23; ‘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 Yeshua HaMashiach. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.’
John 17:17 ‘Sanctify them by Your Word, Your Word is Truth.’
Philippians 2:13 ‘For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.
2 Peter 1:3-4 ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.’
Leviticus 20:7-8 ‘Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. 8 And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you. ‘