Parashot Acharai-Mot / Kedoshim 2020 Leviticus 16-18/19-20 (After the death/Holiness)

Just as we did last week, this week’s Torah reading will be a double reading.

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The first one comes directly after the death of Aaron’s two oldest sons for having offered unauthorized fire.  God gives the Cohen and the people the regulations for what is to be done on Yom Kippur.

He also tells us that any animal to be killed and eaten must be brought to the Tabernacle and slain there, as a peace offering, and that under no circumstances is the blood ever to be eaten.

By the way, the rabbis determined the regulation about not killing any animal without first bringing it to the Tabernacle was only required when the people were in the desert, and after being in the land it was only regarding animals killed as a sacrifice.

We are warned not to do any of the things that the Egyptians did, with regard to worship or social interactions.

In the next parashah, we are told right from the start that we are to be holy because our God is holy. God gives us laws that the rabbis teach fall into three categories: moral, ritual, and social.

The Golden Rule is found in this parashah (Leviticus 19:18) which says we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The rest of this parashah contains the regulations against necromancy, idol worship, child sacrifice, sexual perversities, and unlawful marriages, to include the specific punishments for each of these immoral activities.

Oh my! So much to talk about, so little time to do it.

What I want to talk about today is based on something that just happened to me, which was that I agreed to leave a Bible preaching group because their administrator and I disagree about which laws apply to which Believers. And this event, which just happened this morning, fits into the parashah regarding today.

One of the traditional Christian teachings is that the Mosaic Law is only for Jews and Christians are not required to follow it. They say they are under the Law of Christ (whatever that is) and therefore only required to obey the moral laws that God gave, which they restrict to the 10 Commandments.

Now, I am sure they agree they should also obey the laws against sexual perversities, since they are of a moral nature, and of course, they love Leviticus 19:18, although they change the wording. But as for those laws which are of a ritual or ceremonial nature, they say those are only for the Jews. That would include anything having to do with the sacrificial system, the Festivals we are to celebrate (Leviticus 23), and (in my opinion) pretty much anything else they just don’t want to do.

The idea that there are some laws for Jews and some laws for Christians is not justified by anything that God or Yeshua (Jesus) ever said. In fact, God tells us exactly who is subject to these laws, and they are his chosen people and anyone who sojourns with them (Leviticus 19:34).

Let’s take a minute to make sure we understand what sojourning, called residing in some Bibles, means- it doesn’t mean just hanging around with the Jews. It means to live with them, to accept their way of life, their God, and thereby all that they are required to do within their social and religious system. In other words, if someone who is not born of Jewish ancestry chooses to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they are, by definition, sojourning with the Jewish people. And throughout the Torah God states, more than once, that whosoever sojourns with his people will be treated the same as a natural-born Jew, meaning they have the same rights and privileges, and consequently, will be required to obey the same laws and practices.

I am constantly amazed and disappointed when I hear a Christian say they want to do as Jesus did, and then in the same breath tell me that they don’t have to follow the laws of Moses. They say they want to be like Jesus, but they reject the way he lived and worshiped. How can you do as Jesus did when you don’t do what Jesus did?  How can they be so blind to their own hypocrisy?

It’s because they have been taught to be blind, by those who themselves are blind. I call this type of person a Buffet Believer, and devote an entire chapter to this topic in my book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion.

The idea that God gave some laws to Jews, some to Gentiles, and some to whomever else is not found anywhere in the Tanakh. However, if you want to find it in the New Covenant, you can find many, many passages that when taken out of context would seem to confirm this idea that Christians don’t have to obey the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) or any other “ceremonial” laws.

You know, God never specified which laws are ritual and which are moral- God simply said these are the laws. Period. He doesn’t specify any one Torah commandment being any more or less important than any other, and certainly never said any of them are optional.

The idea that some religions are subject to some of the laws in the Torah, and others are not, goes against everything God says. And if someone wants to send me passages from the New Covenant that appear to justify Christians do not have to obey all of God’s instructions, my response is that the letters in the New Covenant are mainly written by men to Gentile congregations that were having interpersonal relationship issues and on the verge of relapsing into paganism. The Apostles, all of whom were wise and holy men, were Jews who were confirming the Jewish lifestyle but giving the Gentiles leeway in how quickly they adapted to it.  Never, ever did any of the Apostles, and that includes Shaul (Paul), expect that these Gentiles learning how to live as God wants us to live would be exempted from following God’s instructions.

God has no religion, only his rules for how we are to worship him and how we are to treat each other. These instructions were given to Moses for the Jewish people to learn, and then as God’s nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), to bring it to the world.

God made a covenant with the Jewish people which we call the Mosaic Law, and anyone who wants to be in covenant with God must obey those laws. Traditional Christian teaching is that they are not under the Mosaic Law, which, by definition, means they are out of covenant with God. Christianity says they are under the Law of Christ, which isn’t really well defined but is, in fact, a term that Paul coined in his letters. Now, we all know that Jesus never did or said anything that wasn’t what his father told him to do or say, so to teach that Jesus taught against the Torah must be a lie. Therefore, if you reject the Mosaic Law, and that means any part of it, then you choose to not be in covenant with God.

Look at it this way: the Apostles were taking what they knew God said in the Tanakh and teaching it to the Gentiles, so they did it at a pace and level the Gentiles could deal with. You don’t learn Quantum Mechanics right away- you have to build up to it by learning basic arithmetic, then algebra, trigonometry, etc. This is why the New Covenant letters were addressed specifically to specific congregations, and dealing with their specific problems. The New Covenant doesn’t have directions dictated by God to a prophet, but only letters with instructions written by men teaching others what God said in the Tanakh. There is a BIG difference between God speaking through a prophet and men writing letters.

As for me, I would rather do as God said then as people say. What about you? Forget what humans have said you have to do, or don’t have to do, and look at the Bible- the entire Bible- and see what God says. Make your decision based on that, because when you meet God and tell him that you were doing only what they told you you had to do, he might say something like this:

“My child, I understand you did as they told you to do, but it is what I say that counts.”

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

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