"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Holiness For the Believer, Part 2
A Holy Offering
In our last newsletter, we looked at the subject of holiness, and to get a true picture of what holiness is in God's eyes, we began to study the text of Leviticus 19, where God says, "Speak to the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.'" To refresh our memories, we saw that the first command of God was to respect our parents. Paul writes, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother, that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. And fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in discipline and instruction of the Lord." So here we see that the beginning of holiness starts in the family. Paul, earlier in the book of Ephesians, speaks to wives and husbands. Wives are to be subject to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives. The Scriptures are full of instructions on how to have a holy family life. We then saw that we are to keep the Sabbath. Yeshua said that He was the Lord of the Sabbath; if Yeshua is our Lord, then we too must keep the Sabbath of which He is the Lord of.
So we want to move on to Leviticus 19:4 where it says, "Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods: for I am the Lord your God." At the time that God gave this command to Israel, the world was pagan. Only Israel was commanded to have only one God and He was known as the God of Israel. Abraham was told to leave his father's house because of idolatry. So only having one God set Israel apart from the nations. In the greatest prayer that any Jew says, which is the Shema, it says, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord alone." And so Israel only worshiped the one true God.
But man in his very nature rebelled against God. We see this after the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The people were impatient with Moses and God, and they built for themselves a golden calf. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10, "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Messiah. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they craved. And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.' Nor let us act immorally as some did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some did, and were destroyed by the destroyer." He goes on to say in verse 14, "Therefore my beloved, flee from idolatry."
So what is idolatry? Do we today make images that we worship? This passage tells us that the people craved evil things, even when they were food and water. Paul gives us a look into this when he says, "Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along in humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity, in any circumstances I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." Remember, the people got impatient in waiting for Moses, so they made the golden calf. The people wanted food so they murmured and complained, so God gave them manna. They wanted meat, so God gave them quail. But in all these times, God punished the people, and why? Was it wrong to want meat? No, but what was wrong was that the people did not rest in the knowledge that God was not only able to do all things but that God knew that they needed these things. They were impatient with God and so they either took matters into their own hands becoming their own god or they complained to God, making God not compassionate toward their needs, thus disqualifying God not only as their Creator and Father but as the Supreme Deity which makes Him God.
This pretty much defines what idolatry is. So in any area of our lives where we take matters in our own hands, we are then nullifying God as God and the covenant that we have with Him. For in His covenant that we have entered into with Him when we accept Yeshua as our Lord and Savior, God states that He is a faithful God and that He will never leave us or forsake us and He will provide for all our needs. With that fact, we should then be content because if God feels that we should have or have not, He knows what is best for us and by complaining or grumbling, we are then saying to God, "I know better than You," thus placing ourselves above God. Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-15, "So then my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling and disputing, that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world." Verse 11 says in 1 Corinthians 10, "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the end of the age has come." So we must then learn from this example, that God hates rebellion and He hates complaining, for they are two forces that drive man from Him.
So John tells us that we are not to love the world, nor the things of the world, because if we do, the love of the Father is not in us, for the world represents the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life which does not come from the Father, but from the world. These things are idolatry and they are ungodly and we are to flee from them. Again, our Heavenly Father knows our need and He will provide that which we need. Is it wrong to pray for things? NO! God tells us to ask, but the answer may not always be Yes. And this is why it is important to pray, so we know the will of God because John continues and says, "And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever." We need to learn that holiness is putting God first in every area of our lives and walking in His commands.
Now as we continue in Leviticus 19:5, we see that God begins to speak about the way to offer up a peace offering. Now this may seem like a strange switch in conversation, but it really is not; for you see, the peace offering was made in conjunction with the sin offering. Another name for the peace offering is the thanksgiving offering. Even though we may not have the sacrificial service in place today, we still must offer up our sacrifices unto God, but we must take a closer look at this verse. It says that we should offer up our sacrifice so that we may be accepted. Why was Abel's sacrifice accepted and not Cain's? It says in Genesis 3:3-5, "So it came about in the course of the time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering He had no regard. Cain became very angry and his countenance fell."
So why was one accepted and not the other? Well, because first of all, Abel presented the first of his flock and the best, while Cain just made an offering. How we offer up our sacrifice has a lot to do with the attitude of the heart, which has everything to do with the thanksgiving offering. Do we give God our best or do we give Him whatever we have left? What we give God says a lot about our relationship with Him.
Paul says, "In everything give thanks." We are always to give thanks to the Lord. Thanksgiving is having a grateful heart. We are to come into God's presence with thanksgiving, enter His gates with thanksgiving, present our requests with thanksgiving. It is good to give thanks to the Lord because it is good to have a grateful heart. The thanksgiving offering was in conjunction with the sin offering because after we have come to God broken and contrite, repentive of our sin, then we are to be thankful; for if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us. So now that we have been forgiven, we now have peace with God.
In verses 6-8 it continues with how the offering may be eaten. Torah tells us that the meat should be eaten the same day or the next day, but what remains on the third day should be burned in the fire. And everyone who eats it on the third day will commit iniquity, for he has profaned the holy things of the Lord and will be cut off from his people. Now you have to remember that we are talking about holiness and what sets God's people apart from the pagan world. This may seem to make no sense to get rid of good meat, but once again God's laws were not to be questioned, but obeyed. But this is very interesting because if you remember, Yeshua was our sin offering and God's holy sacrifices were not to see decay. Could this be why He rose on the third day? "For you will not abandon My soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay" (Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:27, 13:35).
Leviticus 19 goes on in verses 9-10, "Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit from your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God." God cares for the poor and needy and this is what sets us apart from the world. John writes, "Whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" Yet, you see the world doing so much for the poor and needy. Why is that? It is not because the love of God is in them, for many of Hollywood and others do not even believe in God; in fact, they hate God and all that He stands for. But it's because it has become the social thing to do. It is called Humanism. It actually is the result of us not needing God. It is works done for man's glory. Yeshua says, "When giving do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the assembly and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your giving may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you." We do not give for our fame and glory, but for the glory of God. Yeshua tells us to let our light shine before men in such a way that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven. The difference here is that we are to do it in such a way that will give glory to God and not us.
Another way that we are separated from the world is that we are to give even to our enemies. This is what holiness looks like. So we may not have a field or a vineyard, yet we can still give to the poor and needy. James writes further, "If a brother or a sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." We are to love by giving and we are to have faith by doing, not sparingly, for God loves a cheerful giver and by the measure we give, it will be given back to us. This is a picture of holiness, one who walks contrary to the world's ways, who dares to set himself apart for godliness, who says it is far better to keep God's Laws then to have the riches of the world for a season. God says, "Be ye holy as I am holy."
Are we ready? Are we willing? If so, then we must in faith walk as He walked and we must do as He did and we must live as He has shown us to live by keeping His commands. Peter writes about those who have found God and have chosen to live a life now of holiness: "You have already lived long enough like people who don't know God. You were immoral and followed your evil desires. You went around drinking and partying and carrying on. In fact, you even worshiped disgusting idols. Now your former friends wonder why you have stopped running around with them, and they curse you for it." Maybe this is what you have found to be true; if it is, then you know that you have been set apart. This passage goes on with how we are not to steal or lie or take vengeance, but we are to love our neighbor and do right by him. When we look into Torah, is there anything different about it than what we find in the Apostolic Scriptures? There is only one standard of holiness, One God, One Spirit and one way to be saved and that is through Yeshua, who is the Word made flesh.