Message – Be Holy…I Am the Lord your God
Series: Thru the Bible
Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:35:24 — 218.6MB)
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***Video is HERE***
First off – notice that God is again speaking to the people through Moses. He is the prophet and therefore the mouthpiece of God. He does not use the priest or elders of the tribes of Israel – but Moses.
We begin with a very clarifying statement which puts to rest two major false teachings in today’s churches and all the odd thinking that springs out of them.
Lev. 18:2-5, “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: I am the LORD your God. (3) Do not follow the practices of the land of Egypt, where you used to live, or follow the practices of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. You must not follow their customs. (4) You are to practice My ordinances and you are to keep My statutes by following them; I am the LORD your God. (5) Keep My statutes and ordinances; a person will live if he does them. I am the LORD.”
There are many today who teach against the Old Testament PRIMARILY on the grounds of two misconceptions.
- That a Testament is the same thing as a covenant.
- That the Old Testament was influenced by other cultures (either initially through Ur or Egypt, or through their various captivities OR by osmosis from the cultures around them.
The misunderstanding concerning Covenant and Testament comes from using the terms interchangeably and from the fact that when the Jews translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek – there was NO word equivalent to covenant. So a word more closely related to a Will and Testament was used. The writer of Hebrews actually uses this to his advantage but that audience would have immediately understood its use to further his point, but today it is commonly misunderstood.
To briefly clarify. A covenant serves as the TERMS of a given relationship. It contains the benefits and promises between the parties involved which are conditioned on the terms of the covenant.
A Testament is a stated will which is allowed to be amended so long as the testator lives and is not in effect until the testator dies. The Old Covenant was in effect as soon as God spoke it – God did not have to perish for the Old Covenant to take effect.
Testament – when used for the Old Testament – simply means the stated will of God to His people, through His people and about His people. It is the recorded lives and times of Israel in their relation to God. SO while it contains the terms of the covenant and the ways in which the covenant was implemented due to obedience or disobedience – it is NOT the Covenant itself!
This is more clearly seen in the New Testament. The New Testament is NOT the New Covenant. It is the written record which contains it’s terms and the ways in which the church lived it out in either obedience or disobedience – but it isn’t the covenant itself.
Now, regarding the issue of customs in Israel – and this is a HUGE one!
Here in this passage, we see God clearly telling them that their culture comes from Him. It is to be unique on the earth and NOT in ANY way influenced by other nations!
That this is in fact what we have in the Old Testament is clear in that the Israelites were always wanted to LEAVE their rules and culture and be LIKE the other nations – which in itself clearly shows that what was recorded as the customs and laws of Israel were in fact NOT borrowed from other cultures.
This means that if the Old Testament sounds like God is telling His people to be separate and live lives distinct from the world – it was God Who instigated this thinking.
If the Old Testament sounds like it recognizes and supports a system of authority in government, military and religious sphere as well as submission to those authorities – that is because it does!
If the Old Testament sounds Patriarcal rather than Matriarchal or Egalitarian it is because it IS and it is so because GOD told them to be that way…plain and simple!
NOTE: For help with the difference between Covenant and Testament – http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/terms-covenant/
Let this passage forever settle this issue in your minds!
- Not with family – this includes: Immediate family down to Aunts and Uncles – which by extension includes nieces and nephews and grands.
- ALL this includes additions to family by marriage or adoption.
- Marry a woman and her sister (though it “could” be more focused upon rivalry between “women” rather than sisters specifically).
- Someone other than your mate
- Not someone of the same physical gender.
- Not during menstrual cycle
- Not with animals
These were practices of the surrounding nations and God was against it!
Also, notice the sins of people affect their relation to their land!
Lev. 18:24-25, HCSB “(24) Do not defile yourselves by any of these practices, for the nations I am driving out before you have defiled themselves by all these things. (25) The land has become defiled, so I am punishing it for its sin, and the land will vomit out its inhabitants.”
God was not simply arbitrarily kicking people off their land and giving it to Israel – THOUGH it was clearly His choice had He wanted to – since ALL land on the earth BELONGS to Him and we live on it at His discretion and will.
Notice also, that people do not have to understand right and wrong in order to reap what they have sown. The land was vomiting them out due to their misuse of the land, it’s animals and it’s space for evil deeds.
Consequently this is what caused the Jews to be “vomited out” of their own land when they were plundered and taken captive by other nations as well.
Lev. 18:26-30, HCSB “(26) But you are to keep My statutes and ordinances. You must not commit any of these abominations–not the native or the foreigner who lives among you. (27) For the men who were in the land prior to you have committed all these abominations, and the land has become defiled. (28) If you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it has vomited out the nations that were before you. (29) Any person who does any of these abominations must be cut off from his people. (30) You must keep My instruction to not do any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you, so that you do not defile yourselves by them; I am the LORD your God.”
This begins with a reiteration of some of the 10 commandments and so begins with Obedience towards God.
Notice again – Who is speaking?
The first command is in regard to dedication to God and it’s purpose is indicative of all the commands and laws of God. “Be this way BECAUSE I Am!” This also clarifies that the GOAL of the law was to produce the character of God in His people.
Notice – God never changes – so it is no wonder that this is the same stated purpose and goal of the commands under the New Covenant – that we might be partakers of His nature. Christ in us!
Verse 2, “to be holy as God is holy,”
Command #1 – Be Holy
The word Holy means different – unique – NOT common – NOT profane.
- Common is neutral
- Profane is negative
This command is mentioned first both in order and in priority. It is the basis upon which all the other commands are made and kept. This AGAIN discredits the false teaching that the traditions, customs & laws of the Old Testament Jewish community were borrowed or based upon those of other nations. They were in fact – HOLY. Meaning unique and uncommon! They were a revelation of God Himself.
Command #2 Each of you is to respect his mother and father
Both this and all the other commands have a difference reason. The 1st was because God is Holy. All the following commands are because He is your Lord and God – in other words – because He told you so!
This means respectful awe.
Regardless of how good, kind or loving a parent may be – to keep this command requires seeing one’s parents as an extension of the person and authority of God – otherwise you will base your respect upon familiarity or simple general respect – but this is to be a respect based in awe. No human being, if viewed in clarity could be said to be awe-inspiring. God alone inspires awe and so this command is only ABLE to be kept when in view of the One Who placed them in the position of being parents.
Command #3 Keep My sabbaths
This one is a little tricky because I could find no specific justification for this sabbath appearing in the plural as opposed to the singular. At any rate – any sabbath – whether THE weekly Sabbath of the 7th day of the week or the Sabbath of weeks or years – they are ALL commands of God and should be equally respected and observed.
This command is immediately linked to the honoring of one’s parents in that this was a means of showing respect towards God.
Command #4 Do not turn to idols or make cast images of gods for yourselves;
Self – explanatory!
Regarding fellowship with God
When you offer a peace offering (an offering of fellowship with God) – it MUST be voluntary and because your heart was in it!
Once offered – do not delay in eating the meal. Do it THAT day or the next! If you wait until the 3rd day what was done for fellowship becomes an abomination and will NOT be accepted. If at this point you decide to eat the abomination – you will bear your guilt and be cut off from Israel!
Command #5 Loving you Neighbors
- Leave the corners of your field for the poor, the stranger, the orphan and the widow.
- Do not steal
- Do not act with deception or lie
- Do not attach My name to a promise whereby you are swearing falsely – such is to profane My name
- Do not oppress nor charge too much nor pay too little. Pay what you owe WHEN you owe it! Do not make them wait!
- Do not run your mouth against someone who cannot even hear you and so cannot defend themselves against your words.
- Do not attempt to trip or abuse someone who cannot see.
- Both of these commands imply not only the prohibition against doing evil but include an admonition to do good and lend aid!
- When making decisions – do not respect persons. Do not give advantage to the poor OR the rich just because they are so – such would be an undo advantage and would not be fair.
- You MUST NOT talk against others nor gossip. Do not lie against someone – do not even spread suspected rumors and so ruin a person’s reputation and livelihood.
- This command is to be understood as – by bearing a false testimony, whereby his blood is in danger of being shed when he is innocent
- by being silent, and not hearing a testimony for him, whereby the shedding of his innocent blood might have been prevented
- By this law, one is bound to do all he can to preserve the life of his neighbour, when it is by any means in danger, by drowning, or by thieves and wild beasts, or external judgment of others.
- Do not hate your brother in your heart.
- Do not fail to come to their aid with encouragement away from sin – especially if it is known and persistent. This is a means of “not hating” – or rather loving your brother. MUCH like a parent, who loves their child will discipline them. True love will NOT allow another to continue in a way that will hurt them without intervention.
- Do not take revenge out on anyone nor continue to hold a grudge against anyone – but rather love them.
- Out of this command Jesus counseled the young man concerned about his inheritance.
- Luke 12:13-21, HCSB “(13) Someone from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” (14) “Friend,” He said to him, “who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” (15) He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.” (16) Then He told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. (17) He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? (18) I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods there. (19) Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”‘ (20) “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared–whose will they be?’ (21) “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
- Out of this command Jesus counseled the young man concerned about his inheritance.
- The mixing of animals, seed and cloths mentioned here are not alone in the Old Testament. Many reasons have been suggested for these prohibitions but I believe the most obvious is that it was intended as a visual reminder of separation between kinds – mixtures of Israel with other nations in marriage or religion, the holy with the unholy, the clean and the unclean, the pure and the defiled, the secular with the religious…etc. This was an ongoing lesson God placed in front of Israel and while there are other possible reasons – this is the most obvious and straightforward. It is said that there were practices such as these among the pagan nations which are said to have been considered “magic”, and therefore was connected with having no other God’s before Him – but I think it this is on shaky ground in terms of evidence.
- One was not to have sex with a female servant who was betrothed to another man. If they engage in sex – they are both guilty and must be punished. The KJV is incorrect in that it says she must be scourged. First because there is NOTHING in the text that singles her out as the only one punished. Secondly, the word translated as scourged actually just means punished. So it is almost equally possible that the punishment was financial and that the man who engaged her in sex must pay a ransom fee – possibly because she would very likely no longer be engaged and any profit from her being given in marriage would be lost.
- Also, the man was to bring a trespass offering to the Lord – a Ram (which represents protection or safety)
- Trees planted could not be harvested until 3 years of fruit has passed. On the fourth year – it is given to the Lord. on the 5th year it is yours to eat.
- Don’t eat blood
- Don’t practice divination or fortune telling (or any magic, or witchcraft) or believe in omens – like a raven landing near you, or stepping on a crack in the concrete, or the breaking of a mirror…etc.
- Don’t get a BOWL cut or cut the corners of your beard! – It seems probable that this fashion had been learned by the Israelites in Egypt, for the ancient Egyptians had their dark locks cropped short or shaved with great nicety, so that what remained on the crown appeared in the form of a circle surrounding the head, while the beard was dressed into a square form. This kind of coiffure had a highly idolatrous meaning; and it was adopted, with some slight variations, by almost all idolaters in ancient times. The Arab tribes did this, according to Herodotus (3, 8), in honour of their god which he identifies with Dionysos of the Greeks.
- No cuts or tattoos – Part of this message to us today is that what our culture thinks and how they perceive things is important. If some clothing or jewelry or body decoration would associate us with the pagan world, it should not be done. This is a difficult line to draw, because the standards of culture are always changing. Some modern examples of changing standards are hair length and earrings for men.
- Do not prostitute your daughters.
- Keep sabbaths and respect my holy place
- Do not consult mediums or necromancers or soothsayers or familiar spirits…etc.
- Show respect for those older than you – let them speak first, stand as they enter a room, open the door for them, carry heavy loads for them…etc.
- Don’t treat a stranger with difficulty – BE NICE! Remember how you felt in Egypt when YOU were the stranger
- Don’t cheat others by false weights or balances. (If anything – give good measure)
If anyone sacrifices their descendants to Molech (any other god) the people are to stone them. If they fail to do this I will cut him off from the people.
I will also cut off anyone who turns to mediums or any other thing for advice, counsel to learn the future or anything else.
If anyone curses either of their parents they are to be put to death and I will cut them off from the people.
For any of the sexual practices I commanded you to not do – the one who does it is to be killed. If it involves marrying a girl and her mother – they will all be burned to death.
If a man takes a near of kin – they are to be cut off from the people and bear their own guilt.
Sex with woman on period – both cut off from Israel.
Sex with an uncle/aunt or a siblings mate will bear their guilt and die childless.
KEEP EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED YOU
- So the land will not vomit you out
- Lest I abhor you as I do the other nations
- You are to be to Me ALONE
- If anyone who is a medium or has familiar spirits they are to be killed with stones – their blood will be upon their own heads.
There is more information in the audio/video of the actual message. I hope you listen, learn and enjoy!
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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