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Be Holy, for YHWH Is Holy

This week’s Torah reading is called Kedoshim, which means “Holy Ones” and includes Leviticus 19-20. These two chapters contain two of the most famous sentences in the Old Testament. Ironically, most Christians think these are New Testament ideas and have no idea that Yeshua and Peter quoted them from Leviticus:

  • You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:16
  • Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39

I want to focus on the first quote.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
1 Peter 1:14-19 ESV

God makes this statement four times in Leviticus, three times in Kedoshim.

  • Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I YHWH your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2
  • Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am YHWH your God. Leviticus 20:7
  • You shall be holy to me, for I YHWH am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. Leviticus 20:26

In all three of these instances, the surrounding text emphasizes three things:

  1. Don’t do what the pagans do.
  2. Do what God tells you to do.
  3. Honor your parents.

When Peter quoted this command from God, he also included all three points: “Live according to your heavenly Father’s rules, not according to the pagan traditions of your ancestors.” Some will say that the “futile ways inherited from your forefathers” are God’s commandments as given through Moses, but Peter is clearly quoting from that very same Torah, and from the one book of Torah that is most despised by modern American culture: Leviticus.

Whether Jew or Gentile, we have all inherited pagan and man-made religious traditions. God said we are to leave them behind and adopt God’s ways instead. At the end of that chapter, Peter also quotes from Isaiah 40: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

That includes Leviticus.

Everything that Yeshua (aka Jesus) & the Apostles taught
was based solidly in the Old Testament scriptures.

Come with me as I draw out the connections that are so often missed
in today's church teachings.

Subscribe to American Torah now and you will also get a printable chart
of New Testament passages to read and study with each of the 54 annual
Torah portions. This list isn't just a single, obvious NT passage or just
a couple of verses. I selected numerous Apostolic passages that address key
topics for each parsha.

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