Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Number Thirty.

Dr Clifford Denton.

K’doshim: Leviticus 19:1-20:27.

11th May 2024/3 Iyyar.

“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)

Picture by Helen McNeill (an adulteress is brought before Yeshua for righteous interpretation of Torah)

This Torah Portion contains many references to God’s holiness and the requirement for His people to be holy. Sixteen times in Leviticus Chapter 19, a principle of Torah is, as it were, “signed off”, with such phrases as I am the Lord your God. We are not simply reading “the laws of Moses” but God’s requirements for His people Israel. They are requirements that are to be taught to the people, which is why we refer to these books of the Bible as Torah (literally teaching), rather than Law.

The question we must tackle is how this teaching is relevant for us today, and specifically how we are to study these matters in our family, seeking to live according to God’s Holy ways and teaching our children responsibly. How we are with our family is the reality of how we are before God and thus, outwardly, to others.

Timothy was a young man mentored by the Apostle Paul. Paul exhorted him in the following way: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) How wonderful it is when a young person has been so mentored that he or she could be exhorted in such a way. Elders and deacons were appointed to oversee the growth of local congregations in the holy ways of God. How much more does this responsibility fall on parents to bring up their children in the ways of God, while their character is moulded, and their perspectives develop. Timothy is an excellent reminder of this.

What then do we make of the many foundational teachings of God’s Word such as we are reading this week? When Yeshua confronted the teachers of “the Law”, He mostly criticised them for their biased interpretation, pointing out the bondage that was being put on the people of Israel in their day. They had started with the same Scriptures that we are reading but failed to find heart principles by imposing ritual observance. Over the years, the Rabbis counted up the commandments in Torah and found 613 individual requirements. They interpreted them as well as they could and, fearing God, sometimes strengthened the requirements, “putting a fence around the Torah”, lest the law itself was broken by accident. But in so doing, ritualism replaced life.

Yeshua sent the Holy Spirit to be our help, so that we might learn without bondage to ritual, but learn we must. God has not slackened His requirement for holiness, but He has opened the way for us to willing obedience as disciples, enjoying our walk through life and relationship with Him and each other.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can study together each of God’s laws and discover the greatness of His teaching in ordering our lives under His protection.

Take, for example, Leviticus 19:32, You shall rise before the grey headed and honour the presence of an old man and fear your God: I am the Lord.

We can easily spoil the beauty and strength of this teaching by enforcing it harshly – “Stand up, when I come into the room: haven’t I told you before?” This commandment of God, taught correctly, has two results which interact together. It causes old people to want to be respected by the young, so ordering their lives as to be worthy of such respect and honour, and it causes younger people to respect the older generation willingly and meaningfully. The stimulus of this interactive process brings about greater strength and a sharing of wisdom through the experience of life, the more it is practised. This is the nature of the doing of Torah. God’s teaching is not static head-knowledge leading to ritual observance, it is to be founded through action on heart principles. Heart principles come from the spiritual impartation of knowledge and understanding, leading to wisdom.

This particular Torah principle begins with younger people rising in the presence of the elderly and leads to God’s balancing the generations in a multitude of ways to strengthen family and community. Each of us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will find the pathway to the beauty and wonder of this simple principle at the heart of God’s own teaching.

So it is with every aspect of Torah. As we sit together in our families reflecting together prayerfully as the Lord, by His Spirit, shows us where His emphasis is for us at any particular time, we will find the path of wisdom together.

How wonderful, through such study and application of the study, for us all to reach the great expression of gratitude as is found in Psalm 119, such as in verses 97-105.

O how love I thy Torah! it is my meditation all the day.

Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.

I understand more than the ancients because I keep thy precepts.

I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.

I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore, I hate every false way.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.