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Good Morning.

And the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.” (Leviticus 16:2)

This and the ensuing three chapters in Leviticus begin what is commonly called, in Hebrew, לב התורה lev ha’torah – “the heart of the Torah.” In these chapters the primary message is the call to holiness and sanctification and the responsibility given to Israel to sanctify the Name (reputation) of the Almighty, and thus specifying the true intent of the commands given to Israel. Holiness is the standard by which God’s people are to live and, so, to do according to His will, we sanctify His Name. To do what is right in our own eyes, we profane His Name. Interestingly enough, the instructions that are given here begin with a reminder of what happened to Aarons’ sons as a result of offering “profane fire.”

The word “holy” or “holiness” (in Hebrew, קדוש kadosh) refers to a separation – being set apart or removed from others. That is not understood to mean that we are to isolate ourselves from everyone else in the world, geographically speaking, but we are to be set apart from the world in how we live — that is, living by God’s standards. Thus the emphasis on holiness begins with instructions concerning the most sacred service of the year — Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement.

The instruction not to enter the Holy of Holies just any time he wanted was a reminder to Aaron, and all the priests for that matter, that when approaching God a certain protocol was required. The protocol stated that Aaron was to go beyond the veil only once a year, on Yom Kippur. Again, his sons had met an untimely death because they did not honor that protocol which certainly had a lasting affect on all the priesthood. So much so that, in subsequent years, the High Priest would prepare for his duties for Yom Kippur seven days in advance, living separated from everyone studying and rehearsing what he was to do.

The message to us is this: God was holy, is holy and will be holy forever more. Therefore, like those who have come before us, we are to live holy lives and sanctify His great Name before all men. We mustn’t think that we are permitted to do what is right in our own eyes but should regard His standards and protocols as instructions conducive to life and blessing. However, we have the benefit of having a heavenly High Priest who has made it possible for us to approach the King on any day of the year. In fact, we are encouraged to approach Him — in holiness and humility — every day and so, in that spirit,  let’s declare what the Psalmist wrote so long ago:

I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. (Psalm 145:1-3)

Blessings and Shalom,  




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