Organizations establish standards by which its members’ job performances are judged. There are set standards and job performance levels that separate an average from an exceptional worker. A member’s job performance when compared to those standards may determine that member’s standing in the organization; advancement opportunities in that organization; and even the amount that member will be paid. Those members who find themselves rated as exceptional employees tend to be rewarded with higher responsibilities, privileges and salaries within the organization. Unlike any other human organization or activity, YHVH established the standards by which our performance will ultimately be judged by our Master, Yahoshua Messiah. Our positions and privileges in the Kingdom of YHVH will depend upon how we measure up to those basic, and most importantly, exceptional expectations. In this post, we focus on the exceptional life to be lived by disciples of Yahoshua, using the expectations that were modeled for us by our Master Yeshua and the expectations that were established for members of the Levitical Priesthood in Leviticus 21: 1-22:16. In so doing, the true disciple of Yahoshua HaMashiyach is expected to live a life beyond the norm.
YHVH’s Expectations Established
YHVH provided us the standards by which we are expected to live. Those expectations are encapsulated in His eternal Torah and through the teachings and example of Yahoshua Messiah. As with any human organization, there are basic standards and expectations, as well as exceptional standards and expectations. The basic standards YHVH established for day-to-day living are embedded in Torah–the first-five books of the Old Testament. The exceptional standards and expectations established by YHVH were delivered to and modeled for us by His Son, Yahoshua our Messiah. I believe we also see exceptional expectations and standards that were given by YHVH to the Levitical Priesthood. Those exceptional standards and expectations offer us, in a sense, a shadow picture of the exceptionally high standards that Yeshua requires of all of His disciples.
Levitical Priesthood Standards/Expectations Were Higher Than the Norm
One-fifth of Torah is dedicated to the rigorous, exceptional standards and expectations that YHVH established for the Levitical Priesthood. At the time these instructions were handed down to us, very little of those priestly expectations and requirements applied to the average Israelite. Those standards were established specifically for the Levitical Priesthood. The Levitical Priests were expected to meet, not just the basic, core, rote-mechanical standards and expectations of Torah that applied to every Israeli male. They were expected and required, in addition, to meet exacting, ritual-holiness-cleanliness standards that exceeded the universal standard, basic instructions of Torah. Failure to meet both the standard and exceptional standards and expectations disqualified a Levite from serving in the sanctuary and serving the nation.
Higher Standards and Expectations For Every Disciple of Yeshua
I contend that we who are Torah Observant Believers in Yahoshua Messiah are now, and in the future, expected to not only meet all applicable Torah instructions (i.e., commandments), but also every applicable aspect of Torah that is over and above each rote-mechanical aspect of Torah (e.g., not only are we to not commit adultery or fornication, but we are not to look upon another member of the opposite sex who is not our spouse in a lustful manner).
It is about living a life that is above and beyond the NORM. This is about living and exceptionally righteous life. I would submit to you that failure to meet both the basic and those exacting, exceptional standards and expectations will adversely affect our role and inclusion in the Kingdom of YHVH.
Torah Is NOT Just a Jewish Thing
Many outside of our Faith Community adamantly contend that Torah was created and implemented for the Jews. These maintain that the Jews failed to keep Torah and thus forfeited their opportunity for salvation and that Christians have replaced the Jews in God’s great plan of salvation for mankind. Is this an true line of thought and teaching? Well, when Torah was given to us during our sojourn in the Sinai Desert, and even after we entered the Land of Promise, the bible clearly indicates that all 12-tribes of Israel were subject to Torah. By the first half-of the 6th-century B.C., 10 of our 12-tribes had become scattered by the Assyrians leaving only the tribes of Judah and Levi. Today, the identities and locations of those scattered 10-tribes of Israel are lost to the memory of world history. Interestingly, during the time our Master, Yahoshua and His handpicked disciples walked, taught and preached on this earth, the identities and locations of those 10-tribes was well known to the Jews of the Ancient Near East (Matthew 10:6; 15:24; 9:36; Jeremiah 50:6). Scholars who have attempted to identify some of the lost “Sheep of Israel;” or rather the misnomer “Lost 10-Tribes of Israel,” have found archaeological evidence that is scattered throughout the eastern and western world that many of the scattered peoples have kept Torah to a lesser or fuller extent throughout the ages.
The Pharisaical religious establishment has successfully duped the world into thinking that Torah (and the Land of Promise) was given only to the Jewish nation. Christianity then took this Jewish-only mindset and understanding a few steps further by hijacking and corrupting the concept and doctrines of “grace.” Christianity teaches the “Law” was for those evil Jews who will suffer for their refusal to play by God’s rules, but we Christians are under grace and not required to keep one jot or tittle of the “Law.” By default, the Christian worldview has separated would-be disciples in Yeshua Messiah (thought of mainly as Gentiles) from their naturalized Israeli heritage and Faith that is based upon Torah. Therefore, the hijacked doctrine of grace has unceremoniously completely eliminated Torah as a life-expectation and requirement for any would-be disciple of Jesus Christ (i.e., Yeshua Messiah). This doctrine is not only false, it is also the vehicle by which countless well-intended, sincere, but grossly misinformed souls will NOT be admitted to the Kingdom of YHVH in the World Tomorrow.
None of this is to say, in the least, that a would-be disciple of Jesus Christ (i.e., Yeshua Messiah) receives admittance to the Kingdom of YHVH or eternal life by keeping Torah. To the contrary, eternal life and admittance into the Kingdom is a gift of YHVH that was won and will be delivered as a result of the atoning sacrifice of Yahoshua on the execution stake on that fateful Passover Day on or around 28 C.E. Nevertheless, for the true Disciple of Yeshua HaMashiyach, Torah stands as YHVH’s house rules that every disciple is expected to honor, keep and obey as applicable under the Renewed Covenant.
Torah Expectations and Requirements For Levitical Priests Were Over and Above The Basic Torah Instructions
Abba passed on to Moses (i.e., Moshe) and Aaron (i.e., Aharon) and Aaron’s posterity, the exceptional standards and expectations that would be required in order for the males in Aaron’s lineage to serve the nation of Israel. As we can see throughout the book (i.e., the Cepher) of Leviticus, these standards and expectations were often rigid and were overall, over and above the baseline instructions given for every Israeli male. It was these exceptional expectations and standards set the would-be Levitical Priest apart from the rest of the nation in the manner of:
- His conduct
- His behavior.
- His home life
- His diet
- His finances
- His cleanliness (both physically and ritually speaking)
- His service in the Sanctuary
- His service in the community
- His attire (i.e., his clothing)
- His reputation.
Things to Keep in Mind When Studying Leviticus
When reading through and studying Leviticus and the Levitical Priesthood, it is important to keep the following in mind:
- the Levitical Priesthood has passed away.
- As Torah Observant Believers in Yeshua Messiah, we are no longer under the Levitical Priesthood, but under the Melchizedekian Priesthood whose High Priest (i.e., Cohen Gadol) is our Master Yahoshua Messiah.
- “YHVH has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'”(Psalm 110:4; cf. Hebrews 5:6; 6:20; 7:15-17).
- As a Torah Observant Believer in Yeshua Messiah, each of us is fully naturalized Israelite possessing all of the privileges and benefits afforded any true, Torah-keeping, naturally-born Israeli Disciple of Yeshua.
- As Torah Observant Believers in Yeshua Messiah, we have been commissioned to be a nation of priests unto YHVH (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
- Like the Levitical Priests of old, as Torah Observant Believers of Yahoshua Messiah, there are rigid, exacting standards and requirements that we are expected to meet and maintain. Those standards and expectations were enumerated, taught and modeled for us by our Master Yeshua.
- As Torah Observant Believers in Yeshua Messiah, we will be judged accordingly by Yahoshua based upon those standards and expectations.
- What good is studying this or any other similar portion of Torah addressing the Levitical Priests?
- Torah provides us an example (although a crude one) of heavenly things and of prophetic shadow pictures of good things to come. (cf. Hebrews 8:5; 10:1)
- We are NOT obliged to keep the instructions directed to the Levitical Priesthood (e.g., wearing priestly clothes; purification rituals; serving in a make-shift sanctuary; etc.).
- Since we are to serve as Priests of YHVH, under the leadership of Yeshua HaMashiyach, these instructions serve as a wonderful reminder of the high standards and expectations a would-be Priest of the Most High Elohim is required to meet and live out.
- Master established similarly established high standards and expectations for us, His Disciples. These standards rival the most exacting requirements of the Levitical Priesthood. THEY ARE NOT EASY.
- These standards and expectations are, in effect, the fullness of Torah, that we are expected to measure up to in our day-to-day lives and in our work for the Kingdom of YHVH. Unfortunately, most of the world will not meet those high standards and expectations. Case in point is the story of the Rich Young Man (Pharisee, found in Matthew 19:13-20:16; Mark 10:13-31; Luke 18:15-30. Here we see a level of commitment and responsibility established by Father and implemented by our Master that disqualifies most from entering the Kingdom and service of YHVH.
We Are A Nation of Priests
Yahoshua has made us to be a kingdom of priests to His Elohim and Father (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). As priests of the Most High, the examples given in Torah relating to the required ritual cleanliness of every Levitical Priests 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, should serve as a reminder to us of our Master’s expectations for us. When these expectations and requirements are understood through the doctrines and teachings of Yeshua our Messiah, we should come to realize how important our personal and spiritual cleanliness is to YHVH. Father requires that we be “holy as He is holy” (I Peter 1:15, 16). That requirement has not changed in the least, despite the Torah naysayers that teach a perverted grace doctrine that inputs upon a Christian believer perpetual cleanliness and holiness. What this perversion is actually saying to the world is that all you need to do to inherit eternal life and have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe is ask Jesus Christ into your heart. Upon asking Jesus Christ into one’s heart, then grace takes over and your eternal life ticket is punched. You can live anyway you choose to live because God’s grace inputs perpetual righteousness to us and we become “holy” by default, forever.
This perverted version of grace is so far from Truth that it’s not even funny. We are required to “be” holy–to live holy lives; to live a life that is beyond the norm of all humanity, or even Christianity for that matter. The Apostle Peter wrote:
Gird up the loins of your mind (Greek for mind is Anazunomi, which means to prepare one’s mind for action); be sober; and hope to the end for for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Yeshua Messiah. As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:13-16; cf. Leviticus 20:7; KJV).
Thus, we are not to defile ourselves or become spiritually and physically tainted by the things of this world, which when given over to, serves to blunt our service and effectiveness as priests of YHVH. By default, then, we are to die to self (reference Romans 6:2, 11; 2 Timothy 2:11).
Like the Levitical Priests of old, the standards by which we are to live are higher than most people will ever aspire or conceive to meet. Those lofty, but doable standards and expectations, affect how we conduct every aspect of our lives:
- Our family, work, community and other personal relationships
- Our diets
- Our behavior and habits
- Our individual thoughts and feelings
- Our participation in modern life activities
- Our obedience to YHVH’s instructions (i.e., His Torah).
An entire book (i.e., cepher) of Torah was dedicated to instructions for the Levitical Priesthood. The requirement for exacting ritual purity and cleanliness in order for any priest to serve the nation in the community and in the sanctuary cannot be understated. YHVH requires, without exception, cleanliness and purity in order for any to worship and commune with Him. The priestly ritual instructions were primarily in place to allow the priests to serve in the sanctuary and in worship of YHVH. The sanctuary was the place where YHVH’s presence rested. Thus, in order to approach the sanctuary (as a non-priest) and the inner sanctum (as a priest), one had to be in a state of ritual cleanliness.
Although the sanctuary no longer exists, Father still requires that each of us be in a state of cleanliness and purity when we come before Him in worship, prayer and service. We have a baseline cleanliness afforded to us by the shed blood of Yahoshua HaMashiyach. There are, however, ongoing things in our lives that cause us to be impure and unclean that we must constantly be cognitive of and constantly address. Such impurity and filth hinders our worship, walk and witness and service to YHVH and His Kingdom. Intentional and perpetual and unresolved uncleanness (i.e., sin, unholy behavior and habits, improper thoughts and feelings and a lawless life) will adversely impact and hinder, (1) our personal relationship with the Most High Elohim; (2) our service to the Kingdom of YHVH and our Faith Community; and (3) our present and future standing in the Kingdom of YHVH. Yeshua revealed:
“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20; NASB).
Many will say to me in that day, :Master, Master, have we not prophesied in they Name? And in thy Name, have cast out devils? And in thy Name done many wonderful works?” And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22, 23).
Yeshua Set the Bar High
Master set the bar high for true discipleship. The sad, sorry and tired adage that so many so-called people of faith like to say, that God knows their heart, just doesn’t fly when one truly considers Master’s true discipleship standards and expectations. For it will be upon that great, end time revealing of the Sons of the Most High, that Yahoshua will separate those who are righteous from those who are unrighteous, and unfortunately for many, there will be no excuse accepted.
When the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all nations. And He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats. And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…Then shall say also unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:31-41).
Our Master set the bar high for true discipleship and service, just as Father set the bar high for Levitical Priesthood service. Are we then to follow the example of the Levitical Priests, per se? Well, no. The fact of the matter is that we follow exclusively the example of Yeshua HaMashiyach, our Master. The exceptional standards of the Levitical Priests are excellent shadow pictures of the standards and expectations that Master requires of us who are His disciples; we who are being made into a Kingdom of priests unto YHVH; conforming to the image of Yahoshua Messiah.
Shalom and warmest blessings to you, your family and fellowship.