We have another interesting verse in Lev 19.23 where it says that when a tree is planted, the fruit is “forbidden” to eat for three years. The word “forbidden” is the word for “uncircumcised” (arlah). Why is the word for uncircumcised used and the other words in Hebrew for forbidden? Fruit tress in Israel produce little or no fruit until the fourth year, so they are unfruitful (uncircumcised). This is a metaphor for the relationship between God and Israel. It is planted by the Lord (Jer 11.16; Psa 44.3, 80.9-12; Isa 5.2).
In Mark 11.11-33 we have the story of the cursing of the fig tree. It was Yeshua’s fourth year of ministry and he expected to find fruit on the tree (belief in him as the Messiah). He expected to find fruit on the tree of Israel to the Lord. No figs alluded to “no people.” It also alluded to the fact that Israel was going into exile and the land would not produce with Israel out of the land (Jer 24.1-10, 8.13, 9.26; Hab 3.16-17; Isa 5.5-6; Luke 13.6-9). To fulfill their calling, Israel needed to corporately accept Yeshua, not one out of six (according to one estimate). One million people in the first century was high but not good enough. The leaders thought they had fruit, but it lead to destruction (Luke 19, Luke 21).
We also learn from Lev 19.27-28 that “kedusha” is not rounding off of the corners of the head nor harming the edges of the beard. They were not to make any cuts in the body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks for the dead. These are forbidden mourning practices (Deut 14.1-2; Lev 21.5). These are not general prohibitions for all occasions. For instance, a Nazarite can shave because it is not an act for the dead (Num 6.5). A metzora (leper) is required to shave as an act of purification. Levites (Num 8.7) shave and it is seen as an act of purification. The things listed in v 27-28 were pagan customs associated with the dead (Isa 15.2; Jer 47.4, 48.37-38) and for mourning (Ezek 5.1, 27.30-31; Amos 8.9-10; Jer 9.26, 25.23, 49.32; Job 1.20). These practices were done to change the appearance of the mourner to the “spirits” hovering around (2 Sam 10.1-5). Lev 19 and 20 have been called the “Kernal (of wheat) of the Torah” and it is from these verses that Acts 15.20 was taken, in addition to Ezek 33.23-26, 44.31. Lev 20.1-27 deals with false worship, the occult and immorality. This portion ends with an exhortation to kedusha.
Now, here is an issue that must be considered. God’s commandments are what sets the Lord apart from other gods. It is what makes him different (Deut 4.6-8). Replacement Theology Christianity rejects the Torah commands and they teach their people that they are not “under the law.” Our greatest fear is Christianity has the wrong God! They don’t know what days have a kedusha, what foods are allowed or forbidden, they don’t know what commandments have a kedusha and many other things like that.
Blasphemy is calling something “unholy” (no kedusha on it) when it has a kedusha, or calling something “holy” (having a kedusha on it) when it doesn’t have a kedusha. Christian doctrine has done this with many Torah commands. They are keeping the commandments of men. For instance, one of the first things that God said had a Kedusha on it was the seventh day, or Sabbath (Gen 2.1-3). Christianity says that is not true anymore, that Sunday is the Lord’s Day. They just changed the kedusha, and that is blasphemous. The problem is they do not know the Lord so they have no concept of kedusha. They have changed the person of God, but he hasn’t changed. The commandments have a kedusha on them and to not walk in them is to not walk in holiness. They are doing the opposite of kedusha.
The next Torah portion is called “Emor” and it means “to say or speak. It goes from Lev 21.1 to 24.23. It carries on with the theme of kedusha exhibited in the kohanim (priests), the Korbanot (offerings), the Moedim (festivals) and time. Lev 21.1-9 deals with the ordinary priest. Whatever comes “near” or is presented to the Lord must be perfect (whole). Priests must be free from physical defects or ritual impurity (something that prohibits contact with the Mishkan/Temple or holy things). The korbanot must be without blemish.
We are in the heart of what is called the kernal of the Torah and we know that many have never had anyone teach them on these things before. They will say, “Aren’t we under the new covenant now?” They will say, “What is it with all these commandments” and “We have Yeshua now, not all this.” It sounds like “two Gods” doesn’t it? The “old testament” God is mean, bloody, a killer, sends disease, plagues, war and serpents. The “new testament” God is loving, friendly, forgiving, peaceful and full of grace. The problem with this is that there aren’t “two Gods.” He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13.8). That is the meaning of God’s name Yehovah.
When Yeshua came, he did an outrageous thing. He came to the religious leaders of his day and explained God’s plan of redemption. It would come by the grace and mercy of God through the “servant of God.” We all know that, but he was also going to bring justice and judgment, and we forget about that. Yeshua shows up and admonishes them, even brings predictions of gloom and doom. He rebuked the Pharisees (from Beit Shammai usually) and the people for obeying the commandments of men. This portion called Emor, which means to say or speak, alludes to the fact that we should always speak the truth of the Torah and not the words and teachings of men.
In Part 20 we will pick up here.