Lev 21.1-5 tells us that the kohanim were not to touch a corpse or participate in the mourning practices of the pagans (v 5). Their service was to a living God and they were to minister to the living, to promote life. This standard was even higher for the High Priest (Kohen Ha Gadol). You will notice in Lev 21.7, 13-14 we have marriage laws for the priests and High Priest. The Catholic Church see their “priests” as a continuation of these priests and changed these laws to say that their priests cannot marry. Again, the traditions of men.
Now, if you rejected Yeshua you rejected the Father as well (Luke 10.16). What if you believed in Yeshua’s words, but not the Father’s words? Then you don’t believe Yeshua either. You believe another gospel, with another God. Priests were given a higher standard because they were to speak God’s words and instruct the people (Ezek 44.23).
Lev 21.10-15 gives us restrictions for the High Priest and v 16-24 gives the physical blemishes for a priest. This would disallow any participation in the Temple services. However, they could serve other ways, like inspecting wood for the altar. Lev 22.1-9 gives us the regulations for priests who share in a sacrificial meal and insisting on physical purity as a condition in which they could handle the korbanot. A non-priest (layman) was not to eat a sanctified thing under most circumstances, but there were exceptions (v 10-16).
Lev 22.17-25 gives the regulations concerning the faultlessness of the korbanot and Lev 22.26-33 gives further directions in regard to the korbanot. Lev 22.32-33 says they were not to profane the name of God, but to sanctify his name in what they do. Yeshua said the same thing in Matt 6.9.
Lev 23.1-44 gives an overall instruction about the festivals and the festival seasons. These are called the “Lord’s appointed times” in Lev 23.2. They are not “Jewish appointed times” or festivals. The Hebrew word for “appointed times” is “Moed” meaning “appointment.” They are also called “convocations” which is the Hebrew word “mikrah” meaning “rehearsals.” These appointed times were rehearsals for a specific prophetic event. The Sabbath was listed first (v 3) and it says the Sabbath was to be kept (in all your dwellings” and not in synagogues and churches). The Church Fathers changed all of this because they thought they had replaced Israel in God’s plan and that they had more authority than God. They serve a different God, primarily themselves.
If Yeshua were here today (and he is) he would be saying the same thing to the religious leaders of today. The main concern we have with all this is not whether one keeps the Sabbath, etc, but that they have the wrong God! The people today are not following the God who spoke from a mountain to Moses. Synagogues and churches have changed his character (who he is, his goals, what he is trying to communicate). Their God would not bring sickness or judgment on you. The Jewish people refuse to even contemplate that the Holocaust was the result of divine judgment, and Christianity isn’t much better. The God of 70 AD is the same God of the Holocaust (see Deut 28).
How do you know you have the right God and are not being misled? Follow Moses and look at the covenants. Let the Lord (through Moses) speak for himself. Pay attention to what Yeshua said about the commandments and Moses. You will find out that they are exactly the same (John 5.39-47). Religious leaders today (Jewish, Christian and “Messianic”) not only plug up their own ears, but they plug up the ears of all who listen to them (Matt 23.13). Why can’t people see these things, or hear this instruction? They don’t listen, read or obey. They are blind and deaf like the god they serve.
Who do we belong to? Who is our God? We need to read the Scriptures and follow what God said. See what applies to us today and to obey him. Most people do it the opposite way. They look at others and say, “I like how they do this” and “I like their minister and they have a great children’s program.” They look to see if they “sprinkle” or “immerse” at baptisms or whether they dance or not. If they raise their hands they say, “Well, that’s for me and my family.” But that is not how you judge whether or not a synagogue or church is right. You should be asking, “Are they teaching what God means in his word?” Churches teach and quote Scriptures but here is a concept you must know. Anybody can tell you what God said, but can they tell you what he means? Usually not, and there is a difference.
What the Lord has said is real clear, especially about these festivals. Can we “keep” these festivals today? Most Torah-based believers on Yeshua think they can, but is that what the Lord says in his word? The answer is, “No.” For more information on this concept, please go to our teaching “Can You Keep the Festivals Outside of Jerusalem and the Temple” on this website for a real eye-opener on this.
We know that people will struggle on this subject alone. People think what we present on this is wrong, but do your homework. Certain things we thought applied today doesn’t, and vice versa. Commandments apply at different times and for different people. There are commandments for Jews and commandments for non-Jews. There commandments for men and commandments for women. Some commands depend on whether or not you live in the land. Many commandments depend on whether there was a Temple or not. Not everything applied to everyone at the same time, but we have the same God, the same Messiah and the same Torah. Don’t make the mistake of serving the wrong God mixed into this whole thing. We need to get the right God first.
We discussed earlier that this Torah portion is called “Emor” which means to “say or speak.” This one way God communicates to us. The festival appointed times is God’s “mechanism” for us to move together and to learn together. God’s commandments make it very clear who we follow. The Sabbath is the first building block. The Sabbath is how we know what God we have. In Part 21, we will pick up here.