When the oxen stumbled, a man named Uzzah reached out to steady the ark. In a manner reminiscent of Nadab and Abihu, he was immediately struck down by the Lord.
“The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:7)
Although we tend to think that these kinds of instant-death judgments for irreverence, insincerity, or hypocrisy happened only in the Tanakh (Old Testament), God demands holiness in both the Tanakh and the New Covenant. After all, He does not change.
“For I am YHVH, I do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)
And so we find in the Brit Chadashah that a husband and wife named Ananais and Sapphira conspired to deceive the Apostles with a show of religion—faking that they were donating the entire proceeds from the sale of their field.
Peter discerned the truth and told them that they were lying to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), and they instantly died. (Acts 5:1–11)
Because of incidents like these, God is quite often misrepresented as being an angry, vengeful, divine being who would gladly strike us down for the least infraction of His strict rules. But this is not accurate.
Judgment is actually a sign of God’s love. We can understand this better if we consider that only parents who love their offspring invest their time in disciplining their children.
God does not delight in destroying the wicked, especially not His own children:
“As surely as I live,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)
God is holy and sin breaks our fellowship with Him, and often causes others to sin, as well. The history of Israel and the early Believers in Yeshua helps us to understand the holiness of God so that we can live in His presence.
Ananais and Sapphira personally saw the work of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and, yet, they lied in His presence. Uzzah was entrusted with the Ark of the Covenant—a symbol of God’s holy commandments; yet, He defied God’s direct instructions on how to handle it.
The greater our experience of God’s grace, mercy, and holiness, the greater our responsibility to not take advantage of it—and the greater the consequences when we do.
Conversely, some present our Heavenly Father as a God of love without justice—a liberal, lenient God who will always give us what we ask for and never holds us accountable for our wrong actions. Such sentimental views of the love of God are out of step with the Word of God. God’s wrath and His love are entirely in keeping with one another.
“Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalm 85:9)
Holiness: Keeping It Kosher
“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.” (Leviticus 11:1–3)
This week’s Parasha provides the laws of kashrut (Biblical dietary laws). In Leviticus 11, God outlines which animals are edible and which are not.
Why should the God of the Universe care about what we eat?
The main purpose of the dietary laws is not for hygienic or health reasons; they set the Israelites apart as a holy people. What we eat not only affects our physical body and mind, but also our soul.
“Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them.” (Leviticus 11:43)
The Torah seeks to bring holiness and purity into basic daily activities, such as eating and drinking.
However, God does not expect or even encourage His people to bring about this holiness by withdrawing from the world in a monk-like existence: He expects them to bring the holiness of God into every moment of their life, including meals.
As disciples of Yeshua the Messiah, we can rejoice that the perfect sacrifice of Yeshua cleanses us from sin.
“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:13–14)
May the Word of God and His Ruach (Spirit) continue to lead and guide us in Truth, teaching us how to live a life that is holy as He is holy.
May we truly become a kingdom of kohanim (priests), a holy nation, called out of darkness into His marvelous light.