Scripture reveals that the saints are to be a holy or set-apart (kadosh)
priesthood, not a profane (worldly and polluted) one. If Yeshua calls us his kadosh and royal priesthood, then let’s own that identity and start acting like one!
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see YHVH. (Heb 12:14)
Holiness Is YHVH’s Chief Quality
Holiness is the chief attribute of Elohim and the most defining aspect of his character. It has to do with the fact that Elohim is entirely good and without evil or moral defect and totally sinless. This is why the spiritual beings around his heavenly throne are constantly crying, “Holy, holy, holy” in his Presence (Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8). This is why one of his titles is The Holy One of Israel,which is used more than thirty times in the Tanakh (e.g., 2 Kgs 19:22; Ps 71:22; Isa 1:4; Jer 50:29). This is why the high priest who ministered in the Tabernacle of Moses and later in the temple wore a golden crown or headplate with the words inscribed on it, “HOLINESS TO YHVH.” Not only was this pointing upward to YHVH’s set-apartness, but man himself is to become holy or set-apart even as YHVH Elohim is set-apart, for we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that the attribute of holiness is a prerequisite for a man coming into the Presence of Elohim (Heb 12:14).
YHVH Elohim made mankind in his own image (Gen 1:27), so that man could eventually become his glorified spirit children (John 1:12; Rom 8:14–15; 2 Cor 6:18; Gal 4:5–6; 1 John 3:1–2; Rev 21:7). As part of the process of becoming an immortal child of Elohim, man must become holy as he is holy (Lev 11:44, 45; 20:7, 26; 1 Pet 1:16). This is the ultimate destiny of those who will submit to YHVH’s process of transforming man from profane or polluted, sin-ridden beings to becoming holy or set-apart. What does this process involve and how does it affect you?
YHVH Is Preparing His Saints to Be a Kingdom of Priests
In the Bible, YHVH declared that it was the destiny of the Israelite nation to become a chosen and peculiar people and a kingdom of priest—to be special and unique among the nations of the world—to reflect the character and nature of YHVH Elohim—to be holy (in Hebrew, kadosh) as he is kadosh. The Hebrew word kadosh means “sacredness, consecrated, set-apartness or separateness.” Set-apart or separate from what? From the sin, profaneness and pollutions of the world with all of its sin and rebellion against the Creator. YHVH Elohim is set-apart or kadosh in that he is transcendent or above the mundane with its sinfulness. He invites humans to transcend the pollutions of the carnal and the mundane and to come up to his level. The saints as the end times priesthood of Yeshua need to embrace and internalize this identity for themselves as we will discuss below.
Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine and you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a set-apart nation. (Exod 19:5–6)
For you are an set-apart people unto YHVH your Elohim. YHVH your Elohim has chosen you to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. (Deut 7:6 cp. 14:2)
What does this have to do with me, you might ask? Everything, as we’ll see shortly.
The Israelites were unique because YHVH gave them his Torah-commandments—his instructions to show them how to live righteously and how to love him and their fellow man.
You have [distinguished] YHVH this day to be your Elohim, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: and YHVH has [distinguished] you this day to be his peculiar people, as he has promised you, and that you should keep all his commandments and to make you high above all nations which he has made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that you may be a set-apart people unto YHVH your Elohim… (Deut 26:17–18 cp. Isa 43:1; Tit 2:14)
As such, YHVH commissioned Israel to become a light to the heathen nations around them and by their good example to lead them to YHVH—the one true and holy or set-apart Elohim.
Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has Elohim so near to it, as YHVH our Elohim is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this Torah-law which I set before you this day? (Deut 4:6–8).
So that Israel could be a spiritual lighthouse to the world to lead them to the Creator, YHVH in his sovereignty positioned the nation of Israel at the crossroads of the major trade routes of the ancient world—between three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. He hoped that Israel’s example as a righteous, set-apart and thus a blessed nation who possessed high moral and spiritual standards would favorably influence the foreign merchants and travelers who would pass through that country. Hopefully, they would carry news of this special nation back to their own countries. In this manner, Israel would become a kingdom of priests to the nations to teach them the ways of YHVH Elohim. Where has YHVH placed you in the crossroads of humanity, so that you can be a spiritual light to those around you? What are you doing to be that light?
Sadly Israel failed in their divinely-ordained mission to be a light to the world. Instead, they allowed themselves to be influenced negatively by the heathen cultures around instead of influencing them positively. On the whole, the Israelites desired to conform to the low standards of the surrounding wicked nations rather than to conform to YHVH’s high standards of righteousness as revealed in his Torah-law. Israel chose a downward spiritual path instead of an upward spiritual path. What spiritual path are you on?
All those who come to faith in Yeshua the Messiah become children of Abraham and are thus one new man Israelites or the Israel of Elohim (Rom 4:16; 9:8–11; Gal 3:7, 9, 14, 28–29; 6:16; Eph 2:11–19). They have been spiritually grafted into the olive tree of Israel (Rom 11:16–26). Ancient Israel never fulfilled its divine calling to be a kingdom of priests and a light to the nations of the world. What Israel failed to accomplish because of disobedience, rebellion and faithlessness has been left to grafted-in Israel—the one new man in Yeshua the Messiah—to accomplish. If you’re a born-again disciple of Yeshua, then this applies to you!
The Saints Are Called to Be a Set-Apart (Holy) Nation
If you have repented of your sins, been washed in the blood of the Lamb and been spiritually regenerated by Elohim’s Set-Apart Spirit, then you are part of his set-apart priesthood, even as ancient Israel was called to be. This is your identity according to Scripture. Get this into your spirit and every day live out the reality of it!
You also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a set-apart priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to YHVH by Yeshua the Messiah…But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a peculiar [purchased, acquired, i.e., YHVH’s purchased possession (purchased/ransomed by the blood of his Son)] people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Pet 2:5, 9–10, emphasis added)
The concept of a set-apart nation of being priests is YHVH’s ultimate destiny for his people. For what purpose? To bring glory to YHVH who has called his people out of spiritual darkness and sin (lawlessness or Torahlessness, 1 John 3:4) into the glorious light of his truth, which is the Torah (Ps 119:142, 151), to show the ways of YHVH to the world! The saints are called to show forth the praises of YHVH or, in other words, to be YHVH-praisers. Not only that, the high priest who ministered in the Tabernacle of Moses and later in the temple wore a golden crown or headplate with the words inscribed on it, “HOLINESS TO YHVH.” Not only was this headpiece pointing upward to YHVH’s set-apartness, but teaches us that man himself is to become holy or set-apart even as YHVH Elohim is set-apart, for we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that the attribute of holiness is a prerequisite for a man coming into the Presence of Elohim:
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see YHVH. (Heb 12:14)
The Seven Steps to Consecrating a Levitical Priest
If it is the modern-day saint’s spiritual duty and prophetic destiny to become YHVH’s kingdom of priests that ancient Israel never become, then how do we become a priest? The Torah lays out the seven steps to becoming a Levitical priest. These seven steps are similar to those a follower of Yeshua must take to become apart of Yeshua’s royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9).
The seven steps that YHVH in his Torah instructed the priests of old to go through to become priests in the Tabernacle of Moses are found in Exodus 28 and 29. As servants of and co-laborers with Yeshua our Great High Priest (Heb 4:14), we must also go through these same steps in a spiritual sense as we shall now see.
- The priests were taken from among the children of Israel (Exod 28:1). This prefigures divine election. YHVH calls or chooses each person. Yeshua called his disciples. They did not call or choose him, but they did have to respond to his calling.
- They were brought into the door of the tabernacle (Exod 29:4). The door of the tabernacle is Messiah Yeshua who is the spiritual door through which all must come into a spiritual relationship with YHVH Elohim, the Holy or Kadosh One of Israel, which leads to eternal life. No man comes to the Father except through Yeshua (John 10:7–9).
- They were washed (Exod 29:4). Upon accepting the work and Person of Yeshua, one must be immersed or baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:28) and to identify spiritually with the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua (Rom 6:3–14). As they study the Word of Elohim, it will then wash and clean them (Eph 5:26).
- They were clothed in their official garments (Exod 29:4-9). The disciple of Yeshua must put on the robes of righteousness (Gal 3:27 cp. Isa 61:10). Paul talks about fruits of righteousness through Yeshua in Philippians 1:1. The Bible defines righteousness as Torah obedience (Ps. 119:172). Righteousness and Torah-obedience is a mark of the end times saint (Rev 12:17 and 14:12) and of the bride of Messiah (Rev 19:8).
- They laid their hands on the head of the animals which were sacrificed, blood was shed and sprinkled on Aaron and his sons and unleavened bread was waved and burnt and they ate the flesh of the ram and the unleavened bread (Exod 29:10–26, 32–33). Each saint must take personal responsibility for his own sins and place his faith in Yeshua by accepting his death on the cross in their place, and receiving him as the spiritual bread of life (John 6:35–58). This involves repentance from sin and turning away from sinfulness and turning to righteousness or obedience to YHVH’s commandments (1 John 1:9; John 14:15; Deut 10:12–13).
- They were anointed with oil (Exod 29:21). Each person must receive the Set-Apart Spirit of Elohim.
- They were sanctified or set-apart for a special, divine purpose (Exod 29:44). After the saints have gone through the preceding steps, they are now consecrated by YHVH to be his royal priesthood.
Only on the basis of following the steps as outlined above can one have fellowship with the Father. And what is the result? One becomes a special person with a unique relationship with the YHVH Elohim! Let’s read Exodus 29:44–46,
And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their Elohim. And they shall know that I am YHVH their Elohim, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am YHVH their Elohim. (emphasis added)
This can be accomplished only through Yeshua living in us spiritually. When this happens, we become part of his spiritual house. He is the Chief Cornerstone of our faith or spiritual house (Eph 2:20).
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of Elohim, and precious, you also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a set-apart priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Elohim by Yeshua the Messiah. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Tzion a chief corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believes on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious, but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a peculiar people; that you should shew forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of Elohim, which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet 2:4–10)
Our faith in Yeshua stays alive and vibrant because of the sacrifices of devotion and praise we offer up daily, morning and night. We are called to do the same work the priests of old did, but in a spiritual or fulfilled sense.
The High Priest and His Priestly Garments (Exod 28 and 29)
Not only did the priests go through a process of sanctification to become set apart for YHVH’s service, but they were to dress accordingly as well. The clothes they wore were a visible sign for all to see of their special role as priests in the service of YHVH Elohim. Each article of clothing was full of spiritual and prophetic meaning pertaining to the life of the believer.
The high priest was required to wear eight vestments (in Hebrew the sh’moneh g’dim) while performing his duties in the tabernacle or else his service was invalid. The garments that the high priest wore along with those of the regular priests and Levites set them apart from the rest of Israel thereby elevating them in the eyes of that nation for the special and sacred work of Elohim they were doing.
Here is now a quick review of the high priest’s special garments and how each one applies spiritually to us.
1) Ephod (containing its sash-like belt) (Exod 28:5–14)
This garment was similar to an apron and extended from below the rib cage to the ground. This ornate robe contained five materials. There were five strands of turquoise wool and one of gold was twisted together to make a strand. This was also done with purple and scarlet wool and white linen. Six strands of these were twisted with a strand of gold. Four seven-strand threads were twisted together to make a 28-strand thread. From this the tunic was woven.
These colors with the addition of the gold strands point to the work and Person of Yeshua the Messiah. As these four colors which represent the nature and ministry of Yeshua were woven into his very essence, so these should be woven into the character and nature of each set-apart believer. White pictures or points to both Yeshua’s righteousness and his humanity, blue to his divinity, crimson to redemption through his blood and purple to his kingship. Gold speaks of his divine or heavenly ministry as our high priest and of his precious character. Gold is the most precious and sought after metal and has unique properties unlike any other metal which make it especially easy to work with and exceptionally resistant to corrosion and tarnishing. Again, this speaks of the ministry and character of Yeshua our high priest, the One who intercedes for us, our King and the Sun of Righteousness and the One who walks in perfect love and peace (Mal 4:2).
2) Breastplate (Exod 28:15–30)
This was held onto the priest’s shoulders by two golden chains. The breastplate contained four rows of three gem stones (twelve total) engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This was worn over the high priest’s heart. Inside a pouch-like pocket of folded material forming the back of the breastplate were contained the urim and tumim. They were probably something like dice or lots. The word urim is from the word ur meaning “light.” Tumim is from the word tamim meaning “completeness.” The priest would use these two devices to determine the will of YHVH by asking questions. Somehow these devices revealed YHVH’s answer.
As noted, the breastplate with the twelve gem stones engraved with the twelve tribes of Israel was worn over the high priest’s heart whenever he ministered before YHVH. This points to Yeshua’s eternal love for his people (John 3:16; 13:1).
The high priest received messages from YHVH through the urim and tumim, although how this was done has been lost to history. Whatever the case, YHVH was able to communicate directly, but not audibly, to the high priest and to answer an inquiry.
Throughout the Scriptures, there are many instances of YHVH speaking to his servants in many ways. Yeshua said that his sheep (his followers) would hear is voice as he personally calls them by name (John 10:3). Today, YHVH primarily speaks to his people through his Word (the Bible), his Set-Apart Spirit and through his anointed and inspired ministers.
Not only that, YHVH commissioned the priest to minister to the twelve tribes of Israel. Similarly, Yeshua came to regather the lost and scattered tribes of Israel and he commissioned his twelve disciples to do the same (Matt 15:24; 10:6), and to make disciples or followers of Yeshua of them (Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–18).
3) Shoulder Stones (set in gold) (Exod 28:9–12)
These gem stones were white (the Hebrew word translated onyx in the KJV is shoham meaning “white or blanched”) and may have been onyx, but could have been chrysoprasus, beryl or malachite. They were engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and were called the avnei shoham.
The shoulders represent the place of strength and support. Spiritually this speaks of Yeshua’s carrying the burdens of his people when he makes intercession for them (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). Also, as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) he knows his sheep by name (John 10:14) and searches for those who are lost (i.e., the lost sheep of the house of Israel) to carry them back to his spiritual flock (Luke 15:4; Matt 10:6; 15:24). Similarly, the saints are help bear the burdens of others by reaching out to those who are spiritually lost and hurting, even as Yeshua, our example, did.
4) Blue Robe (Exod 28:31–35)
This was a sleeveless full-length outer garment split on the sides with 72 bells and 72 pomegranates sewn to the bottom hem of the garment. It was entirely sky blue in color. The pomegranates were made of blue, purple and scarlet wool. The golden bells were audible while the fruit was silent. This speaks of our words and our deeds. The former must be pure and heavenly in nature (no evil words, or lashon hora emitting from our mouths), while the later must be righteous in character and spirit (representing the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22–23). Yeshua showed us the perfect balance between the two, for he was mighty or virtuous in both deed and in the Spirit (Luke 24:19).
5) White Linen Tunic (Undergarment) (Exod 28:39)
This was worn directly on the skin (over the breeches). This teaches us that the saint must be attired in robes of righteousness, which are their righteous deeds or works (Rev 19:8).
6) White Turban (Exod 28:39)
The turban was made of fine, white linen. The Hebrew word for turban is mitsnepheth which literally means “to wrap, wind up together.” The high priest’s turban was a bulbous head wrap comprised of winding or wrapping fine linen around his head. This white turban that wrapped the head is part of the white linen garments the saint must wear to be the bride of Yeshua (Rev 19:8). Specifically, this speaks of pure and righteous thoughts.
7) Crown of Gold Forehead Plate (Exod 28:36–38)
This narrow golden head plate was worn over the turban on the high priest’s forehead and was inscribed with the words kodesh l’YHVH (set-apart to YHVH). It was secured to the forehead by means of purple cords. The Hebrew word for head plate or crown is tsiyts meaning “blossom, flower or plate” and according to The TWOT can refer to the flourishing or growth of a plant or to the gleam of a crown worn by a king.
The white turban and the gold head plate reminds us of the helmet of salvation (Eph 6:17) and the need of a righteous believer to take every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah (2 Cor 10:5) and to be renewed in our minds with the mind of Yeshua (Rom 12:2). On the gold crown was the name of YHVH. It is not uncommon for the owner of a possession to place is name on that which is dear to him. Likewise, one who is in love will often place the name of his or her beloved upon their body in the form of jewelry or a tattoo. Similarly, YHVH places his seal of ownership and love upon the foreheads of is beloved saints (Rev 9:4) who are his priests (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:5; 5:10; 20:6).
8) Breeches (Exod 28:42)
These were like trunks worn from the hips to the thighs and were worn for modesty and represent the requirement of sexual purity. According to S. R. Hirsch, a 19th century Jewish Torah scholar, in his commentary, these were not specially made priestly garments, but were the ordinary boxer or trunk-like breeches worn by all men for common decency. That is why they are mentioned last. Therefore, though the high priest wore eight garments, only seven were specially made to be worn while he was executing his official responsibilities. Seven in Scripture is the number of completion or perfection.
Vestments of Ordinary Priests (Exod 28:40–43)
The sons of Aaron wore white linen tunics with sashes and a headdress “for glory and splendor” and linen breeches for modesty. According to S. R. Hirsch the sashes were crimson, blue and purple thread in color woven on a white background. He also states in is Torah commentary that the head covering of the ordinary priest was wound upward to a high point. Some commentators suggest that the turbans of the ordinary priest were pointed to “point the way up” and that the turban of high priest was flattened on top as if to say, “I am at the top.” If Yeshua is the ultimate high priest, as the writer of the Book of Hebrews indicates, and if the saints are to be kings and priests, or a kingdom of priests as Exodus 19:6 states, then indeed the pointed turbans of the of regular priest could speak of pointing the way to Yeshua, of which the earthly high priest was but a prophetic foreshadow. And we as priests should be doing the same thing in all that we do, say and think.
The Difference in Clothing Between the Three Levels of Levites
As noted above, the high priest wore the most glorious clothing when ministering in the tabernacle before YHVH. He was adorned in seven specially-made garments. Seven is the biblical number of perfection or completion. In this capacity, he represented the highest level of ministry office and in a sense had the closest relationship with YHVH.
After the high priest and lower on the ministry hierarchy were the ordinary priests. They wore four special garments, all of linen, which were for glory and beauty (Exod 28:40).
Finally, the Levites who were the lowest level of the Levitical class wore a white linen ephod, which was an outer garment resembling a cape or mantle (1 Chr 15:27; 2 Chr 5:12 cp. 1 Sam 2:18; Rev 19:8).
The commonality between these three levels of ministry was that when officiating before YHVH, they all wore special garments. These garments were largely made of linen, which biblically is a metaphor for holiness and righteousness.
What is interesting to note is that the higher the ministry office, the more elaborate the attire. YHVH required more or had higher standards of his servants as they ministered in closer proximity to his holiness. There is a spiritual lesson in this for those saints who are members of Yeshua’s set-apart or kadosh priesthood. To those YHVH gives more responsibility, he requires a higher level of holiness and righteousness as symbolized by the robes that he required the Levites to wear when ministering before him. This is something that every disciple of Yeshua needs to ponder. Is our spiritual comportment copacetic to the call that YHVH has placed on our lives and to the level of spiritual light he has given us? Do we conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects the glory and beauty of the divine nature that YHVH has placed in us? Do we bring glory to our Father in heaven in all that we do, say and think? Are our spiritual garments of pure, clean, white linen, or are we wearing dirty clothing spotted with the filth of unrighteousness and sin, which only reflects poorly on who we are as saints and children of the Most High? Selah!
What Does It Mean to Be Set-Apart?
If YHVH’s wants his people to be holy (set-apart or kadosh), then what does this mean?
Sanctification involves coming out of the world, and getting the world out of us! It involves separating and cleansing ourselves from that which is unholy and profane (namely, the world, the flesh and the devil), and becoming a vessel which is set-apart and sacred (Yeshua-like). It’s a miraculous and spiritual process that begins the moment we are spiritually regenerated at the time of our initial salvation and will last a lifetime. Yeshua describes this in John 17:14, 17.
I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world … Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17 exhorts YHVH’s people to…
[C]ome out from among [the paganism of the world], and be you separate, says YHVH, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says YHVH Almighty.
In summary, sanctification and being set-apart has several parts. First, there is a separation from the world, flesh, sin and spiritual darkness and turning to YHVH through faith in the atoning blood of Messiah. At this point YHVH sanctifies or makes one set-apart for his spiritual purposes. This involves living a set-apart life and doing YHVH’s set-apart will. Sanctification involves taking something which is dirty, and then purifies it, and then dedicates it for a set-apart use, and then commissions it to be used for that purpose. Remember the process this way: separation, purification, consecration leading to use or service with the end result being glorification and exaltation as kings and priests in YHVH’s eternal kingdom.
YHVH’s Priests Are Called To Live a Set-Apart Sanctified Life
Can there be any doubt at this point that YHVH wants his people to come out of the filthiness and darkness of this world, and to live set-apart and a sanctified nation of priests need to live righteous lives on a daily basis? How can we be salt and light or how are we to “show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” if we are still walking in the darkness of profane and unholy living? How can we be a witness to the world around us if we act, talk and dress in the same profane way that the heathens do, or eat the same profane foods they eat, or involve ourselves in the same profane and pagan customs, traditions and celebrations that they do? Salt and light are contrasting entities; they are different than that to which they are added. They draw attention to themselves. If our lives are set-apart and we are imitators of a set-apart YHVH, then we will be bearing his image, so that when people’s attention is drawn to us because of our peculiarness they will be seeing him in us.
Please catch the marvelous vision that YHVH is trying to present to you through his Word! YHVH Elohim, the very Creator of the universe, himself, wants to lift you up into a place of distinction before all the peoples of the earth. He wants to place you into a position of strength and honor, which occurs only as we humbly submit and yield our lives as vessels in his hands to be light to the nations around us to show them the way of life and truth. This was the purpose and destiny of Israel. This is why YHVH gave them his Torah-instructions in righteousness with all of its mitzvot (commandments). It was to show them (and us) the way to attain this lofty purpose for which they (and we) were created, chosen, called, redeemed, sanctified, and empowered.
Keep therefore and do [YHVH’s commandments]; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who has Elohim so nigh unto them, as YHVH our Elohim is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this Torah, which I set before you this day? (Deut 4:6–8)
Were you to die today, could this be said of you by those you left behind? In all honesty, could Deuteronomy 4:6–8 be an epitaph on your tombstone as to what you achieved in your life for YHVH?
YHVH’s Priests Are Called to Make a Difference Between the Set-Apart and the Profane
To be able to make the proper distinction between the set-apart and the profane means that we must have a thorough understanding of what YHVH considers set-apart (holy) and unholy. This comes only as we let the water of YHVH’s Torah-Word wash over us again and again every day of our lives (Eph 5:26). This occurs if YHVH-Yeshua is not only your Savior, but the Master of each of our lives. This means that we must be totally submitted to his Word, the Bible.
Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, the high priest, did not pay attention to YHVH’s clear instructions about what was set-apart and profane and YHVH struck them dead for it (Lev 10:1–4). They became too lukewarm and casual in their spiritual walk before YHVH and YHVH judged them severely for this. In their particular case, they were ministering under the influence of alcohol in the tabernacle. In the aftermath of this event YHVH commanded his priests “to distinguish between the sacred and the profane, and between the contaminated and the pure” (Lev 10:10, The Stone Edition Chumash), or “so that you will distinguish between the set-apart and the common, and between the unclean and clean” (Lev 10:10, CJB).
Nadab and Abihu were not the only priests that neglected to make a difference between the set-apart and the profane! Ezekiel speaking of Israel’s apostate priests in a later generation says,
Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine set-apart things: they have put no difference between the set-apart [kadosh] and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. (Ezek 22:26, emphasis added)
YHVH empowered his true servants with the ability to distinguish between the set-apart (or kadosh) and the profane and to separate the precious from the vile, and this despite the resistance of those wicked individuals around them. Jeremiah 15:19 says,
Therefore thus says YHVH, If you return, then will I bring you again, and you shall stand before me: and if you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth: let them return unto you; but return not you unto them. (emphasis added)
YHVH’s faithful and set-apart priests were commanded to teach YHVH’s people the difference between the set-apart and the profane. Ezekiel 45:23 says,
And they shall teach my people the difference between the set-apart [kadosh] and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. (emphasis added)
If we are servants of Yeshua, then he has commissioned or commanded us to make disciples and to teach others his ways and truth (Matt 28:18–20). We must teach people the difference between the set-apart and the profane, between the spiritual and the earthly, between the pure and the polluted, or in brief, between good and evil as defined by the Bible. This is our job!
How Can That Which Has Been Made Set-Apart By YHVH Return to That Which Is Filthy?
Is it possible for those who have been made set-apart to turn away from that pure and undefiled spiritual state? Yes. It happens all the time. How many people do you know who have turned away from the precious and set-apart truths of YHVH and have returned to the spiritual pollutions or vomit of this world?
Speaking of those who were once enlightened spiritually, but have turned away from YHVH, the Apostle Peter says,
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of YHVH and Saviour Yeshua Messiah, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the set-apart commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Pet 2:22)
The cares of this world, the praises of men or the need for societal acceptance, persecution and tribulation, the love of money and pleasure, simply growing weary in well-doing, falling out of love with Yeshua, growing lukewarm and cold for the things of YHVH, and giving in to the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life are all things that take people out of the straight and narrow set-apart path of life and into the crooked and wide path that leads to destruction in the lake of fire. This is the path of the those who are profane and worldly and fail to make a difference in their lives between that which is set-apart and that which is profane, polluted, worldly, carnal and evil.
What Can Be Profaned?
The Bible is clear about this: YHVH has made certain things set-apart or holy, and he expects his servants to honor these spiritual boundaries he has established. When we don’t honor that which he has made set-apart from the world, not only are we dishonoring the Creator, but we are putting ourselves on a path that is at odds with him. This is not good for us!
Here are some things that YHVH has made set-apart or kadosh that the Bible shows can be profaned:
- YHVH’s set-apart sanctuary (Lev 19:8; 21:9)
- The Sabbath(s) of YHVH (Exod 31:14; Ezek 22:8; 23:38)
- YHVH’s name (Ezek 36:22; Mal 1:12; Lev18:21)
- One’s father’s bed (incest, Gen 49:4)
The Sabbath is something which is easily profaned. Simply forgetting about it altogether is the greatest way in which men profane it. That man is given to forgetfulness about the Sabbath is evidenced by the fact that YHVH starts the Sabbath command in Exodus 20:8 with the imperative command to, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it set-apart.” The fact that men not only have the tendency to forget it, but also to profane it is emphasized right at the beginning of this command! “Remember it!” YHVH says.
Human nature hasn’t changed much in several thousand years. Man still wants to do his own thing on the Sabbath. YHVH sent the prophet Isaiah to warn the people about profaning the Sabbath. How was the Sabbath profaned? In read Isaiah 58:13–14 we read,
If you hold back your foot on Sabbath from pursuing your own interests [doing your pleasure, KJV] on my set-apart day; if you call Sabbath a delight, YHVH’s set-apart day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them. If you do, you will find delight in YHVH—I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of YHVH has spoken.” (emphasis added)
YHVH calls doing your pleasure on the Sabbath sin (Isa 58:1). This is a way in which the Sabbath is profaned or made common. Something can’t be set-apart (or sacred) and common at the same time. We deceive ourselves and walk in sin if we think it is possible. Light and darkness can’t coexist in the same time at the same time. Now YHVH is not against one having pleasure on the Sabbath. He is against us doing our own pleasure on his set-apart day. Each person must determine before YHVH what are acceptable Sabbath day activities. Suffice it to say, the overall purpose of Sabbath is to rest, to commune with YHVH, to teach our family the ways of YHVH and to fellowship with other believers. To be certain, while doing such activities as golfing, going shopping, mowing the lawn, watching sports on television, fishing, washing your dirty clothes it would be hard to keep the Sabbath properly as YHVH intended without profaning it. For example, Nehemiah got very indignant with the Jews for buying and selling and conducting business on the Sabbath. He accused them of profaning it and viewed this as doing evil. Nehemiah 13:15–22 says,
In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that you do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our YHVH bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? Yet you bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath. And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath, and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge you about the wall? if you do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my YHVH, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of your mercy. (emphasis added)
The Hebrew word profane means literally “to perforate, pierce through, wound, to loose, lay open, dissolve, break.” This is what Nehemiah accused the Jews of doing to the Sabbath. He reminded them that their coming under the hand of YHVH’s judgment (i.e., being taken into captivity) was due in part to doing the evil thing of profaning the Sabbath day.
Remember that the Sabbath day was the sign of YHVH’s covenant with Israel. It was a critical indicator or barometer of their true spiritual condition before YHVH. The Sabbath has always been the glue that has helped hold Hebraic society together, even when not much else in Torah was adhered to. In other words, when one is lax on the Sabbath, one is probably lax with all of YHVH’s other commandments as well.
Another example of profane behavior is in the food we eat. Most people don’t want someone else telling them what they can and can’t eat even if it is YHVH telling us. Man is a rebel by nature, and food is very important to most humans. As such, whether we are willing to submit to YHVH’s dietary laws (see Lev 11) or not is another barometer of whether we desire to be holy as he is holy or not. Not only was eating kosher a matter of good health, but, more importantly, it was a sign to the people around us that we as YHVH’s people are a set-apart people eating only those things specifically sanctified by YHVH. This is a test that each saint must pass. How far are we willing to go in obeying YHVH? Halfway or all the way? If one can bring their taste buds into compliance with YHVH Torah-instructions in righteousness, then one is demonstrating to YHVH that they are willing to take seriously being a set-apart priest unto him. In Deuteronomy 14:2–21 this very point is made:
For you are a set-apart people unto YHVH your Elohim, and YHVH has chosen you to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. You shall not eat any abominable thing. These are the beasts which you shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, the hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois. And every beast that parts the hoof, and cleaves the cleft into two claws, and chews the cud among the beasts, that you shall eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you. And the swine, because it divides the hoof, yet chews not the cud, it is unclean unto you: you shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass. These you shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall you … [etc.]” (emphasis added)
YHVH links being set-apart with eating kosher and calls eating those things which are not kosher abominable.
Something else that men are prone to desecrate or pollute are YHVH’s set-apart feasts. The seven annual feasts of YHVH Elohim (see Lev 23) are as valid today as is the Sabbath. By not observing these set-apart times we not only are walking in disobedience to the Word of Elohim, but we are profaning that which YHVH has declared to be set-apart (consecrated or sanctified).
There are many things the Bible identifies that can defile a man. This includes the misuse of one’s tongue, sexual immorality, pride, following various occultic and heathen practices, dressing immodestly, not following biblical hygiene and cleanliness practices, unequal weights and measures, unjust judges, criminality of all kind, idolatry, and basically any practice the Bible identifies as being sinful.
The message of the Bible is very simple: Obey YHVH’s Torah commandments and one will be blessed, set-apart people whose light shines in the darkness of the world around them bringing praises and glory to YHVH. The opposite is to disobey YHVH’s Torah-instructions by diluting its clear commands and come under YHVH’s curse for disobedience and end up by being profane and vile like the surrounding nations.
You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an set-apart priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to YHVH by Yeshua Messiah. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Tzion a chief corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believes on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious, but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an set-apart nation, a peculiar people; that you should shew forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light, which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of YHVH, which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify YHVH in the day of visitation. (1 Pet 2:5–12, emphasis added)
[W]hat fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Messiah with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of YHVH with idols? for you are the temple of the living YHVH; as YHVH has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their YHVH, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says YHVH , and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says YHVH Almighty. (2 Cor 6:15–18)
Keep therefore and do [YHVH’s commandments]; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who has YHVH so nigh unto them, as YHVH our Elohim is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deut 4:6–8)
What Keeps People From Becoming a Set-Apart Priest of YHVH?
Here is a list of things that keep people from being a set-apart priest of the Kadosh One of Israel:
- Yeshua is not the master of one’s life and obedience to YHVH’s Word is neither a priority nor foremost in your life.
- One loves the praises or approval of men more than that of YHVH. One is seeking acceptance of men, not YHVH.
- One has idols in one’s life that have not been cast down. It may be materialism. It may be a family member. It may be an addictive habit. It may be the acceptance of others and the fear of rejection or the love of money and pleasure. An idol is anything that gets between you and obeying YHVH. An idol is one’s real god.
- One hasn’t separated oneself from the love of this world, and has oriented one’s desires and passions around secular and worldly values.
At this very moment, YHVH is refining and preparing a people to become his kings and priests (or a kingdom of priests) to rule with him in his eternal kingdom. Yeshua said that many are called into his service, yet few will be chosen. Those who submit to YHVH’s spiritual refinement process will qualify to reign with him in his kingdom. Only those who overcome the profaneness and pollutions of this world, the flesh and the devil and learn to live a set-apart or holy lifestyle will become the glorified sons and daughters of YHVH Elohim in his eternal heaven-on-earth kingdom.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see YHVH: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of Elohim; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (Heb 12:13–14, emphasis added)