Genesis 14:8, Priest. (Heb.cohen). The Meaning of the Term Cohen Explored. This is the first occurrence of this Hebrew word in Scripture. According to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (or The TWOT), the exact etymological meaning of cohen is unknown since it underlying verbal root does not appear in the Tanakh.
However, in light of the usage of the word cohen in the Bible, the verbal root is assumed to mean “serving as minister.” This is because the Bible uses cohen not only in reference to those who served in ecclesiastically (as in the Levitical priesthood), but also those who were the first born (or patriarchal) and spiritual heads of their families (Exod 19:22). A cohen could also refer to non-Levitical spiritual ministers (e.g. Melchizekek in Gen 14:8 and Jethro in Exod 2:16; 18:1). The word was also used of those holding ministry offices in a secular or civil government (1 Kgs 4:5; 20:26; 1 Chron 18:16, 17). Truthfully, it is not known whether some of these government officials were actual descendant of Aaron or not such as Ira the Jairite, who was David’s chief minister or cohen (2 Sam 20:26). In at least one case, cohen is used in reference to the sons of King David who served as officials in his administration (2 Sam 8:18), although, as The TWOT points out, the Hebrew of the MS may be in error since the LXX fails to include the term cohen in this verse.
Moreover, in a sense, all Israel were priests (Exod 19:6), or at least that was to be their spiritual destiny presuming they served YHVH faithfully and did not forget his Torah-law (Hos 4:6). The Bible’s looser designation of the term priest to include non-Levites, and eventually and potentially all Israelites prefigures the eventual royal priesthood of all believers as predicted in Exodus 19:6 and Isaiah 66:21 and was carried forth to its prophetic fulfillment by the apostolic writers to include all Israelites (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). who are “the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16).
Below is an article that I wrote nearly 20 years ago as I was just starting out as a congregational pastor. This was one of the first article that I wrote and published on our near Hoshana Rabbah website. It is still as relevant now as it was then, for the Word of Elohim is timeless, his Truth and standards of righteousness never change and human nature remains the same.
If Yeshua Calls You a Priest, Then Act Like One!
Scripture reveals that the saints are to be a holy or set-apart (kadosh) priesthood, not a profane (worldly and polluted) one. Which are you? Kadosh or profane?
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 kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6). As such, he commissioned them to become a light to the heathen nations around them and to lead them to YHVH—the one true Elohim (Deut 4:6–8). This is why 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. Israel did not fulfill this prophetic destiny because of sin and rebellion. They desired to conform their lives to the standards of the wicked nations around them rather than conform to YHVH’s standards of righteousness as revealed in the Torah-law.
Those who come to faith in Yeshua the Messiah become children of Abraham and are thus Israelites (Rom 4:16; 9:8-11; Gal 3:7, 9, 14, 28-29) who have been grafted in to the olive tree of Israel (Rom 11:11–32); they are the current “Israel of Elohim” (Gal 6:16). Ancient Israel never fulfilled its divine calling to be a kingdom of priests and a light to the nations of the world. YHVH’s calling and purposes for Israel are without repentance (Rom. 11:29). What ancient Israel failed to accomplish because of disobedience, rebellion and faithlessness will be left to grafted in Israel—the one new man in Yeshua the Messiah—to accomplish. Yeshua commissioned his disciples to preach the good news (or gospel) of the kingdom of Elohim to the world (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). But more than that, his disciples were to become that kingdom of priests that ancient Israel missed the opportunity to become.
We read in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament) that the saints of YHVH will be called kings and priests (or a kingdom of priests) of YHVH-Yeshua the Messiah and will reign with him during the 1000-year Millennium or Messianic Age.
…[T]o him, the one who loves us, who has freed us from our sins at the cost of his blood, who has caused us to be a kingdom, that is, cohanim [priests] for YHVH, his Father… (Rev 1:5–6, CJB)
…[At] the cost of blood you ransomed for YHVH persons from every tribe, language, people and nation. You made them into a kingdom for YHVH to rule, cohanim [priests] to serve him and they will rule over the earth. (Rev 5:9–10, CJB)
Blessed and set-apart is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim [priests] of YHVH and of Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years. (Rev 20:6, CJB)
During the Millennium, Messiah will be the King of kings. His government will be a theocracy with him, as the High Priest-King, at the head. The children of Israel operated under a theocratic from of government with Moses as the priest-king (he was from the priestly tribe of Levi and was called a king in Deut 33:4-5) as the human head of state. David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary (p. 10) describes the role of the biblical priest to be like that of a prophet and to serve as spokesman and mediator between YHVH and man. The prophet speaks to man on behalf of YHVH, the priest to YHVH on behalf of man. In terms of practical job-description their primary duty was to offer sacrificial animals on the altar.
Of those who will be the priests to reign with Messiah during the Millennium, Christian commentator Matthew Henry says in his commentary on Revelation 1:5-6 that Messiah has made believers kings and priests to YHVH and his Father. As such they overcome the world, mortify sin, govern their own spirits, resist Satan, prevail with YHVH in prayer, and shall judge the world.”
This is an apt description of those who will qualify to become priests in YHVH’s kingdom, but let’s define some words Henry uses in his descriptions. How does Scripture define sin? Sin in its simplest definition is the transgression of YHVH’s Torah-law (1 John 3:4). Henry says that the Saints as priests will “judge the world.” What does this mean? Do you know of any secular judge who makes judgments without following some legal code upon which civil law is based? Of course not. What legal code is Scripture based upon? The Torah-law YHVH gave to the children of Israel through Moses. In numerous places YHVH instructed the priests and kings of that time to rule and judge on the basis of his Torah-law. When they failed to do so YHVH sent prophet after prophet to warn them to turn from their wicked ways and return to following YHVH’s laws.
What standard of righteousness do you think YHVH’s kings and priests will rule and judge from during the Millennium? There is only one standard of truth outlined in Scripture: that is the Torah (Ps 119:142, 151), which is YHVH’s Torah, which by strict etymological and scriptural definition simply means YHVH’s “instructions, teachings and precepts in righteousness.” Since YHVH’s standards of righteousness do not change, for his character and nature do not change (Mal 3:6) despite what religious men may say or do, it stands to reason that YHVH’s kings and priests will be Torah-obedient set-apart or holy ones (or the saints). In fact, this is how the book of Revelation defines the saints: they keep the Torah-commandments of YHVH and have faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Rev 12:17; 14:12). Yeshua goes on to say in Matthew 5:19 that those who keep his Torah-law will be called the greatest in his kingdom (i.e. they will be kings and priests), while those who do not keep his Torah-law will be called the least in his kingdom. In other words, the higher the level of obedience to Torah the higher will be one’s rewards and responsibilities in YHVH’s kingdom. Yeshua told his disciples that if they loved him they would keep his (Torah) commandments (John 14:15, 21).
The Saints Are Called to Be a Set-apart (Kadosh) Nation
If you have repented of your sins, been washed in the blood of the Lamb and been born of the Holy or Set-apart Spirit (Heb. Ruach haKodesh) you are part of a set-apart priesthood. 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 or 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)
The concept of a set-apart nation of priests was YHVH’s ultimate desire and destiny for his people. For what purpose? To bring glory to YHVH who has called his people out of spiritual darkness and sin (Torah-law violation) into the glorious light of his truth (obedience to YHVH’s Torah-instructions), to show YHVH to the world! We are called to show forth the praises of YHVH or, in other words, to be YHVH-praisers which is exactly what the word Jew or Judah means in Hebrew: YHVH praisers or givers of praise and thanksgiving. We are called to follow in the steps of Yeshua the Jew by living a set-apart life that shines as a light in the midsts of a dark, crooked and perverse world.
The idea of a set-apart nation of kings and priest is rooted firmly in Torah:
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.” (Deut7:6, also see Deut 14:2)
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, also see Isaiah 43:1 and Tit 2:14)
The Seven Steps to Consecrating a Levitcal Priest
As we have seen just above, it is our responsibility and prophetic destiny to become that kingdom of priests that ancient Israel never become. What are the steps to becoming a priest? The Torah lays out these steps. Let’s look at them to see how we as Believers in and priests of Yeshua our High Priest fit into this pattern.
Note the seven steps of consecrating the priests and compare them with the steps a believer goes through to become a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a peculiar people that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). See how the seven steps relate to the steps a new believer takes in his conversion process and how they relate to one’s journey from outside the tabernacle (Heb. mishkan) of Moses where the altar of the red heifer is located representing the cross of Yeshua, then into the door of the tabernacle (i.e. Yeshua who is the door), to the altar of sacrifice (i.e. a prophetic picture of communion) to the bronze laver (i.e. immersion for the remission of sins and being washed in the water of the Word of YHVH), into the holy or set-apart place where the Spirit of Elohim is and onward and upward spiritually into intimate relationship with the Father. In Exodus chapters 28 and 29 we find the seven steps required in consecrating the priests:
1 They were taken from among the children of Israel (Exodus 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 had to respond to that call.
2 They were brought into the door of the tabernacle (Exodus 29:4)
The door of the tabernacle is symbolic Messiah Yeshua who is the door to the sheepfold. No man comes to the Father except through Yeshua (John 10:10–16; 14:6) The door is four colors which speak of the person and work of Yeshua: blue, scarlet, white and purple. It also speaks of the four Gospels, which is the door to understanding the Person and work of Yeshua.
3 They were washed (Exodus 29:4)
Upon accepting the work and Person of Yeshua one must be immersed for the remission of sins (Acts 2:28) to identify spiritually with the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua (Rom 6:3-14), and the washing of the water of the Word (Eph 5:26).
4 They were clothed in their official garments (Exodus 29:4-9)
The believer is to put on the robes of righteousness (Gal 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah.”). Paul talks about fruits of righteousness through Yeshua in Philippians 1:1. Righteousness is Torah obedience (Ps 119:172) and is a mark of the end time believers or Saints (Rev 12:17 and 14:12) and of the bride of Messiah (Rev 19:8).
5 Blood sprinkled and unleavened bread eaten (Exodus 29:10-26, 32-33)
The priests to be laid their hands on the head of the animals which were sacrificed, blood was shed and sprinkled on Aaron and his sons and matzah (unleavened bread) was waved and burnt and they ate the flesh of the ram and the matzah
Each believer has to take personal responsibility for his own sins. The sacrifice of Yeshua, the Lamb of Elohim, at the cross must become personal to each person. Each believer has his own personal relationship with Yeshua. Each must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Yeshua individually (John 6:35-58). Communion is a personal and individual matter.
6 They were anointed with oil (Exodus 29:21)
Each person must receive the Set-apart Spirit of Elohim
7 They are sanctified or set-apart for a special, divine purpose (Exodus 29:44)
Only after going through these steps is one set-apart unto YHVH as a set-apart priesthood doing the set-apart work of YHVH.
Only on the basis of following YHVH’s steps, as outlined above in a spiritual manner, can one have fellowship with the Father. And what was the result? Relationship with the Father! As Exodus 29:44-46 says,
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 is all accomplished through Yeshua living in us spiritually. Yeshua is the Chief Cornerstone of our faith (Eph. 2:20). He is the end result or goal of the Torah (Rom. 10:4). He is the Author and the Finisher of our Faith, the Beginning and the End, the Aleph and Tav (or in Greek the Alpha and Omega, Rev 1:8, 11,; 21:6; 22:13) of everything.
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 (Cohen haGadol) and His Priestly Garments (Exodus 28 and 29)
(Some of this information is derived from Martyn Barrow and from The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and misc. other sources noted in the text.)
Not only did the priests go through a process of sanctification, or being set apart from the people for YHVH’s service, but they were to dress differently. 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 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 set them apart from the rest of Israel thereby elevating them in the eyes of Israel for the special and sacred work of Elohim they were doing. The high priest wore eight vestments called the eight vestment (sh’moneh g’dim) or the gold vestments since some of them contained gold. Actually, only seven of his vestments were specifically made for his duties as high priest. His linen breeches would have been worn anyway as a part of his regular dress, so they were not special as were the other seven garments. On certain parts of the Day of Atonement the high priest wore only four vestments all made of white linen. The ordinary priests wore these four white vestments all the time.
As with so many things found in the tabernacle, the high priests garments comprised of four colors: sky blue, royal purple, blood crimson woven onto a background of pure snow white linen. Additionally, the high priest’s head plate was of gold, along with the 72 bells sown onto the hem of his ephod, the golden chains holding the Breastplate to his shoulders, the bases to the shoulder stones and the gold thread woven into the ephod. The color blue signifies godliness or heaven. Some see purple as signifying royalty or kingliness. Others see an additional meaning. Red and blue combine to make purple. Blue represents the divine while red speaks of the human, earthly or animal aspect of man (and of Yeshua). After all, red blood is the symbol of life and the name of the first man was Adam meaning red (possibly likeclayearth) from whom all men are descended including the human aspect of Messiah Yeshua, who in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament) is revealed as the Second Adam. This blue and red combining to form purple therefore speaks of man’s (and Yeshua’s) dual nature: physical and spiritual. Linen speaks of the organic, earthly and sensual nature of man that must be redeemed and made white as wool or snow (Isa. 1:18). Crimson speaks of the redemptive nature of the blood of Yeshua who through the shedding of his blood washed away the sins of men to make them white and righteous before YHVH Elohim (Rev 1:5; Isa 1:18). Pure and refined gold speaks of the highest (divine) and most precious character and nature of YHVH-Yeshua and of humans (the saints) who are, ideally, to be walking in the fullness of the divine nature, character and stature of Yeshua.
1 Ephod (containing its sash-like belt) (Exodus 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.
The four colors contained in the doors of the tabernacle were also found woven into the high priest’s garments. 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 (Exodus 28:15–30)
This was held onto the priest’s shoulders by two golden chains. The breastplate contained four rows of three gemstones (twelve total) engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This was worn over the high priest’s heart. The urim and tumim were contained in a pouch-like pocket of folded material forming the back of the breastplate. The word urim is from the word ur meaning light because it would cause the individual letters of the tribal names on the breastplate to light up. tumim is from the word tamim meaning “completeness”because if read in the proper order these luminous letters presented complete and true answers to the questions of national importance that the high priest would ask YHVH.
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).
Barrow speculates that the high priest received messages from YHVH through the urim and tumim in conjunction with the stones on the breastplate in the following manner: The high priest would stand before the menorah holding the urim in one hand and the tumim in the other. As the light reflected from the urim and the tumim onto the stones of the breastplate this flash of light provided up to 24 combinations (2 x 12). Since there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the flashes of light could produce strings of letters. As YHVH through the ark, the veil would move, permitting a breeze to flicker the flames in the menorah to momentarily alter the angle of direction of the light onto the urim and tumim, and thence to the breastplate. Thus YHVH was able to communicate directly, but not audibly, to the high priest and to answer an inquiry. Adam Clarke in his commentary on this subject quoting a Jewish sage suggests a similar means for receiving messages from YHVH, though he is less specific in describing the methodology.
3 Shoulder Stones (set in gold) (Exodus 28:9–12)
These gem stones were white (the Hebrew word translated onyx in the KJV is shoham meaning white or blanched) and were probably made of onyx (see Jewish Torah scholar S. R. Hirsch’s commentary on this), 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).
4 Blue Robe (Exodus 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; Exod 23:1; Lev 19:16; 1 Pet 2:1), while the later must be righteous in character and spirit (speaking of 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 spirit (Luke 24:19).
5 White Linen Tunic (Undergarment) (Exodus 28:39)
This was worn directly on the skin (over the breeches).
6 White Turban (Exodus 28:39)
The turban was made of fine white linen which speaks of righteous deeds (Rev 19:8)—in this case, righteous thoughts. 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.
7 Crown of Gold Forehead Plate (Exodus 28:36-38)
This narrow golden head plate (tsiyts) 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 (Exodus 28:42)
These were like trunks worn from the hips to the thighs and were worn for modesty. According to S. R. Hirsch 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 (Exodus 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 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.” Perhaps this is a quaint interpretation, or perhaps it is full of spiritual significance. If Yeshua is the ultimate high poriest, as the writer of the book of Hebrews states, 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.
What Does It Mean to Be Set-Apart (Kadosh)?
If YHVH’s People Are Called to Be Holy (Set-apart or Kadosh), Then What Is Being Set-apart?
The following is a quick study on the subject of what it means to be set-apart and sanctified. It is the desire and purpose of YHVH, “to open the eyes of those who are without YHVH and without hope (i.e. Gentiles), and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto YHVH, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith in Yeshua the Messiah” (Acts 26:18). Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:3–5, 7 further adds:
For this is the will of YHVH, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from [sexual immorality]: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the [lustful sexual desires], even as the [pagans] which know not YHVH … For YHVH has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto being set-apart.
The words sanctification and set-apart (kadosh) are related words in the Greek language and have the same meaning: “to purify, to consecrate, morally blameless, sacred, pure.” Only One (i.e. YHVH) who is set-apart and morally pure can make something pure which is unholy and defiled (i.e. man). Man cannot pull himself up by his own bootstraps. He cannot become holy, blameless and pure through his own good works. As we just read in Acts 26:18, we are sanctified (made set-apart, morally pure, blameless) through faith in Messiah who washed away the sin in us that made us unholy in the first place. He wiped the slate of our past sins clean and then deposited into our lives his Set-apart Spirit. But then we have to stay set-apart by keeping under his blood, by dying to sin daily and by living a righteous life, Torah-obedient life. Such will keep us in the path of righteousness. And if we sin, we confess that sin and YHVH forgives us of our sin and cleanses us and restores us to a state of being set-apart (1 John 1:9). Some mistakenly believe that the Torah of Elohim is no longer for us today—that it was “done away with at the cross.” If this concept is valid, then what part of the Torah (YHVH’s instructions in righteousness) are no longer for us today: You shall not murder? You shall not steal or commit adultery? Do not worship idols? Do not have sex with an animal? Keep the Sabbath? How about tithing? That’s part of YHVH’s Torah-law, and most Christian churches strongly advocate adherence to that law! In reality, following all of these commandments help us to love YHVH with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Keeping his divine laws helps us to walk in a sanctified manner.
Sanctification involves coming out of the world, and getting the world out of us! It involves separating and cleansing ourselves from something 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 is something that happens to us when we are born again, but it is also a lifelong process. 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 darkness and turning to YHVH through faith in the atoning blood of Messiah. At this point YHVH sanctifies or makes one set-apart for YHVH’s set-apart purposes and involves living a set-apart life and doing YHVH’s set-apart will. Sanctification takes something which is dirty, 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 Called To Live a Set-apart Sanctified Life.
Can there be any doubt at this point that YHVH’s people, who are called to come out of the filthiness and darkness of this world, and who are called to be a 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 they 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 and not 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 honor and 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)—to show them the way to attain this lofty purpose for which they 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 what YHVH hopes will be the destiny for his people Israel 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 and over us again and again day-in-and-day-out (Eph 5:26). This occurs if YHVH-Yeshua is not only your Savior, but the master of your life meaning we are 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). 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).
Another translation of this same verse says, “so that you will distinguish between the set-apart and the common, and between the unclean and clean” (CJB).
Nadab and Abihu were not the only priests that neglected to make a difference between the set-apart and the profane! Ezekiel 22:26 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. (emphasis added)
YHVH empowered his true servants with the ability to distinguish between the set-apart [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)
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 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 vomit of this world?
Speaking of those who were once enlightened spiritually, but have turned away from YHVH, Peter declares,
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 riches, simply growing weary in well-doing, losing their first love, growing lukewarm and cold for the things of YHVH, 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 into the crooked and wide, lake of fire-bound path of the profane and worldly.
What Can Be Profaned?
- YHVH’s set-apart sanctuary—Leviticus 19:8; 21:9
- YHVH’s Sabbaths (both the weekly seventh day Sabbath and the annual sabbaths or biblical feasts)—Exodus 31:14; Ezekiel 22:8; 23:38
- YHVH’s name—Ezekiel 36:22; Malachi 1:12; Leviticus 18:21
- One’s father’s bed (incest)—Genesis 49:4
The Sabbath is something which is easily profaned. Simply forgetting about it altogether is the greatest way in which it is violated. The fact that man is given to forgetfulness 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 we not only have the tendency to forget it, but also to profane it is emphasized right at the beginning of this command!
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 of his day about profaning the Sabbath. How was the Sabbath profaned? Let’s read Isaiah 58:13-14,
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 Shabbat 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. (CJB, 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 cannot be set-apart (sacred) and common at the same time. We deceive ourselves and walk in sin if we think it is possible. Light and darkness cannot exist at the same time in the same place. 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 Shabbat is to rest, to commune with YHVH, to teach our family the ways of YHVH and to fellowship with other Believers. Most likely doing such activities as golfing, going to the mall, mowing the lawn, watching football on television, fishing, window shopping and the like one would have a hard time keeping the Sabbath as YHVH intended without profaning it. Nehemiah got very indignant with the Jews for buying and selling 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 (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 the vitality of their 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 has probably become pretty lax with all of YHVH’s other commandments, as well.
Other Examples of YHVH Calling His People to Make a Difference Between the Holy and the Profane
Clean and Unclean Meats. The laws of clean and unclean meats, or kosher laws, is another area where YHVH instructed his people to be different than the nations around them. Not only was eating kosher a matter of good health, but it was a sign to the nations that YHVH’s people were a set-apart people eating only those things specifically sanctified by YHVH. 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.
YHVH’s Sacred Assemblies (Miqri Kodesh) or Feasts. The seven annual Appointed Times of YHVH Elohim are every bit as binding upon the Believer as the weekly seventh day 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).
The Evil Tongue (lashon hora). We defile ourselves and the lives of others through our tongue when we speak evil of others. Much innocent blood is shed through murdering with our tongues.
These are just several examples in the Torah of the distinction YHVH places between the set-apart and the profane and how he has called his people to be set-apart and to not involve themselves in the abominable and cursed activities of the heathens. Many other examples could be given of the set-apartness YHVH expected of his chosen, peculiar, set-apart and priestly people. These could include the mitzvot (commandments) involving family, hygiene and cleanliness, sexual purity, equal weights and measures, just judges, punishment of crimes, proper treatment of animals, foreigners and servants, abstaining from all manner of idolatrous and occultic heathen practices and customs, prohibitions against intermarriage with pagans and so on. Living up to these beneficial commandments not only contributed to the formation of a nation of set-apart people whose light would shine brightly as a testimony to the nations around them, but their obedience would bring the many blessings YHVH was waiting to pour out upon his people (Deut 28:1-14).
It is all very simple: obey YHVH’s Torah commandments and become a blessed, set-apart nation whose light shines in the darkness of the world around them bringing praises and glory to YHVH or 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, emphasis added)
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, emphasis added)
What Keeps People From Becoming A Set-apart Priest of YHVH?
Yeshua is not the master of your life and obedience to YHVH’s Word is neither a priority nor foremost in your life.
Do you love the praises of men more than the praises of YHVH? Yeshua rebuked the religious Jews of his day for this who were constantly trying to impress one another instead of being pleasing in the sight of YHVH.
You have idols in your life that you have not yet 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.
You have not separated yourself from the love of this world. You’re serving YHVH and the mammon of this world.
When confronted with the truth most people refuse to submit to it and repent of the sin in their lives. This is because they do not love the truth of Elohim. They are putting themselves in a place ripe for falling for apostasy because they do not have a love of truth This is the spirit of Antimessiah and lawlessness (Torahlessness) mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (especially note verses 3, 7 and 10-12) that will cause many to turn away from the truth of YHVH just prior to the return of Yeshua. Instead of conforming their lives to the truth most people conform the truth to their lives. This is the spirit of humanism where one exalts the mind of man over the will of YHVH. This occurred when Adam and Eve listened to the lies of the serpent at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told them they could conform the Word of Elohim to suit the dictates of their flesh. How do people fall into this same sin today? One way they do this is to reject the teachers or messengers who are teaching truth and they attempt to kill the messenger as the Israelites did with nearly all of the prophets old. We no longer physically kill the messenger, we just murder him with our mouths. We attack him personally in hopes of destroying the truth he is bringing by destroying his reputation. This is a wicked and deceitful thing to do. Killing the messenger does not change the truth of YHVH. But in the warped and twisted mind of carnal men this seems to be a means of changing the truth, but in reality it changes nothing at all. On judgment day and you and I will still answer for the sins we committed and for the righteous standards we failed to live up to when we knew better.
Many times when people hear truth that they do not want to live up to they exercise the change-the-channel-on-the-television mentality. They keep changing channels until they find something that they like. They leave the congregation where the truth is being taught and find one where the truth is not being taught. They find a teacher who does not confront them and their sin. This way they can avoid having to repent and bring their lives into conformity to the Word and Truth of Elohim. This is simply denial and avoidance. It is catering to the whims and appetites of the carnal man who is not yet submitted to the Word and Spirit of YHVH Elohim. Yeshua is not the Master of such a person’s life. (2 Tim 3:4).
At this very moment YHVH is refining a people to become his kings and priests. Yeshua said that many are called into his service, yet few will be chosen. Those who submit to the refinement process of YHVH will qualify to reign with him in his eternal kingdom. The refining process that YHVH is requiring his people to endure is not unlike that which raw olives go through in order to become pure oil suitable for use in cooking, as anointing oil or that which was used in the menorah in YHVH’s set-apart tabernacle and temple. The seven branched menorah gave light to those ministering in the Tabernacle. The Saints are called to be menorahs on hill. The body of believers in Yeshua are likened to a menorah shining the way of light in the darkness of this world and lighting the path to Yeshua (Rev 1:12, 20).