The Holy and the Profane

By BYNA Elder Frank Houtz.
Published 09-20-2016.

The holy and profane cannot coexist together. Either the holy consumes the profane, or if the holy is not a result of inner peace, the profane could corrupt one who appears to be holy. The mere existence of both in the same location often causes a violent reaction. This could be dangerous to your existence.

Consider some examples given in Scripture. In Numbers 16 the story of Korah is given. Korah had rallied a group of men together to oppose Moses. If someone is trying to bring together a group to oppose a man, they are showing that they lack inner peace. Something has riled them, and this turmoil in their soul will cause them an incredible amount of trauma if they attempt to touch something holy. This was Korah’s intent. They not only desired to usurp some God given authority from Moses claiming that all Israel is holy, they accused Moses of presumptively lifting himself above Israel, indicating that God had not set him there. Moses’s reaction was quite different from the normal. Rather than rallying people to his cause and attempting to defend his position, he fell on his face before God. Moses’ power and authority did not stem from the actions of the people. Instead they were based on revelation from God through miraculous events prior to leading this group of slaves out of Egypt. If Moses had no inner peace concerning who had put him there and depended upon the rest of Israel to come to his defense, then he may have received an equal reaction from the Holy, but Moses was secure that God had placed him where he was and his help was going to come from God Almighty.

Due to the security that Moses had in God and the peace he showed from the relationship that had developed, Moses’ response was, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him.” Insufficient inner peace would have made him rally the troops, defend his position, expose Korah and his friends as rebels, and tell how unjustly he had been treated. Moses’ reaction was simply, “So you say I am the wrong man for the job, okay, let’s let God decide.” (paraphrased)

Moses points out the lack of inner peace in his contenders. He begins with showing that they considered God’s call on their life, a light matter. Moses reveals their envy for the position that he had been given, even though Korah and his company had been given a special and even holy position of their own. This is evidence of being discontent, another manifestation of lacking inner peace. When Moses called Dathan and Abiram forward, they refused and complained about the circumstances through which Moses had led them. Then they pointed the finger at Moses and spoke of how he was “acting like a prince” over them. This again is showing discontentment, anger toward God for the way He had delivered the Israelites. Moses then revealed some anger, but the anger was not toward God or the situation that God had set Moses in, but the attitude of those who had come to challenge him.

The next day they returned with their holy censors, and their holy incense, but possibly with their personal fire. Their profane methods came before the holy God of Israel, and it says, “the Glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.” While this would normally be considered a wonderful manifestation, this is a bad omen when there is a good deal of unholiness going on. Moses gave a scenario concerning how God would reveal His purpose, but left the decision on who is holy up to God. The earth opened up and swallowed all the families of the rebellion. Soon after that, the Levites became real conscientious about proper procedure and following the instructions of Moses.

Leviticus 10 tells of another time when profane fire was brought before the Lord. Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons brought incense lit with profane fire. They did not follow the instructions of the Lord. They touched a holy thing without showing proper protocol which revealed a lack of respect for the holy and YHWH. They mixed the holy and the profane. In doing so, the holy consumed their profane actions and got them in the process. Holy fire came from the altar and toasted the profane which included Nadab and Abihu. The holy and the profane do not coexist. One overtakes the other depending on the spirits of those involved. We must be clean vessels if we wish to draw near to a holy thing.

When I was in Israel last year for the B’ney Yosef Congress, we made a trip to the tabernacle in Shiloh. The tabernacle was not there, but there was great evidence that it had been there at one time. The hills were literally littered with pottery shards. People brought offerings to the tabernacle in clay pots. Since these pots brought an offering, they were considered holy, just as the offering would be holy. This meant that the pot could no longer be used for a common purpose. They could no longer use it to carry water to their house, or store flour for their daily sustenance. To make sure one did not accidentally place a holy pot in for common usage, they would break the pots where they camped. These broken pots cover these hills for miles in every direction. The pot shards represented that the children of Israel at one time considered this important. They took holiness seriously. The nation of Israel has no prohibition for taking these shards as souvenirs. My question is, do we want to take something that was holy 2000 years ago and use it for our own pleasure? Has holiness diminished over time? Maybe we would be putting something that was holy back into common usage if we brought it home to entertain our churches or family.

This leads me to why it is important to clear one’s conscience on a regular basis by restoring relationships. It is not good for us to be at odds with our brethren, our family members or even those unrepentant reprobates who live among us. As people of God, we need to properly represent him before man. Consider Yeshua’s words:

NKJ 1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

Ouch! We could argue that this is specifically speaking about a natural brother in the flesh. We certainly would present such an argument if we had little problems loving our natural brother but had dramatic problems loving those other believers in our congregation or in congregations that do not do things like ours. One of the easiest ways to follow this verse is to limit those who we call brothers. If our brothers are only those who believe exactly like ourselves, then we have it made. We don’t have to straighten out our relationship with anyone. Verse 15 in this chapter indicates that maybe this is speaking of our fellow believers in Messiah since it states, “confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,…” That might make it more difficult, since it probably already includes people we disclaimed years ago. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bahais, and Catholics claim Yeshua is the Son of God. It is truly difficult enough to have our relationship right with those of like beliefs. I don’t want to set the sights too high, so we should at least get started on relationships with those in our immediate fellowships. As we grow in maturity, we probably need to expand until we include those in churches that we were removed from when we first found this new information. I’m sure we made many errors in our approaches to old friends who now could use some apologies to mend the wounds. Let’s further explore the words of our Messiah.

NKJ Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old,`You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother,`Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says,`You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
(emphasis added)

If we do not have our relationship with our brethren in proper alignment, we cannot have sufficient inner peace to deal with the holy. Our relationships are the greatest reason for us to have insufficient inner peace. If we are bickering in our families or in our assemblies, we cannot be about the work of God. Notice that this instruction of Yeshua doesn’t limit your actions to when you have done something to someone else. It speaks of when your brother has something against you. You could be innocent and completely without blame. Still He states that you should go to your brother. He knows that we often never see our own flaws and if He had worded it so that it only included those you knew you had harmed, very little clearing of the air would ever happen. We usually see ourselves as innocent, so Yeshua took an innocent person and asked him to go to the brother who may have falsely accused him. This is difficult. It requires great humility.

The Shema has been translated in many ways, but there is one word that clearly has a better, but less used English word to translate it. It is the word that gives us the name for the passage, “Shema.” In most translations this word is said to be “hear,” i.e. “Hear O Israel….” Our English word, “hear,” is not a direct equivalent. Hear can be just the result of the sense, not indicating any action resulting from the sense. In Hebrew the word shema does not only mean to hear a noise, word, or instruction. There is a distinct indication of action from what is heard. In other words, it could be translated as hear and do. Yet, there is one less used English word that indicates this nuance. It is the word “heed.” I believe a better understanding would be gained if we translated the shema to say, “Heed O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one.” In this case we should act as though He is one and that He is our God. Actions speak much louder than words. If we believe the holy writ, it is important that we act accordingly. The words of the Tanakh are quite clear that the holy and the profane should not be mixed together. The words of our Messiah are clear that we should get our relationships straightened out or we shouldn’t even bring our gifts to God. It is profaning his name to ignore our relationships with each other and continue to claim we are His followers. “By this all will know we are His disciples if we have love for one another?” (NKJ John 13:35)

This work concerning a unity between Yehudah and Yosef, which God has proclaimed and Bney Yosef highlights, will happen, but it requires a people who are willing to lay down their pride and take up a holy assignment. It cannot be exercised with envy, greed, an ego, a need to be the most visible, the most in control, the one who is always in the forefront. Neither can it be manifested if we have relationship problems with each other. This job description requires a group of people who are willing to humble themselves because they see a higher goal that is more important than feeding their ego, or making them famous. This requires humility and a willingness to take the blame even when you may not be responsible. When we see the plan of God, it diminishes our self-importance. He can and will do what He has proclaimed through the prophets. The question is not whether He is capable, the question is whether we will be His servants who accomplish the task before us. He is looking for a few humble men and women. He will find them. Maybe not in America where we lean on ourselves more than on Him, but maybe we can humble ourselves and submit to His desires. He will provide the holiness when we are clean enough vessels to not explode because of our profane nature. Only He can clean us, but only we can allow Him the opportunity. We study Torah. It gives instructions.

We know what to do. Shema Israel.