Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

God’s Affordable Health Care Act


 

Medicine of the Highest Order by Flickr User Benjamin Golub, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Medicine of the Highest Order by Flickr User Benjamin Golub, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

It is not in God’s perfect will for anyone to be left out of any blessing He has to offer. Unlike politically motivated health and welfare services, God’s idea of affordable health care is not driven by brownie points to get votes. God has actual compassion to make sure we can all receive His benefits even if we have previously rejected Him and/or brought many of our troubles onto ourselves. Oh, if only those who think God makes all His rules to exclude people could just see that He actually makes them to be inclusive of more people. Rather than just letting us languish in our sins and sicknesses, He provides instruction for prevention, healing, and purification. And He even provides adaptations to His plans, so they can apply to both rich and poor.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 14:21 through Leviticus 14:32, we have the same basic instructions as yesterday, but today’s rules are slightly different to cover a case of a poor person who needs purification after healing from leprosy. The many offerings that were used in the act of purification could get expensive, especially if someone did not already own flocks and herds. So God set up a contingency plan to make sure those who could not provide sacrificial lambs could also receive the needed rituals.

Most of the steps toward purification are exactly the same, including putting blood on the right ear, the right thumb, and the right toe of the person needing to be cleansed. The priest is still required to pour olive oil in his left hand and then sprinkle it seven times before The Lord before also placing it in all the places where the blood has been placed. The difference for a poor person is that the blood for the sacrificial offerings can come from a dove or pigeon instead of it needing to come from lambs.

God is more than good to us, and He has provided all we need in order to serve Him according to His perfect will, including even having the desire to serve Him in the first place. Why can some people get saved in some room or deserted place when they are all alone? Because the desire was planted in their hearts from the beginning. It may be hidden beneath ignorance, false teaching, sinful desires, etc., but God will make Himself known to a hungry soul just as soon as He is invited. He says we will find Him when we seek and search for Him with all our hearts.

For me, I can see where God actually pursued me–before I invited Him. I believe He tries to show people how much He cares before we meet Him, and then He confirms that it was Him all along once we begin to study His word. I used to sing a song called “I Keep Falling in Love with Him” that says in part, “I thought I couldn’t love Him (God) more than I did right at the start. But when I look back over the mountains and valleys where we’ve been, I find I love Him more every day, much more than I did then.” The more I get to know Him, the more I realize that ALL His plans (for health, for life, for salvation, for eternity) are for our good and to give us a hope and a future.

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March 31, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palm Oil


Palm Oil Plantation by Flickr User Rainforest Action Network, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Palm Oil Plantation by Flickr User Rainforest Action Network, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’ve always known there were different types of palm trees–like date palms and coconut palms, but I had no idea there are also completely different palm trees that are used for making palm oil; oil palm trees to be exact. And until I did a search to go with tonight’s post, I also had no idea that using palm oil is said to have a negative effect on rainforests. Of course, that’s what the rainforest defenders say, but I also haven’t read the whole story, so I can only report what I found while doing my search.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 14:13 through Leviticus 14:20, the palm oil mentioned here is not actually the kind from the trees, or from any palm tree, but rather it is oil in the palm of the priest’s hand. I thought that might be harder to find a picture of, so I decided to add an image of something a little greener and prettier. In the process, though, if we can learn something more about the earth God created and how to protect it, that will be a good thing. The image above will open a new tab or window, so if you want to see all of what the group posts, and read about what they stand for, don’t forget to click on it before you leave.

So, we know the focus for this week’s portion is on helping a person become clean who has been infected with leprosy. We saw most of the process in yesterday’s reading, and what continues today is a bit more detail on the lamb sacrifices. The two lambs, one for the sin offering and one for the guilt offering, are to be slaughtered in the place of the sanctuary that is designated for those offerings. That is what is most often represented by an altar in the sanctuary of a modern church. The altar is the place we humble ourselves and confess our sins and our need for atonement, and it’s a place where we understand that the blood of Our Messiah is the only thing that can truly deliver us from our sins. And, just like the altar in the Torah, it is there for us every time we need it.

Truthfully, I’ve always disliked the statement that a person who wants to follow God just has to accept His salvation. My reason for this is that acceptance says to me, it’s a one-time thing. We can only accept the same gift from a friend once. I think it’s more important that we teach new believers that their new life is more about rejection. We reject sin; we reject doing things our own way; and we reject anything that is not of God as much as we are able. This is not a one-time thing, but a daily, and sometimes multiple times per day, activity. We actively seek to push away those things that would separate us from the heart and love of The One who offers us His salvation. That is an active way of accepting His gift.

After the sacrificial offerings have been taken care of, part of which includes placing the blood of the guilt offering on the right ear, right thumb, and right toe of the person seeking purification, the priest is told to put oil in his right hand and dip into it with his left finger. He sprinkles the oil seven times, and then he takes what’s left and puts it over the blood on the ear, thumb and toe, plus over the blood of the guilt offering, and then on the head of the one who needs atonement. After these things are done, the priest is to offer the burnt offering and the grain offering, and then the person will be clean.

After having gone through so much to be purified, don’t you suppose the person who is now clean will reject anyone he even thinks might be contagious? And don’t you suppose he will do his best to be cleaner than he has ever made an effort to be in the past? I think so, and I think that rejection of the things that put him out of the camp, and that needed to be atoned for, will now be easy for him. It’s not always easy for those of us who make an effort to walk blamelessly before Our Creator to reject every sin that comes our way, but the more we learn about the depth of the sacrifice He made for us, the more we willingly reject anything that separates us from His salvation, His love, and His wonderful presence.

March 30, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shave and a Haircut–Two Birds


Shave and a Haircut by Flickr User Pete Markham, CC License = Attirbution, Share Alike

Shave and a Haircut by Flickr User Pete Markham, CC License = Attirbution, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Even if you’re not old enough to realize there is a tune to the words shave and a haircut, two bits, you probably know the rhythm. Someone, at some point of your life, probably knocked on a door with the beat of “knock knock knock knock knock (rest) knock knock.” Then again, that may only be for my readers in U.S. since I don’t think a quarter was called two bits anywhere else. Still, I find it a catchy tune, and I can rarely see a barber shop pole without thinking of it.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 14:1 through Leviticus 14:12, we begin a new Parashah (portion); number 28. The Hebrew title for it is M’tzora and it means “Person afflicted with Leprosy.” Okay, so that means I was wrong yesterday when I said we were probably done talking about leprosy. Of course, for me, the hard part is taking a few verses–often with repeated statements or themes–and trying to find something deeper to share with my readers. When I can find the truly spoken word within the written word, I get very excited though, and I hope you do as well.

So, from the title of the portion, I’m going to guess that our entire week will focus on what to do if someone is definitely infected rather than in making the determination as to if the person is clean or unclean. Today’s section of the portion deals with a person who has been infected and has been put out of the camp to begin purification. The first thing I noticed here is that the priest goes outside the camp to examine the man. If you think of leprosy as sin, it means we should not be waiting for sinners to walk through the church doors, but should be ready to speak with them about their sin where they are.

Next, the purification requires a sacrifice of two birds. One of the birds must be slaughtered over a clay pot under running water, and the other will be sprinkled with the blood of the dead bird and then set free. The live bird, along with a cedar plank, scarlet yarn, and hyssop leaves, is to be dipped into the blood, and then all of those will be used to sprinkle blood on the person who needs to be purified. The death over clay speaks of Calvary to me, so I’m certain there is more here in the process that is represented by the sacrifice of our Messiah, but I am unsure, so I won’t try to teach something I don’t know.

Once the infected person is cleansed, he is to shave off all his hair, beard, and even his eyebrows. Then he must wash his clothes and bathe before he returns to camp. Once he’s in the camp, he still can’t go to his own tent for another seven days, and then he has to shave everything off again before he is completely clean. Once he has reached that point, the priest will offer a sacrifice of two lambs and a grain offering to complete his purification process.

The one thing that stands out to me in all this is how difficult it is to become clean once you have been infected by leprosy. We want to march people into a church building and say that since Christ offered Himself for their sins, becoming sin free is just as easy as reciting the sinner’s prayer. But the offering of blood was only one part of the process. I know we don’t want to scare people away with a bunch of religious rituals, but I think it’s important to teach that our walk with God is not to be taken lightly. If God required these things to represent purification during the times of the wilderness temple, He has made a way to fulfill those things for us now. They haven’t gone away, but are being carried out in another way–through the blood of Christ, through the Holy Spirit making intercession for us, etc. To me, that is all the more reason to get up each day and praise Him for all He has done, and for all He continues to do, to bridge the gap between Himself and us. He is worthy of more than we can even think to praise Him for.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lather, Rinse, Repeat


Shampoo Bottles by Flickr User Eric Mesa, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Shampoo Bottles by Flickr User Eric Mesa, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I don’t know how often bottles are printed with the instructions to “Lather, Rinse, and Repeat” anymore, and I’m not sure if they were only on some shampoos previously. Maybe they were used as a default instruction on all shampoo to help consumers go through a bottle faster. I do know the second application of shampoo always foams up more, so it feels like hair is cleaner anyway. I’m not sure of the reason, maybe just expense since I use some pricier shampoos than when I was younger, but I haven’t done the double wash in a while. Are you one who still washes twice?

In today’s reading from Leviticus 13:55 through Leviticus 13:59 (the end of the chapter), we come to the end of the portion, and likely to the end of instructions for dealing with leprosy and contagious infections. Yesterday, we learned about washing a stain and then waiting to make sure it didn’t reappear to know if an item that picked up an infection was clean or not. Today, we’re told that if the stain does not change color from washing, the item is rotten is should be burned up. If it fades, the stained portion should be torn out of the garment. And if the stain evidence of infection goes away completely, the garment is to be washed a second time before it can be called clean.

Whether you lather, rinse, and repeat, or just lather and rinse, you do so because you know if your hair and scalp feel clean. The end result is the important factor, and the same is true of sin. Being cleansed of anything and everything that would separate us from a pure and holy walk with Our Loving Creator should be our goal. We can get dunked in a thousand baptismal pools and still be just as unclean as the permanently stained garments in this week’s Torah portion.

When we are clean, we will have a clean, new heart, that is sensitive toward God and His directions to us. I love the way God’s Word describes our new heart in Ezekiel 11:19 (NLT)… And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart. In a bit more context, here’s a paragraph from “The Message Bible” of Ezekiel 11:16-20

“Well, tell them this, ‘This is your Message from God, the Master. True, I sent you to the far country and scattered you through other lands. All the same, I’ve provided you a temporary sanctuary in the countries where you’ve gone. I will gather you back from those countries and lands where you’ve been scattered and give you back the land of Israel. You’ll come back and clean house, throw out all the rotten images and obscene idols. I’ll give you a new heart. I’ll put a new spirit in you. I’ll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart. Then you’ll obey my statutes and be careful to obey my commands. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!

And before you go, here’s a beautiful song I used to sing at all my concerts (and will be on my album if I can ever figure out how to move forward with it). It’s called I Wanna Be Washed in the Blood of the Lamb, and it speaks my heart of always wanting to repeat the cleansing process to keep my heart pure before God. This video includes the lyrics, my favorite of which come in verse 2 where it says, “How oft I’ve cried when far away from You, my heart would catch a glimpse of Calvary; remembering nights down on my knees in prayer when I said, ‘Lord, here I am, please use me.’ ” Enjoy!

March 28, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When It Won’t Come Out in the Wash


Somewhere in my youth, I used to enjoy all those scary shows like Outer Limits (I really did think they had control of my TV set), Night Gallery, and others. I still watch Twilight Zone and own the whole collection. Some of the morals given in many of those old programs have stayed with me for years. The episode above has stuck with me, though I’m not sure when I saw it, since IMDB says the series, Tales from the Darkside, started in 1983, and I had quit watching TV for a time as of July of that year. In reading through the other episode descriptions, I would never watch the kinds of things it tells stories about, so I’m thinking this may be the only episode of the program I ever saw (thankfully). I posted this before I realized the content of the other episodes, so I will say this one is safe, but in case you don’t want to spend 20 minutes watching it, here’s the gist (spoiler alert–words in green)…

An evil man would rather use a special laundry service to wash the sins from his clothes than to stop sinning. He hires a launderer who charges him big money, keeps raising his prices, and finally quits picking up the clothes which have greatly accumulated since the man now feels no guilt for his actions. When the man calls the launderer, the guy tells him he won the lottery and is out of business. The evil man then knows he’s stuck with his sins, so he jumps to his death.

Well, in today’s reading from Leviticus 13:38 through Leviticus 13:54, we’ll learn about leprosy on clothing. We’re still on the subject of what types of skin sores need to be shown to the priests, and we even get a little comic relief in verses 40-41…

40 “If a man’s hair has fallen from his scalp, he is bald, but he is clean. 41 If his hair has fallen off the front part of his head, he is forehead-bald; but he is clean.

At least I thought it was funny–“he’s bald but he’s clean.” LOL

In the next verses, we get a bit of insight about those who live in the isolation I mentioned in another post. They must live outside the camp, and wherever they go, they must wear torn clothes, leave their hair hanging down, and put their hand over their lip while calling out, “Unclean, unclean.” I’m guessing the hand over the lip is to amplify the sound, but it could mean something else that I’m unsure of.

Now we get into the verses that talk about what to do when a sore has caused a stain on clothing. The instructions to the priest are to watch the stain to see if it spreads through the fibers of whatever material it is found on. If the stain spreads, it is contagious and the articles of clothing must be burned up. But if the stain doesn’t spread, the clothes are to be washed and set apart for seven days.

Since leprosy represents sin, I find it interesting that God says whatever it touches is to be burned up. That tells me that, even when we ourselves are washed of our sins, the things (not people) in our lives that were connected to the sin, must be destroyed. They demonstrate that well in the movie Fireproof where they have the main character destroy the computer he was using to access pornography. For someone who practiced witchcraft, that would mean getting rid of things like Tarot Cards and Ouija Boards. For a drug addict, it would mean getting rid of drug paraphernalia. We must separate ourselves from the things that could reinfect us with sin when we choose to walk a road of pure service to God. His will and ways must become our priority. But I can tell you from experience, what we give up for Him is NEVER a loss.

March 27, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Set Apart for a Time


Isolation by Flickr User digitalmindphotography (David Smith), CC License = Attribution

Isolation by Flickr User digitalmindphotography (David Smith), CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Have you ever felt the need to just “get away” for a little while? Do you ever find that the day in, day out, ongoing events of life sometimes make you feel like you’ve just got to declutter and thin things out a bit? Something about isolation can often help us to sort through the stresses and re-prioritize what’s important in our lives.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 13:29 through Leviticus 13:37, we read about times of purification–set apart times of isolation to allow the healing necessary to be considered clean once again. In this week’s portion, we’ve read all about leprosy and learning it could be speaking of other viral or contagious skin diseases as well. Today, we see the instructions to the priest on how to check a sore on someone’s head or on the skin beneath a beard to find if the person has an infectious disease. If the signs of infection are there, the person is to be put into isolation for 7 days.

There’s nothing that describes the isolation, whether they had a quarantine tent or just what, but later, the time in isolation is described as a time of purification. The instructions even include having the person shave around the sore, but not shaving the sore itself. After that time alone, the person is to be examined again, and if there is no change, they get 7 more days in isolation before they will be examined again to determine if they are clean enough to go back into the community.

While these instructions were given for the physical health of the community, I can see how the same situation could be a good way to reclaim the spiritual health of a Christian community as well. If we’re all so busy planning events and looking perfect for “Sunday School,” when do we take time apart to examine ourselves before God to determine if there might be some purification needed? I’ve heard it preached that we should be in church every time the doors are opened, and I spent part of my Christian walk doing just that. But now, I see the great need for that time to be set apart for a time of purification.

We all need vacations from the daily grind, the irritating boss, and the demands of life in general. We need vacation to renew and refresh our minds and bodies. And I believe we also need times of renewal for our spirit, and that won’t always come with just a different set of circumstances–even if those circumstances are for a higher purpose. The priests had to examine sores to look for crusty spots that might be contagious to others. Let’s examine ourselves, or get with an accountability partner for examination, before we get any “crusty spots” on our spirits that might be contagious to others. 🙂

March 26, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just A Scar


 

Tree Scars by Flickr User Randy Robertson, CC License = Attribution

Tree Scars by Flickr User Randy Robertson, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

 

Besides a bit of a hard day with some news I’m not quite free to share yet, I’m having some issues with WordPress and images and changes they’ve made, so I’m going to keep this short. Of course, the current portions of Scripture we’re in are a bit short anyway, but I hope I’m able to bring something out that will bless all those who read–at least a little. Today, I want to focus on the fact that I believe God made scars with a purpose.

In today’s reading (another super short one) from Leviticus 13:24 through Leviticus 13:28, there is more instruction on determining if a person has leprosy. This time, it is talking about a person with a burn and how to tell if the burn has become infected with leprosy. The fact that a previous injury can get infected seems to support the article I mentioned in another post that said these statements about leprosy may also refer to other types of viral infection.

So, God explains to the priest, through Moses, that if a person has a burn, the priest should examine it thoroughly to check for signs of infection, so it can be determined if the priest can declare him clean and not contagious. The signs of infection to the burn are similar to the signs in other wounds except that with a burn, redness may simply indicate a scar instead of an infection. If it is just a scar, the person can be considered clean.

I decided to use tree scars in the image above because, just like God gave DNA to all living things, I believe He created all living things with the ability to be scarred when hurt. It’s all part of His way of showing us that we cannot be damaged without a permanent record of it. And, if He will not go without remembering hurts on our behalf, I believe that means He will not go without doing something about it in His way and time.

I believe scars are just one of God’s ways of caring for His creations. Other ways include self-healing attributes, toxic cleansing, regeneration, and so much more. But, while He created our bodies (and many bodies in nature) to work toward their own healing, He made sure the healing does not discard all traces of the injury. And even though we cannot see them, I believe God also sees the scars on our souls as well. So, next time you look at one of your own scars, or next time you see a scar in nature, remember that God created those scars in His infinite wisdom and mercy to let you know that He is watchful and caring over all your days.

March 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Declared Clean


 

Clean Dirty Magnet by Flickr User Lindee Photo Designs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Clean Dirty Magnet by Flickr User Lindee Photo Designs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

 

Are you old enough to remember this slogan: Have you had your Shower to Shower today? Or maybe you remember the old Irish Spring commercial slogan: Fresh and clean as a whistle. And then we’ve got: If it’s got to be clean, it’s got to be Tide. And, finally: You’re not fully clean until you’re Zestfully clean.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 13:18 through Leviticus 13:23, we have a very short reading about priests declaring people clean. The whole thing just talks about how to tell if a boil is clean by examining whether it is red, raw, swollen, has white hair, is dried out, etc. Each of the instructions either says the priest is to declare the person clean or unclean.

Without much to work with in these few verses, I am choosing to focus on the term “declared clean” because there is a difference in actually being clean and in being declared clean. Of course, if the person who is doing the declaring is honest, the two will mean the same thing. But what about when the declarer is not honest? Maybe it’s a preacher who’s just trying to get more money or accolades from the sheep, so he tickles the ears of any sheep that will give him a dollar bill or a pat on the back.

But the one that really worries me is the person who just doesn’t want to accept any kind of judgment (even personal accountability), so she declares herself clean (or saved) just because it seems easier than actually repenting. It would be like someone taking the dishwasher magnet above and turning it to say “clean” when the load has not been run through the dishwashing cycle. What good is it to put dirty dishes back into the cupboard just because the magnet says they’re clean?

I’ll close with this. We have promises of forgiveness in Scripture, and our promises are beyond what we deserve because of the wonderful blood of Christ. But declaring ourselves to have mercy without changing anything in our lives is not supported in any Scripture that I have found. To the contrary, we have abundant Scriptures that read like Proverbs 28:13 that says (in NLT)…

People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
    but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Just as God told the priests how to determine if someone was clean before they declared the person clean, we have God’s precious word to speak to us now. If we confess our sins, it doesn’t say we are covered. If we forsake our sins, we haven’t been given promise. But, if we both confess AND forsake our sins, God’s promise is that we will be declared clean.

March 24, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calling Doctor Cohen


Doktor Sleepless by Flickr User Team Tanenbaum, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Doktor Sleepless by Flickr User Team Tanenbaum, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

So how would you feel if your doctor walked into the examination room looking like the costumed guy above? Probably not comfortable unless you were a little kid. And what about if a priest of God was the one who walked into the room; would that make you feel at least a little better? The Hebrew word Cohen means “priest,” and Cohen HaGadol is “high priest.” And they had some duties that go well beyond those who are in similar careers these days.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 13:6 through Leviticus 13:17, we pick up where the last paragraph left on in the previous portion that was talking about leprosy. Between the two days, we have some detailed description being given to the priests, so they can determine whether or not a person is unclean with leprosy. Yesterday, the description talked about sores that turned the body hairs white. Today, it talks about raw skin and how much of the body is covered by the sores.

I was actually looking for an image of a pair of exam gloves because I planned to focus on the difference in perspectives from then to now. I mentioned before that there was no thought of germs or germ theory. I don’t know if anyone back then had any type of material they would put over their hands to prevent them from touching the raw or swollen wounds that are described in the reading, but I imagine having to examine a person for an uncleanness was one of the least desirable parts of being a priest. It’s probably pretty undesirable for a lot of medical professionals as well.

Upon studying, I found some information that said the Scriptures that speak of leprosy were likely speaking of many different kinds of spreading skin infections and not just what we know today to be leprosy. The main thing it seems they were looking for was to see if a person was contagious. If they were covered with sores but with no swelling or rawness, and all their sores had dried up and turned white, they were declared clean.

As with all of God’s laws, the purpose behind this one was to protect His people and give them a longer life. When His children didn’t know about germs, He devised ways to protect them before hand-washing and exam gloves. Before we learned that fish without both fins and scales would absorb toxins from whatever water they swim in, He told His children to only eat fish with both fins and scales to protect them from digesting toxic substances.

While so many (mostly those who don’t follow God, but some who do) are complaining that God makes too many rules, those of us who love and trust Him know that He is trying to create a safe environment for those He loves. We can thank Him as would a child who grows up to thank the loving parent he once considered overprotective until he had his own children to protect. Even what we don’t understand from the Old Testament is worth examination to look for God’s purposes and protection for those He loves.

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Boy, It’s a Girl, UhOh


Twins by Flickr User Brandie, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Twins by Flickr User Brandie, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’m trying to think back to all the family members I can remember having babies, and I don’t think anyone in our family has ever had twins–or any other multiple births. I guess it really is something that runs in certain families. And, while our Torah reading for today doesn’t say anything about twins, you’ll see when you read it why I would wonder how twins would affect a new mommy based on the Levitical laws.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 12:1 through Leviticus 13:5, we begin a new week with Parashah (portion) 27. The Hebrew name for it is Tazria and it means “She Conceives.” The first paragraph in this reading concerns how a woman is to be considered if she conceives and gives birth. If she has a boy, she is unclean for 7 days and then has 33 days of purification to follow. If she has a girl, those numbers are doubled. And that’s where I asked myself, “But what if she has twins, and one is a boy and one is a girl?”

I always wonder things in a more complicated way, but I guess it would be as if she had a girl since she would have. I wonder, though, what the scientific reasoning behind this is. Does a female infant do something different to the mother’s body that keeps her bleeding longer than if she carries a boy? Bleeding is the reason for the uncleanness and the need for purification, so it would not surprise me to find out there is something physiologically different about carrying a girl. I mean, this is where it says to circumcise a boy on the 8th day, and I have read that on the 8th day of life, every male’s blood coagulates faster than on any other day of his life. That’s a good idea when your physician is actually a priest and may not be the best at what he does with a knife.

The next paragraph talks about her atonement after her days of purification have passed. The mother is to bring a lamb, or a pigeon or young dove if she cannot afford a lamb, to make an offering for the child. This appears to be sort of the sealing for her days of purification.

The final paragraph talks about leprosy, but there is more on that tomorrow, so I’ll save that conversation other than to say, this is actually medical training for the priests. I think it’s amazing that God was giving them information on how to diagnose viral illness, so it would not spread through the camp. He gives exact descriptions for the priest to look for to make sure the priest can know whether to get the person into quarantine or let him go about his business. We truly have a God who cares for us in both the big and little details. Have a blessed week walking in His presence.

March 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Don’t Know Why She Swallowed A Fly


She Swallowed a Fly by Flickr User Gordon McLean, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

She Swallowed a Fly by Flickr User Gordon McLean, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

How is it that so many of my topics remind me of songs? I guess I think in lyrical ways. Of course, thinking of this cute children’s song is better than actually thinking of swallowing bugs, don’t you think?

In today’s reading from Leviticus 11:33 through Leviticus 11:47 (the end of the chapter), we pick up where the reading yesterday was talking about not touching the carcass of an unclean animal. It goes on to say that if the unclean thing touches a clay pot, a stove, or an oven, they must be broken. I’m guessing stoves and ovens were also made of clay, so I guess by their being porous, it made it impossible to clean the germs effectively. But, I also think of our human flesh any time I think of clay, so this says to me once again how cleansing our flesh from something unclean will take some brokenness. Thankfully, we also know the Master Potter who can remake our broken vessels when we keep them in His hands.

As the reading continues, we find out that any swarming insect that swarms the ground is not only unclean, but God describes it as detestable. I can agree with that description, and I’m glad I now have a reason to turn down any kind of bug-related cuisine someone might try to offer me. Of course, now I’m wondering about those little red bugs they use to color things like strawberry yogurt and Starbucks’ strawberry Frapp. (In case you haven’t heard about this, here’s a link to the article at Snopes.com that verifies its truth, and there are links for more info at the bottom of the article.)

And that’s it for this reading and this week, so I bid you Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath Peace) as you bring your week to a close. As a final note, in preparing for this article, I was looking to see if there was a Scripture that ever declared any of these “unclean” animals and bugs as being clean, and it turns out there is not one. While the biblical dietary laws are not something of a Heaven and Hell matter, I certainly think its worth more study as to best practices. I have never looked into it before, but as I learn little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept, I invite you to join me in my discoveries and to share your own thoughts and discoveries with me. I did find an interesting article at http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/RA/k/1049/Clean-Unclean-Meats.htm and I welcome any thoughts or commentary on its contents. We’re all in this together, friends, and I value your time in reading my posts and the comments and replies you add to them. Many blessings to you all!

March 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes


Green Spider Fractal by Flickr User Ahmed Sagarwala, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Green Spider Fractal by Flickr User Ahmed Sagarwala, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

…and that ain’t what it takes to love God because apparently He doesn’t like them either. Well, at least He doesn’t like them on our dinner menu. 🙂 And I like them so little that I was getting pretty grossed out as I was looking for a picture to go with this post, so I went back to my search box and typed in “spider fractal” to come up with the above. That’s not quite as bad to me.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 11:1 through Leviticus 11:32, we get to see the beginnings of what God told the children of Israel would be a good diet for them. First, God gives Moses some attributes of clean animals, like those that chew the cud AND have a split hoof. And then He tells them some of the animals included under the headings of “clean” or “unclean.” He also makes sure they know that unclean animals are unclean if they are eaten, if their carcasses are touched, or even if a person touches something that touched the carcass.

Some of the items ON the menu include fish with scales (this doesn’t sound too bad) and winged insects (bugs–yuck) that have bendable joints. That means we can eat chocolate-covered grasshoppers if we want, but I don’t think I want. OFF the menu items include weasels, mice, lizards, and geckos. (I’m sure Geico is happy about that last one. LOL) You’ll have to click the link above if you want to read the entire list of clean vs unclean food for that time.

I added the for that time because I do believe that some foods probably could still be left off our plates, but in those times without proper refrigeration and cooking techniques. there were likely even more problems. Of course, we also need to remember that these eating standards were given prior to the discovery of germs. God knew about those things that men could not see, and even after that discovery, those who taught the new “germ theory” (teaching that something too small to see could be deadly) were often considered insane. Aren’t we glad we know better now? And aren’t we glad that God has always known better about these and all things? This is just another example of why we should trust Him now and always.

March 20, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Brothers Weep


Sorrow by Flickr User Daniel Waters, Co. Sligo, Ireland, CC License = Attribution

Sorrow by Flickr User Daniel Waters, Co. Sligo, Ireland, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Sadness and sorrow are strong emotions that can change moments, days, weeks, and longer parts of our lives. When the sorrow is generated by a painful situation involving someone we care about, it can affect everything from appetite to moving forward in our daily routines.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 10:16 through Leviticus 10:20 (the end of the chapter), we read about the effects of sorrow on Aaron and his remaining sons after two of his sons were killed for offering strange fire on God’s holy altar. I found it just a little harder to understand from the Complete Jewish Bible, so I recommend also reading from another version as well. Here’s a link to read today’s portion from The Amplified BibleLeviticus 10:16-20.

So Moses is checking up on the rituals he has trained the new priests to perform, and he is concerned that he cannot find the meat from the sacrificial goat. The priests were supposed to eat the meat in a holy place as their portion of the sacrifice, but Moses discovers that they have burnt it up as waste instead. He asks them why they did things their own way instead of God’s way, and why the blood was not brought into the holy place as Moses commanded.

The response from Aaron is basically something along the lines of, “After what happened to the other two members of our family, we were all depressed and had no appetite.” And then he asks Moses if God would have been pleased with them if they had gone ahead and eaten in spite of what they had just been through. Upon seeing that perspective, Moses is pacified and understands the sorrow of the men.

I understand the pain of these brothers and father too. When I see a perspective that shows me the sorrow of others, I have to fight feeling sorrow myself–even for something as far back as a story in the Old Testament. I cry so easily that I wept when I thought of my kitties going under anesthesia for being fixed and not having anyone there who could explain in kitty cat language what was happening to them. Today, when I heard the family members weeping for their relatives who were passengers on the lost Malaysian Airlines jet, I immediately felt their pain and began to cry. I am highly sensitive to the emotions of others, and that can be both a good and bad thing at times.

While the brothers and father in our Bible story were experiencing common mourning, what I have described about myself is a bit less common. There is a great article (lens) on “Squidoo” that describes it perfectly. It’s called The Empath Within–Are You A Highly Sensitive Person, and it explains what it means to be empathic rather than just empathetic. It helped me to understand why something like a trip to Walmart can make me feel so emotionally drained, and it has to do with the sensations I feel from the huge mix of emotions there. I highly recommend the article.

So, why am I tying the sorrow of today’s story to my own empathic spirit? Because it’s a great segue to explain to my readers why the world sometimes feels like too much for you to bear. If you’re like me, when there’s a lot of pain around you, it makes it hard to complete even basic tasks. You’ll understand if you click on the article above, and you’ll even get a bit of a better understanding of me as a person.

Of course, the hardest thing of all is feeling stuff the rest of the world either doesn’t feel or won’t admit to, or maybe feeling things differently than the rest of the world thinks I should feel them. For example, while I am hurting over my nephew who is still not waking up, I feel more sadness for some of my Facebook friends who are battling cancer because I know they did not bring it onto themselves. Yes, I want Joshua to be healed, but if I had to choose only one person to receive a miracle, I would hand it to my friend, Judy Sliger, who is at the end of anything doctors can do in her battle with ovarian cancer. That brings its own kind of pain because I want to take on everything for everyone, but no one other than Our Savior was ever built for that task, so I’m left with fighting guilt.

I will ask you, my lovely readers, to continue to pray for my nephew. I ask above all else that you pray for God’s most perfect will to be done, and that you pray for God to be glorified in the situation. I would love to know that God is somewhere with him in that comatose state, and that he will wake up as a servant of God who is ready to tell the whole world about it. And I also ask you to pray for the many on my heart for the cancers and sicknesses and pains they are going through.

I will end today’s post with this: Judy is one I have known and met as we worked together to plan the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference some years back. She has written a book about her struggle with cancer. So, if you want to support her, or if you know anyone else who is fighting a terminal condition, I encourage you to consider purchasing her book. You can visit by clicking on this title… Take Heart: Prayers for the Terminally Ill. (This is a direct link to the paperback with no affiliate link embedded.) Thank you, and may your days ahead be blessed with more positive emotions than negative ones, and more and more of God’s presence as you continuously draw nearer to Him.

March 19, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Do As I Say AND As I Do


Sharing by Flickr User Ryan Roberts, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Sharing by Flickr User Ryan Roberts, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Why didn’t the clam want to share his lunch? Because, he was a little shellfish. I have never read anything that would make selfishness sound like a pretty thing, but there are plenty of pictures (like the one above), and stories, that demonstrate the beauty of sharing. I think we have a built-in desire to share, which is why the stories touch us so deeply. And I think it is that natural desire to share that makes social media so profitable because we can share without a monetary cost to ourselves. We don’t only share for what we can get back, but I think most of us find it easier to share with givers than with those who do nothing but take, take, take. As Scripture says in Luke 6:38 (New Living Testament)…

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 10:12 through Leviticus 10:15, we read of God’s example of sharing. Moses tells Aaron and his sons to eat the especially holy part of the grain offering by the altar, and he explains that it is the priests share. He then tells them to eat their share of the wave offering in a clean place. He says that offering is also to be shared with their Aaron’s daughters, and with the rest of the family. He goes on to explain that these portions of the offerings are to be their shared portions perpetually.

See, these were offerings given to God, but He made sure a portion of them was given back. He set the example of only taking to give, just as He set that example in nature with the way it regenerates. And I believe He is the one who put it into our hearts to give something back whenever we receive something–even if it is only our gift of thanks to the giver. He gave us His word that we can do as He says, and He gave us His example that we can do as he does. That’s why we play Follow the Leader and not Follow the Dictator. Let us lead by example as He led by example that the whole world may know the beauty of Our Awesome Creator.

I’ve shared a picture with part of this writing from Ellen G White before, but it seems appropriate again, so enjoy this beautiful portion of a chapter from her book The Desire of Ages

          Now sin has marred God’s perfect work, yet that handwriting remains. Even now all created things declare the glory of His excellence. There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself. No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life. There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their beauty in blessing to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the source of all our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give. The mists ascending from its bosom fall in showers to water the earth, that it may bring forth and bud.

          The angels of glory find their joy in giving,–giving love and tireless watchcare to souls that are fallen and unholy. Heavenly beings woo the hearts of men; they bring to this dark world light from the courts above; by gentle and patient ministry they move upon the human spirit, to bring the lost into a fellowship with Christ which is even closer than they themselves can know.

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Way IS the High-Way


Highway 1 at Sunset by Flickr User namealus, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Highway 1 at Sunset by Flickr User namealus, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Proverbs 16:17 in the Amplified Bible (AMP) says, “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; he who guards his way preserves his life.” With all we are seeing as consequences for the use of drugs, and all I have been learning from the doctors, the idea of doing things God’s way to preserve our lives is making more and more literal sense. We have a relative that completely looks past what our nephew did to bring on the consequences, and she refuses to acknowledge her own part in it or to repent of her continuing sins. Yet, she continues to claim that there will be a miraculous healing just because she is claiming it in Jesus’ name. But is there communion between holy and unholy just because the unholy uses a holy name?

Today’s reading from Leviticus 9:24 through Leviticus 10:11 shows that God is picky about the purity of what is offered to Him and whether or not our offerings are given with a spirit of obedience. After the offerings and blessings that brought forth the presence of Yahveh, we see His Spirit consume the offerings with fire. The people shout and fall on their faces in His holy presence.

But the next thing you know, two of Aaron’s sons (apparently he had four sons who were becoming priests based on this reading), march up all big in their britches and try to put on a show. They take unauthorized incense in their censers and try to light it from the holy altar of God. Not smart! As the fire of God’s presence comes down upon the altar, it consumes these boys who gave an offering other than what God had commanded to give. (Some versions use the term strange fire.)

Oh, but shouldn’t God be merciful just because they were offering something to Him? After all, they were called by God to be priests, right? In today’s theology, it would seem that anything done in Jesus’ name (or by a person who calls himself or herself a pastor or a prophet) is supposed to win God’s favor. Yes, we are made holy by the blood of Christ, but we still have to be led by the Spirit if we want to be free from the curse of the law. It’s all about our hearts, and if our lips are simply declaring the word of God while our hearts are far from Him, then we are an evil tree that cannot bring forth truly good fruit. But if we are sincerely following God, we will walk on His “high above sin” way, and we will bear good fruit.

As the reading continues, God declares that He will be glorified before all the people, and Aaron keeps silent, Then Moses calls Aaron’s other two sons and tells them not to perform any of the rituals of mourning, so that God will not be angry. He tells them to let the community of Israel mourn for them instead. And then he tells them to stay by the entrance to the Tent of Meeting because if they go out while God’s anointing oil is on them, they will die. They are also given a warning to never enter God’s presence having consumed wine or other intoxicating liquor because they must be able to know the difference between clean and unclean, holy and unholy.

The last statement makes me wonder if the first two of Aaron’s sons were intoxicated, and that’s why they couldn’t tell the difference in which incense to offer. If not, I’m guessing they just had disobedient spirits. We don’t get to see a lot of information about them, but we know they had been anointed and consecrated as priests for God, we know they were dressed in holy garments, and we know they had been in the presence of Yahveh. But none of those things compared to the moment they decided to follow after their own ideas instead of being led by God’s Holy Spirit. Living God’s way is about abandoning our own thoughts and ways because we love and trust God, and because we know that His thoughts are above our thoughts, and His ways are above our ways. His way really is the high way.

March 17, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Blessings Ready You for God’s Presence


Above the Earth by Flickr User thoughtquotient.com, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Above the Earth by Flickr User thoughtquotient.com, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

A seed doesn’t grow just because you plant it. It must be planted in ready soil. And, if the seed is to grow to maturity, the soil must be maintained for growth. Maintenance may come in the form of watering, weeding, and/or nutrients, but rarely does something left to itself grow to the best it can be. This is only part of the law of the harvest, and since we are made from earth, it’s important that we understand the part the harvest plays in us.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 9:17 through Leviticus 9:23, we continue the events of the eighth day from the beginning of the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests for Yahveh. They offer a grain offering, and a portion of it goes up in smoke on the altar. Then they bring peace offerings and wave offerings as Moses directs them. And then Aaron comes down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, and he blesses the people. After he blesses the people, Moses and Aaron go back into the Tent of Meeting, come out again, and bless the people once more. AND THEN (my emphasis), God’s glory appeared to all the people.

If God planned to show His glory to the people anyway, why didn’t He just meet them as soon as they had all gathered? If it was because of sin, then why didn’t He meet them as soon as the offerings were completed? I believe this all comes back to the law of the harvest. Just because soil looks ready, doesn’t mean it is. Only those who work with soil for a living would know if it is actually ready for the specific seed to be planted. God knew the order of things that would make His people ready to receive His glory. He knew which offerings should be completed, and which blessings should be spoken over the people, to prepare them for God’s holy presence.

These days, we have preachers who just bless people because that’s what the people want to hear. There are many who never go into a holy place with God to consult Him before dishing out blessings, and they don’t give the blessings for the purpose of God’s presence as much as for the thanks of the people. In what way does telling someone that God is about to bless them with a big house and a new car prepare them to commune with God? I imagine what they called blessings in these Scriptures were something more along the lines of, “The sacrifice has been accepted, and you are purified to receive God.” And after Moses and Aaron came out from meeting with God, they might have said something like, “God has looked upon your hearts and sees your desires for Him, so now He will meet with you.” I mean, truly, can you think of a better blessing than that?

Even under the blood of Christ, there is a plan and a pattern. If there was not one, then we would not even need the written word beyond the story of crucifixion and redemption. The blood of Our Savior is the sin offering, but where are we in the other offerings and sacrifices? I believe WE are to give ourselves as an offering to God to allow Him to prepare us for His presence. We bring sacrifices of confession, humility, repentance, and accountability. We may offer a sacrifice of praise as our wave offering. And in all the sacrifices and praise we give, and in all the blessings we receive, we should strive for those that are holy and acceptable to Yahveh, and for those that prepare us for God’s holy presence in every moment of our lives.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eighth Day of The Week


Infinity Fireworks by Flickr User karmakimmie, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Infinity Fireworks by Flickr User karmakimmie, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Tell me the truth: When you read the title, did you mentally start to sing the Beatles‘ song by a similar name? If not, are you wondering if I found some obscure Bible verse that says we had, at some point, eight days in the week, and that’s why time seems to be going so fast anymore–because we’re trying to fit it all into seven days a week now? 🙂 Sometimes, it does feel like we’re trying to fit more and more into less and less. That can be especially true when we’re dealing with trauma and tragedy. And, on that note, our nephew is still in a coma even without meds, so we’re still waiting for him to wake up to see if there is brain damage and how much. If only the whole world did things God’s way…but I guess that won’t happen until we reach the other side.

Today’s reading from Leviticus 9:1 through Leviticus 9:16 begins a new portion. We are now up to Parashah 26 with the Hebrew name Sh’mini meaning “Eighth.” Aaron and his sons have completed their seven days of consecration with The Lord in the Tent of Meeting. Before I go on to tell you the rituals they perform, let me stop and talk about the eighth day. Eight is often the number used for completion, for new beginnings (as in circumcision), and for regeneration (as in infinity). I have a lot of thoughts about all of that as applied to the types and shadows in the “Wilderness Tabernacle,” but my mind is tired now, so I’ll let my readers think and pray on it.

When the new priests come out of the tabernacle, God has them gather all the animals and grain needed to perform every ritual and sacrifice they have just been trained in. They gather the whole community of Israel to the front of the tent, and they make offerings for both the priests and for the people. The details are much the same as previous portions, but this one gives a reason for performing all these things; it is so that Yahveh can appear to them.

I’m thinking that having the presence of God in our lives should be enough for whatever sacrifice, offering, ritual, or behavior God would ask of us. There is no presence of any person that can benefit us the way His holy presence can benefit us. There is no presence of any person that can bless us the way His holy presence can bless us. And these people who had spent time with Him already knew the beauty of His holiness because they had experienced it. It is my prayer that those of us who have experienced even a moment in His glorious presence will be willing to do anything to bring it back. And for those who have not yet felt the amazing touch of Our Holy Creator, I can promise you that no self-devised touch of a person, a drug, or a way of life can compare.

May you all have a blessed week, blessed in your spirit by God’s holy presence regardless of what is going on in your physical world. And, just in case you did start singing a song after reading the title here, I want to give you the ApologetiX page for the song Eight Ways to Be with some really cool lyrics. In addition, here’s a video so you can hear them sing it for yourself…

March 15, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Consecrated, Separated, Dedicated


Preacher Man by Flickr User familymwr (U.S. Army), Photo by MSGT Dale Atkins, CC License = Attribution

Preacher Man by Flickr User familymwr (U.S. Army), Photo by MSGT Dale Atkins, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image from the Army Photography Contest and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr. There’s also info about the U.S. Army Arts & Crafts History on this image’s page.

If only people could be as consecrated and dedicated to things of God as those who live in the darkness are to their worlds. From the information I gathered from numerous doctors today, my nephew is only one of many who sacrifice their brains, their hearts, and often their lives, for the sake of one high. One doctor said he has seen first-time users needing open-heart surgery because they push natural bacteria from the skin into their bloodstream, and they end up with bacterial lesions on their hearts. I know “they” teach about dirty needles and such, but I’ve never heard a message about dirty (as in bacteria-laden) skin. I’d like to believe that if we all share that message, maybe a few less people will make the sacrifice to the IV drug idol. We still don’t know what’s up with my nephew, but it is looking like there’s some brain damage from the lack of oxygen, so I will keep the rest of this short and to the point again.

In today’s final reading of the week’s portion, we cover Leviticus 8:30 through Leviticus 8:36, the end of the chapter. We begin with Moses taking anointing oil, along with blood from the altar, and sprinkling it on Aaron and his clothing and on his sons and their clothing. This is to consecrate Aaron and his sons and their clothing. Moses then tells Aaron and his sons to boil the meat at the door of the Tent of Meeting and eat it there with bread from the basket of consecration. Whatever is left, they are to burn up completely.

After the sacrifice is completed, they are to remain separated from the rest of the camp and in the tent of meeting for seven days while Yahveh continues to consecrate them. They are to stay at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days, obeying everything God has laid out for them to do. The final verse says that Aaron and his sons did everything Yahveh told them to do through Moses.

Again, I wonder why it seems so much harder for those of us who are the children of God’s Light to keep this kind of dedication, especially considering we are assisted by God’s Holy Spirit. As I continue to pray for my nephew, I will also try to learn what drives him to be so dedicated, and I will try to apply it to my own life and walk with God.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen, Do, Go


Revival Prayer by Flickr User Corrie ten Boom Museum, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Revival Prayer by Flickr User Corrie ten Boom Museum, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
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I’m going to keep this short because it has been a difficult day in our family. While I study God’s word and try to learn more about what He would have me to be and to do for Him, and where He would have me to go for Him, there are those who are certain their own ways will yield them something far greater than God’s way. My nephew is one of those, and we spent today in the emergency room with him having overdosed on a mix of serious drugs. He has a three-year-old daughter that may or may not ever know her daddy again. Physically, he should pull through, but we won’t know until tomorrow if he will have any brain damage from the time he was gone before they revived him.

So now, in today’s reading from Leviticus 8:22 through Leviticus 8:29, we read about the ram of consecration, This offering required that Moses anoint Aaron and his sons with blood from the ram by putting it on their right ears, the tips of their right thumbs, and the tips of their right toes. After that, the blood was splashed on all sides of the altar. After these things, when the animal was burnt up, it was one that was a sweet smelling offering to God.

I see the places the blood was applied as representing what the priests would listen to, what they would do (with their hands), and where they would go (with their feet). As a member of God’s royal priesthood, I believe that being consecrated to God means listening to Him, do what He would have me to do, and going where He would have me to go. It may not always be easy, but it is always simple. And even when it’s hard, it’s a lot easier than ending up in the hospital or the graveyard.

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Will “in” Earth


The Lord's Prayer by Flickr User Elaine Layden, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Lord’s Prayer by Flickr User Elaine Layden, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
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Thy will be done IN earth as it is in Heaven. Depending on the translation, you might see on earth, but in the original, it is in earth, and I love that because it’s asking God to have His perfect will IN me. I believe that “sin” means going against God’s perfect plan for me, my life, life on earth, etc. I pray for more and more of His will (He must increase), and less of the will of mankind (we must decrease) that goes against it.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 8:14 through Leviticus 8:21, we see Moses performing the rituals of the sin offering and the burnt offering. It’s interesting to read the two paragraphs and compare the two offerings. The sin offering is a bull, and the burnt offering is a ram. The sin offering must be atoned for, while the burnt offering is accepted as is. The sin offering has parts that must be burnt outside the camp, and the burnt offering is accepted fully on the altar of God.

It is the part about atonement and burning some of the sin offering outside the camp that really stuck with me. The greater part of the bull, plus its insides, its hide, and its dung, were taken off the altar and burned outside the camp, and nothing says that any part of this offering was pleasant to The Lord. As a matter of fact, I don’t think God even likes the sin offering, but He instituted it because of necessity–nothing unholy can dwell in His holy presence. No one that goes outside His boundaries (trespasses against Him) can be where He wants them; with Him in holy places.

I think putting our sins on the altar and making atonement is not supposed to be a pleasant experience for us either. Repentance can be very painful, and true repentance doesn’t end at the altar but often requires a painful disconnection from those things that drag us to unholy places. We must willingly separate ourselves from sinful behaviors after we have walked away from an altar of repentance. And even though that separation can hurt, we know the price of our atonement was more painful to Our Savior who exchanged His throne for suffering here on earth and offered His life for it.

After the sin offering, when the ram was offered completely on the altar, it went up as a sweet aroma to God. This sacrifice is pleasant to The Lord, and I believe it represents our lives and the sacrifices we make after we have repented and turned away from sin. When our transgressions (going against God’s will for us) are under the blood of Christ, it pierces the veil of sin that separated us from God. When we are walking in His will, our works and praise become more beautiful and pure to God. He can see us as delivered from evil and brought into that kingdom, and glory, and honor that is His forever and ever.

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Light’s, Camera, Action


Clapperboard by Flickr User Kirill Proskurin, CC License = Attribution

Clapperboard by Flickr User Kirill Proskurin, CC License = Attribution
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The script has been given, read, studied, read again, spoken, rehearsed, and memorized. It’s time for the actual filming of the the actual movie. In today’s movie, directed by Yahveh Almighty, and set in the Sinai desert in front of the Tent of Meeting, we have many stars, including Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s two sons. Oh, and the stand-ins include the entire camp of Israel.

Our reading for today’s portion comes from Leviticus 8:1 through Leviticus 8:13, and is similar to what we have read twice before. This time, however, it is no longer a script reading or a rehearsal. This time, the real action begins. God tells Moses to gather Israel at the front of the tent of meeting because today is the day when he will anoint Aaron and his sons as the high priest and priests of Israel.

Moses brings Aaron and his sons to the tent of meeting, washes them, clothes them in the priestly garments, and then begins the anointing process. The anointing includes the men and all parts of the tabernacle to consecrate all that will be used in service for The Lord. No person or garment or article that will be used is left untouched because the work that is done for God must be done with dedication and decision.

And these parts about consecration really got me thinking about the often-heard question: Is nothing sacred anymore? For something to be consecrated, it means it is set aside for sacred use. If something is anointed, the meaning is similar. We say we want to be anointed for God. We talk of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?), but do we really want to be as set apart for God and His work as Jesus was? He gave up Heaven for us, but we struggle to give up Hell on earth for Him. We can hear the word from a preacher–and even from God Himself, and we can even memorize His directions like a script. But if we really want to be set apart (holy and acceptable) to Him in our works, there is nothing like the times when we finally take action.

March 11, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clean or Just Covered Up


Air Freshener Warning by Flickr User Environmental Illness Network, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Air Freshener Warning by Flickr User Environmental Illness Network, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image (with a link about air freshener ingredients) and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I have an old Bible message on cassette that talks about the difference in being clean and in just covering something up with deodorant. It’s like the air freshener ad that says it doesn’t just mask odors, but it actually cleans the air you breathe. Given the choice, I’m certain we all would rather breathe clean air than dirty air that is just sprayed with perfume. The preaching tape goes on to compare real prayer from a sincere heart to shallow praise, and it says the latter is like spraying perfume in stinky shoes. But God looks on the heart, and in the heart, so while people may be fooled by a good dose of deodorant in the form of praise, worship, good works, etc., God will not.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 7:11 through Leviticus 7:38 (the end of the chapter), we learn about the law for sacrificing peace offerings to Yahveh. If a peace offering is given to also give thanks to God, it is to be combined with a thanksgiving offering. For this type of offering, one part of each thing offered is to be given as a gift to The Lord. The meat that goes with this offering is to be eaten on the same day, unless it is for a vow or from a voluntary offering, and then the left over meat can be eaten the next day as well. This part tells me that some peace offerings are compelled, and some are free-will, so maybe that’s the difference in praise that we offer because we’re truly thankful for something and praise that feels more like a sacrifice.

Now, this next part is pretty common sense to me. It says any of the meat left for the third day will be disgusting and should be completely burned up. It also says that, regardless of the type of offering, no meat should be eaten on the third day, or the person who eats it will bear the consequences of doing so. Me; if I don’t have refrigeration, I don’t even want to eat meat later in the evening, let alone meat that is three days old. And I imagine the consequences here would be in the form of digestive troubles.

As for the days when eating the meat of the sacrifice is okay, I think this next part is very important. It says that any clean person may eat of the sacrifice. It also says that neither the person making the offering, nor the offering itself, should touch any unclean thing. I relate this to what I said above about being clean and not just deodorized, and I believe it is saying that God wants a pure sacrifice from a pure heart. I think it’s a perfect type and shadow of our need to lift up holy hands to God. We should approach God with a clean heart and clean hands, so that our sacrifice of praise will be completely acceptable to Him. We can be sure He will be able to smell if we have a sweet-smelling aroma, or if we’re just trying to cover things up with a strong dose of perfume.

March 10, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Broken Bread


Broken Bread by Flickr User Michael Porter, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Broken Bread by Flickr User Michael Porter, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
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What does it mean to be broken? And why are there so many biblical references about brokenness? I’m going to start with a familiar New Testament reference from 1 Corinthians 11:23b-24, New King James’ Version…

…the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Why did His body have to be broken by death and by being convicted of that for which He was not guilty? I think we can find part of the answer in today’s reading from Leviticus 6:12 (19) through Leviticus 7:10 where we learn more about the sin, guilt, and grain offerings, and about the differences when those offerings are made by and for the priests. In the first part of this portion, it talks about the grain offering on the day when a priest receives an anointing. The bread is to be mixed with oil and cooked on a griddle, and then it is to be broken, and THEN it is to be offered up in smoke with no one eating any of it.

When I think of broken bread, I think of the body of Messiah as in the Scripture at the top of this post. Like the grain given on the day of the priest’s anointing, Yahshua, though filled with the oil of God’s Spirit, endured things that would normally harden a person: rejection, abandonment, loss of a friend, betrayal, unfairness, false accusations, homelessness, hunger, thirst, etc. But if there was any hardness in Him at all, it was only so He could become broken for us. He knew He was the offering to become anointed as our High Priest.

The next part of this portion focuses on the sin offering. Unlike the grain offering for anointing, this one is to be eaten by the priests. Before it can be eaten, the activities such as sprinkling the blood must be done to make the offering holy. The holiness surrounding the sin offering is so important that if any of its blood touches a brass bowl, the bowl must be scoured. And if any of it touches a clay pot, the pot must be broken. There’s the brokenness again. And since clay often represents humanity, I see this offering as focusing on us and our need to be broken.

I believe brokenness is a necessity because it is evidence of repentance. Even though Yahshua had no reason to repent, He set an example by becoming the first one to be broken. (Just like He set the example of being washed in baptism even though He had no sins to wash away.) And while the grain offering for anointing was not normally eaten, I believe He wanted us to eat His broken body to connect it to the sin offering since He is both our High Priest and our Sacrificial Lamb.

In brokenness, we imitate Christ. We lay our sins on the altar, and we allow God to break the sin of our flesh away from us, and to scour our hearts clean. We must be cleansed, so we can adhere to the last part of the command for the sin offering; that it must be eaten in a holy place. Brokenness cleanses us to make us a holy place, so we can be an acceptable offering to God. After we have broken the flesh and have been cleansed, we are His royal priesthood, and we are that holy place (temple) for God’s Spirit to dwell. At times, we may become hardened again by life and by sin, but under God’s anointing, we can find an altar and be broken again, and we can offer ourselves up in holy praise that rises to Him as a sweet-smelling aroma.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Keep the Home Fires Burning


Cozy Home Fireplace by Flickr User MomentCaptured1, CC License = Attribution

Cozy Home Fireplace by Flickr User MomentCaptured1, CC License = Attribution
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There’s just something about a fireplace. Even if you were not raised with one, it still seems to speak the word home just in its presence. It represents warmth, comfort, and maybe even family. And the smell of a wood-burning fireplace, or a campfire, stirs up wonderful thoughts and feelings. Back in 1914, someone wrote a song called “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” It’s got beautiful lyrics about keeping the fires burning for soldiers who are dreaming of home.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 6:1 through Leviticus 6:11 (6:8-18 in versions other than CJB), we begin a new portion called Tzav in Hebrew, and it means “Give an Order.” Here, God speaks to Moses to give an order to Aaron and his sons about the burnt offerings and the grain offerings. The latter part of the portion discusses how and where the grain offering is to be given, and which parts the priests were to eat. It also says the grain offering is especially holy, and that whatever touches it will be holy. But the part I want to focus this writing on is the first part of the portion as it discusses the burnt offering.

The important information I saw in this, and my hubby caught it too while he was reading it to me, was the fact that God said He did not want the fire on the altar to go out. It was required to burn continually. Apparently, even God likes the look and smell of a smoking fire, so I guess we come by it honestly. The way God instructed them to keep the fire burning had much to do with the making sure to clean out the ashes after each offering was consumed.

I once read a book that compared forgiveness with cleaning old ashes out of a fireplace. The author pointed out how keeping the old ashes around would stifle the flow of oxygen to a new fire, and keeping old wounds, bitterness, and unforgiveness in your heart would stifle the flow of God’s Holy Spirit through you. In our portion today, we not only see the need to continually clean out the ashes to keep the fire burning, but in verses 3 & 4 (or 10 & 11), God also instructs the priest that He is to wear his linen garments to clean out the ashes, and then he is to change garments before he disposes of the ashes in a clean place outside the camp.

With the Old Testament tabernacle being a type and shadow of people led by God’s Spirit, we can see how the ashes and fire can represent sin and things like bitterness and unforgiveness. Once we offer something to God, He wants us to let go of it and get rid of the “ashes” that would hang around as a reminder of our sin–or of our hurts. Our High Priest, Yahshua, removes the ashes for us, but the change in clothing makes me think that it is up to us to then dispose of reminders of sin and hurt. Whether it is by apologizing, making restitution, or simply changing the ways we think and the people we hang around with, we are the ones who must do the actual letting go of the bondage of sin in our lives.

2 Timothy 2:25-26, in the Easy To Read (ERV) version, states it quite well…

25 You must gently teach those who don’t agree with you. Maybe God will let them change their hearts so that they can accept the truth. 26 The devil has trapped them and now makes them do what he wants. But maybe they can wake up to see what is happening and free themselves from the devil’s trap.

And then, like He did through the workings of the priests of old, God will kindle something new in us every morning, and in our hearts, we can always keep a fire burning for Him.

March 8, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are You Guilty of Guilt?


Judge Not by Flickr User Tim Ellis, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Judge Not by Flickr User Tim Ellis, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
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Are you guilty of guilt? That was the title of my first college essay. My argument compared guilt to conviction, and I received a high grade for my presentation–except for my excessive use of commas. On that, I’m guilty as charged. As I have matured in my walk with Christ, I have learned that I was lacking something back then. At the time, I thought guilt was not something from God at all, and that God only created conviction that made people want to change their sinful ways. Since then, however, I have learned that guilt is a byproduct of sin, and God put it there to help us want out of our sinful ways just as He allows us to have pain, so we’ll get our flesh out of the fire before we burn to death.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 5:11 through Leviticus 5:26 (or through Leviticus 6:7 in versions other than the Complete Jewish Bible), we read about sin offerings and guilt offerings (called trespass offerings in some versions). The guilt offering seems to be the one offered when a person goes against something God has declared as holy, or when a person sins against a neighbor. I’m guessing the latter would be considered unholy because the sin is done against someone who is made in the image of God.

The parts that stood out to me as I read this portion were the rules about making restitution. The offering to make atonement, and whatever acts of restitution were required, were to be done at the same time. In today’s church, that would mean we should be prepared to right our wrongs at the same time as we place ourselves under the blood of Christ. It’s not about showing up to the altar and asking for forgiveness while planning to fix the issue at some later date and time. Or, as my husband put it, it’s not about hollering up “Forgive me, Lord,” and going about your business, or telling everyone how your sins are under the blood of Christ, so it doesn’t matter.

A good example comes from the latter part of the reading where it talks about doing wrong to a neighbor. According to this, there’s no such thing as Finders–Keepers, Losers–Weepers, as we have stated with a sing-song voice since childhood. It says that if someone entrusts something to a neighbor, finds something that belongs to a neighbor, makes a promise to a neighbor, etc., and fails to do right by that neighbor, he is not only to make restitution in full, but he is to add one-fifth (twenty percent) to it. Furthermore, it says that the repayment should be done at the same time as the offering is brought to the priest.

The Lord does not change, so while we now have His blood to cover our sins, and we no longer have to pay the wages of sin that equate to death, we are not set free from doing our best to make things right. We are not saved by works, but we are still justified by them as far as consequences go–and maybe even concerning some of our heavenly rewards. There will be a trial by fire that will test our works, and the blood of Christ will get us across the threshold, but there must be something beyond the entrance if our works are being tested. But, even if there were nothing beyond getting a foot in the door of Heaven, why should we walk on this earth in the bondage of sin’s by-product of guilt? We don’t have to pay the price of death for eternity, and we don’t have to be guilty of guilt now. As Yahshua said to the woman caught in adultery when He set her free from death by stoning, “Go, and sin no more.” Now, He says the same to us through His written word (my paraphrase of Romans 6:3-7): Rise up, and walk in the newness of life. You are free to go and sin no more.

March 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tried and Failed


Fail Reel by Flickr User Nicko Gibson, CC License = Attribution

Fail Reel by Flickr User Nicko Gibson, CC License = Attribution
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In the movie reel of my life (somehow, I really think God has one of these), I know I have tried and failed thousands of times. I have made promises that still go unkept, whether because I’ve forgotten or for some other reason. I’ve had all the best intentions, all the best plans, and all the best efforts, and still I have failed. I fail because I am human. We fail because we are human. God understands because He made us. He says in Psalm 103:14 that He knows our form.

As I read through today’s reading from Leviticus 4:27 through Leviticus 5:10, I looked at all the answers God gave for what to do in case of failure during the times of the tabernacle and priests. Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, I don’t think He would have us discard any of it. As a matter of fact, The New Testament does not say that the old law is done away with. Rather, it says that it was fulfilled so we are no longer under the curse of it. What was the curse? It was that if we failed in one point, we failed in all of it.

I woke up one morning having an awake dream–maybe a vision. I saw a steel ring with bits of it missing and the word law in the middle of it. As I watched it, another steel ring came into view. This one had the word love written in the middle, and it had no missing pieces. As the vision continued, the ring of love settled into the ring of law and filled in all the missing parts. God’s law of love became the law and absorbed all the emptiness that keeping the works of the law could not fill in. I have never forgotten it.

But as for why all these commands were there to begin with….I believe God laid them out because He never wanted His people under a curse. He knew His children, and He knew they would fail, but He wanted to put every possibility of provision out there to make a way out of the bondage that comes with sin and failure. It’s like a mother, one many would call over-protective, giving her child an abundance of “just in case” scenarios to make sure the child is protected no matter what.

“Okay, honey, don’t answer the door; make sure the deadbolt is locked; the doorknob is locked; the chain lock is pulled; the intruder alarm is set; and your phone is charged in case you need to call us. I put the number where we’ll be on the refrigerator, but I also gave it to the neighbors on both sides in case you have to run out of the house to get away from a bad guy. Oh, and Aunt Sally will call you at 8 to check on you, and then Uncle Mike will call you at 9. Make sure you answer or they’ll call me to report you might be in trouble. Etc., etc., and, and, and.”

Does this seem like too much? God provided 613 total commandments to the Levitical priesthood. We have commandments in today’s reading that include when to sacrifice a goat, when to sacrifice a sheep, when it must be a female offering, and when a dove or pigeon can be used. He even provided for the unplanned sins, including those committed by making a promise (whether to do evil or good) and not keeping it. God has always wanted to make sure that we have ways out of our sins if we have a heart that is willing to step out of them through repentance.

And that is the most important part of it all… repentance. Whether it was following the Levitical commands back then, or stepping under the cleansing of Christ’s blood now, repentance is what makes the difference. Now, as then, a person must see his sin and failures as bondage (if nothing more than the bondage of being separated from his Loving Creator), and he must want to be set free. It’s not about finding reasons or excuses, and it’s not about trying to find some way to continue in sin. The blood–all the way back to the garden–has always been about repentance and being set free.

March 6, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Missing the Mark


Missed the Target by Flickr User Tom, Switzerland, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Missed the Target by Flickr User Tom, Switzerland, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Been there, done that, have the stains on my shirt to prove it. And boy, how frustrating it is when you are hungry or thirsty, and you really want to get that bite in your mouth, or that drink down your throat, and you miss the mark and spill something down the front of you. And it is equally frustrating when we want to please God but somehow, even with our best desires and efforts, we make a mess out of things.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 4:1 through Leviticus 4:26, we get to see how God even created provision for His children should they fail Him unintentionally. In many Hebrew prayers, there is a line of thanksgiving for the laws (Hebrew mitzvot) of God. This shows that the foundations contain pleasure in serving God according to His perfect will. Rather than make excuse for why they could not serve Him, they looked for ways to do it better. So, when they inadvertently failed, they wanted to be set free from that.

God has a system worked out of exactly what sacrifices are acceptable for offerings given in case of failure and the process required depending on who failed. If it was one of the anointed priests that failed, the process was a bit different than if it was one member of the community. It was yet a different method of action for repentance when the whole community shared in the failure.

The one thing about this reading that grabbed me harder than other parts was what happened if one of the anointed priests failed. The Word says that it brought guilt on all the people. Imagine if the one you were following as your anointed leader was required to repent and offer a sacrifice worthy of repentance to keep his or her sins off of you. Would it change who you choose to look up to for your leadership?

Remember that in the book of Jude (especially verses 3-4) we are warned about those that sneak into the church without us being aware of them (other than Scriptural warnings) and teach something less than adherence to God’s word. Even though the blood of Christ sets us free from being yoked under bondage if these people do not repent, I believe we are still required to go in with eyes wide open and be aware of false teaching and sinful leadership. I believe God still requires those in leadership positions to treat their positions with the highest reverence and responsibility, knowing that what they teach, and what they do behind closed doors, will affect their followers in some way. Think Jim Jones, and note what came upon all who followed him.

Today, I’m thankful for a provision in Christ’s blood that will help me when I miss the mark. I desire to do the right thing, just like I desire to get the food to my mouth when I’m hungry, but I still fail. And I know there are those in leadership who desire to do the right thing and fail, but the ones who truly adhere to God’s calling will bring fruits of repentance and not just words of sorrow for being caught. That is why I’m picky about whose words I follow–online and off. I know God sees my heart and judges me on my desire, and I know He sees the heart of all who try to serve Him and fail. Above all, He sees the blood of Christ when we fail but then repent and place ourselves under it. Halleluyah!

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fat Tuesday Forever


Bead Kaleidoscope for Fat Tuesday by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Bead Kaleidoscope for Fat Tuesday by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
I made this image from a picture of Mardi Gras beads someone shared as a challenge. Click the image if you want to scroll through the other designs I made (21 in total) from the original beads.

I’m sure there are some celebrants who might think the idea of celebrating Mardi Gras forever is a great idea, but I’m one of those who only likes the colors and the music and wants nothing to do with the idea of being in the midst of it. In truth, however, I could have named this “Fat” plus “any day of the week” because it’s not really about the celebration.

In our reading today from Leviticus 3:1 through Leviticus 3:17 (the entire chapter), we read some more about the requirements when bringing an offering to The Lord. The offerings covered here are those brought at peace offerings. Now, I’m not certain exactly what that means according to God. I don’t know if it was a way to ask Him for peace, or if it was a way to bring peace between the one giving the offering and someone else. I’ll just say that it’s one of those things that I will need to study more before I can even think to teach it to others.

I can say from the reading that the requirements are very similar to the offerings for atonement, including that whatever is offered needs to be without defect. Of course, which one of us would like someone to give us a gift that is from the “bottom of the barrel” so to speak? I know it did not make me happy when I once drew a white elephant gift that ended up being a cookie tin–and the crumbs were still in it. :-/ So, for The One who has given us everything, it is right to give–and to want to give–our very best.

And one new thing is added to the requirements this time. When giving an offering from the flock or herd, God says to make sure to offer all the fat to Him. He says, for now and for all future generations that the fat belongs to Him, so we are never to eat fat or blood. There are a lot of ideas of what that means, such as that we should only eat lean and fully cooked meats. Again, it’s one of those things I would have to study more to be able to say. I do know that I’m one of those who likes fattier cuts of meat, so it would be hard for me to accept that everything being cleansed does not change that all fat belongs to God, but if I were sure of it, I would change that. I’m certain lean meats are healthier as well, and well-cooked meats have fewer bacteria. And maybe that’s exactly what this last rule is for, a way to help us keep our temples healthier to be able to have more years to worship God. I’d love to hear what some of you think about these things that puzzle me. In the meantime, may you find many bright and colorful blessings and you walk with, and serve, Yahveh Almighty–on Tuesday and on every other day of the week.

March 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet and Salty


Salt Dough Heart by Flickr User Elin B, CC License = Attribution

Salt Dough Heart by Flickr User Elin B, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Which flavor do you think God likes the most? Do you suppose He likes sweet things because He made so many fruit trees? Or do you suppose He likes salt the best because He called us the salt of the Earth? He also made sweet vegetables, sugar cane, stevia, and bees that make honey. Then again, the oceans are filled with salt, and many chemical elements (such as phosphorus) are types of salt. Salts are also necessary for many of our bodily functions, but I’m not certain how necessary sugars are for us to keep living. When you break down all the different properties of salts, it gives a new meaning to God’s children being salt of the earth and the urgency to not lose our saltiness.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 2:7 through Leviticus 2:16 (the end of the chapter), we have a few more details on the grain offering. We already know the grain is to be offered without any type of leavening agents, but today, we learn that every grain offering is to be seasoned with salt. So far, there is no reason given, but I wonder if it is to make sure the priests eat enough salt to retain water for life in the desert–especially a life that requires the amount of labor the priests were required to perform.

The other thing we learn today is that no offering should be given with any honey put on it. Leavening and honey are never to be sent up in smoke to Yahveh. I’d have to do an experiment or talk to a scientist to find out if there is a chemical reason for that, like maybe that honey would coat the nostrils of those breathing the smoke and somehow harm them, but my mind takes this in another direction. I’m thinking that since leaven represents pride, honey might represent a false sweetness. In Proverbs, we read about the adulterous woman whose lips drip with honey, but her feet go down to death and Hell.

If what I’m thinking is at least part of God’s reasoning for wanting an offering to be given with salt and not honey, then I imagine that means He is pleased when we come before Him with tears more than with eloquent words of praise. Could it be that He make our tears salty instead of sweet for this reason?

March 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Pigeons to Pancakes


Pancake Face by Flickr User Kevin Severud, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike

Pancake Face by Flickr User Kevin Severud, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I had planned to go to Salem, Indiana, today for the last day of the Maple Syrup Festival, but we had the beginnings of an ice storm, so hubby and I stayed in. I wonder, though, if the griddle cakes Israel prepared in the desert–both for meals and for offerings–were the catalyst for what we now call pancakes or griddle cakes. Of course, I doubt anyone brought their offering with a happy face on the offering itself, but hopefully, they had a happy smile on their own face in thankfulness for God’s mercy.

Today’s reading from Leviticus 1:14 through Leviticus 2:6 begins with information for those who would make an offering of birds. The birds are to be either dove or pigeon, and this time, the priests do most of the work in giving the offering. I am thankful that God provided ways for everyone to be able to give an offering even if they didn’t own a flock or a herd to choose an animal from. God made it possible for all to come to Him to receive mercy and grace.

Most of us have probably heard or read the story of Yahshua turning the tables over in the temple in Matthew 12:12-14. And I’ve heard a lot of people use that Scripture to explain why nothing should be sold in a church. But some years ago, I had an interesting fact pointed out to me about this Scripture. In verse 14, after the famous statement about turning the temple of God into a den of thieves, Scripture says that the blind and lame came up to Yahshua, and He cured them. Apparently, those who were both sick and poor were being kept away from the priests and the chance to receive prayer. If they couldn’t provide their own offerings, and if they couldn’t afford to buy from the sellers, they were restricted to the courtyard. This is the scene The Savior walked in on, and–I believe–THIS is why He called them thieves, They were stealing the grace and mercy of God away from those THEY felt did not deserve it because of their financial situations. Scary huh?

Our reading continues with God providing yet another way for anyone to bring an offering to God. I think there may be specific reasons for grain offerings as well, but I believe they were also provided for those who had nothing to offer but what they could glean from the grain harvest. I found it interesting that God said they could bring fine flour mixed with olive oil and frankincense, or they could bring flour cakes or matzah baked in the oven or cooked on a griddle. All of it had to be unleavened, so I’m thinking that since matzah is like a cracker, the cakes are probably like our pancakes.

The important part was that which went up to God as a sweet aroma. I think He is greatly blessed to see us separated from our sins, however briefly. His word says, in Galatians 5:1 (GW), “Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm in this freedom, and don’t become slaves again.” He desires that we would have both freedom and joy. As He says in John 15:10-11, He wants us to have His joy that our joy will be complete.

Speaking of joy–well laughter really, I was thinking about the fact that the priests got to eat part of that offering. Do you suppose they only put the frankincense on the parts they knew they wouldn’t eat? Or do you think there’s a recipe out there for potpourri pancakes that tastes better than it sounds. LOL

March 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

USDA Choice Offering


Cow Painting by Flickr User Svadilfari, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Cow Painting by Flickr User Svadilfari, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Did you know that meat has all sorts of levels in quality? USDA Choice is only one of them. Another is Angus, and normally, I’d say it’s my favorite, but for this post, let’s focus on the USDA. For starters, I’m going to change the acronym from “United States Department of Agriculture” to my own new acronym: Unblemished Sacrifice–Divinely Appointed. Whether from the flock or from the herd, God gave Israel specific instructions on what was considered an acceptable sacrifice to Him.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 1:1 through Leviticus 1:13, we begin a new parashah/portion, a new chapter, and a new book. This one is called in Hebrew Vayikra and means “He called.” The tent of meeting is set up, and it is time for the sacrifices to begin. If a man needs to make atonement for his sins, he will be required to go to the flock or the herd to choose the animal he will bring to the priests as an offering to God.

What I noticed as I was reading this section is the requirement for involvement by the person who brings the offering. He must choose the unblemished animal; he must bring it to the priests; he must lay his hand upon its head; he must slaughter it before God; he must cut it into pieces; and he must wash its entrails and lower parts of the legs. For some reason, I had it in my mind that the person brought the offering, and the priests did all the work, but apparently, this is not so.

If I compare this to a modern-day offering of repentance and bringing forth works fitting for repentance (something that makes it more than just talk), that has the sinner (and the saint who still repents of his or her failures) doing a lot more than just showing up at an altar. We choose a work (or a sacrifice of praise) that is unblemished and acceptable to God, we present it before our High Priest (Yahshua/Jesus) to make sure it is acceptable; it is a work done by our own hand–or voice; it costs us something; we measure out how to perform it; and it cleanses us.

In the reading, the priests are the ones who splash the blood on all sides of the altar, and I believe this is where our High Priest comes in with His own blood that was shed for us on Calvary. The priests also arrange the pieces on the altar, so we trust in The Lord to apply the works we give Him according to His perfect will. And the priests then make all the pieces go up in smoke on the altar. If our hearts are right as we offer our works and our praise to God, the Holy Spirit will carry them to the throne room for us.

The sacrifices could not be made without the unblemished offering, without the involvement of the one who needed atonement, and without the priests who do their part in making sure all was done according to God’s will. When we offer whatever we have to give to God Almighty, if we offer a pure sacrifice with a pure heart, our High Priest will take over in the parts that we cannot do for ourselves, and we will receive the cleansing and the blessing. And that’s an unblemished offering that is a divinely appointed choice.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

   

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