I have never been what you might call a “women’s libber,” but I do feel that people deserve a fair wage for fair labor. When I was too young to understand it, I might have said that women should get paid the same as men if they do the same job, but with age and maturity, I have learned what doing the same job means. In truth, if a woman can do a man’s job–for example, lift exactly the same amount of weight in and for the exact amount of time, then sure, pay them what they’re worth. But It’s not about just holding claim to the same position. It’s about actually doing the same job with the same endurance and the same lack of risk. There may be muscular women out there that can lift and endure without risk, but for the most part, women are built differently and should not take risks just to “prove” themselves. We don’t typically see men with big bulky hands gluing tiny porcelain pieces together either, so just because the bull can fit in the front door of the china shop doesn’t mean you should employ the bull to repair the dolls.
In today’s reading from Numbers 18:21 through Numbers 18:32 (the end of the chapter), we complete the portion for the week, and we read more about the job of the Levites in the camp of Israel. God is still speaking to Aaron, and He tells him that the tenth of all donations, fruit of the land, etc., will belong to the descendants of Levi forever. It is their inheritance, and it is their pay for the service they will perform in the tabernacle. It is also why they do not have an inheritance of land as the other tribes of Israel have.
In the next verse, God talks about the value of the tenth that is going to Levi. He says it is the best of everything. It is like the best grain from the threshing floor and the best grape juice from the wine vats. It is a gift to God that He is passing along to the Levites. In addition, the Levites who receive the tenth are to set aside a tenth for God as well. They are to set aside the best of the best because it is a gift to God. This holy portion will be given to Aaron because he is the high priest. He and his family are able to eat this holy portion without guilt because it is in payment for the work they do for God.
God sharing what is given to Him shows how much He values the work that is done in ministry for Him. Sharing the holy portion, and the best of the best, shows that He feels the work done in keeping a holy place of sacrifice for His people is valued as the best of the best jobs. Ministry for God is not just a little thing. The sacrifice was not just a barbecue. The cleaning of the furnishings was not just a maid job. The emptying out, cleaning, and refilling of the water vessels was not just a job for the pool guy. These duties were sacred and not equal to simple tasks, so God paid for them with sacred and holy pay.
We have ministry duties today as well. We have the blood of Christ to take care of the tasks that formerly required a tabernacle and an altar of sacrifice, so Yeshua gets the highest praise for now taking care of these duties, but that does not mean God isn’t pleased when we minister to others. There is a payment of peace in the spirit that cannot be compared with any financial pay, and God showers it upon us when we determine that doing for Him is above any task or inheritance we could receive on this earth. The pay does not get poured out simply because someone is in a position of ministry, but God overflows us with unequaled value of blessing when He sees us doing the priceless work of building His kingdom.
Did you know there are six verses to the song Amazing Grace? In most churches and hymnals, we only sing four of them, but there are some beautiful words in what would be verses five and six (with the “ten thousand years” verse still remaining last). The words from the fourth verse line up perfectly with today’s reading, and they are…
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Today’s part of this week’s portion is from Numbers 17:25 through Numbers 18:20 (In The Complete Jewish Bible) and Numbers 17:10 through Numbers 18:20 (in The Amplified and other Bibles). Whatever the verse number, the last few verses in chapter 17 fall after we see that God has chosen Aaron as a priest over Israel, and He has shown the people by making Aaron’s staff blossom with flowers and ripe almonds. God tells Moses to put Aaron’s staff back into the tabernacle and keep it there as a sign against the rebels to stop their grumbling against Him if they want to live. The people cry in fear that anyone who comes near the tabernacle will die and that all is lost.
From there, the chapter changes to a conversation between God and Aaron. Maybe Aaron was feeling a bit fearful after all the uprisings against him and Moses, and when even the deaths of thousands didn’t settle people down. Whatever the cause, God spends the next twenty verses speaking to Aaron about his job as priest and about all He (God) plans to share with him while he performs his duties.
God first tells Aaron that he, his sons, and his father’s line, will be responsible for the tabernacle, and especially for anything that goes wrong in the sanctuary and in their service as priests. The tribe of Levi, Aaron’s kinsmen, are to be available to work with Aaron and his sons in their tabernacle service around the tent, but they are not to come near the holy furnishings or the altar. God then tells Aaron that He has taken the Levites from among the people, and they are a gift to The Lord for Aaron to help him in his service to The Lord. In addition to God sharing the Levites with Aaron, He tells Aaron that He trusts him in decisions regarding the services, and that if an unauthorized person tries to perform priestly duties, he will die.
God goes on to tell Aaron that He is sharing sacrifices and offerings with him, and that Aaron is in charge of all contributions to God. God tells him that all wave offerings belong to him and are okay for all in his family who are clean to eat. The best oils, grains, and wine, and all the first produce of the land that people bring to God are available for Aaron and his family perpetually. Everything in Israel which has been consecrated unconditionally will belong to Aaron.
God speaks to Aaron about the firstborn of people and animals, and He tells Aaron that everything firstborn will now be his. Firstborn of humans and unclean beasts must still be redeemed, and firstborn that are brought for sacrifices still go on the altar, but Aaron and his family can eat the meat. All contributions of holy things from Israel will belong to Aaron, aka the priesthood, and God sets this up as a permanent regulation, an eternal covenant with salt for Aaron and his descendants.
The final verse says that while Aaron and his descendants will have no land or inheritance with the people of Israel, God Himself will be his portion and inheritance. Now, just sit back and imagine that. First, God says that everything given to Him now belongs to Aaron, and then He adds that He will be Aaron’s inheritance. Since we are considered a chosen generation and royal priesthood, that means that God is also our inheritance and our portion. By His amazing grace, He provides all we need; from our daily needs to our eternal needs.
It’s not always easy to take our minds off the hard work we do ourselves to earn the rewards we earn. Because we are the bodies doing the work, we may forget that He is the one that enables our bodies to do the work. He is the one that enables us to live in a place where it is possible to be paid for the work we do. He enables us to live in a society where what we earn can be used to purchase things we need and desire. There are people and countries where these things are not so, even in our advanced society here on earth, so each day we wake up with the blessing to make life work as we like, we must remember to thank God for sharing of His abundance with those He loves–you and me.
How cool would it be to be “best buds” with Yahveh Almighty? I mean, having Him in your corner when people falsely accuse you, and having Him to stand up for you when you’re facing strong trials would be great, wouldn’t it? What’s that you say? He IS in our corner when we’re falsely accused? He DOES stand up for us when we face strong trials? Ah, well then we can say He is truly our Best Friend, can’t we?
In today’s reading from Numbers 17:16 through Numbers 17:24 (in The Complete Jewish Bible), and Numbers 17:1-17:9 (in The Amplified and other Bibles), we’ll read about God standing in the corner of Moses and Aaron because they were His friends. In this portion, God tells the men to have the leaders of each tribe take a staff (or rod) and carve the name of his tribe into it. He says for Aaron to carve in the name of Levi. He tells Moses to have the leaders bring him the inscribed staffs, and Moses is to place them inside The Tent of Meeting where God will grow blossoms on the staff of the person He has chosen as a leader of Israel. God tells Moses that this is to prevent anymore uprisings from other leaders who would accuse Moses and Aaron of uplifting themselves to their leadership positions.
Moses and the people did as God commanded, and the next day, when Moses went into the tent, he saw that Aaron’s staff had sprouted not only flower blossoms but also ripe almonds. Moses brought out all the staffs back out from the presence of Adonai and showed them to the people, so they would know that God Himself has chosen Aaron as a leader of the people. Each man looked at all the other staffs before reclaiming his own, so all knew it was Aaron’s staff that budded.
Yeshua told His disciples that they were His friends if they would do whatever He commanded them to do. Like any good friendship, it goes both ways. In John 15:11-15, The Message Bible offers a sweet translation of the conversation between Yeshua and His followers…
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
These verses clearly show how to behave in a true friendship. Yeshua tells the men to love others the way He shows them love, and to lay their lives on the line for each other. We are His friends when we obey these same commandments because we invite Him into our lives by this behavior. When we show His love to others, it is a form of praise to Him, and He dwells in the praises of His people. It was His idea to robe Himself in flesh, so that we could better understand Him, and it is His idea to create a friendship with those who follow Him rather than making us His slaves. A slavemaster demands a response from his servants, but in Revelation 3:20 (NLT), we read of His call to us in a much nicer way…
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
He is still knocking today, and He wants to be best buds. Will you answer and let Him in?
In yet another give-away to my age, let us harken back to that adorable little guy, Tattoo, that made the great announcement to his boss when he spotted the plane to “Fantasy Island” about to land. The boss of the island, Mr. Roarke, was basically the “god” of the island, and while people paid handsomely to enact their greatest fantasies, he was in charge of how those fantasies played out much like an author decides on the final plot for his or her characters. I don’t remember any specific episodes, but I remember how often things didn’t go exactly as people expected, and I remember that no matter how they went, most people learned some type of valuable lesson from their experiences.
In today’s reading from Numbers 17:9 through Numbers 17:15 (in The Complete Jewish Bible) and Numbers 16:44 through Numbers 16:50 (in The Amplified and other Bibles), we’ll read about “The Boss” over the community of Israel. Yesterday, we saw that after Korah and his family and followers were killed, many of the Israelites began to falsely accuse Moses and Aaron of killing God’s children. Their false accusations didn’t sit well with Yahveh Almighty, so in today’s portion, He tells Moses and Aaron to get away from the rest of the community while He destroys them.
Moses and Aaron are good leaders, and they are not satisfied with the destruction of the people even when they would’ve been justified because of their attacks. Instead, these priests fall on their faces and beg God to–once again–spare the lives of the people. Moses knows what will get God’s attention, so he tells Aaron to grab a censer, put fire from the holy altar in it, and lay some incense on it. Moses then tells Aaron to hurry and go out to the people to make atonement for them because the anger of God has already gone out to them, and the plague has already begun.
Aaron did just as Moses directed and ran to the middle of the assembly where the plague was raging full speed ahead. He added the incense to make atonement for the people, and the plague began to slow down. As Aaron stood between the dead and the living, the plague stopped, but many were already dead. When it was finished, there were 14,700 dead in addition to those killed in the Korah incident. When the plague stopped, Aaron returned to The Tent of Meeting and to Moses.
There are plagues in the world that can enter “the church” because of the sins of the people, and it is prayer for God’s mercy that makes all the difference. The greatest leaders are the servant leaders who will stand in the midst of the people and offer praise to God that makes atonement because they care for the people and want the plague stopped. These are the ones that, like Mr. Roarke on “Fantasy Island” may not preach the fantasy message the spoiled people want to hear, but they will preach hard and true messages that will draw people to the God of Truth.
I hunger for the kind of preaching that hurts when it touches the things in my life that shouldn’t be there. I may not like the pain right when it happens. I may even bristle and feel a resistance at the first hearing, but good teaching from a caring teacher will find its place in my soul, and I will seek to get right with God. I call for all who consider themselves priests, prophets, preachers, teachers, or ministers of any kind to take up the cause of ringing the bell and calling out to those who would be lost, “Da plague, da plague; beware of da plague.” Even those who fight it at first will eventually receive it and apply it to their lives and gain the wisdom that will draw them closer to their Wonderful Creator. Proverbs 19:20 states it well…
Listen to advice, and accept discipline,
so that in the end you will be wise.
May there be more teachers that are willing to stand between the dying and the living and give the advice and discipline that brings wisdom–and life.
“License and Registration, Please.” Aren’t those just some of the scariest words in this life? They usually mean we have done something wrong, or that we have some unfixed issue with our vehicle that we will be forced to deal with now. But how much scarier will it be when a government official can come to your door any time he wants and ask that question? As much as I don’t want to think about it, that day may come for the USA, and it may be here sooner than we think. But until it does come, I will thank God for every day my freedoms are mostly intact.
In today’s reading from Numbers 3:40 through Numbers 3:51 (the end of the chapter), we read more about the census God has asked be taken for the community of Israel. In this chapter, all the males from one month and older have been numbered, and God wants Moses to register all those who are firstborn. From the counting and registration, the total number of firstborn males comes in at 22,273.
You may remember from yesterday that the total number of Levites ended at 22,000. Well, since the Levites are to belong to God as a redemption for all the firstborn males of Israel, there’s a difference of 273 that have no one to redeem them. But all must be redeemed, so God tells Moses what he needs to do for their redemption. God has Moses take 5 shekels for each of the 273 males that is not redeemed by a Levite, and then He tells Moses to give the redemption money for the extra people to Aaron and his sons. Moses, of course, did just as God ordered him to do.
Maybe it’s from watching too many post-apocalyptic movies and/or shows, but the idea of each and every person being registered sounds scary to me. Of course, if it was God asking for the registration, it wouldn’t seem so bad because I know He only has plans for my good and never to harm me. But I don’t know that about the U.S. government–or any government in the world. But even with the fear out there that ungodly governments could acquire information and abuse what it finds, I know that I can trust being in the hands of a God whose only desire is my redemption. And besides that, I’m already registered with Him since even the very hairs of my head are numbered.
There are many ways to minister to our fellow man, and only a small portion of them include being up behind a pulpit. Those in front of the crowd do get noticed more than the mammas on their knees begging God to have mercy on their wayward children, but are they one bit more important? Granted, we need confident speakers to spread the good news across the airwaves, but we also need the missionaries who are willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience to carry the good news around the world. And we need the home missions preachers who survive on a small budget to bring the gospel to the streets and towns where others fear to tread.
In today’s reading from Numbers 3:14 through Numbers 3:39, we see the breakdown of the census for all those within the tribe of Levi. They are the servants for the tabernacle, and they each have duties that are to be done with complete obedience to God’s commands. We have three sons of Levi who are the fathers of the clans of the Levites, aka “the preachers.” The people from each clan will camp around the tabernacle, and each will have specific duties in the care of God’s house.
The children of Gershon (about 7500 males a month and older) are told to camp behind the tabernacle, to the west. They will be in charge of the tabernacle itself including all the coverings inside and out, the screens at the entrances, the curtains that surround the courtyard, and all the fixtures and ropes used for these items and for maintenance.
The children of K’hat (about 8600 males) are told to camp next to the tabernacle to the south. They are to be in charge of The Holy Place. They are responsible for the ark, the table, the menorah and altars, the curtains, and all the utensils used by the priests when they serve in The Holy Place.
And, the children of M’rari (about 6200 males) are told to camp next to the tabernacle to the north. They are assigned responsibility for the frames of the tabernacle. That includes maintenance for the crossbars, the posts, the sockets and fittings, and the posts that surround the courtyard with their sockets, pegs, and ropes.
Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons who were in charge of The Holy Place were to camp at the front of the tabernacle, in the east, toward the sunrise. They were told to carry out all their responsibilities on behalf of the people of Israel, and anyone else who tried to do the job without being called to that responsibility would be put to death. But there were plenty to do the job since the total number of Levite males a month or older was 22,000.
Now, I know there weren’t televisions, fancy church buildings, and all that we have today back then, but I just can’t equate the jobs this tribe of preachers has been asked to do with anyone who is up doing it for accolades from the crowd. If anything, I’m guessing there were more than a few of the boys who were sorry they were born into the tribe of Levi due to all the work it required. But for those who did the job from their hearts, the rewards of knowing The Almighty Creator was pleased with them was likely pay enough.
In answer to the song title in the video above, no, I don’t believe Jesus would wear a Rolex. Some televangelists, pastors, etc., have jobs outside their preaching positions that enable them to afford a comfy life, so I can’t say they don’t deserve it anymore than I can say a doctor who barely survived internship shouldn’t find some luxury once in private practice. But I definitely have concerns about the ones who use the funds from the flock to pay themselves as if they are a higher shepherd than The Shepherd to whom all our allegiance should be given. And the free-spending on things like gold faucets for a yacht makes it more clear to me why some religions make those in ministry positions take a vow of poverty.
Yeshua asked one man who wanted to follow Him if he was okay with the idea of sleeping on a stone. He pointed out that even though He was The Messiah and The One in charge of the ministry, He Himself did not have a pillow to lay His head on. I am thankful for some of the outreach that is done with the funds going into the big ministries, but I wonder how much could be done if more funds went to actual needs and less into the art of attraction.
The video, and the requirements we read for the Levites, should prompt us to ask this question about all whose ministries we follow and support: WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) if He were walking around in human form and ministry these days? Are all these who say they are called to minister for God camping around the tabernacle and keeping up the care of God’s house, or are they camping out in their own comfortable houses while starving sheep foot the bill?
I grew up listening to the Dusty Springfield song, Son of A Preacher Man, but I didn’t really listen to all the lyrics. I loved that the preacher’s son was the only one that could ever reach the girl singing because at that point in my life, I believed there was something special about preachers and their families. In a way, I guess I sort of still do, but it’s not exactly the same. Then, it was anyone who had the position of preacher or the prefix of reverend. Now, it’s more about respect for the genuine calling of someone who would dedicate his or her whole life and family to reaching others with true love of Christ.
In today’s reading from Numbers 3:1 through Numbers 3:13, we’ll read about the sons of Aaron, one of the original preacher men. All four of Aaron’s sons served in the priesthood, but two of them were killed for getting egotistical about it and making it more about themselves than about The Creator. (This is a stern warning to those preachers, pastors, prophets, prophetesses, etc., these days who might think their position is one of anything other than servant-hood to The Almighty.)
God tells Moses to summon the entire tribe of Levi, so they can learn their duties as Israel travels. They are to be in charge of the tabernacle, all its furnishings, and all the continued duties of the priesthood. Anyone who is not of the tribe of Levi who tries to work in the priesthood is to be killed.
The word then goes on to tell us that the Levites are actually in the position of firstborn to God. The reason they do not have a division of the lands and possessions of the community of Israel is because they have become owned by God in place of His taking the firstborn of all the people. Because the firstborn always belongs to God, the Levites belong to Him in their stead.
In learning this, I can now see why God told King David not to harm Saul even though he deserved it. He told King David not to kill Saul because he had been anointed of God, and even with Saul’s failures, the anointing apparently doesn’t wash off. It is also why we must be careful how we treat all humans because, as Scripture says, they are made in the image of God…and that doesn’t wash off either.
Children of preachers, often called PKs (for “preacher’s kids), have frequently been looked down on because people could see the truth of the private household in their lives, and their lives have too often reflected the opposite of what was seen in the pulpit. While I agree that it’s good for truth to come out, it hurts me to see such disrespect toward the calling of God–even if that disrespect is earned. I haven’t even watched the show on Lifetime network called “Preacher’s Daughters” because I expect, with the general attitude of the network, that it will be looking for faults in the children of preachers. I could be wrong, but I just don’t want the world to have yet another reason to seek answers in anything but God and His holy word.
I know God still anoints people to work in ministry for Him, though it seems to be getting more and more rare to find the ones that are in it for God instead of for themselves. So many worry more about building up a congregation instead of building up the Spirit of God in each congregant. Or they worry about building up a doctrine, a method, a theology, or a theory instead of worrying about building up the God who is above all doctrines, methods, theologies and theories. But it is God that must increase; not us, not any people, and not church congregations. And if the preachers will remember that, then it will also show in the lives of the daughters and sons of the preacher men.
If I were to ask you if you honor the Lord with holiness, you would likely begin to look at the works you do for Him to decide how to answer. But I believe holiness has everything to do with our hearts, and only has to do with our works insomuch as they follow the thoughts of our hearts. Holiness begins in our hearts and with a commitment to give to God that which He should have because He is worthy. Holiness is the change of heart that makes us see God as worthy of our belief, our obedience, our trust, and our praise.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 21:16 through Leviticus 22:16, we start with Yahveh telling Moses to tell Aaron the following: “None of your descendants who has a defect may approach to offer the bread of his God.” And then the teaching goes on to explain all the types of defects that would prevent a descendant of Aaron from working in the priesthood. I would not be able to bring offerings into the holy place because I have stunted growth. My husband could not bring offerings into the holy place because he has a cataract. We could both eat the bread of God, both the holy and the especially holy, but we could not offer it to God with our defects because that would profane God and His place of holiness.
Moses tells these things to Aaron and to all of Israel, and then he goes to Aaron to deepen the lesson. He tells him to have his sons keep themselves separate from the holy things of God, so they will not take a chance of defiling them by approaching them in an unholy state. If they do, God will cut them off from their people. For us, this means that we should not try to come into “the church” by doing all the right stuff without first repenting and being covered with the holy blood of Christ to make us clean. Like the verse above says, our salvation is a gift from God, and that alone should be enough to bring us to our knees before we strap on the apron of good works.
The teaching goes on to explain more ways in which a descendant from Aaron (member of the tribe of Levi) can make himself or herself unclean, and that uncleanness can prevent both doing the work of the tabernacle and partaking of the holy food. Even a daughter who has married outside of the tribe is no longer able to partake of the food, but a widow or divorcee with no child that comes back to live with her father may share in the food. Also, while an employee or tenant may not partake of the holy foods, a slave that lives in the home of a Levite may eat them.
I see all of this teaching as a simple commandment to not put the cart before the horse. We don’t do the works of God with unholy hearts that are not committed to Him. That means we don’t get brownie points for going to church on Sundays and hoping it will erase the demerits we earned during the rest of the week. We don’t get a pat on the back from God because we donate to good causes or give ourselves to service if we are doing those things in the sin of pride and arrogance instead of with a holy love for our Creator.
Holiness is a changed state of heart and mind that will have us proclaiming the glory of God in wondrous new ways. Here are just some of the verses from King David’s song in Psalm 96 in which I can see his holy heart…
1Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
3 Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
4 For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised…
6 Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.
9 Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
I especially like that last verse because I see holiness as something beautiful and wonderful. It is an acknowledgement that God’s holiness is so majestic that all we can do is tremble in His holy presence. Hallelu-Yah!
Do you realize that Hell was not actually made for people? According to Matthew 25:41, it was made for the adversary and the fallen angels. Personally, I don’t believe God has ever desired for any of those He created to suffer an eternity of torment, but the enemy chose to try and exalt himself above God and it’s unforgivable to know God and not recognize Him as God. But He has always wanted mankind to walk with Him as a friend. Someone even pointed out to me recently that when Adam and Eve were in the garden, they already had knowledge of good, so the reason God told them to stay away from the tree was to protect them from the painful knowledge of evil. But unfortunately, now that we have the knowledge, we often choose evil regardless of the end result.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 16:18 through Leviticus 16:24, we read of more instructions for Aaron to atone for the uncleanness in the camp of Israel. Because God wants to dwell with His people, He must find ways to bring cleansing to His altar and His people. Aaron will sprinkle blood on the altar to atone for it, and then he will change clothes and offer the sacrifices that will atone for the people.
We touched lightly on the 2nd goat yesterday, but today there’s a bit more detail on what is often called “the scapegoat.” Aaron must place his hands on the head of the 2nd goat, and he must confess all the transgressions, crimes, and sins of the people of Israel over the head of the goat. After that is done, he will send the goat away to the desert with a man appointed for that purpose. The goat will then bear away the transgressions of the people to an isolated place in the desert.
I may have mentioned this before, but when my nephews were little, I told them the story of sin using helium balloons. (It is my intention to put the story into an illustrated children’s book someday.) The balloons represented sins and things God does not want in our lives. I told them that if they didn’t let go of the balloons, they could be carried away by those sins. The blood of Christ gives us the ability to let go of our sins and let them be sent to Hell without us like the goat was sent to the desert without the people following. But if we choose to hang on to our sins instead of putting them under the blood, then when God sends the sins to Hell, we will go where they go.
As I said at the beginning, sending people that He created to a place of eternal torment has never been God’s perfect will. His word says in 2nd Peter 3:9 (and I love the way this reads in The Names of God Bible)…
The Lord isn’t slow to do what he promised, as some people think. Rather, he is patient for your sake. He doesn’t want to destroy anyone but wants all people to have an opportunity to turn to him and change the way they think and act.
So, when we are given the opportunity to repent and let go of our sins, let’s do it, so that we don’t follow them to a destination intended only for them and not for those God loves.
Now isn’t that title just a mouthful? Of course, I love words, and I have a thing for words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They call them homophones, and the list includes many words that often get misspelled like there, their, and they’re; hear and here; to, too, and two, your and you’re; etc. I have challenged myself many times through the years to see how big a list of these I can make. I currently have over 400 sets and well over 800 words total, especially since so many of them have three to a set.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 16:1 through Leviticus 16:17, we begin a new portion for a new week, Parashah 29: Hebrew Acharei Mot meaning “After the Death.” This portion focuses on the requirements of Aaron before he is able to enter the Holy of Holies to meet with the presence of God. It begins by focusing on what not to do that got the sons of Aaron killed, and it explains that the rules apply because God’s presence is actually there in the Holy Place.
We’ve read the laws in previous portions but to summarize, there will need to be gifts from the community of Israel who will provide a bull, a ram, and two goats. Aaron will put on the priestly vestments, and then he will give a sin offering and a burnt offering, and he will cast lots over the goats to determine which will be for The Lord, and which will be for Az’azel. (Note: KJV translates this word as “scapegoat” but many are unsure what the word actually means.) After the blood sacrifices, Aaron will perform the other cleansing and praise rituals with the incense and the sprinkling of blood.
The important things in these behaviors are in Aaron doing whatever it takes to gain atonement for himself, for his household, and for the community of Israel, before he enters into the presence of God. The incense is to create a cloud over the Ark of the Covenant because God’s presence dwells there, and the smoke will keep Aaron from dying. Even though we now have the blood of Christ for our atonement, so we can come boldly before the throne of grace and mercy, I think heartfelt and sincere praise as we enter into the holy Presence of Yahveh Almighty is a valuable offering. I guess it’s like greeting someone you love with a kiss before you start making demands on them. 🙂
The verse that stood out to me today is verse 16 which reads…
He will make atonement for the Holy Place because of the uncleannesses of the people of Isra’el and because of their transgressions — all their sins; and he is to do the same for the tent of meeting which is there with them right in the middle of their uncleannesses.
Mostly, I noticed the fact that the tabernacle, which represents God and His presence, was right in the middle of the sins and unclean behaviors of God’s people. It makes me think of Psalm 40:2 (CEB)…
He lifted me out of the pit of death,
out of the mud and filth,
and set my feet on solid rock.
He steadied my legs.
I know God’s presence can stand right in the middle of sins and uncleanness now just as it did then. Because the blood of Christ covers our sin, even those in sin can now come boldly before the throne of grace. When we come into His presence bearing presents (fruits of repentance), God will reach into the pit of miry clay and pull us to safety. I’m watching Him perform a miracle right now in the life of my nephew that overdosed three weeks ago, and I’m believing that He will pull him out of that pit and raise him to new and clean places in His holy presence. And that’s worth any thank-you gift (any presents) I can give to Him.
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 Bible…Leviticus 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometime back, while I was looking up the definition of anointing for the purpose of one of my earlier blog posts, I happened upon an article that really gave me a wake up call about the biblical meaning of anointing. If you are interested, you can read the article yourself at http://www.blessedquietness.com/journal/housechu/anoint.htm since it goes into some deep study. The main thing I took away from it was that anointing is not the same thing as power.
In today’s reading from Exodus 40:1 through Exodus 40:38 (the end of the chapter and the end of the Book of Exodus), God instructs Moses on how to set up the tabernacle for the very first time. He explains how to arrange the furnishings and the coverings for the courtyard, and then God tells Moses to prepare the tabernacle for use by anointing everything.
Now, if anointing were equal to power, the items used for God’s service would be where the power was at rather than the power existing with God and God alone. Just as with our Messiah, with the word Meshiach and Christ meaning “The Anointed One,” we know that what set Yahshua apart from other men was not His power, but it was His consecration to the work of God. Power could have struck all His accusers and crucifiers down, but consecration helped Him to say, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The anointing on the articles in the tabernacle was to consecrate them for God’s service.
After all the furnishings and utensils were anointed with the special oil based on God’s direction (not just any old oil or grease would work), God told Moses to bring Aaron and his sons to the tent of meeting, put them in their vestments, and then anoint all of them for the work of the priesthood. This anointing consecrated them to do the work that God was calling them to do. The consecration to the work of the Lord carried a heavy responsibility, and we will see in the next Bible book the results of some of that responsibility and what happens when it is taken too lightly.
When you seek an anointing from God, remember to seek it for the right reasons, and remember the responsibilities that go with it. It is not a light thing, but it is a great blessing to see even a small work of obedience yield great results for The Lord.
…and I used it on a piece of gold, I do not think it would come out looking like the beautiful designs you see here on this golden menorah in Jerusalem. I could hammer in the morning, I could hammer in the evening, I could hammer all over this land, and I could not create something like this because it is not my calling. Of course, most any tool in my hand would be useless toward creating beauty from scratch unless that tool is used for writing and the beauty comes out in words. Though not every piece of my work can be considered artistic, I am thrilled when something I write captures a readers heart in the same way an artisan craftsman captures someone’s eye.
In our reading today from Exodus 37:17 through Exodus 37:29 (the end of the chapter), we read more about the craftsmanship used to build the tabernacle furnishings. The details in the golden menorah are so clear, it’s like you can close your eyes and truly envision the finished product. In verse 22, we read that the whole menorah is one piece of hammered work made from pure gold. That’s a lot of gold, and that’s a lot of hammering. And, in my estimation, that’s a lot of beauty.
Maybe Aaron had seen some of God’s artisans at work, and that’s where he got the idea that he could say someone could pour gold in a fire, and a fully formed figure would pop out of it. Sometimes, when you watch a truly talented person engage in his or her creative calling, the process seems so smooth it could appear to be automated. I imagine it might have been a little like that for those who got to watch Oholiab as he worked under God’s anointing. Whether he was making the menorah, the altar of incense, or the utensils and dishes for use with the furnishings, he probably worked with a creative flair that was magnificent to view as the finished pieces became more and more real.
In addition to not being creative with a hammer, I also am not creative with sand and dirt. My God is though. He made millions of creatures, so different and yet so alike in many ways, with just dust and wind. How could I ever doubt that with a touch of His creative Spirit, any man can create any number of amazing things? I need to remember that when I begin to doubt myself because of my human failures. It’s not the tool that matters, and it’s not even who’s wielding the tool; it’s the God who blesses the whole work from beginning to end. Except the Lord builds the house, all who labor will labor in vain. Oh, but if the Lord is the Master Builder, you’re going to get a master-built piece.
And speaking of sand, let me close by including a video of an anointed artisan who crafts amazing images with just some dirt and light. He is Joe Castillo, and if you watched the 2012 season of America’s Got Talent, you saw him complete a number of images with that smooth and almost automated ability of one whose creative calling comes directly from God. And, while there are other sand artisans, you’ll be pleased to know that Joe has his focus on Christ, and you can find out more by visiting his website at http://www.joecastillo.com/about_us.html
Remember this round from school days?
Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar? You stole the cookies from the cookie jar. Who, me? Yes, you. Couldn’t be. Then who?
Even in our playtime, no one ever wanted to really take the blame. Whether it was because we didn’t really believe we would get caught, or because we truly thought that if we denied it people would drop the case, Now, as then, it doesn’t seem to be customary to confess our wrongdoings unless there is just too much solid proof. And even when there’s just no denying it because we have been caught red-handed, we still don’t take full responsibility. Instead, we try to create an excuse that makes it someone else’s fault.
In today’s reading from Exodus 31:18 through Exodus 33:11, we get to see what the people of Israel have been up to while Moses and the elders have been up on the mountain learning about God’s plans to show mercy on them through His law and through sacrifice. They’ve gotten bored. They’ve decided that they no longer trusted Moses to be in God’s favor and think God has killed him. And in believing their leader is gone, they’ve also decided they no longer have Yahveh as their God, so they call on Aaron to create a god for them to worship. If only they had known that though Moses couldn’t see what they were doing, he was aware of God’s anger toward them, and he was pleading for their souls to the very God they had abandoned.
So, imagine you’re like Moses, and you’ve just spent hours pleading with a judge to have mercy on a family member because you just know his or her behavior was a one-time thing. You want the judge to give the person another chance, and the judge agrees. You head to where the person lives to share the good news, and instead of gratefulness, you find a wild party going on. Wouldn’t you want to just scream, drive everyone out, and the beat the living tar out of the offender for not recognizing the absurdity of his or her actions? Moses sees these people dancing and singing around a golden calf, calling it their god, thanking it for delivering them from Egypt, and suddenly, his anger blazes into a raging flame. He throws down the tablets of commands he has just been spending so much time receiving and crushes the golden calf into dust. After he sprinkles the dust on the water, he makes the people drink it.
Now Moses confronts Aaron who was supposed to be watching the people. The Scripture says that Aaron allowed the people to get out of control. Remember that all this time, God has been telling Moses about the job Aaron was chosen to do as an anointed high priest. With that anointing, Aaron should have cared more for the people’s souls, and not given in to their whining voices. Now, when Moses confronts Aaron, what does he do? He pulls the infamous not me routine and blames all the behavior on the people–and in a way on God. He says he told the people to bring him gold to make them a god, and when he threw the gold in the fire, out popped a golden calf. Really, Aaron? Do you actually think anyone is going to believe that?
But all the excuses in the world were not going to change anything because God was looking on their hearts, and I’m guessing there were some that incited the people into believing the nonsense and giving up on God. He sent the true believers out to kill many of the unbelievers, and three-thousand people were killed that day. At the same time, Moses went back to the mountain to plead for God’s mercy one more time. God agreed to show mercy, but He still sent a plague on the people. He told Moses to continue to lead them to the promised land, but He also told them He could no longer walk with them because He would be too tempted to destroy them on the way.
As the reading comes to a close, Moses and Joshua set up a tent of meeting outside the camp since God will no longer walk into the camp. Whenever they go in to speak with God, the cloud of God’s presence resides over the top of the tent. The people, now being reconfirmed about God and His power, stand in the field watching Moses go into the tent, and when the cloud comes down, they fall on their faces and worship. While in the tent, Scripture says Yahveh would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to a friend.
I guess that last line should be the goal for each of us. We can find God on the mountain top, or we can see His feet from someplace a little lower than the top, or we can see His presence from a distance and fall down to worship Him. But, oh, how precious would it be to speak with Him face to face as with a friend? The veil that once separated all but the high priest from the presence of God was torn, so we can have that now, but it is nothing to take lightly. I believe we must tear the veil of sin from around our hearts on a regular basis, and let God in to that deepest place each day. It’s not easy. Like Paul said, “I die daily.” But our daily dying out to sin means a daily resurrection to new life in Him. That’s why His word says in Lamentations 3:22-23 that God’s mercies are begin fresh EVERY morning.
There’s just something about a uniform that evokes more trust than everyday clothing. For me, working for a company that gave me a uniform, even if it was just a vest to wear over my own clothes, made me feel like I was a part of something important. The first picture I ever saw of my husband was of him in a uniform. It didn’t have to be his dress uniform for me to know he was a soldier, and I felt a sense of pride in that even before meeting him. After getting to know him, I noticed that the uniform didn’t only affect me, but it affected his behavior as well. He knew when he was dressed in uniform that he represented more than just himself, and he cared that others saw that representation as perfectly as possible.
In today’s reading from Exodus 29:1 through Exodus 29:18, we step into the dressing room of Aaron and his sons. I’m going to try my best to compare the steps that prepared these first priests with the steps today’s servants of God should be taking. After all, we are called “A Kingdom of Priests” and “A Royal Priesthood.” See Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9-10, and Revelation 1:6. I hope I can bring it all together, and I hope each of my readers will feel dressed for success after reading about this wonderful calling to walk before Yahveh as servants and friends.
In yesterday’s reading, we were told that Aaron and his sons were to be anointed, inaugurated, and consecrated to serve in the office of priest. I looked up the definitions of those three words and found the following: anoint = ceremonially confer divine or holy office by smearing with oil, and nominate or choose; inaugurate = begin, admit formally, or mark the beginning of office; and consecrate = dedicate formally for divine service, ordain or devote to service. Based on the definitions, I believe that lines up with the Scripture in Revelation 17:14 that says those who will minister on the side of Christ in the final war are His called, chosen, and faithful.
For Aaron and his sons to take their chosen offices, and for us to take our positions in service to God, I believe the steps are similar. They start with things that happen at the door of the tabernacle before anyone even approaches the Holy Place or The Holy of Holies. The first thing done to Aaron and his sons were that they were washed. They could not put on the ministry uniforms until they were cleansed. We usually hear our call to serve God outside the church as well. Maybe we see a good example, maybe we have a dream, or maybe someone ministers to us. Maybe we hear Christ knocking a number of times before we choose to open the door and walk through. Once we walk through, we often choose to get baptized to represent that we are washing away our old lifestyle, so we can be consecrated to God’s service.
After Aaron and his sons were washed, then they were dressed in the ritual vestments. Those uniforms, as I pointed out previously, covered them from head to toe. These new priests were completely washed and completely covered in a new image. When we make a decision to walk according to God’s will, we are told (in Romans 13:14) “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” We are also reminded in Galatians 3:27 that if we have been baptized (washed) into Christ, we have put on Christ. Since the word baptism means “immersion” that means we have been dressed or uniformed–head to toe–in Christ, just as the priests were dressed in their vestments.
The last thing done to Aaron and his sons to prepare them for service was to have the anoiting oil poured over their heads. It was only after these new priests were washed, redressed, and anointed that the sacrifices could be offered in atonement for their sins. They placed their hands on the head of the sacrifice to be offered. I believe that gave them a connection to it. It wasn’t just some light message of an errand boy running up saying it was done. They were a part of the sacrifice as it was slaughtered. Once we have committed ourselves to Christ, and after we have been washed and dressed, it is time for us to become connected to Yahshua. When we have a relationship with Him, His atonement for our sins will mean that much more to us.
Let me break here by giving a quick example of how much more something means after a connection has been established. When I read Eli by Bill Myers, the crucifixion scene was done quite differently since it was shown in the 1970s instead of 33AD. I have never seen a live crucifixion, and other than biblical stories, I haven’t even seen them on television. But I have seen fights, and I have seen televised fights that included people being kicked when they were down. So when the author describes Jesus being kicked in the ribs with pointy-toed cowboy boots, I felt it to my core. I cried as much or more than I did when I watched the beating scene in The Passion.
After the initial offering of the bull, the remains were given as a burnt offering, and then the whole ram was also given as a burnt offering. I believe that last offering is the one that represents us burning up our old ideas and our old ways because it was only after the washing, the consecration, the new image, the anointing, and the first blood sacrifice that the second offering became a sweet-smelling aroma to Yahveh. It is after we have begun our dedicated service to God that the sacrifices we make in the form of good works, or things we give up for Him, are seen by Him as acceptable.
As with the priests, being anointed for ministry to God is only one step in our service to Him. It’s the step that says He has called us to do what He has already prepared us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are of God’s making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do.” (Red letter emphasis is mine.) After we are anointed and washed, we can dress for success in the uniform that is Christ. When we’re wearing that uniform, we walk as if we are consecrated, or “set apart,” for our anointing and calling. As we walk in that calling, we will have opportunities to fail, but like Aaron for his sons, our High Priest, Yahshua, is always making atonement for us, so we can continue to walk. Micah 6:6-8 puts it most simply, and here it is from The New Living Translation…
New Living Translation (NLT)
6 What can we bring to the Lord?
What kind of offerings should we give him?
Should we bow before God
with offerings of yearling calves?
7 Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?
8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
I was looking for something with a picture of bells when I came across the above image from a challenge I had while in a digital kaleidoscope creation group back in 2008. I was torn between using an image and a song title, so in my search, I also discovered that there are a lot of songs out there with lyrics or titles about bells. So, just for fun I thought I’d ask, how many songs can you name that are about bells or have bells in the title? Here are some to get you started…
- Jingle Bells
- You can Ring My Bell
- If I Had a Hammer (verse 3: If I had a bell to ring)
- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
- Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Christmas Bells Are Ringing
- Let ‘Em In (Somebody’s knocking on the door, somebody’s ringin’ the bell)
- Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead
- Silver Bells
- When They Ring Those Golden Bells
And the last one I’ve listed is the perfect segue into today’s reading from Exodus 28:31 through Exodus 28:43, the end of the chapter. The details for adorning the priest are now up to the blue robe that the priest will wear under the ritual vest. On the hem of the robe, the artisans are instructed to add blue, purple, and scarlet pomegranates with golden bells between each of them. The bells will ring continually while the priest walks around and ministers in the Holy Place, so the people will know He has not gone into the presence of Yahveh with a sinful heart and collapsed in death.
So now my mind is all over the map with trying to figure out if the bells signified anything else besides the evidence of life. I know from a tour of The Tabernacle Experience when it was in Louisville that on the highest holy day, Yom Kippur, the people knew the importance of their sins being pushed forward a year, so they waited quietly, listening for the priests bells to make sure nothing interrupted this important part of his ministry. But, I also wonder if the bells were a type of music to God. Did He long for the sound of the bells that said one of His priests was about to enter His presence? Did He rejoice with the music of the bells as the priest went out to announce to the people the good news that their sins were forgiven for another year? Interesting things to think about, huh?
In addition to the adorned robe and vest, the priest is to wear a linen turban that includes a golden seal engraved with the words, “Set Apart for Adonai.” This reminder is needed because the high priest, Aaron at the time, goes in bearing the guilt of the people who have erred from God’s commands. It is both a blessing and a grave thing to be set apart for the Lord. It is a blessing because to be set apart means to be holy in God’s eyes. And it is a grave thing because, for the high priest, it meant he carried a very heavy burden until it was hoisted upon the altar. For our final High Priest, Yahshua our Messiah, it was a blessing to come to this earth holy enough to bear the weight of our sins permanently, but it was also said to be a curse to die upon a cross as He had to do to free of from our sin.
The priests were also to wear woven tunics and colorful belts to hold everything in place. And while I haven’t checked it piece by piece yet, I think there’s a connection to all these priestly vestments and the whole armor of God. Be my guest and see what you can come up with, and add your notes to the comments section.
Finally, the last paragraph talks about what I think is the very first pair of underwear. With both pomegranates and underwear in the same story, I momentarily thought of using the title “Fruit of the Loom,” but I decided against it because of the holiness that all the priests vestments represent. In this case, God tells Moses that the men are to wear linen shorts that they will not be found guilty in His presence, and so they will not die.
I am amazed at how God covered, literally, every part of the human form that our humanity and sin could be covered to allow for ministry and sacrifice. He desired to be connected to us so much that when these artistic coverings and the blood of bulls and goats were still not enough, He created a priest’s garment made of flesh and robed His Spirit head to toe to give us His life in our place. While He was still walking in that flesh, He stated that there was no greater love than that of one who would lay down his life for a friend. His word tells us that we are not just His flock as the people were like flocks for Aaron and other priests, but we were also Christ’s friends. Truly, there never has been, and never will be, a greater love.
I was looking for an image of the garments for the High Priest among the Creative Commons images at Flickr. The one I found above was not only the right picture, but I really like the caption given by the photographer: What the Best Dressed Priests are Wearing. I think I read somewhere that it’s “Fashion Week” in New York, so a lot of people are thinking about “best dressed” celebrities and models to grace the covers of their magazines and news stories. But I have to agree with the photographer that the best-dressed ever were the temple priests.
In today’s reading from Exodus 27:20 through Exodus 28:12, we are beginning a new portion called Tetzaveh which is Hebrew for “You are to order.” In this reading, God orders the oil for the menorah, and then He goes into extreme detail for Moses’ brother Aaron and his sons who will serve as tabernacle priests.
The first thing I noticed here was that the garments were to set the priests apart for serving God, and they were to express dignity and splendor. Isaiah 61 talks about putting on the garment of praise to replace the spirit of heaviness in our lives, and it is speaking to all of us while also speaking to those it says in verse 6 will be named the priests of the Lord. Read all of Isaiah 61 for an uplifting and strengthening piece of biblical prose. And remember, we are all called a kingdom of priests for God. So, when we put on a new garment of praise for God, it expresses dignity and splendor to God, and He returns peace to us in spite of our heaviness. Awesome huh?
Then I noticed that God again calls for skilled artisans. He says, in verse 3, “Speak to all the craftsmen to whom I have given the spirit of wisdom, and have them make Aharon’s garments to set him apart for me, so that he can serve me in the office of cohen.” So, for artisans to be skilled, it meant they had received their skill by the wisdom of God. To me, that means my creativity, and the creativity of other Christians, is a gift of wisdom. Our Master Designer placed that piece of His Creative Self within us that we may be set apart to serve Him with dignity and splendor. When you and I put our hands and heart in motion to praise Him through our creativity, God will see us adorned in that garment of praise, and He will declare us as best dressed for Him.
Word spreads fast these days with all the different ways we can communicate at the speed of fiber-optic light. But what about the “old” days? I mean, I thought we were pretty clever when we were kids and could talk through cups or cans with strings attached. (Or at least we thought we could.) When hubby and I watch one of our favorite older shows, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, I’m always amazed at how fast the bad guys hear about the payroll coming through on a Wells Fargo stage or rolling in on a train car. I was enthralled by the episode where they tracked a coming tornado/cyclone just by using telegraph.
But in today’s reading from Exodus 18:1 through Exodus 18:12, I don’t know how word spread as well as it did. Somehow, though, the word of what happened with Pharaoh and his armies spread across the desert to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. There was plenty of wine, so I’m sure there were grapevines, but I don’t think that’s how the word was carried. 😉 Still, the word spreading to Jethro is important enough that our full portion for the week, Parashah 17, is titled Yitro and is Hebrew for “Jethro.”
So Jethro hears about how God has delivered Israel and all He has done through Moses since Moses sent his wife, Zipporah, and his two sons back home to Jethro. He brings the family to see Moses in the desert where he was camped at the mountain of God. He had already sent word to Moses saying, “I, Jethro, am coming to see you with your wife and two sons.”
Moses goes out to meet Jethro and prostrates himself before him then kisses him. After checking on each other’s welfare, they enter the tent, and Moses tells his father-in-law everything God has done for him and for Israel in delivering them from Pharaoh and from slavery in Egypt. In verses 10-11, Jethro says, “Blessed be Adonai, who has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, who has rescued the people from the harsh hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that Adonai is greater than all other gods, because he rescued those who were treated so arrogantly.” And then Jethro brings a burnt offering and sacrifices to God, and Aaron comes with the leaders of Israel to share the meal with Moses and Jethro.
I’m not absolutely certain what type of priest Jethro was since he said the “now I know” part. I’m thinking that if he was already a priest of Yahveh, he already would have known that Yahveh is greater than all other gods. Never-the-less, God has always been big on wanting His good news to be spread, and I rejoice that Jethro learned and declared the truth. I believe God wants His truth carried to others by any means possible; cups, cans, telegraph, telephone, and–mostly–“tell a friend.” That’s where you and I come in with our testimonies. God’s Word says in Acts 6:7 (NLT), “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.”
Now, I’d love to see some comments telling me what kind of grapevine you heard the good news through. Also feel free to share your favorite way to minister God’s word to others. I’ll share mine in comments as well.
Depending on your age, you might remember when everyone just HAD to own a pet rock. It came in its own little cardboard carrier, complete with a layer of straw for the comfort of your rock. There were no googly eyes on it, but your purchase included an entire booklet with all you could ever want to know about the care and feeding of a pet rock. It took me a while, but I found an interesting article with a picture of a real pet rock, info on the amazing marketing and profits, and even the full text of the companion booklet at http://wellingtonmarketingexperts.com/creative-marketing-for-the-pet-rock/
In today’s reading from Exodus 17:1 through Exodus 17:16 (the end of the chapter), we will see even more things you can do with a pet rock. The people were traveling through the desert and had no water to drink. They begin to grumble against Moses, demanding that he give them water. He asks why they are testing God and picking fights with him, and they just accuse him even more of bringing them to the desert so their children and livestock can die of thirst.
Now, here’s where rocks first come in. If you’re among the grumblers of Israel, you threaten to stone your leader to death. If you’re Moses, when the people cry out for thirst, you obey God and meet Him where He will be standing before you on a big rock in Horeb. And then, as directed, you strike the rock. If you’re Yahveh, you stand on the rock in front of Moses, and then, when he strikes it with his staff, you make water pour out of it for the people to drink. God then names the place both Massah, meaning “testing,” and Meribah, meaning “quarreling” or “contention” because of the quarreling of the people as they tested God by asking if He was with them or not.
And then our story switches to an enemy by the name of Amalek. He starts a fight with Israel at Refidim, and Moses tells Joshua to pick some men to go out and fight him. In the meantime, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climb a mountain to overlook the battle. When Moses raises the staff of God in his hand, Joshua and the soldiers have victory. But when Moses’ hands get weak, and he begins to drop his arms and the staff down, Joshua and the soldiers begin to lose. Now, we see another rock as Aaron and Hur pull one under Moses for him to sit on while they lift his hands in the air until Israel has complete victory over Amalek.
At the end of the battle, God tells Moses to write in a book and record all the events, so that they would be remembered. He then instructs him to share it with Joshua, so I’m guessing He was talking about the part Joshua could not see–the part that showed it was God who won the battle by the uplifted staff. God loves to show His power, and I believe He loves to show how He uses men to work with Him and with each other to bring about victory. This way, they can also trust the rest of God’s words that He will completely blot out Amalek from under the heavens., and that He will fight them from generation to generation because Amalek dared to set himself against the throne of God.
At this, Moses builds an altar to God (likely using yet another rock or two or three), and he names it Adonai Nissi meaning “God is my banner/miracle.” He declares that because Amalek dared to set himself against the throne of God. God will fight Amalek from generation to generation. And we can also claim God as our banner and miracle as we claim His promise to fight our enemies when they raise themselves up against the throne of God by attacking His children. We have Him to run to as our Rock of Salvation now and forevermore.
Challah (pronounced holl-uh) is a Hebrew word and refers to the special Jewish braided bread that is eaten on Sabbaths and certain holidays. Click the word for the Wikipedia page. Also, Hebrew for Christians has a nice page with the blessings over the bread in both Hebrew and English.
The one thing I find refreshing in most Hebrew prayers that I have read is that all the praise goes back to God as the Originator. In other words, instead of saying something like, “Thank you for this bread,” the blessing over the bread says, “You receive glory because You bring forth bread from the earth.” It lifts God up as The Creator and Our Provider not just for the moment, but always and forever. I love seeing Him in this wonderful way.
As I read today’s reading from Exodus 15:27 through Exodus 16:10, I could not help but think of Yahshua, our true Bread of Heaven. He speaks to the disciples about this in John 6:28-33. The words from the New Living Testament say…
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” 30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Today’s Torah reading lays a foundation for this when the children of Israel become hungry after some more time in the desert. They begin complaining to Moses and Aaron, and they even go so far as to say they wish Yahveh had just killed them by His own hand while they were back in Egypt. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I guess that’s what was happening here since they were having trouble remembering being slaves and instead just remembering sitting around pots of boiling meat.
Moses and Aaron try to tell them to take their complaints to God. God promises that He will rain bread down from Heaven both to provide for them and to test them to see if they will keep His commandments as to how to collect the bread each day. They are told that what they collect just before Shabbat (Sabbath) will double in volume, so they will not have to go out and collect on Sabbath.
As the reading comes to an end, God tells Moses to gather all the people together and say to them, “Come into the presence of God because He has heard your grumblings.” As Aaron spoke, there before them, God’s Glory appeared in a cloud. He not only provides for us, but He hears us, and He shows up for us. We just need to seek and search for Him with all our hearts, and His word promises that we will find Him.
I was just talking to my husband today about how much I used to like to work the graveyard shift. I worked in the travel store of a truck stop off Interstate 40, so it was like day in the middle of the night there. It was lit up, it was noisy with talk and diesel engines running outside, and if families were traveling late, the sleepy kid chatter was even fun to listen to. I loved the busyness that kept me going through the night, and I loved getting off work just in time to see beautiful desert sunrises. During the warmest months, I’d get my grocery shopping done and then go swimming in the pool at my mobile home park before anyone else was even awake yet. I think that’s why I’m still a bit of a night person.
Imagine my joy when I first read about Yahveh being a night watchman. In today’s reading from Exodus 12:29 through Exodus 12:51, the end of the chapter, we begin reading with the midnight strike against the first-born of Egypt. In that sense, God was also working the graveyard shift, and the cry of grief that arose from every house in the land was loud and horrendous. Every home was touched by death. Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night, and I guess he knew better than to keep his promise that the next time Moses saw his face would be his death. Instead, Pharaoh told Moses to get the people, the animals, and everything they planned to take and just get out of the land. The Egyptians pressed Pharaoh to push them out quickly for fear they would all end up dead.
I hate that the stuff in the above verse had to happen, but I also know that people had a chance to do things God’s way and chose against it. From creation forward, wayward branches of people broke off and chose to serve false gods for their own selfish desires, But God Almighty is the only one that truly reigns over the earth, and He is the only One we should serve.
As the story continues, the people took their unleavened dough and packed it up to head out of Egypt in a hurry. They traveled from Rameses to Succoth, and a mixed multitude went with them. It appears that it was there where they baked matzah for the rest of the journey. It had been 430 years to the day since Israel first moved into Egypt.
I love how verse 42 reads from The Complete Jewish Bible: This was a night when Adonai kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when Adonai keeps vigil for all the people of Isra’el through all their generations. It made me cry the first time I read it, and it still stirs me to think that the God of Creation chooses to keep watch over His people on the night of the their deliverance. I believe this is why the altar experience is so moving because I believe God still keeps vigil over people when they are delivered from sin and death.
The last of the reading goes on to explain how Passover is to be kept for all the generations, including how to treat the foreigner who lives in your home. The foreigner must become circumcised to celebrate, just as we must become circumcised in heart, choosing to do things God’s way instead of our own, in order to partake of all He has for us. Oh, but it is so worth it.
I haven’t watched the show yet, but my mom thinks the show Who Do You Think You Are is the greatest. It apparently tells the genealogy of celebrities, and I could see how finding out if someone you admire is in your family line could be interesting. I’m actually surprised that hubby, who loves doing genealogical research, hasn’t tried to watch it, but it could just be our busy schedules. Never-the-less, I ask the question because I wonder which of the patriarchs I might be connected to if I were able to trace my DNA all the way back to the Torah.
In today’s reading from Exodus 12:21 through Exodus 12:28, we find Moses and Aaron giving instruction to the children of Israel on how to select and prepare the Passover lamb. If you click on it, you’ll see the Hebrew word for Passover, which is Pesach. As an interesting note here: the Greek word for the same, used in the New Testament, is Pascha. In many translations, it is written in English as Easter, but the actual word there should be Passover. You will see how this is important as I continue.
So, after the lamb is slaughtered, each household is to dip leaves in the blood, and use that blood to paint the top and sides of the door of the house. After they apply the blood, they are not to go out until the morning. When the death angel comes into Egypt, He will “Pass Over” the houses where the blood is applied, and the first-born children in those homes will not be killed.
As this instruction is given, the children of Israel are told this will be a law to be observed by them and their descendants FOREVER. And this is where the genealogy comes in. Do you know whether or not you are a descendant of any of the children of Israel? Should the descendants of Israel still be adhering to that law since forever isn’t over yet? Now, consider this, since “forever” includes “eternity,” does that mean Passover will be celebrated in Heaven?
Here are my answers to the above questions…
- I don’t know if my DNA goes back to them or not. What I do know is that all who consider themselves saved in Christ are also now considered to be children of Abraham. That would make us all descendants of Israel.
- I believe that if God says “forever,” He means “forever.”
- There is Scripture that points to observing Sukkot in eternity, so I could see the observance of Passover, but I imagine it will be done in quite a different way since we have one final Passover Lamb in Yahshua HaMashiach.
I believe the original Passover was done as a physical type and shadow of what was finalized by the death of Yahshua, and I also believe that to fully understand that, we should understand the original feast and law. If I told you that a particular piece of candy tasted just like a real cherry, but you had not tasted a real cherry, then how would you know? Again, I urge readers to find a Messianic Passover Seder to attend this year, but if you cannot find one, there are places online to view and download the booklet that gives the teachings from the dinner celebration. I will add those when we get closer to this year’s feast time.
Our reading today ends with a reminder to the children of Israel to remember these things when they have come into the new land and provisions from Yahveh Almighty. The people bowed in worship, and they did all that Moses and Aaron taught them to do. May you, my friends, be blessed as you study and apply God’s Holy Word to your own lives and families.
So Pharaoh has told Moses that he better never see his face again, and that the next time he sees his face will be the day Moses dies. And we think that’s the end of the conversation. But not so. Moses has much more to pass on in warnings from Yahveh. I could just hear Moses saying, “Okay, I’m leaving for good, but before I do, just so you know…” And I say this because of the context of their conversation in today’s reading from Exodus 11:4 through Exodus 12:20. But before we jump into that, here’s a fun video from Everybody Loves Raymond when Ray tells Deborah that she gets her way by saying, “Just so you know.” That part is near the end of the video.
So Moses’ last words to Pharaoh were his strongest yet. He speaks as God spoke to him saying (my paraphrase), “At about midnight, I’m coming down there to exact justice. Every first-born will die, including yours, Pharaoh. Even the firstborn children of the servants and animals will die. And the cry of Egypt will be strong, but not a peep will be heard from the children of Israel, so you, Pharaoh, will realize that I distinguish between my people and Egypt.”
And then Moses went on to talk for himself. He told Pharaoh that the servants would come before him and bow themselves while telling him to please leave their land. And he said he would leave after that happened. It appears that God was speaking to him at the same time and reminding him that Pharaoh would not listen, but that it would enable God to perform even more miraculous works to show His power.
And then the reading switches gears to Yahveh talking to Moses and Aaron and giving them instructions on what was about to happen. God explained to them that the month they were in would begin their new year. He then told Moses to gather the community and teach them what to do to avoid the death angel when it came to Egypt.
Now, the timing is a little off here as I read it because it started with midnight but the instructions now include choosing a lamb on the 10th of the month and keeping it until the 14th. Of course, it did not say “midnight tonight,” so that could add confusion. Maybe God had even told Moses to tell Pharaoh that “some midnight” He would show up, and not to tell him exactly when. I guess that would make more sense because it would prevent Pharaoh from attempting to stop the Israelites from doing their part.
Anyway, if you read the Scriptures for yourself, you will find all the instructions from choosing a lamb from the sheep or goats, killing it, eating it, what to eat it with, etc. There are a lot of details in the Passover celebration that point to Christ, and if you haven’t done it, I highly recommend attending a Messianic Passover Seder for an enriching and enlightening experience.
The teaching then goes into the instructions for the feast of unleavened bread. The call to eat matzah (unleavened bread) instead of hametz (leavened bread) is so strong that God says whoever eats the hametz, even if they are foreigners or visitors, would be cut off from Israel. All leaven is to be cleaned from the homes and tables as the festival if celebrated. Of course, since leaven is compared with sin, it would make sense that God would want His people to begin a new year cleansed from all unrighteousness–even to the point of not having those engaging in it living on your property. His gift to us is that we can start over, we can start clean, and we CAN be free to go and sin no more … just so you know. 🙂
Well over twenty years ago, I read a story in Reader’s Digest from the Life In These United States section. It was a story of a mother who was talking about how much television was beginning to influence her family. She served leftovers for dinner, and one of her children complained loudly, “Aw Mom, reruns again?” For some reason, it was cute enough that it pops into my mind almost anytime I think about leftovers.
In today’s reading from Exodus 10:1 through Exodus 10:11, Pharaoh should have thought about his leftovers with gratefulness. In this new portion, Parashah 15 titled “Bo” in Hebrew and meaning Go, Yahveh is talking to Moses about going to Pharaoh with another warning. He encourages Moses by reminding him that the great works He is doing in front of Egypt will be stories Moses can pass on to his children and grandchildren, so that future generations will know that He is God.
The warning to Pharaoh is that if he does not allow God’s people to leave for worship, God will send, as plague number eight, so many locusts that they will eat up every growing thing that is left over from the hail damage. He warns it will be worse than anyone in his generation, or in previous generations, has ever seen, and that it will fill all the houses of Pharaoh and his servants. Moses gives his message, and then he turns his back and leaves.
After he’s gone, Pharaoh’s servants begin to beg him to reconsider. They basically ask Pharaoh how long Moses must be a thorn in their side, and Pharaoh relents and calls Moses back in to tell him the people can leave. But, he does add one caveat. He asks who they will take with them, and when Moses tells him it will be men, women, children, livestock, etc., Pharaoh tells him there’s no way they can all go and assumes it’s a trick. He tells them that only the men can go, or no one can go. And then Pharaoh drives the men out of his presence.
Because Pharaoh did not know God, he did not understand that it is not up to mankind to question God’s request or try to make changes to God’s will. He opened the door to allow even more loss into his life, and the hardness of his heart would cost him a greater price than he could ever have imagined. It would do us all well to take this lesson to heart and to use it to teach others that they do not have to lose everything before they turn to God. Resistance will not change God’s mind no matter how much those in sin might think it will. It’s as simple as this: God is God, and we are not.
What is it about stubbornness that makes so many people hold onto it so strongly? I mean, Pharaoh has had far more than three days of trouble. All he had to do was let the people go for three days, but because he remained stubborn and hard-hearted, he is getting ready to suffer yet another plague. And we can be pretty sure that he is blaming all of these plagues on God, on Moses and Aaron, and/or on the people of Israel. But all the blame and justification in the world will not change the fact that a simple act of obedience, and maybe a little compassion from Pharaoh toward Israel, could have stopped all of Egypt’s troubles.
In today’s reading from Exodus 9:17 through Exodus 9:35 (the end of the chapter, and the end of this week’s portion), God is having to issue yet another warning to Pharaoh. This time He tells Pharaoh that He is getting ready to send a terrible hail storm on Egypt that will be worse than anything they have ever seen. But, this time they actually have another way out. Anyone who brings their slaves and animals inside and out of the field will not lose them. But every human and animal left out in the field will die from getting pelted by the hail stones. Those among Pharaoh’s servants who believed Yahveh brought their slaves and animals inside.
When the storm begins, it comes with thunder and fire as well. From the way it’s worded about flashing up, I’m guessing the fire is lightning, but I can’t be sure. The storm destroys plants and kills animals and people, but in the land of Goshen where God’s people stayed, there is no storm at all. As I’m typing this, I’m imagining Goshen to be in the eye of the storm and thinking how this would be like saying they were being watched by God as the storm was going on around them. If we trust in God, we too can have the promise of His eye watching us and of His protection in our midst. If we keep our eye on Him, then we do not have to fear no matter how severe we see the storms raging around us.
Now this next part almost made me laugh. Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron with a confession. He says, “This time I have sinned.” What? This time? So he’s not only stubborn and hard-hearted, he’s an idiot too? Maybe the plagues are finally starting to wear him down, but why would a person need to be scraped along the bottom before he decides to look up? And why, when he does finally look up, does he look through half-closed eyes instead of confessing and forsaking all his sins so he can be set free from them? It makes no sense to me, but then pride never has made sense since–from the time Lucifer used it at the throne to this moment. It always comes before destruction, but we humans continue to push the boundaries anyway.
Still, after Pharaoh pleas for deliverance, God does stop the storm. Moses even gives Pharaoh the good news that the crops which had not yet blossomed would still come up for him. And yet again, when Pharaoh is no longer uncomfortable, he hardens his heart like a big piece of hail, and he changes his mind again about letting the people go–just as God told Moses would happen. And this is the end of the week’s portion, and the news of the seventh plague. Shabbat Shalom.
I’ve always thought petrified wood was the coolest stuff. Of course, I like a lot of things in rock form. I mean, I even own my very own box of rocks, and I don’t think they’re dumb at all. 😉 Petrified wood actually looks like wood, but time and weather hardens what once was wood into a stone substance. It’s just like Pharaoh’s heart. It might look like a real heart, but it has been petrified by his fear of losing control until it has become impossible to touch and soften, even by the Hand of God.
In the last few days’ readings, we’ve seen where God was the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but today we read that Pharaoh himself hardens it. I said from the beginning that I guessed God only hardened it because He knew Pharaoh’s heart to begin with. That shows quite well in today’s reading from Exodus 8:7 (11) through Exodus 8:18 (22). (Parentheses are verse numbers in versions other than The Complete Jewish Bible.)
As the reading begins, Moses is seeking God to get rid of the frogs as he told Pharaoh he would do. God answers by killing all the frogs which the people then sweep out of the houses into big heaps until the towns stink. But as soon as Pharaoh found some relief from the plague, Scripture says he hardened his own heart and refused to keep his promise to let Israel go to worship. God tells Moses to have Aaron strike the dust of the ground so it would turn to lice, and pretty soon there was lice on every living creature in every home.
As usual, Pharaoh tries to get his magicians to do the same, and this time, they are unable. I wonder if it’s because only God is able to create something from the dust of the earth–especially something living. This time, even the magicians claim that the miraculous work is the finger of God, but Pharaoh is hard-hearted again just as Yahveh said he would be.
God tells Moses to go out to Pharaoh the next morning and again request that he let the people go to worship. He says for Moses to warn Pharaoh that if he doesn’t do it this time, there will be swarms of insects in every part of the land except the land of Goshen where God’s people dwell. By that, Yahveh says, all will know that Pharaoh will then know that He is God right there in the land. And what Scripture does not say is that also by that, Pharaoh will know the he is NOT the god of that land. It’s too bad Pharaoh didn’t know that the fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Because we have the promise that with God’s touch, a heart of stone can become a heart of flesh, if Pharaoh would’ve learned to fear God instead of things of man like pride and control, even he would have had hope.
Here are a few questions to think about… 1. What is the opposite of light? 2. What is the opposite of good? 3. What is the opposite of love? More than likely, your answers are dark, evil (or bad), and hate. Now, a new question… What is the opposite of God? If your answer is satan, guess again. I’ll tell you the answer by the end of this post, but you may get it out of today’s reading from Exodus 7:8 through Exodus 8:10 (8:6 in Complete Jewish Bible since there are more verses in chapter 7).
Our reading begins with God speaking to Aaron and Moses about what miracles to perform in front of Pharaoh. They do as Yahveh commanded, but Pharaoh is unimpressed because he is able to call out magicians to perform the same “trick” with turning a stick into a serpent. Well, except for the fact that Aaron’s serpent ate up all the magicians’ serpents. Still, Pharaoh stayed hard-hearted as Yahveh told them he would be. Even in the face of the miraculous, Pharaoh could not see God as greater than him nor himself as less than God. It’s the same fatal mistake made by the angel Lucifer when he thought he was equal to God.
The next miraculous work performed by Aaron and Moses turns all water in Egypt to blood. The water in the river turns to blood, kills all the fish, and makes the river stink with their death. Even water in jars and buckets turns to blood. The whole land of Egypt is filled with blood, but Pharaoh is so hard-hearted that he actually has his magicians perform the same feat. Now why didn’t he have his magicians make him some pure water to drink? I guess hard-heartedness comes bundled with idiocy or something.
Never-the-less, even after seven days of drinking blood, when Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh to let the people go to worship, he still refuses to let them, so the men warn Pharaoh of the coming plague of frogs. At God’s word, frogs come up from all over the place and swarm the land and homes of all Egypt. And, again, Pharaoh has his magicians do exactly the same thing. Political logic is just illogical. Demonstrating power just for power’s sake has no wisdom. This is why it is so important to make sure that we who believe in the miraculous do not worship the miracles themselves, nor should we worship those whom God uses to perform His great works. Worship should be saved for Yahveh Almighty and Him alone. Not the miracles, but the God OF the miracles. See the wisdom here?
Finally, Pharaoh gets it enough to realize that he needs Moses to intercede with God for the frogs to be taken out of the land. He promises that if Moses will intercede, he will allow the people to go worship. Moses tells him that he will not only intercede, but he will allow Pharaoh to choose the time. Pharaoh requests the frogs be taken from all but the river by the next day. And I love Moses’ answer to Pharaoh’s request: Moshe said, “It will be as you have said, and from this you will learn that Adonai our God has no equal.”
And just in case you haven’t quite grasped my point from the question at the top, the answer to what is the opposite of God is NOTHING. In order for satan (ha satan meaning “the adversary”) to be the opposite of God, he would need to be as purely evil as God is good; as purely hate as God is love. But God has no equal even in the opposite sense. God is greater than all, and absolutely nothing or no one is greater than–or equal–to Him. And yet, He cares enough for us to create for us, walk with us, talk with us, listen to us, lay down His own life for us, and prepare an eternity for us. Hallelu-Yah!!
We know from Scriptural promises that EVERY word of God has profit, and that no word of God that is spoken will return to Him without accomplishing what He intended. So, if you are one chosen to speak God’s words, you know that what you are required to speak is both profitable and has power to affect change. In today’s reading from Exodus 6:29 through Exodus 7:7, God again tells Moses to tell Pharaoh EVERYTHING He has commanded him to speak. And Moses once again tells God that he is a terrible speaker and doesn’t think he will speak in a way that will make Pharaoh believe him.
As I read this today, I noticed that the profit of a prophet is not whether or not the listener believes in what the prophet has to say, but instead it is in the value of the spoken words. In these verses, as in some from the past few days, God even tells Moses that Pharaoh will not listen to anything he and Aaron will speak to him. But, even though Pharaoh will be hard-hearted, God says He is sending in Moses to be like God to him and Aaron to be like a prophet for Moses. And not only in words, but God has commanded Moses to perform miraculous works and still says that Pharaoh will not heed them.
God’s words and God’s deeds are important to speak and perform regardless of what those who listen do with them. The profit is there in a true prophet of God, but fear of not being listened to has caused many to speak pretty words to see if they can get more listeners instead of speaking the words of true value even when they don’t sound pretty. The words God gave Moses and Aaron were not pretty for Pharaoh, but for those who believed in the power and deliverance of Their Creator, they were just what they needed. In today’s reading, God even calls the sons of Israel His army and says He is sending them to bring His people out of Egypt with great acts of judgment. The bullies WILL have to pay a price for their bullying.
But the best profit that will come from these words, the profit that should come from any words we claim to speak for God or in His name, can be found in verse 5… then Egypt will know that I am God! Even what some call the “Five Fold Ministry” has one major task; to equip God’s people to work and do service that will build the body of believers in Messiah. We read today that Moses and Aaron did everything exactly as Yahveh commanded them to do even at 80 and 83 years of age.
If we are part of the body of Christ, we have a task to speak God’s word and do His work to build more believers into the body. Share with me what God has put on your heart to share with others. And with that, I’ll leave you with this thought: When all else fails, read the Word of God, and if that doesn’t work, try following it. 😉
Okay, so today we get a bit more genealogy, and I’ve said since the beginning that those would be the days when I might have a little trouble coming up with witty or spiritually deep commentary. This reading from Exodus 6:14 through Exodus 6:28 covers some of the grandchildren of Israel and leads us on the path to Aaron and Moshe who would be used for God’s purposes to set His people free. A paraphrase of verses 27 & 28 might even say, “Yes, THAT Moses and Aaron.”
And that’s about all that is here except the part in verse 20 where the father of Moses and Aaron married his own father’s sister, aka their aunt. I tried to piece it together using my own cousins and their children to see what the relationships might have been, and I think the boys would’ve been their own cousins but maybe each other’s uncles too. I had trouble imagining my family members marrying each other, so I’ll let you, dear readers, figure this one out for me. 🙂
In the meantime, just to make this a little fun, take a listen to this cute video by one of my favorite comedians, Ray Stevens. It’s called I’m My Own Grandpa, and it’s fun, but it can be kind of difficult to follow, so I found one with a diagram on it that makes it a little easier. Enjoy!
There are a lot of ways to not know God. For one example, we can imagine a husband and wife who live together more like roommates than spouses. They know each other in basic ways, but they don’t know each other’s heart. For another example, we can imagine neighbors who live on the same street, maybe even right next door to each other, but they cannot tell anyone else much of anything about their neighbors. In reference to God, there are people that don’t know anything about Him even if they have heard about Him their whole lives. Maybe they even go through the motions of serving Him, but there’s no depth, so their relationship with Him is based on their life circumstances rather than vice-versa.
In today’s reading from Exodus 5:1 through Exodus 6:1, God has sent Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel to speak with Pharaoh and request that the nation of Israel take three days to celebrate a festival and worship God. Since Pharaoh does not know God at all, (though remember that God knows him and predicted his reactions), he takes this request as a way for people to just get out of their work. As payback, he tells the slave masters to stop giving them straw for their bricks but to expect the same output even with them having to collect their own materials.
When the foremen of the people went to complain to Pharaoh, he told them they were just lazy, and that’s why they wanted time away to worship God. I’m guessing they knew nothing of God’s plan because when they came out from Pharaoh and saw Moses and Aaron at the side of the road, they began to accuse them of causing their troubles. So, even though they were depressed because Pharaoh kept making their lives harder, they didn’t know or trust God enough to deliver them and actually accused His messengers of making things worse. But in truth, Pharaoh was likely going to keep making things worse for them anyway since that what he had already been doing. But they had somehow allowed themselves the false mindset that if they just kept their mouths shut and did the work, all would be fine for them.
I see this happen in so many ways these days, and I have participated in it myself. I fear speaking out sometimes because I think that it will keep the peace, but that means I am making my service to God subject to my circumstances. But if I am trusting God and His word, my service to Him, and my beliefs about Him, should not change based on the opinions of others. No matter what I do or say, there are those who don’t know God that may turn my blessings into an excuse to be jealous of me like Pharaoh did just by seeing the growth of the Israelites. With them, I could say something like, “God loves you and wants you to have these blessings as well,” and they could hear it as, “You’re saying I don’t have blessings because God hates me.”
For people who don’t know God and won’t take the time to seek Him, the high cost is that they miss out on the blessings He wants them to have. And if I allow the opinions of others to change me, my high cost could be missing an opportunity to share God’s word with someone who would listen and may have already been seeking Him. Even Moses went back and accused God of making things worse and not rescuing His people, which should not be surprising since he didn’t trust God enough to help him speak. But that is so much like all of us. We might fear the kind of backlash that could come against us for speaking our hearts. We saw it in the recent attacks against Phil Robertson. But there have been some surprises in those who have stood for Phil’s right to free speech, and God can use Phil’s willingness to stand in spite of opposition to win the heart of someone who needed to see that there is stability in serving God.
Today’s reading, and this week’s portion, ends with God telling Moses, “Now you will see what I am going to do to Pharaoh.” Let us be more willing to pay the low costs of knowing God–that is a short life that could include some tough circumstances, rather than the high costs of not knowing Him at all. We can be encouraged that John 15:18-21 reminds us that if the world hates us, it is because it hated God first and that we are chosen out of it by God rather than left to be a part of it. And we can keep our hope in the promises of eternity that kept Paul the Apostle strong. As he said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 (NLT), “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”
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