Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

Passing the Baton


Passing the Baton by Flickr User Carsten Senkfeil, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Passing the Baton by Flickr User Carsten Senkfeil, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

My husband and I have often talked about what Sam Walton might do if he were alive to see Wal-Mart these days. He started out with so many ideas for making his store stand out above the rest, and they weren’t all about being a super store. For one, he wanted to make sure his store carried “American-made” goods to support the country he loved. But what Sam started can barely be seen anymore as the store has cut corner after corner to almost forcibly draw in customers who don’t have the financial ability to shop where they want but instead shop where they feel they must.

In today’s reading from Numbers 20:22 through Numbers 21:5, we read about the passing of a baton of leadership and ministry as ordained by God. As the people arrive at Mt. Hor, God tells Moses and Aaron that Aaron is about to pass away because he cannot go into the promised land due to the disobedience involving the rock and the water. He has Moses and Eleazar take Aaron to the top of the mountain where Aaron dies and Moses takes his priestly garments and places them onto his son, Eleazar who will now be the high priest.

When Moses came down with Eleazar in the high priests garments, the people knew Aaron was dead and the whole house of Israel mourned for thirty days. A Canaanite King that lived in the Negev desert heard that Israel was approaching, and he attacked them. The Scripture doesn’t say if they were still in mourning, but it does say that all of Israel sought God to make things right. They promised God that if He would hand the people over to them, they would go in and completely destroy their cities. Both kept their vows, and Israel destroyed the Canaanites and all their cities and renamed the place Hormah meaning “total destruction.”

The people kept going forward but were forced to detour around Edom, so their tempers became short and they started throwing accusations around again. It was the same as before with complaining about the area, the food, etc., and saying how they wished they were back in Egypt again. It says they threw their accusations against both God and Moses. They couldn’t complain against Aaron now, and I guess Eleazar was off the hook–at least for now.

In most races, it seems the baton is passed about the way it is in the picture. The front-runner holds it behind him, and the follow-up runner is responsible for knowing where it is in order to grab it. If the front runner tried to turn around, he would likely stumble and possibly trip his follower, so he has to keep his view on the point in front of him while the follower keeps his view on the baton.

When Eleazar took the baton of the high priest, he had to know what all would be required from watching his father go before him, and he had to make that choice with full knowledge of the task he was undertaking. It’s very similar when we pass along the baton of salvation. It’s not so much what we say that matters because we can’t be running backwards either. We’ve got to be pressing toward the mark for our high calling in Yeshua and extending an invitation to all who would follow us toward Him. It is our actions in the race, the direction we’re running, and the prize we’re seeking that will speak louder than any message we can preach in words.

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

Calling Doctor Cohen


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Brothers Weep


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Way IS the High-Way


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Blessings Ready You for God’s Presence


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eighth Day of The Week


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consecrated, Separated, Dedicated


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen, Do, Go


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

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

I’m going to keep this short because it has been a difficult day in our family. While I study God’s word and try to learn more about what He would have me to be and to do for Him, and where He would have me to go for Him, there are those who are certain their own ways will yield them something far greater than God’s way. My nephew is one of those, and we spent today in the emergency room with him having overdosed on a mix of serious drugs. He has a three-year-old daughter that may or may not ever know her daddy again. Physically, he should pull through, but we won’t know until tomorrow if he will have any brain damage from the time he was gone before they revived him.

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

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

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

Light’s, Camera, Action


Clapperboard by Flickr User Kirill Proskurin, CC License = Attribution

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

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

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

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

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

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

USDA Choice Offering


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As You Wish


So who among my readers is a fan of The Princess Bride? If you have seen it, then you already know what the line “As you wish” actually means. If you haven’t seen it, or if you have forgotten, watch the provided YouTube clip for understanding. Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, go get it right away because it’s one of those movies everyone should see at least once. 🙂

In today’s reading from Exodus 39:22 through Exodus 39:43 (the end of the chapter), we get the details for the final pieces of the vestments to be worn by Aaron and his sons for their services as priests to God. At the end of the description for each new piece, we get the same statement: “As Adonai had ordered Moses.” That statement could also be said like this: “As the Lord wished.”

From verse 33 to verse 41, we read that the tabernacle is now complete, and the craftsmen bring all the pieces to Moses. There is a list of all the pieces that have been created to make the project complete. And then, in verses 42 and 43, it all culminates with a statement of victory which I will let you read for yourselves…

42 The people of Isra’el did all the work just as Adonai had ordered Moshe. 43 Moshe saw all the work, and — there it was! — they had done it! Exactly as Adonai had ordered, they had done it. And Moshe blessed them.

Yes, they had done it! Each piece of furniture; every utensil; all the priest’s garments; the finely woven linen; the artistically embroidered curtains; and every bit of gold, silver, and bronze; all used and put together exactly as Adonai had ordered Moses. Moses carried the instructions to the people, and the people carried out the instructions from God. They had done it exactly as God had ordered.

Imagine the whole thing going something like the movie. The people, like the princess, make their request. They cry out, “Yahveh, save us!” And Yahveh Almighty answers them from His heart, making a plan of deliverance and mercy and grace. They may not have heard Him say the words, but everything He does for them is the same as if He had answered, “As you wish.” Though they struggled with doubts and human weaknesses, and–like Princess Buttercup did to Wesley–they pushed God away at times, when they realized who He was and began to walk in obedience, their actions returned the answer of “As you wish” back to God.

And now, that completed tabernacle is more real than ever for Behold, The Tabernacle of God is among men. When we find ourselves in bondage to sin and paying the price of sinful behavior, we cry out to God for deliverance. He answers, “As you wish” and offers mercy and grace in the blood of Yahshua our Messiah. We may not always accept it right away, and we may struggle even after we realize what that means to us, but He knows we long for His righteousness in our hearts. The struggle continues, and maybe there are times when we reject Him and push Him away completely. But one day, we will find ourselves on our knees–ready to surrender to Him. He will knock on our heart’s door, and we will answer, “As you wish, Lord.”

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

A Vested Interest in Israel


Cute Vests by Flickr User TheUglySweaterShop, CC License = Attribution

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

I love when a title can be seen in multiple ways, and even more when all the ways can be true. Based on the definitions of the word vest, it can be a garment worn to the waist, and the priest in the camp of Israel will wear the garment. It means to bestow power or authority on someone, and God definitely bestowed a lot on the priests of the tribe of Levi. And, it can mean to have a personal stake in something or someone. Both God and the priests have a vested interest in Israel and in the mercy and grace that are represented by the priesthood and the tabernacle practices.

In today’s reading from Exodus 39:2 through Exodus 39:21, we get to see the details of the vest that the artisans are making for the high priest. The parts of the vest, such as the breastplate, are made from gold; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; and finely-woven linen. And, yes, the first item in that list is actually gold, not just gold yarn. The reading says that they hammered the gold into thin sheets and then cut the sheets into threads in order to work them into the yarns and linen.

Can you imagine gold thread that is actually made from gold? Elvis Presley could imagine something close since he had a famous suit made from gold lame’ which was a yarn made with metallic ingredients. A famous tailor to the stars named Nudie Cohn created that suit, and many other famously outrageous outfits. You can read about him at Wikipedia, but since there are no pictures, I found a Pinterest page with lots of fun images, including Elvis’ suit and Nudie’s famous car. I actually got to see the car in person when I was a little girl living in Southern California. There were coins in the dashboard, the doors opened by pulling triggers on pistols, and there was a huge set of bull horns on the front of the car.

So, getting back to the original celebrity designer, God issued detailed instructions for the designs that would cover the priests in His service, and then He anointed skilled men to create them. He did all of this to represent the value of Israel to Him since the high priest was a representation of God Himself. And the part I find the most moving in this story is that God wanted the breastplate fastened down with gold chains, so it would ALWAYS be over the heart of the priest. Need I say more?

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

Holy Is As Holy Does


Holy Ground by Flickr User Roger Lynn, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

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

I grew up hearing the statement “Pretty is as pretty does.” It was a good lesson for teaching me to look beyond outward beauty, and it may be the reason I rarely thought of celebrities as any more valuable than non-famous people. Of course, even pretty behavior doesn’t guarantee a pretty heart, but the self-control required to maintain things like courtesy and respect can at least slow a person down to a point of being more reachable. In a culture that now seems to value wild unruliness over dignity and chivalry, it would be nice to see the quietness that would come from pulling people back to a place of more controlled character and virtue.

In today’s reading from Exodus 29:19 through Exodus 29:37, we read a number of duties and details for becoming holy. Just being selected as a generation of priests, or even for the position of high priest, did not make Aaron, his sons, or any part of Israel automatically holy. Just being washed, redressed, and anointed didn’t even do the job. And as if offering sin offerings, atonement offerings, and sacrifice offerings was not enough, today will add the “wave offering.” Yet, even all of these things together did not create any kind of guaranteed position of holiness.

As I read through the required works, including the seven days required for sanctification, two things caught my attention. First, I noticed that from days ago, none of these works are random. They are all prepared for in advance. The bread the men will eat today was put in a basket before the washing had ever begun. The clothing was created in advance. Because of the stringent requirements of perfection on the part of the animal sacrifices, there couldn’t just be a noisy stampede by the door while the priests grabbed the first critters they could get their hands on. Being holy is not just something to be, it requires becoming; constantly renewing those things that don’t fall into line the same way a lady would do in guarding her every step and word to fall in line with the behaviors of a true debutante.

Planning ahead takes planning ahead. I have never been very good at that. If I was, it wouldn’t have taken me years after starting my blog to become regular at posting on it. Still, if I had not already started it, that may have become an excuse for not moving forward, so I’m glad I had a place already prepared. I’m trying to learn to do better at planning ahead for my Sabbaths. There is even a word in speaking of biblical Sabbaths that means “Sabbath preparation day” rather than actual Sabbath, and that is the word used when they said they had to hurry up and get Yahshua crucified because “the preparation day” is coming. Unlike most of us Christians who run rampant getting ready for services on Sunday mornings, most Hebrews spent a full day preparing for their day of rest, so everything would already be taken care of ahead of time. Of course, this is also why I’m fairly certain that Yahshua was crucified on a Thursday, but that would be another whole blog post in itself.

The other thing I noticed was the last line that “whatever touches the altar will become holy.” I’m certain this relates to the first thing in that nothing was even allowed near the altar until it was prepared. The priests had to be washed, dressed, and anointed before approaching the altar. The animals had to be chosen, washed, and cut into whatever pieces were required for specific rituals before the remains were put on the altar. Even Our “Sacrificial Lamb” spent 33 years being human, and enduring human things like weakness and hunger, before He came to the altar of sacrifice. He had to learn obedience to parents before being considered mature, and He had to learn the value of manual labor before He graduated to miracles. He even had to go toe to toe with His enemy after 40 days of suffering in the wilderness before He was even ready to get baptized.

As I said above, we live in a world of wild abandon, and too many just want to throw themselves on an altar and become instantly holy. Maybe that’s why so many fall to their knees in moments of emotion but run back to their old and familiar ways when the going gets rough for them. If I could teach anyone anything of true value it would be that Yahveh Almighty is worth the preparations and sacrifices required to be holy to Him. Feeling His presence and love surround you and separate you from the distractions and clamor of your worldly needs and desires is more valuable than any reward the world has to offer. As the song of the same title says, “I keep falling in love with Him over and over, and over and over again,” and that love makes me want to do holy as much as I want to be holy for Him.

P.S. Just in case you’d like to hear that song, here’s a link for it at YouTube…

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dressed for Success


Christ the Anointed One by Flickr User Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Christ the Anointed One by Flickr User Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

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…

Micah 6:6-8

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.

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

Jingle Bells


Golden Jingle Bells Kaleidoscope by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Golden Jingle Bells Kaleidoscope by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view my original image and to access my full photo stream at Flickr. There are other kaleidoscopes from the bells, and you can find the link to the original image from which this design was made.

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.

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

The Heart of a Righteous Judge


Torah Breastplate by Flickr User MagnesMuseum aka The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Torah Breastplate by Flickr User MagnesMuseum aka The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been greatly affected by the admonition from Romans 12:1 to not judge because when we do, we must beware of doing the same thing. Even when directing my nephews for the short time I raised them, I always thought about how I could be accused of doing the same things I was now disciplining them for, so I would try to tell them that discipline did not mean I was judging them. People who do not serve God might call it “karma” or some other word, but I guess I’ve always felt that if I passed judgment over others, I was risking putting myself in a position to be tested by that very thing.

Unfortunately, what I’ve just described is not the effect God wanted that admonition to create. To the contrary, He actually wants us to judge, but to do so in righteousness and not with pride as if we’re better than others, or as if we don’t commit our own sins in our own ways. In today’s reading from Exodus 28:13 through Exodus 28:30, we read about an important piece of the garment for the High Priest of God. This piece is called “the breastplate of judgment” and it has some pretty cool aspects to it that can help us avoid the condemnation that follows in the other verses in Romans 2.

First, the design of the piece includes twelve beautiful stones. The artists are told to engrave one name of each tribe of Israel into each stone. Basically, these are the children of Israel’s birthstones. These stones, sewn into the breastplate and laying over the top of the vest of the high priest’s garment, will always be above the heart of the priest when he goes into the holy of holies to minister to God. This will keep the tribes of Israel over his heart, so he will judge with righteousness.

Beyond the breastplate, we have a couple extra pieces called the urim and tumim that will be covered in detail later, but these stones that rest on the shoulder of the high priest will help him in determining the truth for God’s children, so he can judge correctly.

As with the priests, it is God’s will that we judge, and that we do so correctly in righteousness. If we seek His help and direction, we can keep the right thoughts on our hearts when we are required to pass judgment. God has to judge between good and evil because evil cannot dwell with Him. We must judge between good and evil if we want to keep ourselves from evil, so we can dwell in the presence of God. That is why judgment begins at the house of God–our house/temple of God’s Holy Spirit. May God place His heart–the heart of a righteous judge–within us all that none of us would judge in pride or arrogance but only in obedience and righteousness in Christ.

February 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The First Garment of Praise


High Priest Garments by Flickr User Michael Reeve, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

High Priest Garments by Flickr User Michael Reeve, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I 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.

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

I Follow Him–A Poem


The content of this poem I wrote many years ago says a lot about everything I’ve written to this point, especially about the covenant made by God in the post for October 17th. I felt this was an appropriate time to share it.

I FOLLOW HIM
By Crystal A Murray – (C)2005

I follow Him…

…Around the corridors of Heaven, where beings created for worshipping Him fall at His feet. He sighs, and I hear Him say, “How I long for a friend with whom I can commune, and who will worship Me and desire to commune with me–because he loves Me.” A few heavy sighs later, I see His breath flowing into His new friend. He smiles and says, “It is very good.”

I follow Him…

…through a garden, where He walks and talks with man and woman. I see His despair on the day He can’t find them because a veil of sin now separates Him from His new creation. I watch as, in pain and desperation, He slays an animal to cover their nakedness and then uses the animal’s blood to temporarily pierce sin’s veil, so He may commune once more with His friends. I hear Him lament that all communication with mankind will now be strife for Him because of sin, but He loves them, and He will not give it up. He will never leave nor forsake them.

I follow Him…

…to His drawing board and see His plans for a temple in Heaven and its counterpart on earth. I also see plans for an ark; a covenant; splitting a sea; how blood sacrifice should work and why it doesn’t; and a way to bring Perfect Blood before the Heavenly altar and permanently destroy the veil of sin.

I follow Him…

…to Bethlehem on a star-lit night; to a carpenter’s shop; to a temple service; to a wedding in Cana and a pool in Bethesda.

I follow Him…

…now to another garden. In this one, called Gethsemane, His flesh and Spirit wrestle. I hear Him pray for my salvation–and yours. The flesh bleeds, but the Spirit prevails. I watch as His betrayer kisses Him … and then flees with Perfect Blood on his lips.

I follow Him…

…to the judgment hall and the whipping post.

I follow Him…

…to the death stake: where Perfect Blood stains the ground … the Centurion’s sword … and the hands of His killers. I see a tomb where His body lays still while His Spirit descends into Hell to take the keys of death and forever deliver His creation–His friends–from bondage. As He returns to His tomb, I watch as His Spirit awakens His body with the dawning of a 3rd-day’s sun.

I follow Him…

…as He comforts those who grieve at His tomb, makes Himself known to disciples walking a lonely road to Emmaus, and fills the nets of forlorn fishermen. I hear Him tell of a Comforter. Soon, I watch as He ascends in a cloud back to Heaven, where He goes to prepare a place for me–and for all who love Him. I see that, even today, He works in Heaven’s Holy Temple as our High Priest continuously offering His Perfect Blood to atone for our sins.*

I follow Him…

…because I love Him and desire to commune with Him. He makes a way because He loves me and desires to commune with me. And someday, with the sounds of a trumpet and a shout, He will split the skies and call His people to come home. And then…

…I will follow Him for eternity!

*Hebrews 6:19-20

October 18, 2013 Posted by | Devotion, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Battle in Clay


I know some things may seem to just be things, but I am one of those who believes that everything and everyone has a purpose. In today’s reading from Genesis 14, verses 1 through 20, we find a battle among kings. Five kings to four kings to be exact. And if you want to read all their names and such, just click the link since The Complete Jewish Bible has them listed mostly phonetically. Anyway, in this battle of kings, they are fighting in a valley filled with clay pits where many fall in.

When I read of clay in the Scriptures, I always think of the flesh. So, here are a bunch of kings (people with authority–some to do good and some to do evil) fighting not to fall into clay pits (flesh). And I don’t think it’s just chance that this valley is near the Dead Sea. The evil kings have kidnapped Lot, the nephew of Abram who we introduced in yesterday’s reading. Abram calls on those born and trained in his own household to go out to battle with him and rescue that which belongs to him (Lot) who is likely in the valley of pits himself. They succeed and bring back Lot, his possessions, and all the women and children that were taken with him.

Not only is this a battle with which most who serve God and reject the flesh are acquainted, it ends with the kind of victory most of us seek. They get help from like-minded soldiers, and they take back what the enemy has stolen. When it is all said and done, Abram goes to meet the King of Salem (later called Jerusalem), aka King of Peace, and the King, Melchizedek, blesses him. When we get victories over the flesh, we praise God for His mercy and deliverance, and since Melchizedek was a high priest for God, it was a similar action. As part of their meeting, they shared bread and wine, and at the close, Abram gave the first recorded tithe (tenth) I’ve read about.

So next time you feel like you are in a valley of pits, gather some prayer warriors and fight to win. Scripture tells us that we have more who stand on our side than we have who stand against us. It also says that He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world. We can win in our battles if we open our eyes and take care not to fall into the pits of flesh. Oh, and when we win, we can offer our praises to Christ our King of Peace.

And here’s a nice chorus about the subject from the song, He Brought Me Out of the Miry Clay

He brought me out of the miry clay,
He set my feet on the Rock to stay;
He puts a song in my soul today,
A song of praise, hallelujah!

Also, if you’d like to read some interesting information about the connection between Melchizedek and Jesus, check out an article from Hebrew for Christians where you can also find more commentary on this Torah portion.

October 15, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

   

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