It’s almost that time again. Kids of all ages dress like pirates and ghosts to hunt for sweet treasures and scare up tasty treats. As a child, I loved the dress up, and of course, I loved all the candy. Don’t most of us? We’ve got pictures of ourselves or our children with frosting face from one-year birthday cakes and chocolate noses from first Halloweens and Easters. It all seems so fun and harmless until things like diabetes and obesity become the later-in-life prices for childhood indulgences.
So often, it seems we think that because we don’t see an immediate result to a particular behavior, we don’t think the consequence will truly matter. We don’t end up with a sugar imbalance from just one sweet holiday, or even our first few years of them. (Read the article linked under the word “sugar” for some great insight.) But, thinking we have to see instant results is its own kind of trick. We don’t grow a tree the day after we plant a seed either. Years of excuses to indulge in Christmas candy and birthday cake come to haunt so many of us, and even then, the cravings are so strong that it just seems impossible to switch from suckers to celery. After many doses of sugary treats, we have developed a sweet tooth.
So, what do you think Adam and Eve would tell us now when it comes to our wonderings about tricks and treats? I’m guessing they looked at the Tree of Knowledge as harmlessly as a young mother looks at a chocolate bunny filled with high fructose corn syrup. It’s only one bite. What could it hurt? It grows wild. It’s all natural. There was no warning label on the trunk to say, “If you partake of this fruit, you will end up with a sin tooth.” But that’s exactly what happened, and it spread throughout generations up to where we are today.
Our garden couple did realize something had changed almost immediately, but instead of being humble and repenting for their behaviors, their “sin tooth” had already begun to take hold of them. They began tossing around blame like it would undo what they had just done. They blamed each other, they blamed the enemy, and eventually they even blamed God Himself. (The woman “You gave me” fed it to me.)
Adam and Eve didn’t realize what would happen as a result of their indulgence in either the sin or the excuses for it. They couldn’t see a future outside the garden. The death they inherited with their actions took longer then than it does now, but it started none-the-less. Maybe it wasn’t even the fruit or the revelation of good and evil that brought that death, but the craving for sin that it set up in them. Maybe it was just being outside of a place where they could walk with God daily and learn His wisdom and will for their lives. Maybe there is something that grew outside the garden that negatively affects mankind, and all of us who live and eat from the earth consume it to our detriment.
We still don’t really know what brought death to Adam and Eve. We don’t know exactly how much sugar or which of the other additives in the candy we consume can bring physical suffering to kids as they age. We do know that listening to God would have yielded better results, and we do know that listening to some common sense about health will result in kids growing into healthier adults. I’m certainly not condemning others since I have done my share of “spoiling” kids I’ve cared for in my life. But, what if I hadn’t done that? Would some of them be less apt to be depressed or crave alcohol now? What if my caregivers had taught me to love fresh veggies instead of candy? Would I have less trouble with cravings that lead to weight gain? (A sugar fast has led me to cut down on sugar recently, and I’m already feeling better for it.)
If you are in the place to feed or teach a child, I would ask you not to feed or teach in ways that would create either a sweet tooth or a sin tooth. Fill them with praises of The Creator instead of praises of His creations. Guide them a desire for God’s wisdom more than for man’s knowledge. And, teach them to like the good stuff in flesh and spirit before they have grown up enough to indulge in too much of the bad stuff in either. They may feel tricked more than treated now, but they’ll thank you for the treats of better health and a stronger spirit later.
O taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8 NLV)
The Hebrew word Yom means “day” in English, and the Hebrew Kippur means “to atone” in English. This is the “Day of Atonement,” and is the precursor to the atonement we now receive through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). This day began Friday (Oct 3rd) at sundown and continued through sundown Saturday (Oct 4th). If you want to read the Torah reading that goes with the holiday, read through Leviticus 16.
This day gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves and repent from anything that may separate us from our Creator and Lord. So, what is repentance? I found a great definition that said, “Repentance is the willingness to allow God to judge and transform you.” I love that. It gives me reason to repent on a regular basis.
The word repent is used in some armies to say, “About face.” It literally means, “Go in the opposite direction.” But how can we turn around and walk in a new direction without acknowledging the current direction we’re heading? We need that repentance that allows God to examine our direction if we want to be sure we’re walking according to God’s will. It’s like looking at a satellite map to make sure we’re on the right path. Who better to tell us we’re lost than the One who can see all the way to the end of our road?
Just receiving judgment is not the end of the things. If we used our GPS to see where we were going, but we failed to turn as instructed, we might hear the GPS voice say something like, “At the next intersection, make a u-turn.” If we still don’t turn, we might hear the voice say, “Rerouting,” as the GPS tries to find a new way for us to get to our chosen destination. If we want to get to the right destination, we must reroute, make a u-turn, do an about-face, or in some way repent. Just hearing that we need to change routes will not get us where we want to go.
I think most of us fear judgment because people use it as an excuse to make us feel less than them. People also tend to stop with judgment, and that leaves us feeling hopeless with the permanence of it. However, until the final judgment, what God finds in His examinations of us is not permanent and definitely not hopeless. He doesn’t tell us something like, “So sad, you’re on the wrong path. You might as well give up and stay there.” No, instead He says (in Acts 3:19 NKJV), “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Be converted could just as easily say, be transformed.
When we repent, it’s like a trip to a diagnostician (doctor who diagnoses troubles). Imagine this doctor finds a cancer that needs to be removed. That’s judgment. You agree to let him do surgery because you trust that he knows better than to just slice it off and leave you bleeding. And you’re right. He medicates and binds up the wound to bring healing and comfort. That’s the beginning of your transformation from sick to healed. It continues until you are fully back to health.
Just like we don’t have only one lesson to learn in life, we don’t repent only one time. We do best if we allow God to judge and transform us as often as possible. Remember, Moses was the only man who talked with God face to face, as a man talks to his friend. And yet, the time came when Moses did not allow God to transform him. He hit the rock to bring forth water instead of being transformed and speaking to the rock. That disobedience and distrust cost him dearly. It didn’t stop God from loving him, and we know he is with God because he was on the Mount of Transfiguration with Yeshua, but he missed blessings God longed to give to him.
So, what about you? Are you willing to come before the cross to allow God to judge and transform you either again or for the first time? Comment below if you would like me to pray for you and with you as you walk through this repentance to your deliverance. Like Paul, I often feel the need to repent multiple times in a day, so I gratefully accept your prayers for me as I seek God for my own judgment and transformation…today and in the future.
And enjoy this video of the song Search Me, Lord by The Heritage Singers. There is one incorrect lyric where it says “holed” instead of “whole,” but the music is great…
“Sin doesn’t only break God’s laws, it also breaks His heart.” That is one of my favorite quotes on my Pinterest board about truth. It’s like the chorus in that older Ray Boltz hymn (video at bottom) that says,
Does He still feel the nails every time I fail? Can He hear the crowd crucify again? Am I causing Him pain; Then I know I’ve got to change. I just can’t bear the thought of hurting Him.
In today’s reading, we will find God commissioning Moses to write a song for Him. His reason for wanting it written will show His broken heart. I’m going to link to Deuteronomy 31:19 through Deuteronomy 31:23 because that covers the subject completely. However, for some reason, the way the verses are divided had the reader ending yesterday with one line about the song and ending today with half a sentence and at a comma. Still, if you want to see the exact daily portion, look at Deuteronomy 31:20-24.
The reading, including the last sentence from yesterday, begins with God telling Moses and Joshua to write a song and teach it also to the children of Israel. God says He wants Israel to learn it by heart, so it can be a witness from Him and against them when they violate the covenant. He says that when Israel comes to her inheritance and has eaten her fill, grown fat, and turned to other gods while hating Him, the descendants will still be singing the song and not have forgotten it. God tells Moses that He knows how Israel thinks now, and that her thoughts were the same even before He brought forth the promise of the new land.
So Moses writes a song the very same day, and he teaches it to Israel that very day. At the same time, The Lord commissions Joshua, the son of Nun, to be strong and courageous as he brings Israel to The Promised Land. He reminds Joshua once again that He (God) will be with him (Joshua) as he leads the people to their inheritance.
So Moses is not only God’s scribe, he’s also God’s lyricist. Unfortunately, the lyrics God wants Moses to write will carry a painful message to all those who stand against God in spite of how good He has been to them. Most of us want to hear nothing but hope and mercy and love, but there are times when it takes a song for people to truly understand heartbreak. Country music has always been very good at that in the form of what they always called tearjerkers. I’ve always liked those types of songs (think Dolly Parton’s Me and Little Andy, or Red Sovine’s Roses for Mama) even though they provoke sadness. Sometimes, a little sadness can help us look at where we stand; be it in gratefulness or in self-examination.
You know, it’s easy to think of people and their needs when they’re brought before us. It seems the news and other television shows are always interviewing someone who talks about what they or someone else does or doesn’t deserve. Oh, but what would happen if we all began to think of what God does or doesn’t deserve? He deserves our trust. He deserves our devotion. He deserves our praise. But He doesn’t deserve to have a broken heart or to need a song written about it. What do you think God deserves from you?
Here’s the video of Does He Still Feel the Nails (with lyrics)…
I think everyone goes through dry spells at one time or another. We may feel a bit dried up in our creativity, or we may experience a dryness in our emotions where we just sort of exist for a time without being deeply moved. People have dry spells in business where things just aren’t booming and growing quite the way they desire. What we really don’t want, though, is to end up in a total drought. It’s okay to have to cross the beach to get to the ocean now and then, but an ocean without any water at all is a desert, and it can be pretty hard to survive there.
And speaking of deserts, our reading today from Deuteronomy 29:15 through Deuteronomy 29:28 (in The Complete Jewish Bible; verses 16-29 in non CJB versions) is winding down Israel’s journey through the desert before they cross into The Promised Land. It begins with Moses reminding the people of their journey from Egypt and how the lands they passed through were filled with those who built idols to false gods. Moses tells them to not let there be among them–a man, woman, family or tribe–who heart turns away from Yahveh Almighty to serve the false gods of those other nations.
As Moses continues, he increases his passion against the false gods by saying there should not even be a root of that evil in Israel because it is bitter poison and wormwood. However, he also tells them that if there is such a root, the person who adheres to it has no truth in them. Instead of yielding to warnings of the curses in God’s Torah, that person will tell himself he is fine as he is, even though he will continue to stubbornly do things his own way instead of God’s way. The deluded person will go so far as to tell himself that, event though he is “dry” (sinful), he will be added to the “watered” (righteous).
Now Moses gets fierce. (I can imagine him becoming quite animated and getting his “preacher voice” going.) He tells Israel that God will not forgive that hypocritical person but will blaze against him in fury. He will rain every curse down on him and blot out his name from under Heaven. When the next generations, and foreigners from distant lands, come upon the scene of destruction, they will ask what brought about God’s frenzied and furious anger, and the people will answer, “It’s because they abandoned the covenant of Adonai, the God of their fathers.” They will also tell them, “They went and served other gods, prostrating themselves before them.”
The next part in the passage sounds as if it was written after Israel was removed from the new land and scattered. It says that The Lord, in His fury and anger, threw them out into another land, and it adds, “–as it is today.” I’m not sure when these writings were put in print, but I’m thinking this is long after Israel both entered and exited their place of inheritance. It’s not something to take lightly because we know how much God loved these people and only wanted to give good to them. In the last few verses, Moses reminds the people that there are hidden things that remain with God but revealed things that belong to God’s people and their children forever, so that they can keep the words of His Torah forever.
Like so many other passages in Israel’s history, I can see the development of Christians in their walk before God as well. Those hidden “things” in God are likely another word for understandings since there isn’t actually a Hebrew word for “things” or “stuff” or other words like them. God has a bundle of understanding that He longs to share with those who love Him, so they (we) can follow Him in obedience. As it is written in the 27th verse of the 10th chapter of John (Amplified Bible)…
The sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; and I know them, and they follow Me.
If we are His sheep, we hear His voice, so we should be listening and following Him. Even though we may cross through deserts, He will lead us from stream to stream, so we can refresh ourselves in Him. We have promises that will help us through the dry places like…
- Ephesians 5:26 (CEV), He made the church holy by the power of his word, and he made it pure by washing it with water.
- Psalm 51:2 (AMP), Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin!
- 1 Corinthians 6:11 (CJB), Some of you used to do these things. But you have cleansed yourselves, you have been set apart for God, you have come to be counted righteous through the power of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and the Spirit of our God.
And, above all else, we have daily mercy to help us through even the driest times and places. We may go through a dry spell, but we don’t have to go through a drought. I’ll end with this wonderful praise from Lamentations 3:22-23 from The Message Bible…
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
So my nephew comes into the room tonight to warn me about this purge night that is supposedly going on in Louisville this weekend. His girlfriend has mentioned the possible need to stay indoors while people do various acts of violence in the theory that for 12 hours, nothing is illegal. The idea scared me, so I researched it and found a media campaign created by a couple of movies from 2013 & 2014 and set in the years of 2022 & 2023. In the night celebrated in the movie, people give in to their “natural” instincts of violence, there is no help from police or medical aid, and it’s 12 hours of chaos while people purge themselves of their baser instincts. Sadly, however, there are young people who don’t realize a media-induced frenzy when they hear or see it. (Now I can see how so much trouble came from the original radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.) Maybe they believe Richard Castle is a real book author too. 😉
I’m thankful it is just a big joke in reality, and anyone who looks up the group “New Founding Fathers of America” should realize it’s not real just by reading their statements about how the economy is strong and crime is down as a result of earlier purge nights. As of last check, crime is up and the economy is a mess. Still, I can see where the authors of the screenplay are going with their story in wanting a night where vigilante justice is not punishable, and in acknowledging that if such a night did take place, many would cross the line, and there would be criminal chaos. Such is the result when mankind tries to solve its problems according to the ways of our flesh instead of purging the world of sin and debt God’s way.
In tonight’s reading from Deuteronomy 15:1 through Deuteronomy 15:18, we will read about God’s plan of forgiveness and letting go, in this case about letting go of unpaid debts. God does it with a Statute of Limitations to keep from building up debts forever. We know from previous readings that God offered mercy even for some criminal behavior by the use of Cities of Refuge. We know from our own walk with Him that He still offers mercy for sin, and the limitation on the wages of death for our sins happens when we repent and turn to God. Now we will learn how He told Israel to deal with her debtors.
The reading begins by explaining that at the end of every seven years, there should be a sh’mittah which is Hebrew for “a release.” In that year, every creditor is to release whatever he has lent to his neighbor, and he is not to require a return or anymore payment for it. Foreigners are not included in the release, but all brethren of Israel are included.
Early in the instructions (right at verse 4), God comforts the people by telling them that even with the release, they will not have to worry about going broke or becoming poor. God’s promise to them is that He will bless them for their obedience to the point that they will lend to many nations and not have to borrow; they will rule over many nations, but none will rule over them. The instructions go on to warn them that there will always be poor people among them, and they are to care for them and treat them the same according to the laws of release. He warns them to give freely from their hearts, not grudgingly, and to not hold back in their giving just because the year of release is near.
The portion then turns to slavery and tells them how to let go of their Hebrew slaves during the release. They are not only to let them go freely, they are to send them away with goods to begin a free life. If the slave has decided he loves his master so much that he wants to stay with him, the owner will still set him free but will pierce his ear with an awl to mark him as a free servant. If a slave does want to leave, however, God tells the master to be grateful that he has had the service of this slave for half of what it would have cost him to hire an employee. God reminds the people of their own (unfair) slavery in Egypt, and then He reminds them that He is the one who blesses them in all they do.
Sometimes, it seems difficult to live in the current culture with its dishonesty and unfairness. It’s worse when it enters the church with people who act as if they are believers but are only there for the handouts. It makes it harder to be a giver, and even harder to give without a grudging spirit. But, we can be sensitive to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, so we won’t hold something against a true brother or sister in The Lord to the point it becomes unforgiveness.
Think of it like this: Have you ever had an issue in your past where you forgot a debt you owed to someone? Maybe you thought that if you contacted them, they would hate you because of what they might perceive as your thoughtlessness. Maybe now you cannot contact them for one reason or other, so you can’t change anything. Imagine if we still had that year of release every seven years. Nothing like that would build up between brothers or sisters in Christ. We could live as we pray in The Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Doesn’t that seem like a better way to purge the mistakes of our flesh than of a night of criminal chaos? Of course, it’s always better when we do whatever we do, including getting rid of our sins and debts, God’s way.
A man decided to take a day off from work on September 11th, 2001, and meet his secret lover at a local hotel across town. In the meantime, a wife sees a news broadcast and hears the sirens, and she immediately fears for her husband’s safety. So, the fearful wife calls her husband who could be dead or in grave danger, but her husband answers the phone like nothing is wrong because he is not at work. When she asks if he is okay and starts asking about others he works with, the man chats about his coworkers like there are no problems because, in his morning tryst, he has missed the goings on in downtown Manhattan. He speaks about the office as if he is there, and that’s when the wife figures out that he’s not telling the truth.
Did the guy freak out once the wife told him what was going on? Did the wife divorce him once she figured out he was a lying cheater? I don’t know. Maybe the guy realized where he could’ve been if he wasn’t cheating and decided that God was giving him a second chance to do the right thing. Either way, when he left for his rendezvous, he would never have thought his sin would find him out in such a big and costly way. When people get caught in the moment a truth is revealed, they rarely react as if they expected it to happen. Whether it’s a bottle in the floor of the car at the scene of an accident, or lipstick on the collar, most cases of sin do eventually get discovered, and they are often discovered in embarrassing and public ways.
In today’s reading from Numbers 32:20 through Numbers 32:42 (the end of the chapter), we conclude another week and another Torah portion. This follows yesterday’s promise by the tribes of Gad and Reuben to fight for all of Israel while choosing to claim an inheritance of land outside The Promised Land where their brothers would be in Canaan. Moses comes back to them with an answer that if they will indeed fight for Israel as they have promised, God will authorize them to live in the land on the east side of the Jordan River, in Gilead, instead of Canaan with their brothers.
The authorization comes with a strong dose of warning, though. Moses tells the men that while God will allow what they have proposed, if they do not keep their word, God is watching and their sins will find them out. After the warning, Moses tells them to go ahead and build cities for their families and stables for their sheep, but then to go and do what they have said they would do.
The descendants of Gad and Reuben promise that every man who can fight will be armed and ready for war and will go over with Israel to battle as Moses has directed, so Moses takes the same word to Eleazar the high priest. Moses tells him that if the men go over to fight, they are to possess the land they desire, but if they refuse to fight, they are to take an inheritance in Canaan. And then Moses gave the land to the tribes requesting it plus to the half-tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph. And the tribes built cities in the lands where they had defeated enemy kings with God’s help.
I find it interesting that God gave the warning about their sins finding them out, and yet Moses made sure to say they would still have an inheritance even if they did not keep their word. God may not totally wipe us out just because we break a promise, but we may not get exactly what we were hoping for if we don’t keep the words we have given in exchange for our desires. If we tell God that we will do anything if He will just give us that dream job, then when He asks us to share our testimony with the meanest coworker there, we should keep our word if we want to keep our job in the way we want it. If not, maybe we won’t lose the job, but we may find things getting uncomfortable there, or we may get a new boss, or any number of things.
When we sin in secret and think we are getting away with it, or when we think our sins are no big deal, we need to know that God is watching and keeping a record. He says we will give an account for every idle word. And, yes, our sins will find us out, but that can be the greatest day of our lives if we use God’s findings to drive us to repent and change our ways, so our sins can be placed under the blood of Yeshua, and we can be free.
I have cats. Not just one cat, and not just one color of cat. That means I also have hair on stuff. Not just one hair, and not just one color of hair. My cat’s hair likes to travel with me wherever I go. If I wear dark colored clothing, I wear light-colored cat hair with it. If I wear light-colored clothing, I wear dark cat hair with it. But I love my kitties, so I carry a lint roller. But there are times I wish I could just take a razor and shave off all their cat hair, so maybe I wouldn’t run late to all the places because of forgetting that I needed extra time to try to get all the hair to stick to the roller instead of me.
In today’s reading from Numbers 8:1 through Numbers 8:14, we begin a new week and a new portion. Parashah 36 is called, in Hebrew, B’ha’alotkha, which means “When You Set Up” in English. In this reading, God is giving Moses more information on setting up the tabernacle, and He begins by talking about the menorah. We get a description of the menorah, how it is a work of hammered gold, and then God tells Moses to make sure to have Aaron light the lamps in such a way that the light shows in front of the menorah.
The next section talks of pulling the Levites out from among the rest of the Israelites to prepare them for the service of the tabernacle. The first thing God tells Moses to do after separating the Levites is to cleanse them, and then He gives instructions on exactly how to cleanse them. They are to completely shave their bodies, and then they are to wash their bodies and their clothing. After they are cleansed, they will bring sacrifices, and then Aaron can present them to all the people.
As I searched for pictures to represent the clean shave, I came across a number of different types of shavers and razors. Suddenly, I thought about how much those Levites might have appreciated some of the shavers we use today. I wonder just how much they had to deal with razor burn after shaving desert-toughened skin with a straight-edge.
And that leads me to another type of cleansing where the Word of God which is sharper than a two-edged sword is able to shave off the layers of sin that threaten to keep us separated from Our Creator. His Word will cut as deeply as necessary to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, so we can be free. But sometimes, even when we know something is bad for us, we resist allowing God to cut it away. But if we will trust God and allow Him to coat us with the oil of the Holy Spirit, we can freely get rid of our five-o-clock shadow of sin instead of resisting until we end up with spiritual razor burn.
Remember the commercial where a couple at the movies trip over each other and end up mixing their snacks? One of them says, “Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter.” Then the other one says, “Hey, you got your peanut butter on my chocolate.” And items that at one time would have been considered strange bedfellows were suddenly finding themselves mixed together in the form of a peanut butter cup.
The phrase “strange bedfellows” has been in use since the 1400s as a reference to unlikely or peculiar alliances or combinations. For example, in nature, if we see a friendship between animals that normally would be enemies, it strikes us as odd. There are some things that we know just don’t go together, like cats and birds. But strange bedfellows usually refer to things that might seem odd together but actually work, like pickle and peanut-butter sandwiches. (But you do have to toast the bread and used thin sliced dill pickle if you really want it to taste right. 🙂 )
In today’s reading from Leviticus 20:8 through Leviticus 20:22, God again teaches Israel what He considers to be “strange bedfellows.” The difference here, however, is that if God says we should not be in a bed together, He means it. It’s not a matter of figuring out that something unlikely might actually work together because if it goes against God’s perfect will and design, it goes into the arena of disobedience to God and irreverence of God’s holy word.
The reading begins with a reminder that a man should not curse his father and mother or he would face death. From there, it jumps right into a long list of what God considers to be sexual sin. Obviously, these things are important to God because this is the second such list in the book of Leviticus. This list has a little more detail in that instead of just calling people who commit the sexual sins unclean, God goes a bit further and speaks of those that should be put to death.
The first sin listed is that of a man committing adultery with another man’s wife. This says that both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. Next it says that a man who sleeps with his father’s wife disgraces his father, and both of them should be put to death. If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. And if a man goes to bed with a man as he does with a woman, both men are to be put to death.
God goes on to say that if a man sleeps with a woman and her mother, all of them are to be put to death by fire, so that no depravity will exist in the community. If a man or woman has sex with an animal, both the human and animal are to be put to death. If a man sleeps with his sister (or half-sister), God says it is shameful and they are to be cut off from the people and will bear the consequences, but this does not appear to include death. And, finally, it goes into men who sleep with their mother’s sister, their father’s sister, or their uncle’s wife. The consequence for a man who sleeps with his aunt, even if she is only related by marriage, is that the two of them will be childless.
Going back to the first command about killing both the adulterer and the adulteress, I wonder if Yeshua wrote this Scripture in the dirt when the men of Israel were about to stone the woman caught in adultery. At that moment, it wasn’t as much about His having mercy on the woman as it was about His showing the hypocrisy in the men. Why weren’t they casting stones at the man who was with the woman? If they were so holy and so apt to keep the letter of the law, the woman was not the only one who should have been facing a death sentence.
This story, in John 8:1-11, does not end with the men facing their hypocrisy and dropping their stones. It’s one of the places where the mercy of Yeshua shines brightly. He physically demonstrates the grace and mercy He has for all of us when He tells the woman that He finds no fault in her and that she is free to stop her sinning. He didn’t tell her that she was free from that one sin, or for one day only, but he set her free to stop sinning for the rest of her life. No more strange bedfellows for her because she who the Son sets free is free indeed.
Death is still the price for adultery (and all the sins listed in today’s portion), but just as Yeshua protected the woman from the price of her crimes, His blood will set us free from every sin listed in His word–Old or New Testament–because He has paid that price of death for us. He set the woman free from the bondage to her sin with the words “Go and sin no more.” He sets us free in the same way. May we let go of our excuses for sin, and instead may we climb out of the bed we have made with our weaknesses and walk in the mercy and grace that sets and keeps us free. Amen!
Why is it so hard to stand for the right these days? I mean, it’s even hard for those who want to stand for the right things because there is such a rising up against standing for God’s holy word and standing against any kind of sin. People try to tell those who stand for the right things that what others do is none of our business. The popular culture of music has kids being harassed in the lyrics just for wanting to live on the right side of the law. There are even songs that warn people not to report a crime to protect the innocent. In those songs, they’re called snitches, and they’re threatened with violence.
But what happens if we all just give in and let the bullies win? The picture above is a good example of a land where sin became so accepted that it infiltrated the church and led to the slaughter of The True Messiah and later the destruction of the temple. Sure, Yeshua went silently as a lamb before the slaughter because He chose to give Himself as our Passover sacrifice to cover our sins, but does that mean we are supposed to watch silently as people commit one sin after another? Do we allow the innocent to pay the price of being sacrificed to gods of comfort and convenience through sins like abortion? Do we keep silent while the music steals the souls of the young by loudly proclaiming to them that life is better on drugs? Where does it cross the line between the individual’s sin and become the community’s sin because too many are turning away and pretending it doesn’t exist?
In today’s reading from Leviticus 20:1 through Leviticus 20:7, God talks to Israel about those in the land, including foreigners, who sacrifice their children to the god of Molech. I’ve been taught that in this sacrifice, women would self-abort and throw their fetuses into the fiery mouth of the stone god, and fathers would sacrifice infants after they were born. Supposedly, they have excavated jars with tiny remains in them, but I cannot verify that information. I did find some interesting information in an article at Wikipedia.
God tells Israel that if they see anyone at all performing this disgusting practice, they are to stone the person because it defiles God’s tabernacle, and it defiles the land. He goes on to say that if the people turn away and try to pretend they did not see this vile sin, God will set Himself against the sinner. Then, in addition to the person who committed the crime being cut off from his people, God will also cut off his family and all who follow after him. The cost of turning away is greater than the cost of making a person responsible for his own behavior.
For me. I would have trouble with the whole idea of being in the judgment seat to the point of stoning a person to death, but I understand why God wanted people to follow His will in this. I have yet to see a case where a person got away with a crime against the innocent and became a better person by getting away with it. In the end, many more members of their family, and often even their friends, end up paying prices for ignoring the original crime. It’s hard to find the line between having mercy for the sake of winning a person’s soul to Christ, and becoming a party to community sin by ignoring that a price must be paid and refusing to make the guilty person pay it himself.
But the fact is, God is a holy and a just God, and His laws and rulings are holy and just. If we ignore the laws of the harvest (men reaping what they sow), and if we decide that a person should not pay a price for a sin he commits–especially against the innocent, we are symbolically saying that we know more than God. And, we are also saying that it’s okay for the innocent to pay a price while the person who harmed them should go free. There is no balance or justice in that. Let us not participate in community sin by hiding our faces when evil is done because a price will be paid, and we do not want to get any part of that bill.
Somewhere in my youth, I used to enjoy all those scary shows like Outer Limits (I really did think they had control of my TV set), Night Gallery, and others. I still watch Twilight Zone and own the whole collection. Some of the morals given in many of those old programs have stayed with me for years. The episode above has stuck with me, though I’m not sure when I saw it, since IMDB says the series, Tales from the Darkside, started in 1983, and I had quit watching TV for a time as of July of that year. In reading through the other episode descriptions, I would never watch the kinds of things it tells stories about, so I’m thinking this may be the only episode of the program I ever saw (thankfully). I posted this before I realized the content of the other episodes, so I will say this one is safe, but in case you don’t want to spend 20 minutes watching it, here’s the gist (spoiler alert–words in green)…
An evil man would rather use a special laundry service to wash the sins from his clothes than to stop sinning. He hires a launderer who charges him big money, keeps raising his prices, and finally quits picking up the clothes which have greatly accumulated since the man now feels no guilt for his actions. When the man calls the launderer, the guy tells him he won the lottery and is out of business. The evil man then knows he’s stuck with his sins, so he jumps to his death.
Well, in today’s reading from Leviticus 13:38 through Leviticus 13:54, we’ll learn about leprosy on clothing. We’re still on the subject of what types of skin sores need to be shown to the priests, and we even get a little comic relief in verses 40-41…
40 “If a man’s hair has fallen from his scalp, he is bald, but he is clean. 41 If his hair has fallen off the front part of his head, he is forehead-bald; but he is clean.
At least I thought it was funny–“he’s bald but he’s clean.” LOL
In the next verses, we get a bit of insight about those who live in the isolation I mentioned in another post. They must live outside the camp, and wherever they go, they must wear torn clothes, leave their hair hanging down, and put their hand over their lip while calling out, “Unclean, unclean.” I’m guessing the hand over the lip is to amplify the sound, but it could mean something else that I’m unsure of.
Now we get into the verses that talk about what to do when a sore has caused a stain on clothing. The instructions to the priest are to watch the stain to see if it spreads through the fibers of whatever material it is found on. If the stain spreads, it is contagious and the articles of clothing must be burned up. But if the stain doesn’t spread, the clothes are to be washed and set apart for seven days.
Since leprosy represents sin, I find it interesting that God says whatever it touches is to be burned up. That tells me that, even when we ourselves are washed of our sins, the things (not people) in our lives that were connected to the sin, must be destroyed. They demonstrate that well in the movie Fireproof where they have the main character destroy the computer he was using to access pornography. For someone who practiced witchcraft, that would mean getting rid of things like Tarot Cards and Ouija Boards. For a drug addict, it would mean getting rid of drug paraphernalia. We must separate ourselves from the things that could reinfect us with sin when we choose to walk a road of pure service to God. His will and ways must become our priority. But I can tell you from experience, what we give up for Him is NEVER a loss.
In the movie reel of my life (somehow, I really think God has one of these), I know I have tried and failed thousands of times. I have made promises that still go unkept, whether because I’ve forgotten or for some other reason. I’ve had all the best intentions, all the best plans, and all the best efforts, and still I have failed. I fail because I am human. We fail because we are human. God understands because He made us. He says in Psalm 103:14 that He knows our form.
As I read through today’s reading from Leviticus 4:27 through Leviticus 5:10, I looked at all the answers God gave for what to do in case of failure during the times of the tabernacle and priests. Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, I don’t think He would have us discard any of it. As a matter of fact, The New Testament does not say that the old law is done away with. Rather, it says that it was fulfilled so we are no longer under the curse of it. What was the curse? It was that if we failed in one point, we failed in all of it.
I woke up one morning having an awake dream–maybe a vision. I saw a steel ring with bits of it missing and the word law in the middle of it. As I watched it, another steel ring came into view. This one had the word love written in the middle, and it had no missing pieces. As the vision continued, the ring of love settled into the ring of law and filled in all the missing parts. God’s law of love became the law and absorbed all the emptiness that keeping the works of the law could not fill in. I have never forgotten it.
But as for why all these commands were there to begin with….I believe God laid them out because He never wanted His people under a curse. He knew His children, and He knew they would fail, but He wanted to put every possibility of provision out there to make a way out of the bondage that comes with sin and failure. It’s like a mother, one many would call over-protective, giving her child an abundance of “just in case” scenarios to make sure the child is protected no matter what.
“Okay, honey, don’t answer the door; make sure the deadbolt is locked; the doorknob is locked; the chain lock is pulled; the intruder alarm is set; and your phone is charged in case you need to call us. I put the number where we’ll be on the refrigerator, but I also gave it to the neighbors on both sides in case you have to run out of the house to get away from a bad guy. Oh, and Aunt Sally will call you at 8 to check on you, and then Uncle Mike will call you at 9. Make sure you answer or they’ll call me to report you might be in trouble. Etc., etc., and, and, and.”
Does this seem like too much? God provided 613 total commandments to the Levitical priesthood. We have commandments in today’s reading that include when to sacrifice a goat, when to sacrifice a sheep, when it must be a female offering, and when a dove or pigeon can be used. He even provided for the unplanned sins, including those committed by making a promise (whether to do evil or good) and not keeping it. God has always wanted to make sure that we have ways out of our sins if we have a heart that is willing to step out of them through repentance.
And that is the most important part of it all… repentance. Whether it was following the Levitical commands back then, or stepping under the cleansing of Christ’s blood now, repentance is what makes the difference. Now, as then, a person must see his sin and failures as bondage (if nothing more than the bondage of being separated from his Loving Creator), and he must want to be set free. It’s not about finding reasons or excuses, and it’s not about trying to find some way to continue in sin. The blood–all the way back to the garden–has always been about repentance and being set free.
Been there, done that, have the stains on my shirt to prove it. And boy, how frustrating it is when you are hungry or thirsty, and you really want to get that bite in your mouth, or that drink down your throat, and you miss the mark and spill something down the front of you. And it is equally frustrating when we want to please God but somehow, even with our best desires and efforts, we make a mess out of things.
In today’s reading from Leviticus 4:1 through Leviticus 4:26, we get to see how God even created provision for His children should they fail Him unintentionally. In many Hebrew prayers, there is a line of thanksgiving for the laws (Hebrew mitzvot) of God. This shows that the foundations contain pleasure in serving God according to His perfect will. Rather than make excuse for why they could not serve Him, they looked for ways to do it better. So, when they inadvertently failed, they wanted to be set free from that.
God has a system worked out of exactly what sacrifices are acceptable for offerings given in case of failure and the process required depending on who failed. If it was one of the anointed priests that failed, the process was a bit different than if it was one member of the community. It was yet a different method of action for repentance when the whole community shared in the failure.
The one thing about this reading that grabbed me harder than other parts was what happened if one of the anointed priests failed. The Word says that it brought guilt on all the people. Imagine if the one you were following as your anointed leader was required to repent and offer a sacrifice worthy of repentance to keep his or her sins off of you. Would it change who you choose to look up to for your leadership?
Remember that in the book of Jude (especially verses 3-4) we are warned about those that sneak into the church without us being aware of them (other than Scriptural warnings) and teach something less than adherence to God’s word. Even though the blood of Christ sets us free from being yoked under bondage if these people do not repent, I believe we are still required to go in with eyes wide open and be aware of false teaching and sinful leadership. I believe God still requires those in leadership positions to treat their positions with the highest reverence and responsibility, knowing that what they teach, and what they do behind closed doors, will affect their followers in some way. Think Jim Jones, and note what came upon all who followed him.
Today, I’m thankful for a provision in Christ’s blood that will help me when I miss the mark. I desire to do the right thing, just like I desire to get the food to my mouth when I’m hungry, but I still fail. And I know there are those in leadership who desire to do the right thing and fail, but the ones who truly adhere to God’s calling will bring fruits of repentance and not just words of sorrow for being caught. That is why I’m picky about whose words I follow–online and off. I know God sees my heart and judges me on my desire, and I know He sees the heart of all who try to serve Him and fail. Above all, He sees the blood of Christ when we fail but then repent and place ourselves under it. Halleluyah!
As we continue into today’s reading from Genesis 32:14 through Genesis 32:30, we read the rest of Jacob’s plan for meeting with Esau and trying to appease his anger. He chooses a bunch of animals and then puts them into groups heading toward Esau. He tells the men who head up each group of animals to tell Esau that they are a gift for him and that Jacob is nearby in the next group. Jacob’s intention is to watch and then move backward a group at a time until he is sure Esau will accept him without killing him. At the same time, he sends his two wives, two slave girls, and his eleven children across a stream with his possessions.
With the gifts in front of him and his family across the stream, Jacob is alone for the night. Suddenly there was a man wrestling with him. Jacob refused to give up and continued to wrestle until morning. Scripture says that when it appeared the man would not prevail against Jacob, He touched him in his hip socket so that his hip was dislocated as he wrestled. And then Jacob said the words that gave away that he knew exactly who he was wrestling with. The man had asked Jacob to let him go because it was morning, but Jacob said to Him, “I won’t let You go until You bless me.”
Now, I love what God does here. He asks Jacob what his name is. Remember way back when Jacob was born, when Jacob stole the birthright, and when Jacob deceived his father? In all those things, Jacob lived up to the meaning of his name; supplanter. He tried to come out first, he stole the birthright, and he falsely gained his father’s blessing. Esau even pointed out how the name was fitting for him. Now God is asking Jacob to admit that he is as his name, one who steals what he wants–one who wrestles for his blessings. Like the first of the “12 Steps” in Alcoholics Anonymous (and related programs), God is telling Jacob that He will not bless him until he admits who and what he is. It works the same in repentance when we finally admit that we are sinners in need of God’s salvation. And I am certain I am not the only one who has wrestled to get to that point, but it is worth the wrestling if you fight until you subdue the flesh and press through to obtain God’s blessing. Paul mentions in Philippians 3 that he is pressing on and forward to a goal of something that lies ahead of what he has now. It’s a finish line where everyone who crosses, and not just the first one, is a winner.
So, after he said his name was Jacob, everything changed for him. After we admit we are in need of God (and not just at our first repentance but each time we wrestle with something that we need to let go of), everything can change for us as well. AFTER Jacob confessed the absence of God in his efforts and admitted that he was trying to do everything on his own, THEN God not only blessed him, but his blessing came with a name change. God changed the name of Jacob (supplanter) to the name of Israel (wrestled/contended with God). He put His title, EL, right into Jacob’s new name. Jacob was no longer one who had to steal positions and possessions or birthrights and blessings. He was now one who was blessed of God because He sought God’s blessing face to face.
Have you ever tried to hug a porcupine? No? Well, me either. But even if I had the opportunity, I don’t think I would want to do so. I have hugged someone wearing wool, and the itchy scratchy feeling that makes me feel like I have little pins sticking me all over doesn’t make me want to continue for long. It’s just not pleasant to hug something that hurts. Well, sin is like that to God. He wants to spend time with us, but He doesn’t want the prickles of pain caused by our being covered in the sin in which we immerse ourselves. So, He asks us to “come out from among the unbelievers and be separated from them.” (See 2 Corinthians 6:17.)
In today’s reading from Genesis 19 verses 1 through 20, God sends angels to Sodom. Abraham’s nephew Lot recognizes them, and he knows the situation in the town is something these men should not have to deal with, so he asks them to come stay at his house. Maybe he feels that if he hides them out of sight, they will be protected, but the sinners in that city are so bent on defiling all that is good, they show up at the house and demand that Lot send his guests out to them as playthings for their disgusting lust. It’s as if they can smell purity and innocence and will not be satisfied unless they can destroy it.
Since Lot has lived with these people for so long, maybe he has learned to ignore much of their behavior thinking that as long as he is not part of it, it doesn’t matter if he lives in the midst of it. But he doesn’t realize how much can change just by being in the constant presence of sin. So, while he knew it was wrong to let the men have their way with his angelic guests, he apparently did not see the harm in trying to appease them by offering them his virgin daughters. In that moment, he forgot that part of his role as a father included protecting their innocence.
In the end, the angels pulled Lot in from trying to make deals with the evil men, and then they blinded the men at the door so they could no longer find the door. They protected Lot and his daughters and then warned them not only to walk away, but to run away, from the coming destruction. Unfortunately, though freedom was also offered to his other children who lived in different parts of the city, they chose to stay rather than to heed the warning.
I guess the moral of this story, whose ending should come in tomorrow’s reading, is that it is better for us to come out from among unbelievers and keep ourselves pure and separate than to try to pry ourselves away when we finally get a clear vision of where sin is leading. Lord, please separate us and keep us out of the miry clay. Set our feet upon You–our Rock and our Salvation.
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!
Today’s reading from Genesis 9:18 through Genesis 10:32 is a bit longer, and it is so because it’s another chapter that covers a bunch of genealogy. This time, it’s the genealogies from the sons of Noah from whom the entire earth was repopulated after the flood. But before it gets into the genealogies, this chapter tells a story of excess, drunkenness, and disrespectful behavior.
Noah was a farmer, so after getting off the boat, he planted a vineyard. From the fruit of his labors, he drank a bit too much wine (it is easy to go overboard when you have gone without something for a very long time) and passed out in his tent. I’m guessing his robes came undone, or the wine made him warm, and he stripped them off, but for whatever reason, he was laying there completely naked. What happened next changed the future of many people groups.
Noah’s youngest son, Ham, happened by his father’s tent. Instead of backing out and respecting him, he ran to tell his brothers all about it. Now remember, the sons who entered the ark were married men and their wives, so this was a full-grown married man running off to make fun of his father to other full-grown married men. I think there is likely much more to the story, but here’s what I see: The states of mind before the flood were not only lacking any direction toward God, but they were so selfish, they were immature. Learning to care for others instead of just yourself takes time and maturity, so selfish people often act childish by being demanding, having temper tantrums, and/or being just plain silly. I think Ham came on board with the mindset of those who had just been destroyed. Maybe all but Noah boarded that way, but I believe Ham “missed the boat” mentally and emotionally when he did not learn a lesson by watching the end result of that evil behavior. And that childish behavior caused problems from his son, Canaan, on down the line because Ham did not create a legacy of maturity and obedience that could be taught through the generations.
As with all of God’s stories though, there is always some good news to find. In this case, it was the two older brothers who walked backward with a blanket and covered their father’s nakedness instead of making fun of him. Were they mature because they were older, or had they matured as a result of the last year and the lesson learned from the destruction of mankind? It’s hard to tell, but in a literal way, they fulfilled Proverbs 10:12 where it says, “Hatred stirs up contentions, but love covers all transgressions” (Amplified Bible). The immature son disrespected his father, and hated him enough to try to stir things up against him in the hearts of his brothers. But his brothers loved their father and chose instead to cover his transgressions. I also like the way this is stated in 1 Peter 4:8 (Amp)….”Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].”
We have a Savior who feels love toward us, so when given the choice to mock our sins and put them on public display for punishment, He chose instead to cover us–with His own body and blood. He took the public display, the mocking, and the punishment on Himself. And because mercy and love is more powerful than punishment and hate, we have the promise that His love covers our sins, not only unto the third and fourth generation (as it is with those who hate God), but unto thousands of generations of those that love God and keep His commandments. (See Exodus 20:6).
Something came to me about the readings for the last three days, and I want to bring it up before I jump into today. In Genesis 6:8, Noah found grace in the eyes of God. In Genesis 6:9, Noah was righteous & wholehearted, and he walked with God. In Genesis 6:18, God told Noah He would establish a covenant with him. In Genesis 6:22, Noah did all that was commanded of him. In Genesis 7:1, God says to Noah, “I have seen that you alone in this generation are righteous before me.” In Genesis 7:5, Noah did all that God ordered him to do. Can you see a pattern here?
Remember, this was before any of the levitical laws were given, so what do you suppose made Noah find grace in the eyes of the Lord? And that brings us to our reading for today from Genesis 7:17 through Genesis 8:14. Verse 17 tells us that the ark was lifted up above the earth. And that’s where I want to focus.
Noah, whose name actually means “rest,” had a spirit that was above (not obedient to) the flesh. He was, like the ark that he built, lifted up “above the earth” if you think of earth as representing flesh since that’s what we are made from. None of the Scriptures I found say anything about his wife, sons, or sons’ wives being holy, obedient, or finding grace in the eyes of Yahveh.
So, we can sum it all up this way: A man called Rest (and remember our Savior Jesus is The Rest wherein the weary may rest) was righteous. He built a vessel (like our Savior robed Himself in flesh) that would be lifted above the earth (like Christ was lifted up on Calvary and lifted above sin) to save those he loved from complete destruction. Now go back and read the story of Noah as if you’re reading the story of salvation, and ask yourself yesterday’s question…will you get in the ark?
My reading today from Genesis 7:1-16 is short, but it puts feet on the commands God gave to Noah yesterday. The ark is built, the animals have shown up, and now God invites Noah & his family into the place that will save them from destruction.
You know, it seems from the beginning that God has always delighted to give those who love Him a refuge from the troubles and trials that are created by the disobedience of those who do not love Him. He truly lives up to the name, Deliverer. Here is a slide from a Bible study by Beth Moore (found at http://calvarylife.org/explore/podcast/elevation/courageous/slides/slides_052012.pdf) that nicely describes how God is ALWAYS our Deliverer:
While the slide talks of fire, it was no less a deliverance for Noah and his family to be delivered from the death of all other living things. This story is only the beginning of God showing people that He wants to be our Deliverer, and it represents His heart of hearts–to deliver us from the ways of sin and the wages of sin (which is eternal death). Now our question; will we give up our own ways and go into “the ark” when we are invited?
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