Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

Corporate Travel Policies for Israel


Camel Rides in Egypt by Flickr User Jeremy Jones, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Camel Rides in Egypt by Flickr User Jeremy Jones, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I have great travel memories all the way back to times as a small child when most of my car travel included long naps in the backseat. I still love the atmosphere of a truck stop early in the morning just before the sun comes up because I remember that first stop on a drive we started at about 4am. That time of day, the idling truck engines create a steady hum, and in the late spring and early summer, there is is just enough crispness in the dew-filled air to chill you awake. That first stop on a long trip is also still charged with excitement about both the journey and the destination.

In today’s reading from Numbers 10:11 through Numbers 10:28, we read about the beginnings of travel for the community of Israel. I don’t know if they had any camels, but I imagine a camel ride would be preferable to a very long walk. The journey ahead would take the children of Israel from the Sinai Desert to the Paran Desert as the pillar of cloud led them. This was Israel’s first journey, and the Scripture says they followed according to all of God’s words to Moses. In other words, they adhered to God’s corporate travel policies.

As they traveled, they moved by companies and leaders, and the divided movement allowed the Levites to take down and carry the tabernacle according to God’s direction. The descendants of K’hat who carried the tabernacle were ahead of the other tribes, so that the tabernacle could already be set up by the time the rest of the community of Israel arrived. You can click on the above link to read the exact divisions of camps and leaders as they traveled in the orderly fashion directed by their travel agent, Moses, according to all the instruction He received from God.

While I still love going places, travel is not as easy for me with having to carry a CPAP machine, get someone to care for my kitty cats, and the general issues with age and pain. But I imagine things were quite a bit rougher for a people that had to carry their entire house and home with them as they moved along. Still, I wonder if they got excited to see where God was going to take them next. They knew their stops were temporary because they knew their final destination was “The Promised Land,” but each step along the way must’ve held some excitement as they knew it was getting them closer to home.

Even with the enjoyment I find in traveling, seeing new sites, visiting with those I love, and finding fun things to do along the way, there is nothing like getting back home and back into my regular routine. Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz said it well when she said, “There’s no place like home.” For believers in Messiah who trust in the promises we will receive after He comes back for His own, we know that our stops in this temporary life are steps to move us closer to that place we long for, that place we will one day call “home” for eternity. In the meantime, if we move forward according to God’s travel plans, we can enjoy the journey.

As I finished this post, I thought about an old song by Johnny Cash called “Over the Next Hill We’ll Be Home” and I’ve found it here sung by him and June. It even includes his notes about writing it. Enjoy…

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

Close Enough to Perfect


Not Always Perfect by Flickr User marsmet472, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Not Always Perfect by Former Flickr User marsmet472, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

I remember an old Hemphill’s song that was mostly sung for children but can easily apply to any one of us doing our best to live for God while we dwell here on earth. It included the chorus lyrics…

He’s still workin’ on me,
To make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be,
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me.

I’m not perfect by any means, but I am thankful that line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, God is still building and making me closer and closer to His perfect image. There will come a day when I (and all of God’s people) will be like Him, when we see Him as He is, but until then, we can be thankful that He knows our forms, and that He gives us a mercy that is new every morning.

In today’s reading from Numbers 8:15 through Numbers 8;26 (the end of the chapter) we see a people that are also not yet perfect, and we see a God who is perfect. We also see a people who are not holy enough to approach a perfect and holy God without dying in His presence, but because God wants His people in His presence, He creates a proxy of people that can come before Him on their behalf.

The Levites are once again cleansed and presented before God as an offering, and they work in and around the tabernacle to keep the rest of the community of Israel from coming too close to God’s perfection. Because the Levites are accepted by God in the stead of all the firstborn of people and animals that belong to Him, they are an acceptable offering so that He will not cause any plagues to come upon the people of Israel.

The community of Israel obeys the orders of Yahveh that are given to Moses concerning the Levites. They cleanse them and present them as an offering, and God accepts them. Then the Levites do their service as ordered by God. The Levites told to serve are all those between twenty-five and fifty years of age. The Levites older than fifty are told to assist in the tabernacle services, but they are not to do any actual work in the tabernacle.

I’m grateful that God established the Levitical priesthood to make sure that He could always have a people to whom He could draw near, but I’m even more grateful now that Yeshua has become my permanent high priest, so that I can always draw near to My Creator. I need to walk in God’s presence to make it through the troubles and trials of this world, so having a proxy tribe to step in for me is not close enough to “Perfect” (God’s perfect presence) for me.  Because of Christ, I do not have to fear getting too close to the tabernacle in an unholy state that would bring me plagues because His cleansing blood perfects me and allows me to come boldly before God’s throne of grace. I will be perfected in His presence one day, but until then, being able to walk in His presence each moment of every day of my life is close enough to perfect for me.

Now, enjoy this video with lyrics of the song mentioned above, He’s Still Workin’ On Me…

May 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Chuck Wagon Gang


I have a lot of old gospel favorite songs and a few favorite groups, but the one that covers both is called “The Chuck Wagon Gang.” I grew up listening to their album titled “Hallelujah” with songs such as “If We Never Meet Again,” “Happy and Free,” “Give Me That Old Time Religion,” and–the one I sang most with my sister and my mom–“I’m Bound for the Land of Canaan.” The history of this group can be found here, at their official website, and it spans over 75 years.

Today’s reading from Numbers 7:72 through Numbers 7:89 (the end of the chapter) brings a close to our week and the portion. It covers the last two days of offerings which were brought in by the leaders of the tribes of Asher and Naphtali. After twelve days of offerings, there were wagons and wagons of gifts for the priests to use in the tabernacle and for their own living. (It’s the reference to covered wagons at the beginning of the description of the caravan that led me to share my favorite group because of the name.)

The reading gives a breakdown of the total items offered if you want to read it yourself. In summary, there were silver vessels, gold vessels, bulls, rams, lambs, and goats. All this was given as offering in dedication of the altar after it had been anointed.

The reading concludes with what could almost be an introduction to the next chapter as God calls Moses into The Holy of Holies to speak with Him. The voice of Yahveh spoke from above the ark cover over the Ark of the Covenant from between the two angels.

Since there’s not much more to say on this subject with it being the third day of it, I will close now and bid Shabbat Shalom to all my readers. Blessings to you, and I hope you enjoy the music. I have been unable to find a good video of “Canaan Land,” but here are a few other Chuck Wagon Gang song videos I really like…

Jesus Hold My Hand

Looking for a City (Live Recording)

Church in the Wildwood

And here’s a 38 minute video with a variety of songs

I’ll keep looking for a link to somewhere you can hear “I’m Bound for the Land of Canaan.”

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

God is Just


Book Cover for Shattered Justice (Family Honors Series, Book I) by Karen Ball

Book Cover for Shattered Justice (Family Honors Series, Book I) by Karen Ball
Click the book cover image to open a new tab/window for the book page at Amazon.

God is just. No matter what we may see, feel, imagine, or think, that is an absolute fact. Sometimes it feels like He is far away, maybe even ignoring us, but He always knows what He is doing, and He will always answer the right answer in the right time. This world has so much injustice, which by definition means justice is not done, so we may wonder what God is doing as we watch the innocent suffer and the criminals prevail, but there is an eternity of true justice in our future if we trust God.

In today’s reading from Numbers 7:42 through Numbers 7:71, we get a little more of a glimpse of what our future world might be like as we see more of Israel’s leaders bringing gifts for the wilderness tabernacle. I say it’s a glimpse of our future world because right at this moment of our reading, we’re only seeing the well-oiled workings of people in obedience to Their Creator. In addition to obedience, these men are gathering love offerings to help keep the ministry moving forward, and the offerings are abundant.

For just a quick rundown, yesterday’s reading covered days one through five in the list of those bringing gifts to the priests, and today covers days six through ten. Yesterday’s givers included representation from the tribes of Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, and Simeon. Today’s givers include representation from the tribes of Gad, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, and Dan. On both days, the gifts included silver, gold, grains and oils for sacrifices, animals for sacrifices, and much more. And, again, I recommend reading the linked passage above for complete details.

Now, I’m going to go in a totally different direction here and use something from the reading to jump off into a quick book review. One of the leaders of Israel, the one from the tribe of Benjamin, is named “Avidan.” That is the name of the main character from book one of the Family Honors trilogy by Karen Ball. Avidan means “God is Just.”

I’ve read all three of the books in the trilogy, and they are some of my favorite books. The three books are about three siblings in the Justice family, and each sibling gets the focus of one book, though all the siblings show up in all the books. The characters all became so real to me that now, years later, I still want to find the little town in Oregon where they lived and try to meet all three of them. 🙂

Book one is called Shattered Justice, and it focuses on the story of Avidan, aka Deputy Sheriff Dan. Dan is the law in a small town that has its share of big problems. He faces more than most of us could deal with, and it shatters his sense of justice. In a “Job-like” storyline, we watch Dan go through his trials in very human ways as he struggles to find the help he knows God promises his children. As readers, we get to see the people God sows into Dan’s life to give him strength to face each new trial and an uncertain future, and we get to watch Dan discover why these people are there as he needs them.

I’m struggling to figure out what to tell that won’t be considered spoilers, though knowing things ahead of time does not hinder the reading. I read the books out of order since book two, “Kaleidoscope Eyes,” was the first one recommended to me, and I read it before realizing it was part of a series. The affect it had on my reading of book one was simply that I was prepared to cry at any moment because I knew bad things were going to happen, but the story still surprised me with just how they happened.

I want to just say, “Trust me, this book and series is worth reading,” but I know people want reasons for that, so I’ll just add that if you have ever experienced struggles that seemed impossible to get through, read this great piece of fiction with realistic events and emotions to find hope. By the time you get to the end of Dan’s struggles to come back from blaming and rejecting God, you will see how, even in the face of tragedy, God is just.

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

The Clans Go Marching One by One


Let’s start with a little bit of fun today…

The clans go marching one by one,
The little one stopped, there was work to be done.
The clans go marching two by two,
Each clan has an assigned task to do.
The clans go marching three by three,
Descendants of K’hat, Gershon and Merari.
The clans go marching four by four,
The last of these will guard the door.
The clans go marching five by five,
Worker bees in God-ordained hives.
The clans go marching six by six,
No non-Levite was in the mix.
The clans go marching seven by seven,
They pack the bread not made with leaven.
The clans go marching eight by eight,
Some lift, some carry, some serve and wait.
The clans go marching nine by nine,
With God’s direction, the tribes align.
The clans go marching ten by ten,
From thirty to fifty years old were the men.

Today’s reading from Numbers 4:34 through Numbers 4:49 (the end of the chapter) again tells of the census counts from the descendants of the sons of Aaron. These counts, however, only cover the men from ages thirty to fifty who are able to work in God’s service. Based on reading stopping at the breaks marked “A” (Ashkenazi) and “S” (Sephardic), you’ll notice an overlap from yesterday. I read to 37 to stick to the pattern I started with, but since 34-37 include census information, I’m backtracking a bit.

Much of the information is similar to yesterday’s reading concerning which jobs will done by which tribes. I combined some of the information from yesterday and today in my little parody above, so all that’s left to be added are the actual numbers. The men who could serve from the clan of K’hat totaled 2,750. Those from the clan of Gershon totaled 2,630. And, those from the tribe of Merari come in with 3200, so our total from the three clans is 8,580 men between the ages of thirty and fifty who would work in the service of Yahveh’s tabernacle. According to God’s order to Moses, the Levites counted each man, and then assigned the men to specific services and works.

Counting people to do specific works for God makes me think of the following verses from 1 Corinthians 12:15-26

15 If the foot says, “I’m not a hand, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I’m not an eye, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If it were all hearing, how could it smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged each of the parts in the body exactly as he wanted them. 19 Now if they were all just one part, where would the body be? 20 But as it is, there are indeed many parts, yet just one body.21 So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you”; or the head to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be less important turn out to be all the more necessary; 23 and upon body parts which we consider less dignified we bestow greater dignity; and the parts that aren’t attractive are the ones we make as attractive as we can, 24 while our attractive parts have no need for such treatment. Indeed, God has put the body together in such a way that he gives greater dignity to the parts that lack it, 25 So that there will be no disagreements within the body, but rather all the parts will be equally concerned for all the others. 26 Thus if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; and if one part is honored, all the parts share its happiness.

I love how The Complete Jewish Bible says that last line, that all parts will share in the happiness. I know that if we all did things God’s way, the whole body of Christ would participate in the happiness created by our obedience. If we all take our marching orders and do our assigned services with praise, we will soon find we are not marching alone but with the presence of God because He dwells in the praises of His people. Now that’s a beat I can march to.

And just for a tad more fun, here’s a video of The Ants Go Marching…

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

Uncommon Corps


Old Corps-New Corps by Flickr's United States Marine Corps Official Page, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial.jpg

Old Corps-New Corps by Flickr’s United States Marine Corps Official Page, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial.jpg
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Some things are good common, but some things are better uncommon. For example, sensibility is good to have as a common thing, as is courtesy. Believing that the Bible is the word of God is a good common doctrine. Trusting in common that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself (in that order), sets up a secure foundation. But thinking that every person who serves Christ will do so in exactly the same way, and not build different houses on the one foundation, is not a necessary commonality. God made each of us with different strengths, so we can each do the jobs He has set in our paths to do.

In today’s reading from Numbers 4:21 through Numbers 4:37, we begin a new week and a new portion of Torah. Parashah 35 is titled in Hebrew Naso and it means “Take.” Just as the previous portion talked of taking a census of the clan of K’hat, this portion gives details on the census of the clans of Gershon and Merari. The clan of Gershon will have the responsibility to carry and transport the parts of the tabernacle. The parts include the curtains, tents, and all types of coverings. The Gershon families will carry out their service under the direction of Aaron’s son Ithamar and under the supervision of Aaron and his sons.

The clan of Merari will be in charge of carrying the framework of the tabernacle. They will carry the posts, crossbars, frames, sockets and tent pegs plus all accessories having to do with the tabernacle. The Scripture states that the Merari clans will be in the corps, doing the work of serving in the tent of meeting. Their service will also be directed by Ithamar, the son of Aaron.

I find it interesting that the corps services for the tabernacle involve the framework. How many times do we work on the outside decor and coverings of things and not the foundations and frames? For a moving temple, the foundation would have been the framework that held it up; the parts that no one sees under all the coverings and tents. But the foundation and framework truly are the most important things. The wilderness tabernacle took an army of supervised families to do the service required. The corps of the Christian community then is an army of those who work to keep the community building on the truth of God’s holy word.

For those who wish to be in God’s “uncommon corps” of saints, we must uplift the Word of God in all of our own words and deeds. We must yield to the service He has called us to do, and we must not compare ourselves with others because it is unwise. But we will have some things in common. A bird cannot swim, and a fish cannot fly, but they are both created by God for whatever their purpose. What we should have in common is our love for God and His Word along with gratefulness and humility for the grace and mercy in salvation through the blood of Christ. But, it is those common bonds we share as servants of The Almighty that place us into God’s not-at-all-common family.

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

Packing Up, Getting Ready to Go


Are you the type that likes to make a list of items to pack before you get ready to travel somewhere? I know I make a list because there are too many things I’m just afraid I can’t live without if I forget them. But even with the best lists, I still showed up for one of my writer’s conferences without certain essentials, and boy was I glad that Wal-Mart sold Fruit of the Loom products. 🙂

The song in the video above says…

I am on my way to that New Jerusalem
Where the sun will never go down.
Every day I’m making preparation
Packing, getting ready, getting ready to go, I’m packing up getting ready to go.

In today’s reading from Numbers 4:1 through Numbers 4:20, we come to the end of the “In the Desert” portion, and it’s time for the Levites to pack up the tabernacle and get ready to go where God leads them. That may not seem like a big deal, but remember that there are parts and pieces to God’s tabernacle that are especially holy. Packing them takes a bit more finesse to keep from exposing them to anything or anyone not meant to interact with them.

To start, God has Moses take a new census of the Levites from the clan of K’hat (sons of Kohath aka Kohathites) that are between the ages of thirty and fifty. They will help get the tabernacle, and especially the articles of The Holy Place ready to travel. God gives an exact list of the items, how to disassemble them, how to wrap them, and how to pack them. Most of the items will be covered with cloth and fine leather (or possibly porpoise or dolphin skins). The cloth will be blue, purple, or scarlet, depending on the item to be wrapped.

Because the Levites that are doing this work are not all priests, if they look on the things of God, they risk being killed–or at the very least being separated from the community. To prevent this, God instructs Moses what to do for those in the clan of K’hat to avoid the risk. Aaron and his sons will be the ones to move and touch the holy items and wrap them to prepare them for packing.

Aaron and all his sons are to remove the sheet that separates the Especially Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant is stored. Aaron’s son Eleazar is in charge of all the oils. He will prepare and wrap the oils for the menorah, the anointing oils, the holy incense, and all that is used for the daily offerings. After the priests cover the holy items and bring them out, the other Levites will be able to pack them up without looking at or touching the holy parts and risking their own deaths.

If you’ve ever packed up for more than a trip, like packed up a house to move, you know that all things are not packed with the same level of care. Books, CDs, DVDs, and the last remaining VHS tapes can be packed as much as you can stuff in a box and still be able to carry. Clothing can be folded, or if you’re in a hurry, stuffed in a bunch of suitcases. (I know I’m not the only one who’s ever done this. LOL) Oh, but your fine china, and the blown glass that was passed down to you from Grandma, will be treated with extreme care and caution.

God wanted his house packed up carefully and with the utmost respect. He did not want to risk any holy items being treated as if they were just some old plastic-ware from the kitchen. His items were a part of Him, and they represented Him to the whole community of Israel. So what does that say about us now? We are God’s current tabernacle. We are what God has poured His Holy Spirit into as fine vessels made holy by His presence. There will come a day when we will move to the New Jerusalem. Now, it’s time for us to live like we’re on our way and get packed up and ready to meet Christ when He calls us home. Let us remember our value to Him and pack carefully.

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

Priests, Preachers, Pastors, and Parsons


There are many ways to minister to our fellow man, and only a small portion of them include being up behind a pulpit. Those in front of the crowd do get noticed more than the mammas on their knees begging God to have mercy on their wayward children, but are they one bit more important? Granted, we need confident speakers to spread the good news across the airwaves, but we also need the missionaries who are willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience to carry the good news around the world. And we need the home missions preachers who survive on a small budget to bring the gospel to the streets and towns where others fear to tread.

In today’s reading from Numbers 3:14 through Numbers 3:39, we see the breakdown of the census for all those within the tribe of Levi. They are the servants for the tabernacle, and they each have duties that are to be done with complete obedience to God’s commands. We have three sons of Levi who are the fathers of the clans of the Levites, aka “the preachers.” The people from each clan will camp around the tabernacle, and each will have specific duties in the care of God’s house.

The children of Gershon (about 7500 males a month and older) are told to camp behind the tabernacle, to the west. They will be in charge of the tabernacle itself including all the coverings inside and out, the screens at the entrances, the curtains that surround the courtyard, and all the fixtures and ropes used for these items and for maintenance.

The children of K’hat (about 8600 males) are told to camp next to the tabernacle to the south. They are to be in charge of The Holy Place. They are responsible for the ark, the table, the menorah and altars, the curtains, and all the utensils used by the priests when they serve in The Holy Place.

And, the children of M’rari (about 6200 males) are told to camp next to the tabernacle to the north. They are assigned responsibility for the frames of the tabernacle. That includes maintenance for the crossbars, the posts, the sockets and fittings, and the posts that surround the courtyard with their sockets, pegs, and ropes.

Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons who were in charge of The Holy Place were to camp at the front of the tabernacle, in the east, toward the sunrise. They were told to carry out all their responsibilities on behalf of the people of Israel, and anyone else who tried to do the job without being called to that responsibility would be put to death. But there were plenty to do the job since the total number of Levite males a month or older was 22,000.

Now, I know there weren’t televisions, fancy church buildings, and all that we have today back then, but I just can’t equate the jobs this tribe of preachers has been asked to do with anyone who is up doing it for accolades from the crowd. If anything, I’m guessing there were more than a few of the boys who were sorry they were born into the tribe of Levi due to all the work it required. But for those who did the job from their hearts, the rewards of knowing The Almighty Creator was pleased with them was likely pay enough.

In answer to the song title in the video above, no, I don’t believe Jesus would wear a Rolex. Some televangelists, pastors, etc., have jobs outside their preaching positions that enable them to afford a comfy life, so I can’t say they don’t deserve it anymore than I can say a doctor who barely survived internship shouldn’t find some luxury once in private practice. But I definitely have concerns about the ones who use the funds from the flock to pay themselves as if they are a higher shepherd than The Shepherd to whom all our allegiance should be given. And the free-spending on things like gold faucets for a yacht makes it more clear to me why some religions make those in ministry positions take a vow of poverty.

Yeshua asked one man who wanted to follow Him if he was okay with the idea of sleeping on a stone. He pointed out that even though He was The Messiah and The One in charge of the ministry, He Himself did not have a pillow to lay His head on. I am thankful for some of the outreach that is done with the funds going into the big ministries, but I wonder how much could be done if more funds went to actual needs and less into the art of attraction.

The video, and the requirements we read for the Levites, should prompt us to ask this question about all whose ministries we follow and support: WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) if He were walking around in human form and ministry these days? Are all these who say they are called to minister for God camping around the tabernacle and keeping up the care of God’s house, or are they camping out in their own comfortable houses while starving sheep foot the bill?

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

Church Camp


Church Campground by Flickr User Jimmy Wayne, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

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

I’ve never been much into camping, myself, but I suppose if home means camping, being asked to camp around the church is not quite the big deal it would be to me. I have gone to church camp a couple times, and it wasn’t too bad because of having a cabin, but I still prefer my own home and bed.

In today’s reading from Numbers 1:20 through Numbers 1:54, we’ll read about a whole group of people that God wanted to set up a church camp for Him. The portion starts out with talking about the census that God had just asked the leaders to do in order to find suitable soldiers for His service. The numbers are pretty impressive for a group of people forming an entire community in the middle of the desert. You can read the whole list by clicking above, but the total comes out to 603,550 men who were twenty years or older and fit more military service. That doesn’t include the women and children, or any disabled people.

But the part that got my attention came after the counting. The list of men is divided by tribes, and we see that the tribe of Levi is missing. That tribe is reserved for all the work necessary to keep the tabernacle operational and in a holy state. The Levites are in charge of everything associated with the tabernacle, and God even says that if anyone else tries to involve themselves in it, they will be put to death. God commands that the Levites camp around the tabernacle, so that no anger will come upon the community of Israel.

The reason I took note of that last part is in comparing it to the modern church. There are many who claim to be “called” to work for God, but without the connection to a bloodline as they had back in the Old Testament, how do you actually know? I read that part about putting to death any non-Levites who try to involve themselves, and I wondered if there is any correlation to those now who camp out in church leadership without an invitation from God. What risk does a person take if he calls himself a prophet, or she calls herself a prophetess, and they have not truly been called to that position?

I love being used of God for His work, be it as a foot soldier on a small mission, or in ways that can influence many lives. My sister and I just talked about the great feeling of being used even as a link in a chain of events that can lead a soul to Christ. That’s why I created my website at http://www.41soul.com to focus on the idea of being used by God even if it was only for the purpose of saving one soul. I think, whether we are called to soldiers in the community (body of Christ), or to be in leadership positions over the community, we must take heed to do all we do in total obedience to the leading of The Holy Spirit, and if we are called to devote our entire lives to “camping in the church,” we must remember it is to bring joy to the community–and to protect the community, not to have authority over the community or to receive praise from them. God is the only authority, and He is the only one that deserves praise.

May 11, 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

God’s Will “in” Earth


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light’s, Camera, Action


Clapperboard by Flickr User Kirill Proskurin, CC License = Attribution

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

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

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

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

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

Keep the Home Fires Burning


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grease is Not the Word


Anointing Oil by Flickr User Ancient Oils, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Anointing Oil by Flickr User Ancient Oils, 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.

Sometime back, while I was looking up the definition of anointing for the purpose of one of my earlier blog posts, I happened upon an article that really gave me a wake up call about the biblical meaning of anointing. If you are interested, you can read the article yourself at http://www.blessedquietness.com/journal/housechu/anoint.htm since it goes into some deep study. The main thing I took away from it was that anointing is not the same thing as power.

In today’s reading from Exodus 40:1 through Exodus 40:38 (the end of the chapter and the end of the Book of Exodus), God instructs Moses on how to set up the tabernacle for the very first time. He explains how to arrange the furnishings and the coverings for the courtyard, and then God tells Moses to prepare the tabernacle for use by anointing everything.

Now, if anointing were equal to power, the items used for God’s service would be where the power was at rather than the power existing with God and God alone. Just as with our Messiah, with the word Meshiach and Christ meaning “The Anointed One,” we know that what set Yahshua apart from other men was not His power, but it was His consecration to the work of God. Power could have struck all His accusers and crucifiers down, but consecration helped Him to say, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The anointing on the articles in the tabernacle was to consecrate them for God’s service.

After all the furnishings and utensils were anointed with the special oil based on God’s direction (not just any old oil or grease would work), God told Moses to bring Aaron and his sons to the tent of meeting, put them in their vestments, and then anoint all of them for the work of the priesthood. This anointing consecrated them to do the work that God was calling them to do. The consecration to the work of the Lord carried a heavy responsibility, and we will see in the next Bible book the results of some of that responsibility and what happens when it is taken too lightly.

When you seek an anointing from God, remember to seek it for the right reasons, and remember the responsibilities that go with it. It is not a light thing, but it is a great blessing to see even a small work of obedience yield great results for The Lord.

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

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
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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

Stone Soup


Do you remember the children’s story called “Stone Soup”? It’s one of those stories that seems to have stuck with me from childhood forward. I’ve always believed in the idea that anything can be accomplished if only people will stop being selfish and will pull together as one. We have Scriptures that tell us that, like where Paul talks about all the members of the body being one, and we teach our kids to sing songs like “If We All Will Pull Together,” but when it comes down to it, it’s a struggle to find people who will share for the greater good.

In today’s reading from Exodus 38:1 through Exodus 39:1, we read more about the furnishings and utensils created by Bezalel and Oholiab. Yesterday, we read that the people of Israel actually gave too much, and the craftsmen had to tell them to stop bringing their offerings. Today, we actually get a breakdown of the donations and offerings the people brought in. I won’t give you the entire breakdown, but the metals given weighed in at the following amounts: Gold equaled 1930 pounds, silver equaled 6650 pounds, and bronze equaled 4680 pounds.

Now, while all of those above numbers sound like a lot of metal, (and they would be a lot of metal when it came time to carry the tabernacle from one location to another), today’s reading also does a quick census and tells us that of men 21 years old and over, there were over six-hundred-thousand. It goes on to say that the silver offering only came to about one-fifth of an ounce per person. From this we can see that when everyone comes together to give for a common cause, the needs will be more than met, and it may not even cost that much from each individual giver.

I think the thing that makes me the saddest here is that the government has gotten too involved in our giving. Their ways of forcing us to give by over-taxing to pay for things we may or may not believe in has caused people to pull even more into themselves instead of being the givers God created us to be. Even the Egyptians were giving people and sent Israel off with much of the gold they’re probably now giving. Now we’re at a point where we can’t really fight it, so at the least, I think it’s time for Christians to begin praying that our giving (no matter how compelled) will somehow be used to provide for the needs God wants taken care of. And let us pray above all else that God will be glorified in us and in our giving.

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

If I Had A Hammer…


Golden Menorah Candlesticks by Flickr User Zeevveez, CC License = Attribution

Golden Menorah Candlesticks by Flickr User Zeevveez, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr where you can see images of the full golden menorah from Israel.

…and I used it on a piece of gold, I do not think it would come out looking like the beautiful designs you see here on this golden menorah in Jerusalem. I could hammer in the morning, I could hammer in the evening, I could hammer all over this land, and I could not create something like this because it is not my calling. Of course, most any tool in my hand would be useless toward creating beauty from scratch unless that tool is used for writing and the beauty comes out in words. Though not every piece of my work can be considered artistic, I am thrilled when something I write captures a readers heart in the same way an artisan craftsman captures someone’s eye.

In our reading today from Exodus 37:17 through Exodus 37:29 (the end of the chapter), we read more about the craftsmanship used to build the tabernacle furnishings. The details in the golden menorah are so clear, it’s like you can close your eyes and truly envision the finished product. In verse 22, we read that the whole menorah is one piece of hammered work made from pure gold. That’s a lot of gold, and that’s a lot of hammering. And, in my estimation, that’s a lot of beauty.

Maybe Aaron had seen some of God’s artisans at work, and that’s where he got the idea that he could say someone could pour gold in a fire, and a fully formed figure would pop out of it. Sometimes, when you watch a truly talented person engage in his or her creative calling, the process seems so smooth it could appear to be automated. I imagine it might have been a little like that for those who got to watch Oholiab as he worked under God’s anointing. Whether he was making the menorah, the altar of incense, or the utensils and dishes for use with the furnishings, he probably worked with a creative flair that was magnificent to view as the finished pieces became more and more real.

In addition to not being creative with a hammer, I also am not creative with sand and dirt. My God is though. He made millions of creatures, so different and yet so alike in many ways, with just dust and wind. How could I ever doubt that with a touch of His creative Spirit, any man can create any number of amazing things? I need to remember that when I begin to doubt myself because of my human failures. It’s not the tool that matters, and it’s not even who’s wielding the tool; it’s the God who blesses the whole work from beginning to end. Except the Lord builds the house, all who labor will labor in vain. Oh, but if the Lord is the Master Builder, you’re going to get a master-built piece.

And speaking of sand, let me close by including a video of an anointed artisan who crafts amazing images with just some dirt and light. He is Joe Castillo, and if you watched the 2012 season of America’s Got Talent, you saw him complete a number of images with that smooth and almost automated ability of one whose creative calling comes directly from God. And, while there are other sand artisans, you’ll be pleased to know that Joe has his focus on Christ, and you can find out more by visiting his website at http://www.joecastillo.com/about_us.html

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

Made to Order


Antiques Made to Order by Flickr User tuchodi, CC License = Attribution

Antiques Made to Order by Flickr User tuchodi, CC License = Attribution
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Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t be possible to make antiques to order, unless the place is one of those that makes things for restaurants that hang stuff resembling real antiques on their wall. I do know that I would want to go into this store because of the sign though, so it is good advertising.

According to a few dictionary definitions I found, made to order can mean something is made to someone’s personal specifications and requirements, or it can mean it’s just perfect for the situation. In today’s (very long) reading from Exodus 35:30 through Exodus 37:16, I think it means both of those and more.

Most of today’s reading centers around a guy from the tribe of Judah named Bezalel. He is a grandson of Hur, one of the two guys who helped hold Moses’ arms up, so Israel could defeat her enemy. Bezalel is a master craftsman who has been endowed by God to make everything from clothing to jewelry to gold dinnerware. He is like a machine who takes in what Israel donates and comes out with a perfectly-designed temple according to the design God showed Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Bezalel hires a helper, Aholiab, from the tribe of Dan. Together, they will both design and create the temple coverings, curtains, furnishings, and all that is needed for temple worship. The Bible says that God filled them both with wisdom of heart and ability to do all manner of craftsmanship. In addition to being gifted with wisdom for creativity, God also gifted these men to teach others, so they would not have to build the entire tabernacle on their own.

In a sense, in addition to building a “made to order” tabernacle, God also made these men to order (train)  other men in how to create according to God’s plans. I don’t know if it works this way for all those who are gifted with wisdom in creativity, but I am thankful for those Christian writers who go beyond the gift of their own writing and share tips and tricks with others. There are a few whose teachings I have learned from, and whose lessons feel as anointed as their creative works. I learn well from them. There are more than I can list here, but if you want to know some of the people that inspire me as writing teachers, let me know and I’ll share some in comments.

As for the rest of the passage, please click the link above to read the details about all that these men and their helpers created. You’ll find they sound much like the details given to Moses on the mountain because they are determined to line up to that blueprint. I can only imagine the designs, but knowing what God can do when He works within a willing vessel, I imagine them to be spectacular and beautiful. I expect them to be that way because of the times when God works in my life to bless whatever efforts I put my hands to. Whether He guides me as I write or sing, or when I design a new kaleidoscopic or abstract creation, if I feel God guiding whatever part of me in engaged in the work, it always comes out better than the results when I struggle to do things on my own.

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

Giving What We’ve Got


Giving by Flickr User Symphony of Love, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

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

I got thrown for a little bit of a loop tonight as I began the new week’s study and portion. This is apparently the first portion that would be doubled for normal years, but is actually separated for leap years, and on the Jewish calendar, 5774 is indeed a leap year. Apparently, there are 7 leap years for every 19 year cycle, and I spent almost too much time trying to learn what all of it meant, so I could share accurately with you, my beloved readers.

Well, in all I sought, I also found out that the portion is read in full on the dates I’m finding, meaning that if I am dividing it by 7 days, I would read it the 7 days prior. That means we’re actually sort of a week behind. So, though it is a leap year, I am going to read this leap year special portion as if it’s a full year, and that should put us back on track. It’s okay, though, because the subject matter pretty much stays the same–at least for the first half of the week. 🙂

So, without further adieu, I bring you the beginning of Parashah (portion) 22, with the Hebrew name of Vayak’hel meaning “He Assembled.” The reading will be from Exodus 35:1 through Exodus 35:29, and it begins with a strong reminder to work for only six days, and to rest on the Sabbath to remember it is a holy day. I say strong reminder because this one says that if anyone does any work on the Sabbath, he should be put to death. Yep, that’s pretty strong.

The assembling in the title is about Moses bringing the people together to share with them what God showed him on Mt. Sinai. He will tell them the details of building the temple, including calling together the craftsmen who God anointed to create certain portions. Before actually giving them the descriptions, however, Moses first asks for an offering. He does not demand anything, cajole anything, use any kind of guilt or manipulation, or any other tactic to collect an offering. Instead, Moses asks for God-directed offerings. I love the way it actually states it in “The Complete Jewish Bible” where it says in verse 5… anyone whose heart makes him willing is to bring the offering for Adonai.

The rest of the reading goes through the items and craftsmanship that will be needed for the temple, and it asks for each thing with a request something to the effect of, “let it be given by the one who feels God is telling him or her to offer it.” How pleasant that true giving comes from listening to God as He speaks to our hearts. He knows our hearts anyway, and whatever He judges for us in this life will come from what He sees our hearts give more than what He sees our hands give. He will tell us what we can give, and He will tell us what He wants us to give. Nothing more. Nothing less. And, above all, with no guilt.

To bring this home, I’ll share it this way: I have never been your average “Suzie Homemaker” type of girl. I won’t show up with pies, casseroles, cleaning gloves and mops, if you are in need. I’m much more likely to send e-mails out to a prayer chain, or call people, or call businesses to make arrangements, or Google some information for you. I asked God why I was not strong in the gifts I saw in most women, and He basically told me that I could not be strong in everything. I must do what He calls me to do regardless of how the rest of society (including a church society) thinks I should do things. And the same goes for any one of you who is reading this. Be thankful for both your strengths and your weaknesses. Let God tell you what to give, how to give, and when to give. Let your gifts be one-hundred percent inspired by God that your rewards may be one-hundred percent returned to Him in praise.

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

Artisans and Crafts


Arts and Crafts by Flickr User Hansco, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Arts and Crafts by Flickr User Hansco, 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.

The world around us is filled with creativity. Most of it is God’s direct action on molecular structure, but because He made man in His own image, He has also passed on some of His creative genes. In return, we have the pleasure of filling our worlds with the crafts and creations of others. Whether the person doing the creating is the one who comes up with the idea or the one who adds the final touches, they are given the gift of creation by The Master Creator.

In today’s (slightly lengthy) reading from Exodus 30:11 through Exodus 31:17, we are beginning a new portion on the give and take that provides for the crafts used in tabernacle service. The Hebrew name for this parashah is Ki Tissa, and it means “When you take.” It begins with God’s order of a census of the people and a charge for their atonement to be collected at the same time. God explains that the price of atonement will be the same for everyone ( half a shekel), and it will be used to fund the operating costs of the tabernacle.

A new piece of furniture is presented today–the bronze laver, or wash basin. Not many are certain of its original design, but I like the image I saw with spigots in the bottom to fill a trough for washing feet. The priests could also wash their hands in the flowing water before it filled the bottom trough. As I mentioned in the “Altar Ego” post where I talked of the brazen altar, no minister could come up to these bronze-coated furnishings and not see himself in it. I think it’s especially important to take a look at yourself when you are getting ready to wash. That works spiritually as much as it does physically.

The last part of Chapter 30 talks of the aromatic spices, oils, and extracts that are to be used to create the anointing oil and the incense for the altar of incense. The oil, which is used to anoint all the furnishings and instruments of the tabernacle, is not the same oil as is used for putting on people–such as anointing to heal the sick. God is specific about its ingredients, and He says no other ingredients should be used for this particular anointing oil, and this oil is not to be used for any other purpose. It is so holy that making it without God’s instruction, or using it contrary to His purpose, will cause a person to be cut off from his people. In like manner, God gives specific instructions for creating the incense, and He says that anyone who makes it to use as perfume will be cut off from his people.

So, in the last two days, we’ve learned much about being holy to Yahveh. He wants us to do our ministries to Him with complete dedication to Him and Him only. We don’t offer praise just to look good to others, and we don’t minister just to be uplifted by others. I am sad to say that we have a strong apostate spirit in this generation, and there are those who dub themselves prophetprophetessreverend, etc., for unholy purposes. I won’t give names, but if you want to read some “tell it like it is” revelations about those who use God’s holy things–like anointing and praise–in ways other than God has designed them, have a look at some articles by my friend and fellow Christian writer, Brenda, who writes the blog, Redeemed Hippies Place. Do not even visit, though, unless you are one who can take hard truth with no fluff. And if you are interested in some more strong reading about being holy and separated for service to Our Creator, be sure to pick up the book called “Holy to Yahveh” by Terrye Goldblum Seedman. You can find her articles and information at http://yahveh.com/, and her book is under the store label.

Please take time to read the Scriptures I post for yourself. I have created all links to open in new windows/tabs, so you will not lose your place here. The remaining part for today’s reading covers some specific artisans, and it deals with the requirements for keeping Shabbats/Sabbaths. I have covered that some, and I will cover more of it later, but for now, I just encourage you to go read these things for yourself. I’ve given links with plenty to read this time, so I’ll close for now. And please leave me comments on your thoughts about the Scriptures, and about the readings at the other links I’ve provided. Many blessings on your week.

February 15, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sacrifice of Holy Praise


Altar of Incense by Flickr User Michael Arcand, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Altar of Incense by Flickr User Michael Arcand, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I have always loved to sing, and more than that, I have always loved to sing songs that I could feel in my heart. When I stand with a congregation to sing praise songs to God, I look for the deepest meaning I can find in the song, and I try my best to sing it to Him directly. It’s a struggle for me to sing something I cannot feel. I have often stood crying when it seemed the music around me was just cluttered noise. Sometimes I would cry because I felt the presence of God by seeking God in the midst of whatever was going on around me, and sometimes I would cry because I was hurting over the shallowness I felt in what should have been the holiest time of our fellowship together.

Long before King David and the Book of Psalms he filled with praises toward Yahveh Almighty, God taught men how He wanted praise to be delivered to Him. In today’s reading from Exodus 30:1 through Exodus 30:10 we learn about the Altar of Incense which represents praise. Beyond offering a regular sacrifice twice each day, God also commanded the priests to offer fragrant incense twice each day. He gave instructions for an altar that would be used specifically for this purpose.

The most important instruction about the Altar of Incense is where God said to locate it. He said to put it in front of the curtain by the Ark of the Covenant. Remember that the priest, and only the high priest, could go into the Holy of Holies, and then only once per year. Many layers of drapery separated that area from the rest of the tabernacle. But, while men could not go beyond the curtain, the smoke that ascended from the incense would be able to penetrate the material to reach the ark that represented God’s presence.

Because this smoke went directly into God’s presence, God was very specific about what to burn on the altar and how to burn it. Unholy things cannot dwell in God’s presence, so anything not created by God’s exact instructions was considered “strange fire,” and should never be put on God’s altar. He said to offer no grain offerings on it and to pour no drink offerings on it. In addition, God told Aaron to put the blood of atonement on it once per year to keep it holy because, according to God, that altar was especially holy to Him. Imagine, something that represents praise being called “especially holy” to God then and throughout all the generations of His people.

Since we are now able to come boldly before the throne of God and into His presence, it might be easy to forget just how holy praise is to Him. We sometimes sing songs because they sound good or because a certain singer or band does a good job with their performance. I know how hard it is to lead music and remember that it’s not about performance at the same time. But I also know the experience of how I’ve heard my own voice, as if it wasn’t even coming out of me, somehow sound better than any practice or performance because my heart went to a place of true worship as I sang.

While we often start services with praise because we want to change the atmosphere by ushering in the presence of God, I love the times where we sing to change ourselves and usher our own spirits into His glorious presence. Since the smoke of incense rises, and since incense represents praise entering God’s presence, I feel like praise is a way to rise up out of our flesh and actually send a part of ourselves into the holy presence of our Holy Creator. Sometimes, it may even take a sacrifice–a break away from our own thoughts and ways–but to me, there is no greater joy than to lead my heart into a place of worship that God can receive as a holy and acceptable offering to Him. And on that note, enjoy this video with lyrics of the song Heart of Worship by Matt Redman.

February 14, 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

Go for the Bronze


Olympic Medals by Flickr User  Welsh Government / Llywodraeth Cymru, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Olympic Medals by Flickr User Welsh Government / Llywodraeth Cymru, 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.

We don’t usually hear anyone cheer people who compete for Olympic medals, or other medals for that matter, to “Go for the bronze.” We tell them to shoot for the gold but be proud if they make silver or bronze. It’s the same with ribbons. We don’t usually encourage ourselves, or anyone else we know, to just be happy with a participant ribbon. But for some reason, when it comes to encouraging people to cross the finish line for Heaven, we think just getting there is enough. But if you’ll read 1 Corinthians 3:9-17, you’ll find an interesting dialogue about our works, and how they will be tried by fire. Our goal should be to build something that will withstand that trial to give us a greater reward.

So what does this have to do with today’s reading? Well, with the winter Olympics going on, I thought the title and image were a good way to showcase today’s reading from Exodus 27:9 through Exodus 29:19 with its instructions on building the courtyard for the wilderness tabernacle. The courtyard was important in that it surrounded and protected the Holiest of Holies. But, that’s just it; it surrounded the heart of the tabernacle. It was not, of itself, the heart or the most important part of tabernacle worship.

In the building details, we read of artistic tapestries of finely woven linen, bronze sockets, silver rings, and amazing dimensions of 150 feet in length by 75 feet in width. After all the details, we are told at the end of today’s reading that all equipment for service in the tabernacle, and all the tent pegs for the courtyard, are to be of bronze.

My take on all of this is that bronze represents a working metal and not a high value metal. Bronze is an alloy of copper, and as such has great metallic value. But it’s not the value of silver or gold. It can tarnish, but it can be shined up again to mirror quality. To me, this sounds a lot like those of us who walk as servants to Yahveh Almighty He is the gold, and we are mined from the earth and can be tarnished by sin but can be cleaned up to reflect the personality of our Savior Yahshua. So, in one way, we can go for the bronze by becoming converted from simple clay. At the same time, we can go for the gold by seeking as much of God’s presence as we can find on this earth, and by striving to dwell in the holiest places of the heavens.

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

Altar Ego


Altat at Christ Church by Flickr User Seetheholyland.net, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike

Altar at Christ Church by Flickr User Seetheholyland.net, CC License = Attribution, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream with many more Holy Land images at Flickr.

I’m not sure if the close spelling between alter and altar are intentional, but I do find it interesting that we go to an altar in order to alter our futures. Through an altar built to Yahveh, we can alter an attitude, a destiny, or a focus. We can make decisions based on seeking God’s perfect will for our lives simply by using an altar to alter our commitments from self to God.

When I was a kid, I used to like a song by Tom T. Hall called “Me and Jesus.” The last two sentences in the chorus said, “Me and Jesus got our own thing goin’. We don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s all about.” I just liked it as a “Jesus” song with a fun rhythm, but with maturity in God, I now know how self-centered the thought process of that song was. While a man can make an altar out of a stone, and while we need a personal relationship with Christ, we also need humility to surrender to God and let Him run the show. Think of it this way: One word for self is the word “ego.” The letters in the word “ego” can stand for “edging God out.”

In today’s reading from Exodus 27:1 through Exodus 27:8, Moses receives the instructions for building the brazen (bronze) altar. Because the instructions include meat hooks, fire pans, and pots and shovels for removing ashes, this is the altar where sacrifices will alter the destinies of those who would otherwise be condemned by their sins.

Without an altar to change things, men just received the natural recompense for their actions until the sins of the day came to a point of destroying life on this earth. The corruption (moth, rust, dust, disease, etc.) so tainted the life God planned for those created in His image that He had to destroy the earth and all but eight people. But now, He is giving people a definitive set of rules and a way to receive mercy when those rules are violated. Just like the blood that was shed in the garden when God slayed an animal to cover the sins of Adam and Eve, there will now be an altar to receive the blood that will–at least temporarily–cover the sins of the people when a sacrifice is made for those sins.

As with other furnishings, there will be poles and staves to carry this altar from place to place as the tabernacle travels with the people. As with other brass-covered furnishings, the priests are not able to approach the altar without seeing themselves in the reflection of it. This may be similar to the reference in James 1:23-24 where it talks of those who are hearers of the Word but not doers. It says they are like men who behold themselves in a mirror, and then walk away and forget the type of man they just saw. Oh that, instead, we would all approach an altar seeing ourselves in honesty as we make ready to sacrifice and abandon ourselves to God’s perfect will for our lives. That’s an “altar ego.”

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

Screening God’s Calls


Answering Machine by Flickr User Jen R, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Answering Machine by Flickr User Jen R, 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.

Back when people used answering machines more often than voicemail, it was easier to screen calls rather than just screening callers. If you were in the middle of something, you could listen to the message as it was being left and decide if it was something that could be handled later or needed an immediate response. But, while that works for people, it’s not a good idea to do the same thing with Yahveh.

When God reaches down into “miry clay” and calls us from our humanity to a higher place in Him, we really don’t want to miss out on the wonderful plans He has for us. He calls us because He loves us and desires for us to be closer to Him–to walk with Him both in this life and in eternity. Like a parent who knows what’s best for his child, our Heavenly Father calls to us because He has the best plan for us. Besides, while you can hold off on answering the phone since the caller cannot see you, we know from Scripture that God knocks on the door. 🙂

In today’s reading from Exodus 26:31 through Exodus 26:37 (the end of the chapter), we have more details on tabernacle construction. Most of them are finer details on things like the curtains and furnishings, but in this we learn where they are putting the Ark of the Covenant and placement of other furnishings. We also learn about the screen that will be placed between the “Holy Place” and the “Especially Holy Place” (often called The Holy of Holies). In this case, priests did have to screen God’s call to learn if they were called as high priests that could go into the holiest part of the tabernacle or not.

The above-mentioned screen is what is often referred to as the veil, and it is what was torn from top to bottom at the moment Yahshua gave up the ghost when He breathed His last breath on Calvary. I believe He, Himself, tore it apart as a follow up to His words, “It is finished,” meaning that the final sacrifice was done, so people could now come boldly before the ark. And, remember, the ark was topped by the mercy seat. Christ presents His own blood at the Heavenly altar that we may continually come boldly for a mercy that is new every morning. And I’m so glad that God doesn’t screen my calls.

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

Building Construction–Framers Wanted


During our December to January marathon of Christmas movies, the classic movie Lilies of the Field found its way to our DVR. We watched it just a week or so ago, and both hubby and I enjoyed it tremendously. I don’t know if I saw it as a little child, but if I did, it was long enough ago that the only thing I remembered was the main song. If you are a reader who has not seen this movie, I recommend it sooner rather than later.

In today’s reading from Exodus 26:15 through Exodus 26:30, we get another part of the “genealogy” of temple construction. I say it that way because, like the materials, the reading is pretty much consumed with details on how to build. There’s not much I can say here except to focus once again on the value of good instruction and teamwork. God definitely knows how to teach, and if Israel is paying attention, they should create a tabernacle that will line up with the design God showed Moses on the mountain.

As I type, I think I can find one more interesting thing here. God did the main construction for our bodies as the temples for His Holy Spirit, so we often just feel like the snowball that has been started down a hill, and we just roll without direction. But we have work to do just as the wilderness tabernacle was made for a certain job. If we will be sensitive to God’s voice, He will teach us the details we need to do whatever He has created us to do as His sanctuary. We know His plans are for good, so we can trust Him. And He has said that His sheep will hear His voice, so we just need to turn down the volume on the voices of flesh and listen for His tender leading. And with another reference to the above-mentioned movie, can I get an Amen?

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

It’s Curtains for You, Israel


Hand Embroidery by Flickr User Celeste Goulding, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

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

It has been quite awhile since I was in a “home ec” class, but I know I liked the cooking ones better than the sewing ones. Maybe because I could eat my creations. 😉 Of course, I did get called to the principal once as a result of one cooking class. I made my first and only lemon meringue pie, and I brought a piece of it to my Spanish teacher. When the principal called me in, he asked if I was the one who gave pie to the teacher. I thought I’d done something horribly wrong until the principal told me the teacher gave him some of it, and he just wanted to know if I had any left and would bring some to him.

Well, Israel already had their cooking class back when God rained down manna for them. In today’s reading from Exodus 26:1 through Exodus 26:14, they get their sewing class. God gives them detailed instructions for making the curtains of finely woven linen for the wilderness tabernacle. He gives them measurements, amount of material, colors of yarn–royal colors of blue, purple, and scarlet–and even the color of the loops that will be used to hang the curtains. He tells them to use their artists to create embroidered cherubim (angels) in the drapes and to add golden fasteners, so the curtains can be joined as one complete unit.

After the linen curtains, God instructs Israel to make coverings with sheets made of goat hair. He gives strong details for making the coverings, but it is clear by the details that artistry is not of the same importance for the outer covering as for the inside drapes. This is what I was talking about when I spoke of the hidden beauty in an earlier post. And if goat hair isn’t enough to hide the beauty inside, Israel is then instructed to make more outer coverings of ram’s skins dyed red followed by dolphin or porpoise skins. That detail is given more clearly in the Amplified version of the last verse.

I think the thing I’m loving about the wilderness tabernacle is that everyone is working together with detailed instruction, and each person is to work within his or her own strengths. In my high school home economics elective, I was given the choice of “Threads” or “Grub,” so I could take the class I was most interested in. I tried the sewing one, and I think I remember making a blue corduroy pantsuit, but it’s long enough in the past that I don’t recall if I ever finished it. But I do remember that neither of those things was ever a strength to me like writing (especially poetry) and singing were. I am thankful, though, for everything God has allowed me to learn and experience in life. I’m even more thankful that He is a personal Creator that knows the strengths and weaknesses of those who walk with Him.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hidden Beauty


Hidden Beauty--Poster & Quote by Crystal A Murray--All Rights Reserved

Hidden Beauty–Poster & Quote by Crystal A Murray–All Rights Reserved

I enjoy going on cave tours, and one of the most beautiful ones I have toured was called “Caverns of Sonora” in Sonora, Texas. The image above was just one of those happy accidents as it was one of the few that came out nice from my point and shoot camera. As I looked at it, I thought about how long it had stayed in the dark before men discovered it and added light. The beauty was the same, but only God was able to see it. And then I thought of the Scripture about God looking on our hearts and wondered how much undiscovered beauty there might be in people.

In today’s reading from Exodus 25:17 through Exodus 25:40 (the end of the chapter), we see the instructions for three pieces of furniture for the yet-to-be-constructed tabernacle. There are details about size and dimension, materials, and usage for the Ark of the Covenant, Table of Shewbread, and Golden Menorah. The beauty being built into each of these items is exquisite, but most of the time, only those who can go to the holy parts of the tabernacle will be able to see them. That means, the beauty is hidden from all but the priests and God.

There are many theories and articles about the meanings of the tabernacle furnishings, but I’ll tell you just a little about my thoughts on the three mentioned today. The ark, being the dwelling place of The Most High, would represent the human heart. It is the place where God’s testimony (the Torah/Law) will be stored along with a pot of manna (to represent trust in God’s provision), and Aaron’s rod that budded (to represent God’s power and authority.) We know it is good to hide the law of God in our hearts, and isn’t that where we also find faith and where we tap into power? The encouragement to “give it your whole heart” shows just how much is rooted there.

The table has bread which feeds God’s priests, but I believe it is also a reminder that we are not to live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God. I believe it also represents the Bread of Life which is Yahshua our Messiah.

The Menorah, which is another of those words that includes the Hebrew OR for light, will bring light into the holy place. Again, Yahshua is The Light, and in the menorah, oil (which often represents the Holy Spirit) is used to give life to the light. 

Like I said, there is so much more that can be found in these furnishings, including the fact that the Mercy Seat sits above the Ark of the Covenant because God’s mercy sits above His law. We are able to see these things now because He has made us a Kingdom of priests and a royal priesthood, and we are able to come boldly before the seat of mercy because God tore the veil that once separated us from it. I could go on, but I’ll let you read it for yourself and search to find your own beauty in these things and in God’s Holy Word.

P.S. I have put this image and quote on a few items in my Zazzle store. I’d like to post a few more one day soon. If you are interested in seeing the different colors and styles, just click http://www.zazzle.com/crystalwriter/gifts?cg=196922414116128920 to visit. Thanks.

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

   

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Green parenting, positive psychology and connecting our little ones to the natural world

Create With Joy

Infuse Creativity In All You Do

thefrontwindow

Blog of Best Selling author David Johnson

Sly Twin Tiger

website of science fiction author Andrew M. Friday

Above All Else

Thoughts from Katie Foster

Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

Editor

Simply beautiful publishing powered by WordPress.

THE WORD on The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog)

BREAKING FREE from The Word of Faith Movement & telling the World about it! TELL US YOUR STORY

behind the lens

the view from the other side of the window

Blaire McDaniel

Finding God in the Gray.

The Matt Walsh Blog

Absolute Truths (and alpaca grooming tips) **Facebook.com/MattWalshBlog

On Faith and Writing

A Daughter of the King

Christian Design and Video Share

A great WordPress.com site

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Socialism is not the Answer

Limited Government Is

By the Blood of the Lamb

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb...

Iris Grace Painting

imagine, create, inspire

Today's Author

Fostering a community of creative writers through articles, comments, writing prompts and a healthy, supportive environment.

Redeemed Hippies' Place

Trying to Keep it Real in an Unreal World

Louisville Christian Writers blog

For members of LCW to spread their blogging wings or reblog their own posts.

Monica Mynk

Stories of Broken Girls, Seeking Love, Finding His Truth

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

Women: Each One A Survivor

Enjoying Every Moment

Jessie Jeanine

A survivor inspired by the tragedies and triumphs of life.

DiscernIt

Deut 32:28 "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them."

mixedbrainwriting

Messages from both sides of my brain.

Lisa Preuett~Rest Stop for the Soul

"COME TO ME ALL WHO ARE WEARY AND BURDENED AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST" Matthew 11:28

Life's Highs & Lows

Michael C. Mack's Blog about Living Life to the Fullest Despite the Circumstances

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