Crystal Writes A Blog

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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
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

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

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
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

There’s just something about a 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

From Pigeons to Pancakes


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Will Be Right Back


Image by Flickr user Miles Berry

Abraham & Isaac–Baptisitry door panel in Florence, Italy by Flickr user Miles Berry

So, we know that Abraham has learned to trust God in everything, and we know that his belief has paid off. His trust in and of itself was so great that it was counted as righteousness. That’sbig trust. What we will read today is going to take every bit of that big trust. The last part of this week’s portion is the entire chapter; Genesis 22:1 through 22:24. It is the story of when God gives Abraham the ultimate test of his life.

First, a little note, if you read this in the King James’ Version, you will see the word “tempt,” but I looked up the Hebrew word used here, and it means, test, try, or prove. I have heard people argue because of the New Testament quote that God does not tempt any man, so I wanted to clear that up. Of course, I’ve also heard people change that to say that God doesn’t test anyone, but I believe this shows us that there are times when testing can prove us like the trying of gold in the fires of purification. However, I also believe that God will never make or allow something to happen to us that is not ultimately for our own good.

Now, back to the story. At this point, Isaac is said to be in his early twenties. God wakes Abraham with a command to take his only begotten son, the son who Abraham loves and has all his hopes and dreams resting in (italics mine), and offer him up to God for a burnt offering. I feel like Abraham would’ve needed to wrestle that one through a bit to convince himself, but maybe not. I do know, however, that by the time they got to the foot of the mountain where the sacrifice was to take place, Abraham was convinced enough of God’s promises to him that he said the following from verse 5:

“The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.” (NLT)

Do you see the faith and trust there? Can you hear the hope in his words? He didn’t say, “I’ll be back,” he said WE will be right back. Somehow, Abraham knew God would keep His promises. He knew that either God would change the way things were planned out, or he knew God could raise his son up from the ashes. Abraham was known as a man of his word, so if he said “we” to his servants, then he meant both of them would be returning.

If you’ve read the story, you know what happens next. Abraham stacks the wood and stuff on Isaac’s shoulders, and they head to Mount Moriah. (This is also thought to be the same mountain where Jesus was crucified. I found an interesting article on the archeology of the place at the Discovery News site.) Anyway, Isaac takes note of the lack of sacrifice and Abraham tells him that God will provide Himself a sacrifice. Whether that wording was intentional or not, I can’t be certain, but that it has arrived to us saying that God would provide (or make) Himself a sacrifice, I think is definitely in His plan.

As the story closes, Abraham has Isaac bound and ready for sacrifice, and he even has the knife raised to do the deed when The Angel of the Lord tells him to stop. He also tells him that now He is certain Abraham will hold nothing back from Him. Somehow, I think God already knew that about Abraham, but I’m sure now Abraham knew it about himself. We can all say we won’t sell out our beliefs for a million dollars or a bag of gold, but until someone offers us a million dollars or a bag of gold, do we really know that for sure? Well, if Abraham ever said he would do anything for God, he just proved it to himself beyond all doubt. And then, just when Abraham needed it, God provided a lamb stuck in the briars, so Abraham was able to worship God with a proper sacrifice.

On a personal note here, I want to say that some years ago, I went to Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida and saw an amazing movie about this subject. It was sort of a triple story showing Abraham and Isaac, Jesus on Calvary, and the destruction of the temple, all in tandem. It was quite powerful to watch in that fashion. One of the most beautiful parts showed Isaac putting his arms out, willingly allowing himself to be bound and laid on the altar of sacrifice. I wish they would make that available as a DVD, but last time I checked, it was not. If any of you have seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have not been to Holy Land, I recommend a visit. I’m sure some things have changed with the new ownership, but I loved my visits there each time, and I hope to go again someday. Let me know if you have been there and what you took away from your visit.

October 25, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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