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She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain


Do you remember this old family sing-along song? If so, I’ll bet you have some verses for it that I’ve never heard, and I’m certain I have at least one you’ve never heard because I think my family added some verses for their own fun. What I didn’t know until I looked it up tonight at Wikipedia is that it was an old African spiritual song that refers to the return of Christ and the rapture. The original includes verses like “King Jesus, He’ll be driver when she comes,” and “She will take us to the portals when she comes.”

Our family just sang it for the fun of it and for the sound effects at the end of each line. For example, at the end of the first (title) verse, we’d all say, “Hi, Gal!” And after the six white horses verse, we’d shout, “Whoa, Bill!” After singing about how we’d all have chicken and dumplins, we’d say, “Yum, yum.” And my favorite was always the sort of sawing sound we’d make when we sang about killing the old red rooster. The most fun was at the end when we would try to make all the sounds, one after another, and in the right order.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 5:19 through Deuteronomy 6:3 (in the Complete Jewish Bible) and Deuteronomy 5:22-6:3 (in the Amplified Bible and other versions), we begin this section as Moses reminds Israel of God’s words to them from the midst of the mountain covered by fire. Now, they have all gone around the mountain, and they have much to remember, including the words God etched in stone with His own hand.

Moses tells the current generation how their forefathers sent tribal leaders to Moses requesting that only he go up and speak to God rather than them. The people bring up that most who had ever heard God’s voice no longer remained alive, and the elders tell him that people have decided they don’t want to take a chance of God speaking to them in their imperfections and it costing them their lives. When Moses arrives to communicate their message to God, He tells Moses He has heard it. He also tells Moses that it is a wise decision, and that He desires the people always have that kind of respect and reverence for Him, so things will go well for them and for their children forever.

God then tells Moses to have the people go back to their tents. Afterwards, Moses is to come back and stand near God while He tells him all his commands and laws for them to do when they possess the land of promise. Moses tells the people to be watchful to do exactly as The Lord commands and not to turn to the right hand or the left. He says that if they follow God’s ways, it will go well with them, and they will live long in the land.

At the chapter change, the writing changes to where it seems more in the present tense as Moses tells the people, “These are the laws and commands of God for you to obey in the land you are going to possess.” He tells them the laws are written that they will fear The Lord and obey all his rulings in every generation–parent, child, grandchild–as long as they live. Verse 3 from the Complete Jewish Bible reads with authority but also as a blessing…

Therefore listen, Israel, and take care to obey, so that things will go well with you, and so that you will increase greatly, as Adonai, the God of your ancestors, promised you by giving you a land flowing with milk and honey.

Much like the way I reworded The Ten Commandments in yesterday’s post, this gives the “why” in fulfilling the laws of God. As God shows in His comments to Moses about desiring the people to always have respect and reverence, He wants things to go well for us forever. He is creating both a new Heaven and a new Earth because He wants an abundance of people to join Him for eternity. His arm is not too short that He cannot reach to the depths of sin to pull a person toward Him. No matter how far away someone has gone, remember that God wants them for His own. He wants to reward those who come to Him, and leave their temporary sin, with blessings that will last an eternity. He desires to see many waiting there with joy and praise when He comes around the mountain of return to bring His people home.

July 30, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Light Painting


Light Painted Face by Flickr User Beo Beyond, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Light Painted Face by Flickr User Beo Beyond, 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.

Believe it or not, there is a whole genre of artistic creation that falls under the heading of “Light-Painting.” You would be amazed at what people can create with cameras and light. There are entire groups at Flickr dedicated to light-painting, though I couldn’t share most of their photos due to copyright restrictions. But, if you’d like to see at least one, take a visit to the “Light Junkies” group by visiting… http://www.flickr.com/groups/lightjunkies/pool/ where you’ll find over 100,000 photos to amaze you. Another type of light-painting is achieved digitally by photo manipulation software. I enjoy the one called “Fractalius” and you can see some of what it creates by visiting the Flickr Fractalius group at http://www.flickr.com/groups/fractalius-photo/pool/ with about 6000 very cool photos.

In today’s reading from Exodus 34:27 through Exodus 34:25, we complete another Torah portion as are invited in to see Moses back on the mountain top with Yahveh, This portion brings another week comes to a close, so Shabbat Shalom to all of you. And, by the way, if you click the link to read the portion yourself, you’ll find links to the recommended readings from the rest of the Old Testament and from the New Testament if you’d like to do more study.

So Moses has gone forty days and nights with nothing to eat or drink. He is totally engulfed in the presence and the words of his Creator. God has Moses write down all the laws and commands that were previously written, and then God inscribes something on the tablets Himself. I was a little confused from the reading if God wrote the title, The Ten Words, or if He actually wrote down what we call “The Ten Commandments.” Either way, imagine being called as a scribe for God, and then having God write with His own hand on the cover of your book. I have a friend who is called as a something of a modern-day scribe, and I can just imagine an indescribable level of excitement if that happened to her. (Yes, Debbie, I’m talking about you. 🙂 ) (Note: click on her name if you’d like to read about Debbie and find information about her books that tell stories of God’s “Miraculous Interventions-tm” in human lives.)

Now Moses comes down from the mountain with the two tablets and doesn’t realize that God has done a little light-painting of His own. Moses face is glowing and sending out rays of light from his skin. At first, people were afraid to approach him, but he called them over, so he could present the tablets of testimony and pass on all the orders God gave him on Mount Sinai. Once he finished speaking to them, it says he put a veil over his face that he would leave on until he went into the tent of meeting to speak again with God.

See, I love the idea of God doing light-painting on His creations. There are times when the glow of the sunshine almost seems to paint the surrounding view and make it glow. On my kaleidoscope set at Flickr, I make the following statement:

I believe God sees the people of His creation in the same way we see a kaleidoscope image: all different yet all beautiful and even more beautiful when light (especially God’s light) shines through them.

God is the ultimate Light Painter, and I will gladly be one of the subjects He uses to show Himself to the world. How about you?

February 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Gets Roomies


Handshake Warning by Flickr User Guillaume Brialon, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Handshake Warning by Flickr User Guillaume Brialon, 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 remember the days of renting a room in someone’s house because it was too expensive to get my own place. There are always drawbacks to that set up, like a lack of privacy, a bit less freedom, and a shared bathroom. But there are also benefits, not the least of which is how much less it usually costs than trying to keep up even a small apartment on your own. One place I rented, however, was almost perfect. The owner was a strong woman with unbending house rules. She assigned kitchen shelf space, refrigerator space, and quiet times, and she made sure all renters knew that she was in charge of the thermostat. We had three very different people types (an atheist in her fifties, a Catholic organist in her eighties, and me–a Pentecostal in her twenties), but we all got along perfectly because of the house rules.

In today’s reading from Exodus 24:10 through Exodus 24:26, Israel is getting ready to move toward the “Promised Land” and God lays down the rules. The first thing He does, though, is to remind them of who He is and of what He will do through them if they observe His commands. See, like the homeowner in my rental situation, God has already worked with and seen a variety of living situations–including those in the future since He can see through all times, He knows what works, and He knows what doesn’t work. So He tells Israel that He is going to do awesome things through them, and all they have to do is trust Him to know what works.

The first thing God knows will not work is a land filled with people who worship false gods. In their idol worship and lifestyles void of The True God of Creation, they have no value of human life, and they worship gods made of stone and metal that have no power. Yahveh promises to drive all these people out, so they won’t be a snare to them within their own borders. He tells Israel the kind of people they are, and He warns them not to imitate them in any way. In a paraphrase, God says, “Don’t even go to dinner with these people. If you do, you’ll end up eating stuff they sacrificed to idols, then your sons will marry their daughters, and then their daughters will get your sons to prostitute themselves before their idols the way they themselves do.”

God is a jealous God, and He knows He is the only One who is truly looking after Israel’s best interests. He also knows that Israel is made up of human inhabitants, and that by trying to befriend these people who worship false gods, Israel risks many things in addition to stirring up God’s jealousy. If the people of Israel get too close to the people of the land, they may feel sorry for them and refuse to do their part in pushing them out of the land God wants to consecrate for Himself and His people. And, if there are any people who might change their ways, how will they see that there is a different way to become, and a True God to serve, if the people imitate them instead of standing strong in their obedience to Yahveh?

So, after some stern warnings of “do nots” for Israel to remember with their temporary roommates, God reminds Israel of what He wants them to do. Oh, but He does issue one last (and huge) do not first. He tells Israel not to build any metal gods, so now they have no excuse to ever again create and worship a golden calf.

Now, onto the “to do” list, which mostly includes keeping the feast days He has created because they all represent Him in some way, and they will help Israel to remember what is important. The first of these feasts is The Feast of Unleavened Bread. It will remind them of their deliverance from Egypt. We now know it also represents deliverance from sin which is why leavening is to be cut out because leaven represents sin and pride.

Between the feast reminders, God reminds the people that the first born will always belong to Him. Each one is to be redeemed with a sacrifice, and no one is to come to God empty-handed. I think this is God’s way of saying that He is first, and He created all things, so whatever is first is special as a reminder of these things. The sacrifice is our way of giving Him thanks for being our Creator and Leader. And then He reminds them to keep the festival of Sabbath, which is held on the last day of the week. He wants them to keep it even during planting and harvesting, because like there is always a first, there is also always a last. And in this I believe that God uses Sabbath to remind us that just as He is our first, He is also the last. In the New Testament, He says He is our rest, and He also says He is the Alpha and the Omega.

The last verse of today’s reading reminds Israel to bring the best of their first fruits as an offering to God. We should always bring our best to God, and we should always bring what we have to Him before offering it to the thankless world around us. Whatever we have belongs to Him first anyway, and only He promises to do awesome things through us by bringing His gifts back to their source. If Israel will live by God’s rules, and not be swayed by the ways of their new roommates, they have a promising and prosperous future ahead of them. And because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so do we.

February 20, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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