Crystal Writes A Blog

A Place to Read What "Crystal-Writes"

I Feel Like Traveling On


When I worked in the travel store of a popular truck stop off of I-40 in Arizona, the atmosphere in the mornings always reminded me of the joys of going places with my grandparents. Sure, getting up at 4am, so we could be on the road before sunup and out of town before rush hour, was not always fun, but seeing new people and places was worth it. And the truck stops were worth it too. Being a kid, I didn’t have to drive, so I got to sleep an extra two hours and wake up as we pulled into the big travel center at Buttonwillow, California, and that’s when the fun really started. I think I discovered grape “Bubble Yum” and “Pop Rocks” both in travel stores before they were in all the convenience stores near home.

In today’s reading from Numbers 33:11 through Numbers 33:49, we read more about the travels of Israel as they left Egypt. I wonder if they got excited each time God told them to move on. If the adults didn’t, surely the kids got excited to see something new on the road ahead. Maybe they even found rocks that popped (up under the wheel of a wagon) as they pulled into some temporary campsite. ūüôā

You can read all the verses by clicking on the link, and there you can see each little stop and destination. I’ll give you some of the bigger jumps like their move from The Sea of Suf to the Seen Desert to the Sinai Desert to Mount Shefer. They moved on through a bunch more towns and cities until they were once again in the desert; this time the Tzin Desert. When they stopped at Mount Hor, Aaron took his last breath, and Eleazar became the high priest in his place. Eventually, they moved on and into the plains of Moab and across the Jordan River from Jericho, which is where they are currently. This is their last stop before going in to fight for the land promised them in the land of Canaan.

Knowing the way God works in details, there is likely a type and shadow for every city and every stop made by Israel, and those types and shadows likely line up with places in life now walked by the flock gathered to God from the Gentiles. I can see so many parallels in our journey from bondage to our eternal promise. Dry places, valleys, mountain tops, new lives, deaths of mentors and leaders, etc. And we have stubborn people who make our journey more difficult like the kings who refused to let the community of Israel walk on¬†The King’s Highway and made them walk around the long way, and¬†Red Sea moments that seem impossible to get through until we’re on the other side. But God is faithful to bring us through it all, just like He was faithful in every step of Israel’s deliverance journey.

Neither of our journeys is ended yet. Israel still seeks her Messiah, and her faithful will know who He is when the time has come and God makes the two flocks into one. We still seek the second coming of our Messiah, and we long for the promise to see Him like He is and to be like Him. All of us long to be delivered from bondage and trouble on this earth, and we all want to see our enemies come face to face with our God and Father who has vowed to protect and deliver us. But until we get to that place, all we can do is keep traveling on, one step at a time, and one truck stop at a time, until we get where God wants us in this life and then in eternity.

Just for fun, here are a few more songs of encouragement for your road trip of life…

Now add your favorite songs in the comments. In the meantime, many blessings on your journey as you travel on toward your promise.

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

Boss; Da Plague, Da Plague


In yet another give-away to my age, let us harken back to that adorable little guy, Tattoo, that made the great announcement to his boss when he spotted the plane to “Fantasy Island” about to land. The boss of the island, Mr. Roarke, was basically the “god” of the island, and while people paid handsomely to enact their greatest fantasies, he was in charge of how those fantasies played out much like an author decides on the final plot for his or her characters. I don’t remember any specific episodes, but I remember how often things didn’t go exactly as people expected, and I remember that no matter how they went, most people learned some type of valuable lesson from their experiences.

In today’s reading from Numbers 17:9 through Numbers 17:15 (in The Complete Jewish Bible) and Numbers 16:44 through Numbers 16:50 (in The Amplified and other Bibles), we’ll read about “The Boss” over the community of Israel. Yesterday, we saw that after Korah and his family and followers were killed, many of the Israelites began to falsely accuse Moses and Aaron of killing God’s children. Their false accusations didn’t sit well with Yahveh Almighty, so in today’s portion, He tells Moses and Aaron to get away from the rest of the community while He destroys them.

Moses and Aaron are good leaders, and they are not satisfied with the destruction of the people even when they would’ve been justified because of their attacks. Instead, these priests fall on their faces and beg God to–once again–spare the lives of the people. Moses knows what will get God’s attention, so he tells Aaron to grab a censer, put fire from the holy altar in it, and lay some incense on it. Moses then tells Aaron to hurry and go out to the people to make atonement for them because the anger of God has already gone out to them, and the plague has already begun.

Aaron did just as Moses directed and ran to the middle of the assembly where the plague was raging full speed ahead. He added the incense to make atonement for the people, and the plague began to slow down. As Aaron stood between the dead and the living, the plague stopped, but many were already dead. When it was finished, there were 14,700 dead in addition to those killed in the Korah incident. When the plague stopped, Aaron returned to The Tent of Meeting and to Moses.

There are plagues in the world that can enter “the church” because of the sins of the people, and it is prayer for God’s mercy that makes all the difference. The greatest leaders are the servant leaders who will stand in the midst of the people and offer praise to God that makes atonement because they care for the people and want the plague stopped. These are the ones that, like Mr. Roarke on¬†“Fantasy Island” may not preach the fantasy message the spoiled people want to hear, but they will preach hard and true messages that will draw people to the God of Truth.

I hunger for the kind of preaching that hurts when it touches the things in my life that shouldn’t be there. I may not like the pain right when it happens. I may even bristle and feel a resistance at the first hearing, but good teaching from a caring teacher will find its place in my soul, and I will seek to get right with God. I call for all who consider themselves priests, prophets, preachers, teachers, or ministers of any kind to take up the cause of ringing the bell and calling out to those who would be lost, “Da plague, da plague; beware of da plague.” Even those who fight it at first will eventually receive it and apply it to their lives and gain the wisdom that will draw them closer to their Wonderful Creator. Proverbs 19:20 states it well…

Listen to advice, and accept discipline,
    so that in the end you will be wise.

May there be more teachers that are willing to stand between the dying and the living and give the advice and discipline that brings wisdom–and life.

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

I’m Not Talkin’ Bout the Linen


Nepali Woman Hanging Sheets to Dry by Flickr User Matthew Ramsey, CC License = Attribution

Nepali Woman Hanging Sheets to Dry by Flickr User Matthew Ramsey, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

In one of the greatest misheard lyrics of all time, we get the title of this post from the song¬†I’d Really Love to See You Tonight by England Dan and John Ford Coley. The line actually says, “I’m not talkin’ about movin’ in.” It’s a song with a catchy tune but sort of a sad set of lyrics. The guy misses his ex, and to get her to consider spending time with him, he tries to assure her that he’s not talking about anything permanent.

But in tonight’s Torah reading from Exodus 29:38 through Exodus 29:46, the end of the chapter, God speaks a message directly opposite this song. There are details about the lambs that are to be offered in the morning and the evening every day, details about the grain offering of flour and olive oil, and details about the drink offering of wine. There are no more details about the fine-woven linens, so even though it’s based on a misheard lyric line, my title is correct.

The last half of the paragraph in today’s reading is the one that got my attention though. The offerings are given to draw the Spirit of Adonai with their pleasing aroma. At the place of offering, Yahveh says He will meet with the people, and the glory of His presence will consecrate the meeting place.¬†Then, it says, God will live with Israel and be their God. He says that when He lives with them, He will be their God and they will know that He is the One who brought them out of Egypt. More importantly, it says they will know He brought them out of Egypt¬†in order to live with them.

Yes, God is talkin’ about movin’ in. He does want to change their lives. He wants to be their God, and He wants them to know Him as their God. And because Yahveh is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I believe His message is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His purpose in delivering us from the bondage of sin is because He wants to move in. He says that He is a jealous God, and He has never liked being a stranger to those He created with love and with His own breath. He doesn’t just want to see us for one night, or once a week. He wants to move all the way into our lives, and then He wants to continually move IN our lives if only we will let Him.

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

Ready or Not (Ready)


Ready or Not by Flickr User Greg Westfall, CC License = Attribution

Ready or Not by Flickr User Greg Westfall, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream on Flickr.

So, if you’re one of those who stays up late, you might be wondering why you didn’t see the blog before midnight. First, I was out at a wonderful planning meeting for the next year in our Christian writer’s group, Louisville Christian Writers. Well, the meeting didn’t go that long, but it was followed by the kind of fellowship that makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t get how great it is to be a Christian. But then, it’s those times when we visit with friends who cherish the presence of God the way we do that help us get through those times that make it a bit harder to be a Christian.

Anyway, I’m going to change the time of this to show a post by 11:59pm on January 11th, just so it will archive correctly. But so it doesn’t look like a lie, here’s my confession. After getting home at 5 til midnight, I forgot for about 20 minutes. Then I was like “EEK, I forgot!” and quickly plugged in and started my laptop only to have it get part way and refuse to totally boot about three times. I finally got it going, and since then I have struggled with the picture to go with it. I wanted to use something about being battle ready, but no pics or videos really fit what today’s reading from Exodus 13:17 through Exodus 14:8 was really saying.

As our newest portion begins (Parashah 16, Hebrew¬†B’shallach meaning¬†After he had let go), God is leading the newly delivered Israelites away from the land of the Philistines because He thinks they may see war and turn around to go back to Egypt. Combining this with a few verses later where the Scripture says the people of Israel went up from Egypt¬†fully armed, and then the last verse of today’s reading that says they went out boldly, I was thinking, “Boy, there are a lot of messages just in this.” But the one that really strikes me is that when God saves and delivers us, He gives us a full armor and His Spirit gives us the tools we need for boldness. Many people even start out going boldly to others to share what they have gained and from what they’ve been set free. Still, when we see things get tough, signs of war like God knew the Israelites would see in the land of the Philistines, do we consider going back into bondage just so we won’t have to fight?

As the reading progresses, we have Moses keeping his promise to carry the bones of Joseph, and we are told of the pillars of cloud and fire that follow Israel by day and by night to guide and protect them. And then God tells Israel to repent–literally. He tells them to turn around and backtrack, to go the opposite way they were traveling. But God does it for a purpose. He wants Pharaoh to think the children of Israel are lost and wandering in the desert so Pharaoh will come after them. And He plans to use that against Pharaoh and his armies to show Egypt that He, Yahveh, is truly the Lord.

Pharaoh fell for the trap and began to question why they were so stupid as to let their slaves go. Actually, it says Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart. Yeah, I guess as soon as they had to make their own cup of coffee, they were reconsidering the loss of all those obedient and subservient people. So Pharaoh prepared 600 of his chariots and his people plus all the other chariots in Egypt along with their commanders. And God made Pharaoh hard-hearted so he pursued Israel.

And so we come to an end with Israel leaving Egypt boldly but God knowing their hearts might shrink if they see war, so we can’t be sure if they were ready. And then we see Pharaoh following after Israel, also boldly, but for stupid reasons. And we know Pharaoh isn’t ready for what is to come, but he doesn’t know that yet. Ready or not, God’s got a plan, and He’s got a place within it for whosoever will make themselves ready to follow Him. Will that be you?

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

And Little Lambs Eat Ivy


Spotted Lambs by Flickr User Eva Mayer aka Eva Ganesha, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Spotted Lambs by Flickr User Eva Mayer aka Eva Ganesha, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream on Flickr.

I don’t know how many years I sang words that sounded something like “marezeedotes and dozeedotes¬†and little lambsy divey,” but as a child, I did not understand that this song was about real animals. I really didn’t understand the word “akittleediveytu,” and why it then asked the question, “wouldn’t you?”

When I first read the Old Testament words from Exodus 13:1 through Exodus 13:16, it is also likely I didn’t understand all the types and shadows I was reading of that God had set up intentionally. Reading in this part of the Bible used to sound confusing to me, much like the words to the song, Mairzy Doats¬†above. But now, I not only understand it, I personalize it.

Today’s story begins with God claiming that the firstborn of all creatures belongs to Him. Well, guess what? I’m a first-born child. Wow, that means I belong to Him! Of course, I love to read it that way, but it doesn’t mean I believe that my younger sister belongs any less to Him than I do. I know we are both redeemed by the blood of The Spotless Lamb that came in the form of Yahshua our Messiah and willingly laid down His own life for each of us–as well as for everyone who receives Him.

As God explains everything to Moses about lambs, redeeming firstborn humans with lambs, redeeming goats, etc., the thing He keeps repeating in this reading is that His people should never forget. He wants us to remember for ourselves by marking birth with redemption. He wants us to remember by wrapping His words around our hands and heads. This is likely talking of what we will see described later in the Torah, and what in Judaism is called “phylacteries,” but I’m certain there is also a type and shadow in this to make sure His words are written in everything we do and in everything we think.

More than once, God tells the people to pass these stories to their children, so that when they are living in the land of plenty that is promised to the seed of Abraham, they will know it came by way of a great deliverance by the Hand of God. And I don’t find it coincidental that He would tie that deliverance to physically cleansing the land and houses of all types of leaven (representing pride and sin) because it lines up with the New Testament Scripture in Ephesians 2:9 that says, “You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast.

None of this is really any more of a mystery than the fact that mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy. Serving God is as simple as it is beautiful even if it is not always easy. If we just remember where God should be in every part of our lives–FIRST–we will have a way to follow that will lead us on a path to eternity with Him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After I posted this, I found a video of the above song on YouTube, and it has an adorable slide show to go along with it…

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

Graveyard Shift


Night Watchman by Flickr User Brian Hawkins, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Night Watchman by Flickr User Brian Hawkins, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr

I was just talking to my husband today about how much I used to like to work the graveyard shift. I worked in the travel store of a truck stop off Interstate 40, so it was like day in the middle of the night there. It was lit up, it was noisy with talk and diesel engines running outside, and if families were traveling late, the sleepy kid chatter was even fun to listen to. I loved the busyness that kept me going through the night, and I loved getting off work just in time to see beautiful desert sunrises. During the warmest months, I’d get my grocery shopping done and then go swimming in the pool at my mobile home park before anyone else was even awake yet. I think that’s why I’m still a bit of a night person.

Imagine my joy when I first read about Yahveh being a night watchman. In today’s reading from Exodus 12:29 through Exodus 12:51, the end of the chapter, we begin reading with the midnight strike against the first-born of Egypt. In that sense, God was also working the graveyard shift, and the cry of grief that arose from every house in the land was loud and horrendous. Every home was touched by death. Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night, and I guess he knew better than to keep his promise that the next time Moses saw his face would be his death. Instead, Pharaoh told Moses to get the people, the animals, and everything they planned to take and just get out of the land. The Egyptians pressed Pharaoh to push them out quickly for fear they would all end up dead.

I hate that the stuff in the above verse had to happen, but I also know that people had a chance to do things God’s way and chose against it. From creation forward, wayward branches of people broke off and chose to serve false gods for their own selfish desires, But God Almighty is the only one that truly reigns over the earth, and He is the only One we should serve.

As the story continues, the people took their unleavened dough and packed it up to head out of Egypt in a hurry. They traveled from Rameses to Succoth, and a mixed multitude went with them. It appears that it was there where they baked matzah for the rest of the journey. It had been 430 years to the day since Israel first moved into Egypt.

I love how verse 42 reads from The Complete Jewish Bible: This was a night when Adonai kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when Adonai keeps vigil for all the people of Isra’el through all their generations. It made me cry the first time I read it, and it still stirs me to think that the God of Creation chooses to keep watch over His people on the night of the their deliverance. I believe this is why the altar experience is so moving because I believe God still keeps vigil over people when they are delivered from sin and death.

The last of the reading goes on to explain how Passover is to be kept for all the generations, including how to treat the foreigner who lives in your home. The foreigner must become circumcised to celebrate, just as we must become circumcised in heart, choosing to do things God’s way instead of our own, in order to partake of all He has for us. Oh, but it is so worth it.

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

Deaf by Discouragement


Covering His Ears by Flickr User Sharyn Morrow aka massdistraction, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Covering His Ears by Flickr User Sharyn Morrow aka massdistraction, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab to view original and to access user’s photo stream at Flickr.

Remember the old commercials that said, “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen.”? I remember that even if I didn’t understand it when I heard it as a young child. I learned what it meant later, so I did understand by the time I heard a song by Carman where one lyric line said, “Because when God talks, even E.F. Hutton listens.” Well, in today’s reading from Exodus 6:2 through Exodus 6:13, we find people¬†that are not listening so well…even to God.

We are now at the beginning of Parashah (portion) 14. The Hebrew word for it is¬†Va’era and it means¬†I appeared. It begins after Moses speaks to God asking why He allowed Pharaoh to treat the people so badly after the request to leave for three days to worship, and God’s answer that Moses would now see exactly what Yahveh had planned for Pharaoh. Now God goes on to say that He is the God who spoke and made covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but that He had never revealed His memorial name to anyone before Moses.

Yahveh tells Moses to tell the people that He has heard their groanings, and that He will set them free from the slavery of the Egyptians. He says they will be His people, and He will be their God. But then it says the people are too discouraged to listen. ¬†I’ve seen it in movies where a person is so distraught or worried that they are kind of “losing it” and won’t pay attention to anything that is going on around them. Usually it takes someone slapping them to snap them out of it. God doesn’t tell Moses to slap the people, but He doesn’t just accept their discouragement or refusal to listen.

Moses then argues that if the people won’t listen, surely Pharaoh will not listen either, especially to someone like him who is not a good speaker. But God commands both Moses and Aaron concerning their approach to both Pharaoh and to the house of Israel, and He tells them exactly what will happen in order to free Israel from slavery.

God always has a plan to set people free, be it us or those we love. Sometimes we are too discouraged to listen or to listen well. Sometimes those we love and care about are too discouraged to listen. But if we keep the communication with God open, we are promised that when we seek and search for Him with our whole hearts, we WILL find Him. And we know that once we find Him, there’s a much better chance that we will find the knowledge we need to follow His plan for our deliverance from whatever has us or those we love in bondage. Let us be encouraged, and let us continue to listen.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

De Do Do Do De Da Da Da


I haven’t had to speak very many times, and I’ve been told far more often that I should speak because God has given me so many wonderful testimonies that bless others, but I think I know how Moses felt in today’s reading from Exodus 3:16 through Exodus 4:17. Even when others tell you that your speaking is great, you feel like you just stood up in front of everyone and babbled like a baby–or spoke nonsense like the title of the 1980’s Police¬†song I used above. But I am getting ahead of myself.

In yesterday’s reading, Moses discovered the burning bush and the voice speaking from it. Today, we hear more of that conversation. First, God tells Moses that he is to gather the leaders of Israel to tell them that God has heard their groanings and that He plans something better for them. He promises that Israel’s leaders will pay attention. Then God tells Moses to go to the Egyptian leaders and request a three-day leave of absence to go into the desert to worship Yahveh. He goes on to tell Moses that the king of Egypt will not do the right thing until he is forced to do so by the wonders of God, but that he will eventually let the people go.

Moses first excuse to God was that the Egyptians would not listen to him or believe that he was speaking for Yahveh, so God asks the question of him, “What’s that in your hand?” Moses tells him it’s just a staff, and God turns it into a snake which He then tells Moses to grab as He turns it back into a staff.

Now, I want to break away for just a moment here to share a little inspiration. I started a writing project back in 2006 called “Good Morning Christian Writer” that was to contain devotions written specifically for Christian writers. Each devotion contained a story and a related writing exercise. Yes, I still plan to get back to the project which was sidelined by two neck surgeries and all else that comes with putting something on the back burner. Anyway, one of the submissions was from a woman who used that question from God to Moses as related to Christian writers and their writing instruments. From the moment I read it, that has been an inspiration to me, and I just want to pass on to all of you who are writers to ask yourself the same question. When you do, remember that God can turn a staff into a snake and back again, so instead of looking at what is in your hand (be it pen, pencil, computer, a talent, money, etc.), look at how God can use whatever you hold.

Even after witnessing God’s wonder, Moses was still a bit concerned about people believing him, so God had him stick his hand in his coat. When he pulled it out, it was leprous. Then he had him put it back in again, and when he pulled it out, it was healed. So once Moses was sure they would believe the words were from God, he challenged God as to whether he was the right messenger for such a task. He told God that he talked slow and basically that he got tongue-tied. And that’s what the song in the above video is all about. It’s called¬†You Aint Been Nothin’ Yet, and it’s a parody of¬†You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. It poses the possibility that Moses stuttered, so he says to God, “I ain’t b-b-b-been n-n-n-nothin’ yet.” It’s a cute one.

But God didn’t think Moses excuse was cute, and He got a bit angry. He asked him who made his mouth and who gave men the ability to speak. Never-the-less, since Moses’ brother was just on his way to meet him, God told him that Aaron could speak for him. He said Aaron would be like his mouth, and he would be like Aaron’s God. He then tells him to go and to take the staff because he would need it.

I’ll close with a note that the last part speaks to me both in God’s message to Moses that He is the one who enables man to speak, and in that He provided a speaker already on his way because He knew ahead of time that Moses would doubt himself. We don’t know when Aaron came on the scene, but I’m guessing he was an older brother that was born before the Hebrews were forced to give up their baby boys. The fact that he was alive and that Moses knew him even after being mostly raised in an Egyptian palace and then moving to Midian tells me that God planned for the two of them to minister together. He knows plans we cannot even imagine, but in our humanity, we still question God just like Moses did. I guess that’s why Paul said he had to die (repent) daily, but it’s also why God’s Word says that His mercies are new every morning. Hallelu-Yah!

P.S. Merry Christmas once again–and don’t forget to read the story I posted yesterday where I used the titles of Christmas carols and songs to create a humorous tale.

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

Delivered to Deliver


Moses-Aic by Flickr user Brionv CC License = Attribution, Share Alike

Moses-Aic by Flickr user Brionv CC License = Attribution, Share Alike
Click image to open in new tab with access to full photo stream.

How many times have we heard the question, “What am I here for?” Do you suppose Moses ever asked the same question? In today’s reading from Exodus 1:18 through Exodus 2:10, the Hebrew midwives who were told to kill the male Hebrew babies use the excuse that the Hebrew women are quick (lively in one translation) and deliver their babies before the midwives are able to arrive. Scripture tells us that God blesses them to be parents of strong children because of their integrity. But Pharaoh decides then that they should just throw the living boy babies in the river.

As our story progresses, we see Moses delivered multiple times. First, he is delivered as a newborn. Then, for three months, he is delivered from being discovered as his mother hides him to keep Pharaoh’s people from killing him. When his mother places him in a basket of reeds and hides him in the river, he is delivered from being alone as his sister, who works as a handmaid for Pharaoh’s daughter, keeps watch over the floating basket. And then he is delivered from the water when Pharaoh’s daughter finds him, and from death when she takes pity on him. He is delivered from being an orphan when his big sister offers to get a Hebrew woman to nurse the infant and goes to get Moses’ own mother for the task. Finally, he is delivered from being raised in ignorance of his true identity by having his mother and sister around to speak the truth to him about his heritage as a Hebrew.

The story has a long way to go before we will see Moses act as a deliverer for his people, but we are told in today’s reading that his lineage comes from the tribe of Levi, and we will learn later that this is the tribe of the priesthood. And what are priests called to do? They help people in becoming delivered from the bondage of¬†sin. So deliverance was in his DNA as well as in his history.

Deliverance is also in our DNA through our salvation and new birth in Yahshua. In 1st Peter 2:9 (NKJV–italics mine) we read, “But you¬†are¬†a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Just like Moses experienced an abundance of deliverance to become a deliverer, we who have been delivered (saved) from sin through the grace and mercy in the Blood of Christ were also delivered for a purpose. We may not all do the same job, but we all can do whatever we are called to do for the same reason–to help deliver others from an eternity of separation from the presence of their Loving Creator.

December 22, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wrestling With God and Prevailing Against Sin


As we continue into today’s reading from Genesis 32:14 through Genesis 32:30, we read the rest of Jacob’s plan for meeting with Esau and trying to appease his anger. He chooses a bunch of animals and then puts them into groups heading toward Esau. He tells the men who head up each group of animals to tell Esau that they are a gift for him and that Jacob is nearby in the next group. Jacob’s intention is to watch and then move backward a group at a time until he is sure Esau will accept him without killing him. At the same time, he sends his two wives, two slave girls, and his eleven children across a stream with his possessions.

With the gifts in front of him and his family across the stream, Jacob is alone for the night. Suddenly there was a man wrestling with him. Jacob refused to give up and continued to wrestle¬†until morning. Scripture says that when it appeared the man¬†would not prevail against Jacob, He touched him in his hip socket so that his hip was dislocated as he wrestled. And then Jacob said the words that gave away that he knew exactly¬†who he was wrestling with.¬†The man had asked Jacob to let him go because it was morning, but Jacob said to Him, “I won’t let You go until You bless me.”

Now, I love what God does here. He asks Jacob what his name is. Remember way back when Jacob was born, when Jacob stole the birthright, and when Jacob deceived his father? In all those things, Jacob lived up to the meaning of his name; supplanter. He tried to come out first, he stole the birthright, and he falsely gained his father’s blessing.¬†Esau even pointed out how the name was fitting for him. Now God is asking Jacob to admit that he is as his name, one who steals what he wants–one who wrestles for his blessings. Like the first of the “12 Steps” in¬†Alcoholics Anonymous (and related programs), God is telling Jacob that He will not bless him until he admits who and what he is. It works the same in repentance when we finally admit that we are sinners in need of God’s salvation. And I am certain I am not the only one who has wrestled to get to that point, but it is worth the wrestling if you fight until you subdue the flesh and press through to obtain God’s blessing. Paul mentions in Philippians 3 that he is pressing on and forward to a goal of something that lies ahead of what he has now. It’s a finish line where everyone who crosses, and not just the first one, is a winner.

So, after he said his name was Jacob, everything changed for him. After we admit we are in need of God (and not just at our first repentance but each time we wrestle with something that we need to let go of), everything can change for us as well. AFTER Jacob confessed the absence of God in his efforts and admitted that he was trying to do everything on his own, THEN God not only blessed him, but his blessing came with a name change.¬†God changed the name of Jacob (supplanter) to the name of Israel (wrestled/contended with God). He put His title,¬†EL, right into Jacob’s new name. Jacob was no longer one who had to steal positions and possessions or birthrights and blessings. He was now one who was blessed of God because He sought God’s blessing face to face.

November 17, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Battle in Clay


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Covenant God


The reading for today is all in Genesis 9 and is a very short set of verses from 8 through 17. Noah, his family, and the animals are off the boat. Noah has offered the first sacrifice to show his thankfulness for their salvation. And now, with this family ready to replenish the earth, God has made a promise, and he has given a sign for that promise that we still see today; the rainbow.

I downloaded an image I really like by rwangsa at Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwangsa/452128709/)…

Image

You know, there are many gods out there that people try to please with various works, but most of them are just trying to get those gods to carry them to an eternal paradise. They will give it all for a promise that may or may not be true. But our God and Creator, Yahveh Almighty, has promised us so much more than an eternity in paradise. He has plans so awesome that He says they haven’t even found a way to enter into our thoughts or imaginations.

I was talking with a friend today, and we were discussing what we have with God that so many others do not have with their gods. The greatest thing we have of course is His Love. It’s not just an end game, but a gift He desires to shower on us in every moment. He wants us to trust Him so much that you will see many covenants He makes with His people throughout Scripture. This covenant in today’s reading is not only a promise, but a promise that comes with a sign both to us and to Him. He says that when we see it, we can remember His promise to us. And He says that whenever He brings clouds upon the earth, He Himself will see the sign and remember His promises. It’s like two best friends that tie a string around each others’ wrists or pinky fingers to remind the other that they will be best friends forever. God is our best Friend, a covenant Friend and a covenant God, who will be there for us…forever! Hallelu-Yah!!!

October 9, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweet Aroma


This is my first post from my phone app since I know I will not get home on time. I’m thankful I have this option.

Now, to continue on with the story of Noah. In today’s reading from¬†Genesis 8:15 through Genesis 9:7, he and all living things from the ark are finally getting to come out and restart life on earth.¬†I don’t imagine life trapped inside the ark for almost a year was pleasant. Yet, the first thing Noah did when he exited the ark was to build an altar and give an offering to the One who saved him and his family. There’s no record of what Noah thanked God for, but I imagine it was an extensive list. If I were Noah, just some items from my list would be…

  • Thank You for looking at me with grace;
  • Thank You for saving me from destruction;
  • Thank You for being my Provider and sustaining me for all those months;
  • Thank You for saving my family;
  • Thank You that I know You Yahveh Almighty.

Whatever Noah thanked God for, that smell of his thankful offering went up as a sweet aroma to God and was pleasing to Him. And I believe that¬†sweet aroma was more about the offering of thanksgiving that came from Noah’s heart and mouth than it was from anything that burned upon the fire. I believe this because of the new testament verses that tell us that the sacrifice of our praise goes up as a sweet-smelling aroma to God. I can compare this to how I respond to the smell of something grilling on a barbecue. Even when I’ve just eaten and am full, I could sit downwind of the aroma of a barbecue and just enjoy it as it wafts in my direction. If our praise smells even close to that good to God, no wonder He is enthroned on the praises of His people.

October 8, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Righteous Before The Creator


My reading today from Genesis 7:1-16 is short, but it puts feet on the commands God gave to Noah yesterday. The ark is built, the animals have shown up, and now God invites Noah & his family into the place that will save them from destruction.

You know, it seems from the beginning that God has always delighted to give those who love Him a refuge from the troubles and trials that are created by the disobedience of those who do not love Him. He truly lives up to the name, Deliverer. Here is a slide from a Bible study by Beth Moore that nicely describes how God is ALWAYS our Deliverer:

Image

While the slide talks of fire, it was no less a deliverance for Noah and his family to be delivered from the death of all other living things. This story is only the beginning of God showing people that He wants to be our Deliverer, and it represents His heart of hearts–to deliver us from the ways of sin and the wages of sin (which is eternal death). Now our question; will we give up our own ways and go into “the ark” when we are invited?

October 6, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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