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God’s Statute of Limitations on Our Debts

Debt Free by Flickr User Simon Cunningham, CC License = Attribution with Request to Link to

Debt Free by Flickr User Simon Cunningham, CC License = Attribution with Request to Link to
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

So my nephew comes into the room tonight to warn me about this purge night that is supposedly going on in Louisville this weekend. His girlfriend has mentioned the possible need to stay indoors while people do various acts of violence in the theory that for 12 hours, nothing is illegal. The idea scared me, so I researched it and found a media campaign created by a couple of movies from 2013 & 2014 and set in the years of 2022 & 2023. In the night celebrated in the movie, people give in to their “natural” instincts of violence, there is no help from police or medical aid, and it’s 12 hours of chaos while people purge themselves of their baser instincts. Sadly, however, there are young people who don’t realize a media-induced frenzy when they hear or see it. (Now I can see how so much trouble came from the original radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.) Maybe they believe Richard Castle is a real book author too. 😉

I’m thankful it is just a big joke in reality, and anyone who looks up the group “New Founding Fathers of America” should realize it’s not real just by reading their statements about how the economy is strong and crime is down as a result of earlier purge nights. As of last check, crime is up and the economy is a mess. Still, I can see where the authors of the screenplay are going with their story in wanting a night where vigilante justice is not punishable, and in acknowledging that if such a night did take place, many would cross the line, and there would be criminal chaos. Such is the result when mankind tries to solve its problems according to the ways of our flesh instead of purging the world of sin and debt God’s way.

In tonight’s reading from Deuteronomy 15:1 through Deuteronomy 15:18, we will read about God’s plan of forgiveness and letting go, in this case about letting go of unpaid debts. God does it with a Statute of Limitations to keep from building up debts forever. We know from previous readings that God offered mercy even for some criminal behavior by the use of Cities of Refuge. We know from our own walk with Him that He still offers mercy for sin, and the limitation on the wages of death for our sins happens when we repent and turn to God. Now we will learn how He told Israel to deal with her debtors.

The reading begins by explaining that at the end of every seven years, there should be a sh’mittah which is Hebrew for “a release.” In that year, every creditor is to release whatever he has lent to his neighbor, and he is not to require a return or anymore payment for it. Foreigners are not included in the release, but all brethren of Israel are included.

Early in the instructions (right at verse 4), God comforts the people by telling them that even with the release, they will not have to worry about going broke or becoming poor. God’s promise to them is that He will bless them for their obedience to the point that they will lend to many nations and not have to borrow; they will rule over many nations, but none will rule over them. The instructions go on to warn them that there will always be poor people among them, and they are to care for them and treat them the same according to the laws of release. He warns them to give freely from their hearts, not grudgingly, and to not hold back in their giving just because the year of release is near.

The portion then turns to slavery and tells them how to let go of their Hebrew slaves during the release. They are not only to let them go freely, they are to send them away with goods to begin a free life. If the slave has decided he loves his master so much that he wants to stay with him, the owner will still set him free but will pierce his ear with an awl to mark him as a free servant. If a slave does want to leave, however, God tells the master to be grateful that he has had the service of this slave for half of what it would have cost him to hire an employee. God reminds the people of their own (unfair) slavery in Egypt, and then He reminds them that He is the one who blesses them in all they do.

Sometimes, it seems difficult to live in the current culture with its dishonesty and unfairness. It’s worse when it enters the church with people who act as if they are believers but are only there for the handouts. It makes it harder to be a giver, and even harder to give without a grudging spirit. But, we can be sensitive to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, so we won’t hold something against a true brother or sister in The Lord to the point it becomes unforgiveness.

Think of it like this: Have you ever had an issue in your past where you forgot a debt you owed to someone? Maybe you thought that if you contacted them, they would hate you because of what they might perceive as your thoughtlessness. Maybe now you cannot contact them for one reason or other, so you can’t change anything. Imagine if we still had that year of release every seven years. Nothing like that would build up between brothers or sisters in Christ. We could live as we pray in The Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Doesn’t that seem like a better way to purge the mistakes of our flesh than of a night of criminal chaos? Of course, it’s always better when we do whatever we do, including getting rid of our sins and debts, God’s way.

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

Days of Wine and Rose-Colored Glasses

Hand Painted Wine Glasses by Flickr User Southern Lady's Vintage, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Hand Painted Wine Glasses by Flickr User Southern Lady’s Vintage, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Wine and roses are considered romantic, and someone who views the world through rose-colored glasses is said to see things too romantically and not realistically enough. So, if we pair rose-colored glasses with wine, we get a good-looking false reality. But false or not, it’s usually more comfortable there, so we rarely want to stop and examine our lives to see where we are headed, or if there is anything we should change. We are so interested in the headlong pursuit of happiness that we will stop to smell the roses (because they represent the romance of beauty and comfort), but we rarely stop to pray.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 23:23 through Leviticus 23:32, we read about the preparation and celebration of the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, which means “Day of Atonement.” Our reading starts nine days before this high holy day, on the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei). We’re not told yet that this is Rosh Hashanah, meaning “Head of the year,” but only that it is a day of complete rest for remembering, and its start is signaled by a blast of the shofar (ram’s horn).

Rosh Hashanah, or as we often see on US calendars, “Jewish New Year,” is the beginning of a 10-day period of remembering and self-examination. These days, called “The Days of Awe,” are a time when people take off their rose-colored glasses and look for things in their lives that require repentance and forgiveness. They spend those first nine days with a focus on cleansing their hearts, forgiving each other, asking forgiveness from their neighbors, and trying to become blameless before the “Sabbath of Sabbaths” when they will wait to see if God has accepted the offerings of the high priest and forgiven the sins of the people.

On the tenth day of the month, God tells Israel to deny themselves and bring an offering to Him. This would be the realist of the days of reality; a day where fear and hope are equal partners. If a person does not deny himself (go without his desires, comforts, pleasures, etc.) on this day, he will be cut off from his people, so this is not the type of feast where you will find celebration. Instead, this is the day where all must bring forth real fruit of real repentance. It is a sabbath of complete rest, self-denial, and last ditch self-examination to strive for as much holiness as possible.

Like our salvation in Yeshua gives us at the time of our repentance, this ten-day period is a time when people have the opportunity to start over with a clean slate before God. It’s the time when the children of Israel would leave their gifts on the altar, and make amends with anyone they had given reason to hold an accusation against them. It didn’t mean they could do whatever they wanted for the rest of the year, but if they had wasted their days with not thinking about God and instead gotten lost in a stupor of wine and rose-colored glasses, this was their chance to stop the wild ride and try to make things right.

A current tradition for celebration of Yom Kippur is to wear all white to represent purity. For those of us who have been washed in the blood that makes us “white as snow,” we can have these days of self-examination every day. For each new day we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Yeshua, we get the opportunity to exchange our rose-colored glasses for crimson-colored glasses that allow us to see ourselves through the eyes of Our Loving Creator and Savior. And that’s a romance that will carry us throughout eternity.

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

Tried and Failed

Fail Reel by Flickr User Nicko Gibson, CC License = Attribution

Fail Reel by Flickr User Nicko Gibson, 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 the movie reel of my life (somehow, I really think God has one of these), I know I have tried and failed thousands of times. I have made promises that still go unkept, whether because I’ve forgotten or for some other reason. I’ve had all the best intentions, all the best plans, and all the best efforts, and still I have failed. I fail because I am human. We fail because we are human. God understands because He made us. He says in Psalm 103:14 that He knows our form.

As I read through today’s reading from Leviticus 4:27 through Leviticus 5:10, I looked at all the answers God gave for what to do in case of failure during the times of the tabernacle and priests. Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, I don’t think He would have us discard any of it. As a matter of fact, The New Testament does not say that the old law is done away with. Rather, it says that it was fulfilled so we are no longer under the curse of it. What was the curse? It was that if we failed in one point, we failed in all of it.

I woke up one morning having an awake dream–maybe a vision. I saw a steel ring with bits of it missing and the word law in the middle of it. As I watched it, another steel ring came into view. This one had the word love written in the middle, and it had no missing pieces. As the vision continued, the ring of love settled into the ring of law and filled in all the missing parts. God’s law of love became the law and absorbed all the emptiness that keeping the works of the law could not fill in. I have never forgotten it.

But as for why all these commands were there to begin with….I believe God laid them out because He never wanted His people under a curse. He knew His children, and He knew they would fail, but He wanted to put every possibility of provision out there to make a way out of the bondage that comes with sin and failure. It’s like a mother, one many would call over-protective, giving her child an abundance of “just in case” scenarios to make sure the child is protected no matter what.

“Okay, honey, don’t answer the door; make sure the deadbolt is locked; the doorknob is locked; the chain lock is pulled; the intruder alarm is set; and your phone is charged in case you need to call us. I put the number where we’ll be on the refrigerator, but I also gave it to the neighbors on both sides in case you have to run out of the house to get away from a bad guy. Oh, and Aunt Sally will call you at 8 to check on you, and then Uncle Mike will call you at 9. Make sure you answer or they’ll call me to report you might be in trouble. Etc., etc., and, and, and.”

Does this seem like too much? God provided 613 total commandments to the Levitical priesthood. We have commandments in today’s reading that include when to sacrifice a goat, when to sacrifice a sheep, when it must be a female offering, and when a dove or pigeon can be used. He even provided for the unplanned sins, including those committed by making a promise (whether to do evil or good) and not keeping it. God has always wanted to make sure that we have ways out of our sins if we have a heart that is willing to step out of them through repentance.

And that is the most important part of it all… repentance. Whether it was following the Levitical commands back then, or stepping under the cleansing of Christ’s blood now, repentance is what makes the difference. Now, as then, a person must see his sin and failures as bondage (if nothing more than the bondage of being separated from his Loving Creator), and he must want to be set free. It’s not about finding reasons or excuses, and it’s not about trying to find some way to continue in sin. The blood–all the way back to the garden–has always been about repentance and being set free.

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


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