Crystal Writes A Blog

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A Grave Situation


Flooded Graves in Mexico by Flickr User bigdadventures aka David, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Flooded Graves in Mexico by Flickr User bigdadventures aka David, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

The dictionary says that when grave is used as an adjective, it means things like “serious,” “solemn,” and giving cause for alarm. I would say that makes walking in a way that causes God to be either hurt or angry is a grave situation, especially on the definition of solemn. I think it would do us well to take more time for self-examination to check not only our behaviors but the attitudes and motivations behind them.

In today’s reading from Numbers 11:30 through Numbers 12:16, we read about some people that most certainly should have taken things a lot more seriously. If you read yesterdays Scriptures or post, you know that the people were complaining over a lack of meat, so God promised so much quail that it would come out their noses and they’d be sick of it. Today, the wind comes in and brings with it piles of quail.

As the reading continues, it says that while the meat was still in the people’s mouths, God becomes angry and strikes them with a plague that kills all those who were greedy. Because so many died there, the place was called in Hebrew, Kivrot-HaTa’avah meaning “Graves of Greed,” Yesterday, it said the greedy ones were the strangers that lived with the community of Israel, so I don’t know if they were the only ones to die, or if it was all who gathered in the piles of the birds. It is against God’s law to eat animals that are dead by reasons other than men killing them for their meat, so if the birds came in on a wind already dead, they would not have been okay to eat. The strangers would not have known that, but if any children of Israel gathered the birds, they would have known, so that could be what kindled God’s anger.

Now we switch chapters and we go to Miriam and Aaron talking against their brother, Moses, for marrying a Kushite woman. In their criticism of him, they start asking why he thinks he’s so special because he hears from God. They state that God likely speaks to them as well. So God comes down in the column of cloud and calls Miriam and Aaron to the Tent of Meeting. He explains that He does in fact talk to men who are prophets, but that He mostly talks to them in dreams and visions. He goes on to tell them that Moses is the only one who is faithful enough to Him that He talks to him face to face.

When they walk away from the meeting, Miriam is suddenly completely white with leprosy. When Moses sees it, he begs God not to let Miriam die as a baby born with parts of its body rotting away from the time it leaves the womb. God agrees to take away the plague from her, but He says that since she would have to be put out of the camp for seven days if someone simply spit on her, she must be put out of the camp for a week because of the leprosy as well. After she comes back in, the community is ready to move on, and they travel to the Paran desert.

Like I said yesterday, when I read about things that cause God to get angry, I feel a strong need to examine myself to make sure I am not wrapped up in the same types of sin. I know I have an advocate in Christ and His blood over me, but I figure that if something made God angry at one time, He doesn’t feel any less affected by it just because there is a blood covering over it. I think about the song that says, “Does He still feel the nails every time I fail? Does He hear the crowd say ‘Crucify,’ again? Am I causing Him pain; then I know that I must change. I just can’t bear the thought of hurting Him.”

Even if I could get away with every type of sin that is available on this earth, I don’t want to do anything that would hurt my Lord and Savior. I don’t want to do anything that would drive even the slightest bit of wedge between me that my Wonderful Creator. I don’t want to allow anything into my life that would open up even a tiny crevice for the enemy (who is an enemy both of me and of God) to find a camping spot in me. I know I’m not perfect, and I know I fail daily, but I do not want to excuse my failures–only humbly beg God to forgive me because I don’t deserve it but gratefully receive it. It is truly a grave situation when someone who claims to love Yahveh Almighty can commit sin that hurts Him without feeling broken when He confronts their behavior. May I never get to that point, and if you agree with me, may you never get there either. As King David said in Psalm 51:17 (NLT), “…You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Amen.

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

Son of My Pain


Today’s reading is a bit of a long one from Genesis 35:12 through Genesis 36:19, but the bulk of the story is in chapter 35 with 36 being mostly the genealogies of Esau. Before that point, though, we read about Jacob’s travels after meeting with God again at Bethel. While they were traveling toward Bethlehem, Rachel went into labor and had a very hard time delivering. As she was giving birth, she named the child Ben Oni for “Son of my Pain”. And then she died during the birth.

Instead of the negative name, Jacob (who knew the power of names) named his son Benjamin instead which means “Son of the Right Hand” or “Son of the South.” He then buried Rachel in Bethlehem and set up a memorial stone on her grave. That site is the place of her memorial and grave to this day, according to Scripture, and I think it may actually still be there as of this writing.

It is just after this event with Rachel that we read of a sudden change of reference from Jacob to Israel. Even though he had been given the name change and had the name restated by God in a second meeting, Scripture was still referring to him as Jacob until this point. I don’t know if the change had to do with the birth of his last son, the death of the love of his life (who may have always called him “Jacob,”), or the death of his father, Isaac, who was buried by him and Esau as part of today’s reading. But from this point on, it appears he is always called by the name that represents him as one who prevails with God. For everything he has been through, that is actually a huge statement.

Now, before I totally finish up here, I want to share another piece of ApologetiX fun. (Can you tell how much I like this band?) The video below is a parody of “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard. It is called “Sweet Oholibamah” which is the name of one of Esau’s daughters. I tried to find a video with lyrics but was unable, but there may be some lyrics on the ApologetiX website.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Power Outage


And I’ll bet you guys think this is the title for my latest post, huh? Well, actually this is just a placeholder while I wait for the power to come back on. I don’t want to have to go out driving in the storms to get a good enough signal to write my full post. So, hopefully I’ll have power soon. Blessings until then. ~Crystal

Okay, so power is back on, but I’m leaving the title the same because the reading is short, and there’s not much in it–especially about the power of God. Of course, when I look for it, I can find the power of God in most everything since I know I don’t even breathe in or out without Him. In that sense, there’s no power outage in this story or in any story. I mean, I almost burst into tears in my first computer class back in 2001. It was just a brief overview of an A+ course, but when the guy said that everything we see on the screen is just a series of ones and zeroes representing power turned on or off, I could suddenly see God working on His creation in binary arithmetic and saying, “Power on–Let there be light.” It may seem silly to some, but it amazes me to see God in everything.

So, today’s short reading is from Genesis 25:1 through Genesis 25:11, and it briefly tells the story of Abraham when he married Keturah. I would guess that this marriage was after Sarah died, but I find some questioning in my mind on this subject. See, Keturah bore Abraham six sons. But remember how Abraham laughed about having pleasure when he was old? So, did all his youthful strength come back to him after he created Isaac? Beyond that, it talks about the children of his concubines. Maybe there’s more history elsewhere, but I’m just wondering if Abraham had all these children after Isaac, or if they were just unmentioned before. The telling does say that Abraham gave all his riches to Isaac and sent the other children to the east with grants.

By the last verse, we read that after Abraham passed away (and was buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael in the same tomb as Sarah), God greatly blessed Isaac. I’ve heard many messages about God’s blessings being given through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel whose story we have yet to read. Now, I’m wondering exactly what blessings/grants were given to all these other sons. I’m thinking of mighty armies and prosperous lands throughout the earth, and I’m remembering that God told Abraham that the whole earth would be blessed through him.

It’s funny how I can read this stuff each year and have thoughts on it as I read, but then when I decide to write the commentary, I see so much I never noticed before. Even when what I see creates a bunch of questions to which I may or may not get answers, I love that my heart is always stirred by the written Word of God. And now, I guess it’s like I said above, even if I’m not seeing specific readings about the power of God, there really never is a power outage.

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Gift in the Giving


Today, we begin Parashah (portion) 5 which covers Sarah’s life and spans Genesis 23:1 through Genesis 25:18. It starts with a bit of sadness for Abraham in today’s reading from Genesis 23:1 through 23:16. In our story, Sarah has passed away at the age of 127, and Abraham is looking for a proper place to bury her in a land that is not their home. Certainly, not having his own land on which to bury his wife is adding to his grief, so Abraham is looking for a plot to buy as his own. He has set such a good example, even as a foreigner in a strange land, that everyone on the council is willing to give up their own tombs to him, but Abraham keeps seeking for something of his own.

Finally, Abraham asks the men to consult Efron the Hittite about a piece of farmland he would like to buy and use for the burial. It appears that Efron was already among the councilmen present, so he speaks up and says he’ll give the land to Abraham for free. Of course, many of us would consider that to be a blessing from God, but sometimes it can be more of a blessing to pay your way and be a good businessman, so Abraham insists on knowing the value of the land. Efron figures out what he is asking and says, “A plot of land worth 400 silver shekels — what is that between me and you?” Then Abraham gets his message and pays for the land.

Maybe it’s my female mind, but all the hidden messages back and forth did not make sense to me, so I had to ask my husband why men wouldn’t just come straight out and give a price and an exchange. He said that it enabled each man to make his offering without insulting the other. In a current world example, the exchange might go something like this…

A woman goes to get her hair done. The hairdresser offers to do her hair for free because she is the pastor’s wife. The woman says, “A workman is worthy of his wages, so please let me pay you.” The hairdresser answers, “But it’s only a 25 dollar style and cut,” and happily accepts that amount from her customer.

In the above scenario, both women are able to exchange their services freely, and it results in both women being more givers than takers. It appears Abraham had some good business sense and knew how much of a gift to God, others, and ourselves it is to have a giving spirit. And this is an awesome way that we, too, can be a blessing while we are foreigners in this strange land called life on earth. It gives clear understanding to why joy is spelled “J.O.Y.” and stands for Jesus, Others, You–in that order.

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

The picture below contains a portion of a beautiful message (from 1902) called The Joy of Giving by Ellen G. White. Read the full article at http://www.whiteestate.org/message/Joy_of_Giving.asp or by clicking on the picture.

Pink Sunset with Portion from Joy of Giving by Ellen G White

Pink Cotton Candy Sunset at Panama City Beach, Florida, by Crystal A Murray
Text Overlay by Ellen G. White from “The Joy of Giving”

October 26, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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