Crystal Writes A Blog

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The Watchtower of Angels


This post will be kind of short and fast because I had a rather difficult time getting connected to the internet–even from my phone. But I think I’ve got something now, so we’ll see what I can do. The reading today is from Genesis 31:43 through Genesis 32:3, and it continues on with yesterday’s story where Laban met with Jacob after chasing him down because he thought someone had his gods.

Well, today, he is trying to say that everything Jacob has belongs to him–including his daughters and cattle. But I think he’s saying it more like a protective daddy since after saying it, he makes a suggestion that he and Jacob make a commitment about caring for his daughters. They set up stones to represent the place of the deal. Laban gives it an Aramaic name, and Jacob gives it a Hebrew name. But one meaning for the place is also The Watchtower.

As part of the deal, Laban says his gods will watch him, and Jacob’s God will watch him. He then tells Jacob that if he hurts his daughters, God will be watching out. Later, as Jacob continues on his journey, he sees angels in the camp and declares it as God’s camp. He then gives it another name; Machanayim–meaning two camps.

In closing this, I’ll just say that I think we all live in two camps, and I believe that angels camp near us often. I also believe that God watches us, though not from a distance as the song declares. I’m thankful that even in unfair situations like Jacob went through, God can bring truth and His presence into the situation.

November 15, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Go Takin’ My Gods


Think Elton John & Kiki Dee singing, (but with slightly different lyrics)…

Don’t go takin’ my gods,
I won’t go takin’ your gods;
And Jacob I looked in your tent now;
Tell me what did you see?

And, as we read in Genesis 31:17 through Genesis 31:42, when Jacob took off from Laban’s house unannounced, he took the wives he had worked for plus all his children and livestock, and Rachel took Laban’s gods. Laban was apparently pretty ticked off, so he pursued Jacob and his caravan but before he caught up with them, Yahveh Almighty sent him a dream not to say anything to Jacob good or bad. Well, Laban didn’t exactly obey, but he did believe God enough to not bring harm to Jacob. He did, however, decide that he should search through all of their belongings to see if he could find his gods.

Jacob was so sure that no one in their party took the gods that he said whoever had them could be put to death. I’m guessing this scared Rachel pretty good, so she sat on the saddle bag where they were hidden and said she couldn’t move because it was her time of the month. It kept Laban from searching, so it kept her from being found as a thief.

So I was trying to think of a good title for this, and I suddenly imagined Laban and Jacob arguing to the sound of Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart. I think I mentioned a few days ago how much I like parody. But as funny as that is, as I continued to write, I suddenly realized how some people rewrite God and His creation into their very own parody. Like Laban, they have seen the mighty works and wonders of The One and Only God, but somehow they look for concrete and touchable things to prove what they have seen, so they make stone gods in parody of The Real God who is unseen. In today’s day and age, they worship the creation instead of The Creator, and parody the real power of The Almighty with a false worship of gifts and miracles and, worst of all, men.

It’s a parody because it’s a play on the real thing without truly being real. It’s a parody because it’s a comedy of errors in not exalting Yahveh Almighty to His rightful status. It’s a parody because of the silliness and foolishness of people thinking they have power that doesn’t belong to them instead of worshiping The One in Whom resides all power. But it’s a parody that is not funny, and it’s one that will end horribly when men go to Jesus with the conversation that is shown in Matthew 7:22-23 (Amplified Bible):

22 Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? 23 And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].

I still love parody, and it thrills me that ApologetiX has figured out how to parody things that were otherwise not of God and turn people’s eyes toward Him. May we never take the wonderful things God has done for us and parody our love for Him by showing love for what He does more than for who He is.

November 14, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What You See is What You Get


Okay, just a little give away to my age here, I remember when Flip Wilson had his own television show, and when he did a skit as a character named “Geraldine.” I was still pretty young, but as I recall it, Geraldine’s famous line was “What you see is what you get.” In the above video, they switch to the Geraldine doll at 37 seconds and then at about 1:08, you’ll hear the line. I felt the video of the doll was a cuter way to share, but you can always do a search if you want to hear the real skit.

These days, it’s usually abbreviated WYSIWYG and pronounced “wissy-wig,” and it usually relates to something technical. But whether it is about technology or a girl pretending to be unpretentious, it still makes the same basic statement: What you are able to view with your eyes is exactly what you will be able to take home with you. In today’s reading from Genesis 30:28 through Genesis 31:16, we will take a trip back to Bible times when Jacob used the idea of WYSIWYG to make himself rich.

See, his uncle Laban had been gaining off of Jacob’s hard work and genetic providence since he came to visit. He took far more than his fair share, and Jacob knew it was time to take his wives and go home, but he needed some type of inheritance to support them with. When Laban wouldn’t give him a rightful due of livestock, Jacob made a deal with him. He told Laban that he would feed and care for his animals and that when they bred, he would take all those that were streaked, spotted, and speckled. Laban agreed, and then he took away all the streaked, spotted, and speckled animals so that when they bred, there would be less chance of them breeding the ones he promised to Jacob.

Now, Jacob had been given a dream by God. Yahveh told him he saw the unfairness of his uncle and told him exactly what he needed to do to fix things. He advised him to cut branches from poplar trees and peel the bark away until the branches were streaked, spotted, and speckled. He then set the branches up at the feeding troughs since that is where the animals went to mate. Upon breeding, all the babies came out with the designs instead of plain, because they birthed just what they saw as they mated. This meant all the newly born livestock went to Jacob and his family per the agreement with Laban.

When Jacob was ready to go back to his homeland, he ended up going with everything that he had worked for and that rightfully belonged to his wives. God saw the inequality, and God created a way to balance things out. And, yes, Jacob had to listen, he had to obey, and he had to do a little work to help bring that balance, just as we often have to do when God gives us the tools and direction to bring balance into our own lives. We need to pay attention to His direction, and we need pay attention to what we place before our eyes. But if we will turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face, then WYSIWYG will mean wonderful things for us.

P.S. Barely any NaNo words in the last two days (none today), but I hope to make up for them at our upcoming retreat. Sitting now at 22,802 words.

November 13, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lives Without Love


When I read more about Leah today, from Genesis 30:14 through Genesis 30:27, I feel heartbroken for her. She has had four children, she has had two in proxy through her servant girl, but she still feels unloved. When her son collects some mandrakes from the field (thought to be translated from Hebrew meaning “love plant”), Rachael asks Leah if she can have some to help with her infertility. Leah gets upset and accuses Rachael of trying to steal her son as she has done with her husband. So Rachael makes a deal with Leah to exchange some of the fruit for Leah to have her husband back in her bed with her.

After all is said and done, Leah conceives and bares three more children, two boys and girl. She gives Jacob Isaachar (hired/reward), Zebulun (dwelling) and Dinah. When she named Zebulun, she said, “Maybe now that I have given him six children, my husband will live with me.” Finally, after Leah had her three new babies, Rachael finally conceived and gave birth to Joseph meaning “may He add” and hoping this was the end of her infertility and disgrace.

Both of these women had so much pain. Leah was unloved and lonely, and Rachael was infertile and felt rejected by God. But they were sisters. They could have loved each other and been there for each other through everything they went through. Leah could have cared for her sister’s infertility and invited her to help raise her nephews and nieces, but she was so bitter about the fact that her husband really wanted to be with her sister (and had actually married her in ceremony) that she did not care for her sister’s pain. I wonder if she had drawn closer to her sister, would she have felt less lonely? And I wonder if Rachael had cared more for her sister’s inability to change how their husband felt about her, and her inability to change the looks she was born with, would Leah have tried to spend more time with her. It seems that bitterness and envy made both of them lonelier and restricted both of them to lives without love of one kind or other–be it without a husband in the dwelling or without a child to raise.

Hebrews 12:15 talks about the root of bitterness and the torment that comes with it. I think feeling like you are living a life without any love in it would certainly fall under the definition of torment. But since the chapter ends with Jacob finishing his work for Laban and asking to return to his homeland with all his wives and children, maybe there is hope that once they all live together, the sisters can find love for each other again.

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Time, I Will Praise God


SPOILER ALERT! FIRST, read today’s commentary before you watch the video! This is the video I promised I would look for back when I told you this story was upcoming. It’s by my favorite parody group, ApologetiX, and this is their official video for the song, “Downer of a Sister” which is a parody of the song “Chop Suey” by System of a Down. If you would like to read the lyrics and learn more about this amazing band who writes and sings Christian parodies of songs from a variety of genres, visit this song’s lyrics page on their site at http://apologetix.com/music/song.php?freebie=true%20&song_id=383 Once you watch the video, I would love to hear your thoughts about this song, and other ApologetiX songs you may have listened to, in the comments below. Thanks.

Now, today’s reading comes from Genesis 29:18 through Genesis 30:18, and it continues the story of Jacob’s love for Rachael. Jacob loved Rachael so much that when Laban asked him to work for seven years in order to have her as his wife, he worked happily and said the years were like only a few days. And then the wedding and feast were set in order.

On the wedding night, Laban snuck in Leah because she was the first born, and Jacob did not know until the next morning that he had slept with (and therefore married) the wrong sister. He was angry at Laban, but Laban explained it was just the way they did things. He promised he would give him Rachael at the end of the marriage week if Jacob would promise to stay and work for another seven years. He wanted Rachael enough that he agreed to the request.

When he took Rachael as his wife, he was much more in love with her. Yahveh Almighty saw that Leah was unloved, so he made her fertile and Rachael unable to bear children. Leah bore 4 sons to Jacob before she gave birth no more, and each time she was certain that having the children would cause her husband to love her. She named her first three sons Reuben (see, a son), Simeon (God hears), and Levi (companion). But when she had a fourth son, she turned her praise toward God instead of hoping that her husband would love her, so she named him Judah, meaning praise.

Rachael was still infertile, so she gave her handmaiden to Jacob who bore him two more sons, Dan (he judged) and Naphtali (my wrestling). Leah, unfortunately still struggling to feel loved, then gave her own handmaiden to Jacob who also bore him two sons, Gad (fortune) and Asher (happy).

I truly feel compassion for both of these women. I am sad for Leah in feeling unloved, and having plenty of experiences to push her to feeling that way. I wish, for her sake, that she would have been able to have a relationship with God the way people these days are able to, with His Spirit of Comfort able to dwell within us, but somehow, she did know that it was God who was hearing her needs, and that is why she named her children as she did. I think when she named the last one Judah, she was giving praise directly to God, and maybe that’s why the lineage of our Messiah comes through that one.

I also felt bad for Rachael because of being childless. I know that feeling from my own childlessness. I know there is comfort in having children by proxy, and I love the nephews I was privileged to raise for a few years from the depths of my heart–even when they have hurt me. But I also know that there is a part of me that will always wonder what it would have felt like to have known a maternal bond from conception and birth. And yet, as Leah when she had her fourth child, I can still say, I will praise God.

Oh, and just to keep with the NaNo updating, my word count today is 22,731

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kissing Cousins


We know from the past few days that Jacob was on his way to live with Abraham’s family to find a new life away from Esau, and that he made one little detour to talk to God and worship Him. Now, in today’s reading from Genesis 29:1 through Genesis 29:17, he has arrived in his family’s homeland. The first thing he finds is a group of shepherds gathering around a well with a rock covering it up. He asks them why they are not watering the sheep they have with them. They tell him that they are waiting for all the rest of the sheep from all the pastures because the rock is too heavy to move back and forth more than once.

Jacob asked the men what family they were from, and when they told him they were from Haran, he asked them about Laban and was happy to realize he had found his mother’s family. About that time, Rachael showed up with a bunch of sheep to be watered. Jacob got so excited that he kissed her and then rolled away the stone and watered her sheep for her. She took him home to Laban, and all the relatives hugged and kissed each other and were very happy to be united with their own flesh and blood.

Jacob was so excited that he began working for Laban without requesting any kind of pay. Laban let him do so for about a month and then told him that it didn’t seem right to make a relative work that way, so he asked Jacob what his price might be. The chapter doesn’t end with saying what Jacob’s price was, but it does tell us about Laban’s two daughters. It says Leah, the oldest had weak eyes, but Rachael had beautiful features. Guess which kissing cousin Jacob was going to choose?

We are so used to all the ways in which we can communicate these days–be it from landlines, cell phones, computers, letters, or one day plane trips, that many of us at least virtually see our relatives far more often than they did in Bible days. But even with having so many years between family reunions, and being so excited about meeting Jacob, did you notice how easy it was for Laban to start him working and forget that he was a relative and deserved better than that? I guess it’s part of the human condition, and it reminds me of the time when God Himself had to remind his people to not forget Him for all the benefits He showered on them. Since it is the season when many will be gathering with family and friends for various holidays, I pray we will all be thinking of the value each of those people has in our lives, and that we will not forget these values just shortly after our welcoming kisses and hugs.

And that’s the best I could come up with today because my mind is actually on preparations for an upcoming writer’s retreat and then a whole lot of company. If I reread those Scriptures and God gives me something more, I’ll be sure to come back to share. In the meantime, I did get over 2000 words written for my NaNo novel today, so my total stands at 20,830 words.

November 10, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well, Since God Said So


Yellow Rose in Green Frame by Crystal A Murray (with the help of Fractalius)

FAITH–Forsaking All, I Trust Him
Photo of yellow rose in green frame by Crystal A Murray
(Edits with Irfanview and Fractalius)

Yesterday, we read about God giving Abraham’s servant a sign that he was moving in the right direction, and through it, the servant found Rebekah as a future wife for Isaac. Today, we read in Genesis 24:27 through Genesis 24:52, and the story is almost exactly the same except that it is being retold by the servant to Rebekah’s relatives.

In verses 47 & 48, the servant begins to share his personal reaction to being shown a positive sign about Rebekah. He tells the family how he put the gifts of jewelry on her, and then he describes bowing before Adonai and worshiping Him for bringing him to the right place. In verse 49, he gives his audience the chance to make a decision about whether or not they will believe and adhere to the direction that has been shown to the servant and confirmed by the sign, and I love their response.

In verses 51 & 52, the two men respond by saying (my paraphrase), “Well, since this is obviously from God, we can’t say anything good or bad. Since Rebekah is here before you, take her and go, and let her become your master’s son’s wife…since God said so.” And at that point, the servant again bowed on his face to worship Yahveh Almighty.

If only we could all respond as calmly and without argument, right? I know I have thought for sure that God said things, but then I waited for a person to confirm what I knew in my heart. When I didn’t get the human support I felt I needed, I backed down only to find later that I should have listened to that still, small voice in my spirit. If only I would always understand that His ways and thoughts are above my ways and thoughts and, with or without human support or understanding, move forward in obedience just because God said so. There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end leads to destruction. And then… there is God’s way.

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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