Crystal Writes A Blog

A Place to Read What "Crystal-Writes"

Mistakes of Titanic Proportions


What Really Sunk the Titanic by Flickr User Russ Seidel, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

What Really Sunk the Titanic by Flickr User Russ Seidel, 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.

Today, I visited “The Titanic.” Well, maybe not The Titanic, but the museum built to make you imagine you are touring the actual ship while viewing some history, pictures, and artifacts. By the time I got to the end of the tour, I was exhausted by the display of pride, class distinction, and other forms of egotism that came together to help create the disaster that shook the world on April 14th, 1912. It wasn’t all bad in that there were many heroes once the situation became catastrophic. For example, there was the preacher who tried to get a man to accept Christ and even gave up his life jacket for the dying sinner just before the 28-degree waters took him under. Oh, but there were so many who seemed to taunt God with rejection of safety procedures, ignoring warning signs, and continually saying how unsinkable the ship was. And we know how that worked out.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 31:25 through Deuteronomy 31:30, we complete another week and another portion of Torah. Shabbat Shalom to all of you. In this passage, we will read of people with a similar attitude to some of those on board the Titanic. If you click on the Scripture link, you’ll see that I’ve started with verse 24 because it leads into the story.

So Moses finishes writing the book of Torah, of all the laws God has instructed him to write for the people. He kept writing until they were completely done, and when he finished, he handed them off to the Levites who carried the Ark of the Covenant. He tells them to put them next to the ark with the covenant inside, so it can be there as a witness against the people.

Now, Moses tells the Levites that he knows how they will behave as soon as he dies. He says the people are stiff-necked and rebellious even while he is there to see them, so it can only get worse when he is gone. Then he tells the Levites to assemble all the leaders and heads of tribes from Israel, so he can tell them the same things. He wants to present them with the truth of their future, so they cannot claim any kind of ignorance. Moses tells them they will do what is evil in the eyes of The Lord and provoke Him with evil deeds. And then he begins to sing them a song of their corruption and their wicked future, and I believe the verses of the song will be the topic of most of our readings for next week.

One woman who was interviewed on the audio tour at the Titanic museum said she was afraid to go on the ship because all the things the people were saying seemed to fly right in the face of God. They were certain it was unsinkable; certain the metal was impenetrable; and certain disaster was impossible after all that was invested in the building and crew of such a special ship. They were proven wrong on all counts, and sadly, had they not decided they were invincible, they would have done as other ships in the same waters and not tried to push through the floating ice. Oh, and the guy who was supposed to watch for icebergs sure wouldn’t have gone to sleep without a replacement while they were going through the hazardous waters.

We know from our own history, and Moses knew from the prophesy God had given him, that Israel had a similar prideful attitude. Somehow, they felt invincible and untouchable. They knew they were special to God, but they didn’t take time to contemplate why. So God decided to show them just how easily a house built on a foundation other than God can crumble. Trusting anyone or anything more than Our God and Creator of the Universe is a big mistake. He breathed the world into existence, and He pulled Israel together to become His special treasure–not because they had anything on their own that made them special, but because He chose them. The moment we think we’ve got it all together to the point where we no longer need God, then like Israel and many aboard the Titanic, we are making a mistake of titanic proportions.

September 19, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fruits (and Vegetables) of The Spirit


Fruit Mix by Flickr User Graela, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Fruit Mix by Flickr User Graela, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Scripture and reference added by me.
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

What’s better for you; fruits or vegetables? Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit? How about hot peppers? Avocado? I think most of us have the idea that if it’s sweet, it’s a fruit, and if it’s not sweet, it must be a vegetable. At least that’s how I always thought of things until my first battle with someone over tomato. I was sure it was a vegetable. Truthfully, I don’t know if either is better for you since I’m not a nutritionist, but I found the information at the Mayo Clinic’s Expert Blog pretty cool. They confirmed that avocados and peppers are fruits; and would you believe that so are sunflower seeds? Click above for a list and for information on how to tell a fruit from a vegetable.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 18:1 through Deuteronomy 18:5, we have just a few short verses about the high priests and the Levites. I’m not sure if it’s Moses or God that wants to keep bringing it to the attention of the people, but it would seem that one of the two wants to make sure the community does not forget those that do the work of the tabernacle. This passage begins with another reminder that the Levites, including the high priests, do not have a share in the inheritance with Israel. Their share is literally The Lord Himself.

Because the Levites’ share comes from a portion of the inheritance of the other tribes, it is important for the other tribes to remember to bring that share to them. Without it, those who work in the service of God and His tabernacle will have no place to live and nothing to eat. The share they receive is actually God’s portion. We’ve read before how the people give land, shelter, and food to the Levites. In this reading, we see that they are to bring the first fruits of all their abundance to the high priest. According to God, the first of their increase in all things–fruit, grains, new wine, olive oil, and even sheep’s wool–belongs to the high priest because God has chosen him from all the tribes to stand and serve in the name of The Lord forever. He and his sons will serve forever.

I have met people who work in such a sacrificial capacity for The Lord, that it made me wish I were rich enough to buy them everything they could ever need, so they would never want for anything. When people truly sacrifice what they could have in their lives for the sake of doing God’s work, I believe they deserve to be cared for, so they can continue to do the work. Even if there is no longer a tabernacle and animal sacrifices that require the amount of work we’ve read about in Torah history, those who make themselves available 24/7, 365, for God’s work are a rare and special breed. Of course, I’m not talking about schmoozing and doing talk shows in the name of The Lord, I’m talking about working in the spiritual trenches.

Even those who don’t work full-time in ministry are worthy of support from those who do not work in any type of ministry capacity, and that’s why I think it’s important to support them. For those in writing and music ministries, we can purchase their wares, and if we like them, we can help their marketing efforts by spreading the word about their products. The hard part for me is trying to be a good steward with my money when I’ve got less time to read than I have space on my bookshelf. At the same time, I’m also trying to keep to the golden rule since I hope people will read my novel when I get it finished. 🙂

I don’t think any Christian disagrees with the idea of supporting those in ministry, but there are differences of opinion as to what constitutes ministry and how we should support it. In Old Testament history, we know it was fruits and vegetables, grains and oils, etc. Now, our increase is mostly in the form of money, so most are satisfied to tithe directly from their paychecks. But, since the fruit  of God’s Spirit is not financial, I would like to encourage people to give more offerings from God’s fruit, and not just to those in ministry. As God shares His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control with us (Yeshua modeled all of these), let us share those same virtues with others.

If we are not receiving these things from God where we can find an abundance of them from which to share, we may need a trip back to the altar to discover what is hindering our growth. Maybe it’s as simple as needing to eat more vegetables. A regular habit of opening God’s word to get some holy nutrition may be all we need to abound in the fruits (and vegetables) of The Spirit.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Real Place of Refuge


City of Refuge by Flickr User Topher., CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

City of Refuge by Flickr User Topher., CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Each of us may define a place to find refuge differently depending on what we are trying to escape. We may use a trip home or a vacation as a refuge from work. Refuge from pain might be in a certain medication or in healing. And, refuge from a storm could be anything from an umbrella to a storm cellar depending on the severity of the storm. The definition of refuge is “The condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger or trouble.” For Christians, our main refuge is from death as a penalty of sin, and we find it in the blood of our Messiah, Yeshua.

In today’s reading from Numbers 35:1 through Numbers 35:8, The Lord talks to Moses again about the way the community of Israel should live in their new land. God says for Moses to order Israel to give the Levites cities to live in as well as open land. The land is for livestock and crops while the cities are for the Levites and their families to live in. God gives very specific dimensions and space for the cities and their surrounding land, and the dimensions sound very much like those of the New Jerusalem in Bible prophecy.

God says Israel must give the Levites a total of 48 cites, 6 of which are designed as “cities of refuge” as a place to flee for someone who has killed another human being. The other 42 cities are just for them. The division of these cities will come from the inherited land of the various tribes of Israel with those who have a bigger inheritance giving the larger spaces of land to the Levites.

These lands and cities are a form of tithe from the people of Israel because the Levites do not have their own inheritance as do the other tribes. God has set them aside to do His work and create a government over the people that will serve to protect them if everyone adheres to God’s plan. The tribes with the bigger inheritances give more, but if we could measure it out, I’m certain they would still give the same percentage because God is no respecter of persons. He knows what we need, and He knows what we are able to share.

And don’t you find it wonderful that in providing for the protection over His people by way of law and those who will govern by that law, God also provides mercy? He is absolutely sovereign, and He is loving and giving in all He plans. He covers every possibility in life, including that humans will fail and need refuge from that. He makes the law like He makes necessary rain storms to grow plants from the earth that produce food and oxygen, and then He adds His mercy like we add storm shelters to our homes. We need the storms, and we need shelter from the storms. We need God’s law, and we need Him to pour out new mercies for us every day because we will likely break His laws many times each day.

What are some things that you consider pursuits, dangers and troubles in your life? When you need refuge from these things, what are the places or behaviors that give you refuge–even temporarily? Do you find your refuge in a bowl of ice cream or some retail therapy, or have you learned to go running to the mercy seat at the throne of God to find your peace?

A city of refuge represents more than just a rest stop. It is walled and fortified to protect you from danger, and it gives you a place to live daily in freedom. Church attendance and good works are not a city, though they can offer temporary shelter. But, salvation and living a life of obedience and worship to God is a city; a place of permanent dwelling. It is God’s will that all would find His cities of refuge and live there for the rest of their earthly lives that He may dwell with them for eternity. Let us go beyond the rest stop of seeking a brownie button for attending Sunday School or doing some good deed, and let us instead move in with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths to places where we dwell within God’s presence. There we will find a real place of refuge.

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sinai Poisoning


Mt Sinai by Sunrise by Flickr User Yann Pinczon du Sel, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Mt Sinai by Sunrise by Flickr User Yann Pinczon du Sel, 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.

There are a lot of ways you can die in the desert. You can get sun poisoning, you can die of dehydration, or you can cross paths with a desert critter that bites and poisons you. None of these types of deaths sound in the least bit pleasant, and thankfully, most people who live in, or pass through, a desert won’t face a desert-related death. Personally, I loved living in the high desert of Kingman, Arizona, but I also loved having a cool house and cool water to get relief on the hottest days.

In today’s reading from Numbers 26:52 through Numbers 27:5, our reading begins with God telling Moses how to divide the land between the tribes of Israel. Because He is a fair God, He says to give the larger plots of land to the larger tribes, and the smaller pieces of land to the smaller tribes. The reading also goes through the ancestors of the tribe of Levi who will not get any land of their own because they are set apart for the priesthood.

There is a quick rundown of all the clans numbered in the recording of the Levites who now number 23,000 in the count of men who are one month old and older. The clans include Gershonites, Kohathites, and Merarites, along with the sub-clans of Libnites, Hebronites, Mahlites, Mushites, and Korahites. There were still Korahites because Korah’s sons were not killed when the followers of Korah were swallowed up by the earth for their rebellion against God and Moses. And the Kohathites are from Kohath, an ancestor of Amram. Amram married Jochebed and fathered Aaron, Moses, and Miriam.

The current census as taken by Moses and Eleazar the high priest is a registration of all the people now living in the plains of Moab, across the Jordan river from Jericho. The reading points out that not one person who was registered in the previous census taken in the wilderness of Sinai was still alive–except Joshua and Caleb. As God prophesied to the previous group of people, they all died in the wilderness without seeing The Promised Land.

The reading concludes with a group of five sisters whose father, Zelophehad, was a descendant of Manasseh but had passed away without leaving any sons to carry on his name. The daughters go before Moses and Eleazar to plead their case for their own piece of property. They state that their father did not die in the rebellion with Korah, but died in the desert due to his own sin and did not leave any sons. Moses and Eleazar promise to take the matter before God to seek an answer for them.

There are many ramifications that follow both faithfully serving God and disobeying Him. The Sinai wilderness proved to be a giant graveyard for those who refused to trust in the Word of The Lord. Maybe all those incidents of rebellion, like that of Korah and those that followed him, were the times God gave the people over to their reprobate (condemned) and fleshly minds, so their behavior would help fulfill the prophesy that they would die out there. Maybe all those places where I was reading and saying how I could not believe people could be so stupid were just areas where I was seeing what it looks like when God sears a conscience with a hot iron.

Thankfully, the end result of failing God is not always to end with a troubled mind, but what about those who have been given mercy after mercy, grace after grace, and proof after proof of God’s love and power yet still choose to walk opposite His desire and will? In today’s Proverbs (Chapter 30 for the 30th day of the month), it speaks of how churning milk produces butter, and pushing angry words produces strife. We could add that drinking poison produces death, and purposeful rebellion against Yahveh Almighty produces the wages of sin. We could also add that confession and repentance of our sins produces God’s everlasting mercy and grace, and puts our sin and its wages under the blood of Yeshua. It’s all simple mathematics (you get out what you put in) and chemistry (God is better than “poison control”), and we can trust that God will be fair and balanced and faithful to His word. HalleluYah!

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

Unequal Pay for Unequal Work


Money by Flickr User Robert Huffstutter, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Money by Flickr User Robert Huffstutter, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I have never been what you might call a “women’s libber,” but I do feel that people deserve a fair wage for fair labor. When I was too young to understand it, I might have said that women should get paid the same as men if they do the same job, but with age and maturity, I have learned what doing the same job means. In truth, if a woman can do a man’s job–for example, lift exactly the same amount of weight in and for the exact amount of time, then sure, pay them what they’re worth. But It’s not about just holding claim to the same position. It’s about actually doing the same job with the same endurance and the same lack of risk. There may be muscular women out there that can lift and endure without risk, but for the most part, women are built differently and should not take risks just to “prove” themselves. We don’t typically see men with big bulky hands gluing tiny porcelain pieces together either, so just because the bull can fit in the front door of the china shop doesn’t mean you should employ the bull to repair the dolls.

In today’s reading from Numbers 18:21 through Numbers 18:32 (the end of the chapter), we complete the portion for the week, and we read more about the job of the Levites in the camp of Israel. God is still speaking to Aaron, and He tells him that the tenth of all donations, fruit of the land, etc., will belong to the descendants of Levi forever. It is their inheritance, and it is their pay for the service they will perform in the tabernacle. It is also why they do not have an inheritance of land as the other tribes of Israel have.

In the next verse, God talks about the value of the tenth that is going to Levi. He says it is the best of everything. It is like the best grain from the threshing floor and the best grape juice from the wine vats. It is a gift to God that He is passing along to the Levites. In addition, the Levites who receive the tenth are to set aside a tenth for God as well. They are to set aside the best of the best because it is a gift to God. This holy portion will be given to Aaron because he is the high priest. He and his family are able to eat this holy portion without guilt because it is in payment for the work they do for God.

God sharing what is given to Him shows how much He values the work that is done in ministry for Him. Sharing the holy portion, and the best of the best, shows that He feels the work done in keeping a holy place of sacrifice for His people is valued as the best of the best jobs. Ministry for God is not just a little thing. The sacrifice was not just a barbecue. The cleaning of the furnishings was not just a maid job. The emptying out, cleaning, and refilling of the water vessels was not just a job for the pool guy. These duties were sacred and not equal to simple tasks, so God paid for them with sacred and holy pay.

We have ministry duties today as well. We have the blood of Christ to take care of the tasks that formerly required a tabernacle and an altar of sacrifice, so Yeshua gets the highest praise for now taking care of these duties, but that does not mean God isn’t pleased when we minister to others. There is a payment of peace in the spirit that cannot be compared with any financial pay, and God showers it upon us when we determine that doing for Him is above any task or inheritance we could receive on this earth. The pay does not get poured out simply because someone is in a position of ministry, but God overflows us with unequaled value of blessing when He sees us doing the priceless work of building His kingdom.

 

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

Rebels Without A Good Cause


Rebel Without A Cause by Flickr User Melo McC, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Rebel Without A Cause by Flickr User Melo McC, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Rebellion seems to be a cause in itself these days. People will create a cause to rise up against something even when that something makes sense as it stands. Sometimes, people will even create a cause for something that totally doesn’t exist. If you’ve seen the movie “Wag the Dog,” you have seen how a Hollywood filmmaker can create a cause from scratch, and with the right emotions, can even create a huge amount of support for it. And in case you don’t believe this can happen in real life, you would be amazed at the amount of people who rose up to protect the “Naugas” due to an advertising prank by the makers of the “Naugahyde” material used for furniture. There’s some funny history of it (and the ability to adopt a Nauga) at http://www.nauga.com/history.html

In today’s reading from Numbers 16:1 through Numbers 16:13, we begin a new week and a new portion. We are now at Parashah 38 with the Hebrew title of Korach which is “Korah” in English. If you’ve ever read stories from the Old Testament, you’ve probably heard of the rebellion of Korah already, and you likely know how it ends, but I’m certain God will show us some great truths as we study it through the week.

Korah is one of the Levites, a son of Levites, a grandson of Levites, and just basically a great man within the tribe of Levi. Remember that the Levites have the job of camping near the tabernacle to protect the rest of the community of Israel from the anger of God, and to do the work required for the tabernacle. So Korah gets a following of 250 strong Levite leaders to stand with him, and together they go out to confront Moses and Aaron.

The men have decided that Moses and Aaron have taken it upon themselves to decide that they are the only ones who can speak with The Lord God Almighty. They say that the whole community is holy, and they say that Moses has chosen to take too much upon Himself by thinking that he is the only one holy enough to commune with God. Korah tells them that since The Lord is with the whole community of Israel, Moses should not be lifting himself up above the assembly.

Moses handles the confrontation by telling Korah and the 250 leaders that only God should decide who is holy enough to meet with Him. He tells the men to bring an offering of incense to God the next day, and then they will see who God will accept to speak with. He also tells them that they are seeing the work they currently do for God as too small a thing if being chosen and set apart from the rest of the community is not enough for them, and if they will only be satisfied if they also have a part in the priesthood. And then Moses asks them why they would also point fingers at Aaron to show them where their hearts are really at.

After the conversation with Korah, Moses sends for two other leaders that were with him named Dathan and Abiram. The men send back a message that they will not come at Moses’ bidding. From the last two verses in our reading, you can hear the disrespect and accusations in their answer to Moses. Here’s what they say…

“But they replied, “We won’t come up! Is it such a mere trifle, bringing us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that now you arrogate to yourself the role of dictator over us?”

Their accusation makes me wonder if they are descended from the same people who accused Moses of trying to be a dictator when he stopped the two Israelites from beating up on each other back when things first began in Egypt. Back then, instead of listening to his logic that they should pull together as a people to stand against their tormentors, the men who were fighting just accused Moses of trying to be a dictator over them. Now it’s the same story, but on a different day.

To me, a cause should have a good cause, and not just good for me or for a few followers but good for the majority or whole of the people. Salvation is a good cause because it’s good for everyone, and it’s good for eternity. Atheism, however, is not a good cause because it leaves people without a support system that is above humanity, and it threatens their eternity. Whatever the cause, or the rebellion, the important thing is to make sure no one will be hurt.

The sign in the above image is a real sign. I believe it is in Chicago, and I believe it’s similar to one I took of my husband when we visited there. And the guy is likely standing there for the same reason my husband did–because we could see no reason for a sign that told people they couldn’t stand on a public sidewalk. But what if there was a reason? What if that particular area was known for having cars come up on the curb? Or maybe it was an area where a lot of overhead construction went on and debris could fly up. I don’t know if there is a cause for the city putting up such a sign, but since that photo on Flickr is dated December of 2013, it has been there for at least a few years. Maybe the city just wants to see how many people will rebel and purposely stand in that area just to say they did it.

Rebels and the spirit of rebellion have been around since the adversary challenged Yahveh Almighty for His throne. When their causes have been good, such as the fight against Goliath or the fights against Hitler in World War II, the victories meant freedom for people that were otherwise doomed. But when the causes are bad, such as the determination of the school system to fill the minds of students with everything they can find that opposes God, the results are a restless society with chaos and violence and total dissatisfaction. There is a time to fight, and there is a time to be content. Let God be the one to lead us in how we choose our causes, and we will be content with His peace whether we’re following Him into a time of battle or a time of rest.

June 7, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Close Enough to Perfect


Not Always Perfect by Flickr User marsmet472, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Not Always Perfect by Former Flickr User marsmet472, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

I remember an old Hemphill’s song that was mostly sung for children but can easily apply to any one of us doing our best to live for God while we dwell here on earth. It included the chorus lyrics…

He’s still workin’ on me,
To make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be,
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me.

I’m not perfect by any means, but I am thankful that line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little, God is still building and making me closer and closer to His perfect image. There will come a day when I (and all of God’s people) will be like Him, when we see Him as He is, but until then, we can be thankful that He knows our forms, and that He gives us a mercy that is new every morning.

In today’s reading from Numbers 8:15 through Numbers 8;26 (the end of the chapter) we see a people that are also not yet perfect, and we see a God who is perfect. We also see a people who are not holy enough to approach a perfect and holy God without dying in His presence, but because God wants His people in His presence, He creates a proxy of people that can come before Him on their behalf.

The Levites are once again cleansed and presented before God as an offering, and they work in and around the tabernacle to keep the rest of the community of Israel from coming too close to God’s perfection. Because the Levites are accepted by God in the stead of all the firstborn of people and animals that belong to Him, they are an acceptable offering so that He will not cause any plagues to come upon the people of Israel.

The community of Israel obeys the orders of Yahveh that are given to Moses concerning the Levites. They cleanse them and present them as an offering, and God accepts them. Then the Levites do their service as ordered by God. The Levites told to serve are all those between twenty-five and fifty years of age. The Levites older than fifty are told to assist in the tabernacle services, but they are not to do any actual work in the tabernacle.

I’m grateful that God established the Levitical priesthood to make sure that He could always have a people to whom He could draw near, but I’m even more grateful now that Yeshua has become my permanent high priest, so that I can always draw near to My Creator. I need to walk in God’s presence to make it through the troubles and trials of this world, so having a proxy tribe to step in for me is not close enough to “Perfect” (God’s perfect presence) for me.  Because of Christ, I do not have to fear getting too close to the tabernacle in an unholy state that would bring me plagues because His cleansing blood perfects me and allows me to come boldly before God’s throne of grace. I will be perfected in His presence one day, but until then, being able to walk in His presence each moment of every day of my life is close enough to perfect for me.

Now, enjoy this video with lyrics of the song mentioned above, He’s Still Workin’ On Me…

May 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Razor Burn


Clean and Shaven by Flickr User Stefan Ray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Clean and Shaven by Flickr User Stefan Ray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I have cats. Not just one cat, and not just one color of cat. That means I also have hair on stuff. Not just one hair, and not just one color of hair. My cat’s hair likes to travel with me wherever I go. If I wear dark colored clothing, I wear light-colored cat hair with it. If I wear light-colored clothing, I wear dark cat hair with it. But I love my kitties, so I carry a lint roller. But there are times I wish I could just take a razor and shave off all their cat hair, so maybe I wouldn’t run late to all the places because of forgetting that I needed extra time to try to get all the hair to stick to the roller instead of me.

In today’s reading from Numbers 8:1 through Numbers 8:14, we begin a new week and a new portion. Parashah 36 is called, in Hebrew, B’ha’alotkha, which means “When You Set Up” in English. In this reading, God is giving Moses more information on setting up the tabernacle, and He begins by talking about the menorah. We get a description of the menorah, how it is a work of hammered gold, and then God tells Moses to make sure to have Aaron light the lamps in such a way that the light shows in front of the menorah.

The next section talks of pulling the Levites out from among the rest of the Israelites to prepare them for the service of the tabernacle. The first thing God tells Moses to do after separating the Levites is to cleanse them, and then He gives instructions on exactly how to cleanse them. They are to completely shave their bodies, and then they are to wash their bodies and their clothing. After they are cleansed, they will bring sacrifices, and then Aaron can present them to all the people.

As I searched for pictures to represent the clean shave, I came across a number of different types of shavers and razors. Suddenly, I thought about how much those Levites might have appreciated some of the shavers we use today. I wonder just how much they had to deal with razor burn after shaving desert-toughened skin with a straight-edge.

And that leads me to another type of cleansing where the Word of God which is sharper than a two-edged sword is able to shave off the layers of sin that threaten to keep us separated from Our Creator. His Word will cut as deeply as necessary to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, so we can be free. But sometimes, even when we know something is bad for us, we resist allowing God to cut it away. But if we will trust God and allow Him to coat us with the oil of the Holy Spirit, we can freely get rid of our five-o-clock shadow of sin instead of resisting until we end up with spiritual razor burn.

May 24, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Clans Go Marching One by One


Let’s start with a little bit of fun today…

The clans go marching one by one,
The little one stopped, there was work to be done.
The clans go marching two by two,
Each clan has an assigned task to do.
The clans go marching three by three,
Descendants of K’hat, Gershon and Merari.
The clans go marching four by four,
The last of these will guard the door.
The clans go marching five by five,
Worker bees in God-ordained hives.
The clans go marching six by six,
No non-Levite was in the mix.
The clans go marching seven by seven,
They pack the bread not made with leaven.
The clans go marching eight by eight,
Some lift, some carry, some serve and wait.
The clans go marching nine by nine,
With God’s direction, the tribes align.
The clans go marching ten by ten,
From thirty to fifty years old were the men.

Today’s reading from Numbers 4:34 through Numbers 4:49 (the end of the chapter) again tells of the census counts from the descendants of the sons of Aaron. These counts, however, only cover the men from ages thirty to fifty who are able to work in God’s service. Based on reading stopping at the breaks marked “A” (Ashkenazi) and “S” (Sephardic), you’ll notice an overlap from yesterday. I read to 37 to stick to the pattern I started with, but since 34-37 include census information, I’m backtracking a bit.

Much of the information is similar to yesterday’s reading concerning which jobs will done by which tribes. I combined some of the information from yesterday and today in my little parody above, so all that’s left to be added are the actual numbers. The men who could serve from the clan of K’hat totaled 2,750. Those from the clan of Gershon totaled 2,630. And, those from the tribe of Merari come in with 3200, so our total from the three clans is 8,580 men between the ages of thirty and fifty who would work in the service of Yahveh’s tabernacle. According to God’s order to Moses, the Levites counted each man, and then assigned the men to specific services and works.

Counting people to do specific works for God makes me think of the following verses from 1 Corinthians 12:15-26

15 If the foot says, “I’m not a hand, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I’m not an eye, so I’m not part of the body,” that doesn’t make it stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If it were all hearing, how could it smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged each of the parts in the body exactly as he wanted them. 19 Now if they were all just one part, where would the body be? 20 But as it is, there are indeed many parts, yet just one body.21 So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you”; or the head to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be less important turn out to be all the more necessary; 23 and upon body parts which we consider less dignified we bestow greater dignity; and the parts that aren’t attractive are the ones we make as attractive as we can, 24 while our attractive parts have no need for such treatment. Indeed, God has put the body together in such a way that he gives greater dignity to the parts that lack it, 25 So that there will be no disagreements within the body, but rather all the parts will be equally concerned for all the others. 26 Thus if one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; and if one part is honored, all the parts share its happiness.

I love how The Complete Jewish Bible says that last line, that all parts will share in the happiness. I know that if we all did things God’s way, the whole body of Christ would participate in the happiness created by our obedience. If we all take our marching orders and do our assigned services with praise, we will soon find we are not marching alone but with the presence of God because He dwells in the praises of His people. Now that’s a beat I can march to.

And just for a tad more fun, here’s a video of The Ants Go Marching…

May 18, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncommon Corps


Old Corps-New Corps by Flickr's United States Marine Corps Official Page, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial.jpg

Old Corps-New Corps by Flickr’s United States Marine Corps Official Page, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial.jpg
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Some things are good common, but some things are better uncommon. For example, sensibility is good to have as a common thing, as is courtesy. Believing that the Bible is the word of God is a good common doctrine. Trusting in common that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself (in that order), sets up a secure foundation. But thinking that every person who serves Christ will do so in exactly the same way, and not build different houses on the one foundation, is not a necessary commonality. God made each of us with different strengths, so we can each do the jobs He has set in our paths to do.

In today’s reading from Numbers 4:21 through Numbers 4:37, we begin a new week and a new portion of Torah. Parashah 35 is titled in Hebrew Naso and it means “Take.” Just as the previous portion talked of taking a census of the clan of K’hat, this portion gives details on the census of the clans of Gershon and Merari. The clan of Gershon will have the responsibility to carry and transport the parts of the tabernacle. The parts include the curtains, tents, and all types of coverings. The Gershon families will carry out their service under the direction of Aaron’s son Ithamar and under the supervision of Aaron and his sons.

The clan of Merari will be in charge of carrying the framework of the tabernacle. They will carry the posts, crossbars, frames, sockets and tent pegs plus all accessories having to do with the tabernacle. The Scripture states that the Merari clans will be in the corps, doing the work of serving in the tent of meeting. Their service will also be directed by Ithamar, the son of Aaron.

I find it interesting that the corps services for the tabernacle involve the framework. How many times do we work on the outside decor and coverings of things and not the foundations and frames? For a moving temple, the foundation would have been the framework that held it up; the parts that no one sees under all the coverings and tents. But the foundation and framework truly are the most important things. The wilderness tabernacle took an army of supervised families to do the service required. The corps of the Christian community then is an army of those who work to keep the community building on the truth of God’s holy word.

For those who wish to be in God’s “uncommon corps” of saints, we must uplift the Word of God in all of our own words and deeds. We must yield to the service He has called us to do, and we must not compare ourselves with others because it is unwise. But we will have some things in common. A bird cannot swim, and a fish cannot fly, but they are both created by God for whatever their purpose. What we should have in common is our love for God and His Word along with gratefulness and humility for the grace and mercy in salvation through the blood of Christ. But, it is those common bonds we share as servants of The Almighty that place us into God’s not-at-all-common family.

May 17, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packing Up, Getting Ready to Go


Are you the type that likes to make a list of items to pack before you get ready to travel somewhere? I know I make a list because there are too many things I’m just afraid I can’t live without if I forget them. But even with the best lists, I still showed up for one of my writer’s conferences without certain essentials, and boy was I glad that Wal-Mart sold Fruit of the Loom products. 🙂

The song in the video above says…

I am on my way to that New Jerusalem
Where the sun will never go down.
Every day I’m making preparation
Packing, getting ready, getting ready to go, I’m packing up getting ready to go.

In today’s reading from Numbers 4:1 through Numbers 4:20, we come to the end of the “In the Desert” portion, and it’s time for the Levites to pack up the tabernacle and get ready to go where God leads them. That may not seem like a big deal, but remember that there are parts and pieces to God’s tabernacle that are especially holy. Packing them takes a bit more finesse to keep from exposing them to anything or anyone not meant to interact with them.

To start, God has Moses take a new census of the Levites from the clan of K’hat (sons of Kohath aka Kohathites) that are between the ages of thirty and fifty. They will help get the tabernacle, and especially the articles of The Holy Place ready to travel. God gives an exact list of the items, how to disassemble them, how to wrap them, and how to pack them. Most of the items will be covered with cloth and fine leather (or possibly porpoise or dolphin skins). The cloth will be blue, purple, or scarlet, depending on the item to be wrapped.

Because the Levites that are doing this work are not all priests, if they look on the things of God, they risk being killed–or at the very least being separated from the community. To prevent this, God instructs Moses what to do for those in the clan of K’hat to avoid the risk. Aaron and his sons will be the ones to move and touch the holy items and wrap them to prepare them for packing.

Aaron and all his sons are to remove the sheet that separates the Especially Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant is stored. Aaron’s son Eleazar is in charge of all the oils. He will prepare and wrap the oils for the menorah, the anointing oils, the holy incense, and all that is used for the daily offerings. After the priests cover the holy items and bring them out, the other Levites will be able to pack them up without looking at or touching the holy parts and risking their own deaths.

If you’ve ever packed up for more than a trip, like packed up a house to move, you know that all things are not packed with the same level of care. Books, CDs, DVDs, and the last remaining VHS tapes can be packed as much as you can stuff in a box and still be able to carry. Clothing can be folded, or if you’re in a hurry, stuffed in a bunch of suitcases. (I know I’m not the only one who’s ever done this. LOL) Oh, but your fine china, and the blown glass that was passed down to you from Grandma, will be treated with extreme care and caution.

God wanted his house packed up carefully and with the utmost respect. He did not want to risk any holy items being treated as if they were just some old plastic-ware from the kitchen. His items were a part of Him, and they represented Him to the whole community of Israel. So what does that say about us now? We are God’s current tabernacle. We are what God has poured His Holy Spirit into as fine vessels made holy by His presence. There will come a day when we will move to the New Jerusalem. Now, it’s time for us to live like we’re on our way and get packed up and ready to meet Christ when He calls us home. Let us remember our value to Him and pack carefully.

May 16, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

License and Registration Please


Registration by Flickr User NHS Confederation, CC License = Attribution

Registration by Flickr User NHS Confederation, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

“License and Registration, Please.” Aren’t those just some of the scariest words in this life? They usually mean we have done something wrong, or that we have some unfixed issue with our vehicle that we will be forced to deal with now. But how much scarier will it be when a government official can come to your door any time he wants and ask that question? As much as I don’t want to think about it, that day may come for the USA, and it may be here sooner than we think. But until it does come, I will thank God for every day my freedoms are mostly intact.

In today’s reading from Numbers 3:40 through Numbers 3:51 (the end of the chapter), we read more about the census God has asked be taken for the community of Israel. In this chapter, all the males from one month and older have been numbered, and God wants Moses to register all those who are firstborn. From the counting and registration, the total number of firstborn males comes in at 22,273.

You may remember from yesterday that the total number of Levites ended at 22,000. Well, since the Levites are to belong to God as a redemption for all the firstborn males of Israel, there’s a difference of 273 that have no one to redeem them. But all must be redeemed, so God tells Moses what he needs to do for their redemption. God has Moses take 5 shekels for each of the 273 males that is not redeemed by a Levite, and then He tells Moses to give the redemption money for the extra people to Aaron and his sons. Moses, of course, did just as God ordered him to do.

Maybe it’s from watching too many post-apocalyptic movies and/or shows, but the idea of each and every person being registered sounds scary to me. Of course, if it was God asking for the registration, it wouldn’t seem so bad because I know He only has plans for my good and never to harm me. But I don’t know that about the U.S. government–or any government in the world. But even with the fear out there that ungodly governments could acquire information and abuse what it finds, I know that I can trust being in the hands of a God whose only desire is my redemption. And besides that, I’m already registered with Him since even the very hairs of my head are numbered.

May 15, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Priests, Preachers, Pastors, and Parsons


There are many ways to minister to our fellow man, and only a small portion of them include being up behind a pulpit. Those in front of the crowd do get noticed more than the mammas on their knees begging God to have mercy on their wayward children, but are they one bit more important? Granted, we need confident speakers to spread the good news across the airwaves, but we also need the missionaries who are willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience to carry the good news around the world. And we need the home missions preachers who survive on a small budget to bring the gospel to the streets and towns where others fear to tread.

In today’s reading from Numbers 3:14 through Numbers 3:39, we see the breakdown of the census for all those within the tribe of Levi. They are the servants for the tabernacle, and they each have duties that are to be done with complete obedience to God’s commands. We have three sons of Levi who are the fathers of the clans of the Levites, aka “the preachers.” The people from each clan will camp around the tabernacle, and each will have specific duties in the care of God’s house.

The children of Gershon (about 7500 males a month and older) are told to camp behind the tabernacle, to the west. They will be in charge of the tabernacle itself including all the coverings inside and out, the screens at the entrances, the curtains that surround the courtyard, and all the fixtures and ropes used for these items and for maintenance.

The children of K’hat (about 8600 males) are told to camp next to the tabernacle to the south. They are to be in charge of The Holy Place. They are responsible for the ark, the table, the menorah and altars, the curtains, and all the utensils used by the priests when they serve in The Holy Place.

And, the children of M’rari (about 6200 males) are told to camp next to the tabernacle to the north. They are assigned responsibility for the frames of the tabernacle. That includes maintenance for the crossbars, the posts, the sockets and fittings, and the posts that surround the courtyard with their sockets, pegs, and ropes.

Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons who were in charge of The Holy Place were to camp at the front of the tabernacle, in the east, toward the sunrise. They were told to carry out all their responsibilities on behalf of the people of Israel, and anyone else who tried to do the job without being called to that responsibility would be put to death. But there were plenty to do the job since the total number of Levite males a month or older was 22,000.

Now, I know there weren’t televisions, fancy church buildings, and all that we have today back then, but I just can’t equate the jobs this tribe of preachers has been asked to do with anyone who is up doing it for accolades from the crowd. If anything, I’m guessing there were more than a few of the boys who were sorry they were born into the tribe of Levi due to all the work it required. But for those who did the job from their hearts, the rewards of knowing The Almighty Creator was pleased with them was likely pay enough.

In answer to the song title in the video above, no, I don’t believe Jesus would wear a Rolex. Some televangelists, pastors, etc., have jobs outside their preaching positions that enable them to afford a comfy life, so I can’t say they don’t deserve it anymore than I can say a doctor who barely survived internship shouldn’t find some luxury once in private practice. But I definitely have concerns about the ones who use the funds from the flock to pay themselves as if they are a higher shepherd than The Shepherd to whom all our allegiance should be given. And the free-spending on things like gold faucets for a yacht makes it more clear to me why some religions make those in ministry positions take a vow of poverty.

Yeshua asked one man who wanted to follow Him if he was okay with the idea of sleeping on a stone. He pointed out that even though He was The Messiah and The One in charge of the ministry, He Himself did not have a pillow to lay His head on. I am thankful for some of the outreach that is done with the funds going into the big ministries, but I wonder how much could be done if more funds went to actual needs and less into the art of attraction.

The video, and the requirements we read for the Levites, should prompt us to ask this question about all whose ministries we follow and support: WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) if He were walking around in human form and ministry these days? Are all these who say they are called to minister for God camping around the tabernacle and keeping up the care of God’s house, or are they camping out in their own comfortable houses while starving sheep foot the bill?

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

Sons of the Preacher Man


Hamburg Famous Street Preacher by Flickr User Marnie Pix, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Hamburg Famous Street Preacher by Flickr User Marnie Pix, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I grew up listening to the Dusty Springfield song, Son of A Preacher Man, but I didn’t really listen to all the lyrics. I loved that the preacher’s son was the only one that could ever reach the girl singing because at that point in my life, I believed there was something special about preachers and their families. In a way, I guess I sort of still do, but it’s not exactly the same. Then, it was anyone who had the position of preacher or the prefix of reverend. Now, it’s more about respect for the genuine calling of someone who would dedicate his or her whole life and family to reaching others with true love of Christ.

In today’s reading from Numbers 3:1 through Numbers 3:13, we’ll read about the sons of Aaron, one of the original preacher men. All four of Aaron’s sons served in the priesthood, but two of them were killed for getting egotistical about it and making it more about themselves than about The Creator. (This is a stern warning to those preachers, pastors, prophets, prophetesses, etc., these days who might think their position is one of anything other than servant-hood to The Almighty.)

God tells Moses to summon the entire tribe of Levi, so they can learn their duties as Israel travels. They are to be in charge of the tabernacle, all its furnishings, and all the continued duties of the priesthood. Anyone who is not of the tribe of Levi who tries to work in the priesthood is to be killed.

The word then goes on to tell us that the Levites are actually in the position of firstborn to God. The reason they do not have a division of the lands and possessions of the community of Israel is because they have become owned by God in place of His taking the firstborn of all the people. Because the firstborn always belongs to God, the Levites belong to Him in their stead.

In learning this, I can now see why God told King David not to harm Saul even though he deserved it. He told King David not to kill Saul because he had been anointed of God, and even with Saul’s failures, the anointing apparently doesn’t wash off. It is also why we must be careful how we treat all humans because, as Scripture says, they are made in the image of God…and that doesn’t wash off either.

Children of preachers, often called PKs (for “preacher’s kids), have frequently been looked down on because people could see the truth of the private household in their lives, and their lives have too often reflected the opposite of what was seen in the pulpit. While I agree that it’s good for truth to come out, it hurts me to see such disrespect toward the calling of God–even if that disrespect is earned. I haven’t even watched the show on Lifetime network called “Preacher’s Daughters” because I expect, with the general attitude of the network, that it will be looking for faults in the children of preachers. I could be wrong, but I just don’t want the world to have yet another reason to seek answers in anything but God and His holy word.

I know God still anoints people to work in ministry for Him, though it seems to be getting more and more rare to find the ones that are in it for God instead of for themselves. So many worry more about building up a congregation instead of building up the Spirit of God in each congregant. Or they worry about building up a doctrine, a method, a theology, or a theory instead of worrying about building up the God who is above all doctrines, methods, theologies and theories. But it is God that must increase; not us, not any people, and not church congregations. And if the preachers will remember that, then it will also show in the lives of the daughters and sons of the preacher men.

 

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

Church Camp


Church Campground by Flickr User Jimmy Wayne, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Church Campground by Flickr User Jimmy Wayne, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’ve never been much into camping, myself, but I suppose if home means camping, being asked to camp around the church is not quite the big deal it would be to me. I have gone to church camp a couple times, and it wasn’t too bad because of having a cabin, but I still prefer my own home and bed.

In today’s reading from Numbers 1:20 through Numbers 1:54, we’ll read about a whole group of people that God wanted to set up a church camp for Him. The portion starts out with talking about the census that God had just asked the leaders to do in order to find suitable soldiers for His service. The numbers are pretty impressive for a group of people forming an entire community in the middle of the desert. You can read the whole list by clicking above, but the total comes out to 603,550 men who were twenty years or older and fit more military service. That doesn’t include the women and children, or any disabled people.

But the part that got my attention came after the counting. The list of men is divided by tribes, and we see that the tribe of Levi is missing. That tribe is reserved for all the work necessary to keep the tabernacle operational and in a holy state. The Levites are in charge of everything associated with the tabernacle, and God even says that if anyone else tries to involve themselves in it, they will be put to death. God commands that the Levites camp around the tabernacle, so that no anger will come upon the community of Israel.

The reason I took note of that last part is in comparing it to the modern church. There are many who claim to be “called” to work for God, but without the connection to a bloodline as they had back in the Old Testament, how do you actually know? I read that part about putting to death any non-Levites who try to involve themselves, and I wondered if there is any correlation to those now who camp out in church leadership without an invitation from God. What risk does a person take if he calls himself a prophet, or she calls herself a prophetess, and they have not truly been called to that position?

I love being used of God for His work, be it as a foot soldier on a small mission, or in ways that can influence many lives. My sister and I just talked about the great feeling of being used even as a link in a chain of events that can lead a soul to Christ. That’s why I created my website at http://www.41soul.com to focus on the idea of being used by God even if it was only for the purpose of saving one soul. I think, whether we are called to soldiers in the community (body of Christ), or to be in leadership positions over the community, we must take heed to do all we do in total obedience to the leading of The Holy Spirit, and if we are called to devote our entire lives to “camping in the church,” we must remember it is to bring joy to the community–and to protect the community, not to have authority over the community or to receive praise from them. God is the only authority, and He is the only one that deserves praise.

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

Getting Rich Off the Poor


Rich Poor Divide by Flickr User David Blackwell., CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Rich Poor Divide by Flickr User David Blackwell., 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.

The following true story might make you angry, but remember that it makes God even angrier. There was a pastor who collected one-hundred percent of the tithe from his parishioners. He had quite a large church, so he made a lot of money. But that’s not the part that stirs anger. There were people in the church who were on fixed incomes and food stamps. One of these people, an elderly woman, received a monthly call from the pastor with his shopping list for her to tithe on her food stamps. While she shopped for steak and chicken for him so she could comply with the demands of her tithe, she purchased cat food to feed herself.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 25:29 through Leviticus 25:38, we read more about property ownership, but we also see more of God’s heart in how we should treat the poor. The portion begins with an explanation about buying property in a walled city. Unlike the ownership of fields that always require the right of redemption and revert ownership in the year of jubilee, the person who sells a property within a walled city only has one year to redeem it. If he doesn’t, the ownership passes permanently to the new owner, and will not be returned at jubilee.

The reading goes on to talk about the houses and cities owned by the Levites. In those cities, the houses will be redeemed at Jubilee, and the lands can never be sold because they are under permanent ownership of the Levites as their possession. This means that if someone is truly called into ministry by God, they can trust that God will always provide for them. They do not need to ask people to charge up their credit cards or send in their gold fillings as an act of faith. They do not need to promise riches in Heaven to their audiences in a bid to get them to sell their precious family heirlooms as a way to prove they love the man who brings them the gospel. And they do not need to do as one famous televangelist and demand millions of dollars to keep God from killing them. (They do need to repent of serving a spirit of manipulation, though.)

In the final part of today’s reading, God gives instruction on how to deal with those in the community who have become poor. First, God tells the people to assist the poor the same as they would assist a foreigner or temporary resident who lives with them. And then He tells the people to make sure they do not charge interest or make any money off of the poor, but instead they are to fear God. He reiterates the command to say that even if they loan the poor person money, or if they sell him food, they are not to charge interest or make a profit. And He reminds them once again that He is the God who delivered them from Egypt in order to give them their new land and to be their God.

Going back to the story at the beginning, I have to wonder if that preacher truly feared God. And I don’t just mean fear in being afraid of what God could do with his misuse of a ministry position, but fear as in respected Him and His holy word. The verse that talks about not making any money off the poor says that instead a person should fear God, so that tells me that the person who does not care about the poor is one who does not fear God.

We know that God cares for the poor, especially if He sees the demise of each little sparrow. He knows how we treat each other, and He knows what is in our hearts when we cross the path of a poor person. I feel shame for the preachers and pastors out there who receive tithe and offering from those who actually need support from the church more than they need to be paying into it. Letting people tithe to honor their own obedience to God is one thing, but that doesn’t mean the pastors have to keep the money. May each of us trust God to lead us in being better stewards of all God gives us and in learning how to deal with the poor that cross each of our paths in a way that blesses and glorifies Him. Amen.

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

   

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