Crystal Writes A Blog

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She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain


Do you remember this old family sing-along song? If so, I’ll bet you have some verses for it that I’ve never heard, and I’m certain I have at least one you’ve never heard because I think my family added some verses for their own fun. What I didn’t know until I looked it up tonight at Wikipedia is that it was an old African spiritual song that refers to the return of Christ and the rapture. The original includes verses like “King Jesus, He’ll be driver when she comes,” and “She will take us to the portals when she comes.”

Our family just sang it for the fun of it and for the sound effects at the end of each line. For example, at the end of the first (title) verse, we’d all say, “Hi, Gal!” And after the six white horses verse, we’d shout, “Whoa, Bill!” After singing about how we’d all have chicken and dumplins, we’d say, “Yum, yum.” And my favorite was always the sort of sawing sound we’d make when we sang about killing the old red rooster. The most fun was at the end when we would try to make all the sounds, one after another, and in the right order.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 5:19 through Deuteronomy 6:3 (in the Complete Jewish Bible) and Deuteronomy 5:22-6:3 (in the Amplified Bible and other versions), we begin this section as Moses reminds Israel of God’s words to them from the midst of the mountain covered by fire. Now, they have all gone around the mountain, and they have much to remember, including the words God etched in stone with His own hand.

Moses tells the current generation how their forefathers sent tribal leaders to Moses requesting that only he go up and speak to God rather than them. The people bring up that most who had ever heard God’s voice no longer remained alive, and the elders tell him that people have decided they don’t want to take a chance of God speaking to them in their imperfections and it costing them their lives. When Moses arrives to communicate their message to God, He tells Moses He has heard it. He also tells Moses that it is a wise decision, and that He desires the people always have that kind of respect and reverence for Him, so things will go well for them and for their children forever.

God then tells Moses to have the people go back to their tents. Afterwards, Moses is to come back and stand near God while He tells him all his commands and laws for them to do when they possess the land of promise. Moses tells the people to be watchful to do exactly as The Lord commands and not to turn to the right hand or the left. He says that if they follow God’s ways, it will go well with them, and they will live long in the land.

At the chapter change, the writing changes to where it seems more in the present tense as Moses tells the people, “These are the laws and commands of God for you to obey in the land you are going to possess.” He tells them the laws are written that they will fear The Lord and obey all his rulings in every generation–parent, child, grandchild–as long as they live. Verse 3 from the Complete Jewish Bible reads with authority but also as a blessing…

Therefore listen, Israel, and take care to obey, so that things will go well with you, and so that you will increase greatly, as Adonai, the God of your ancestors, promised you by giving you a land flowing with milk and honey.

Much like the way I reworded The Ten Commandments in yesterday’s post, this gives the “why” in fulfilling the laws of God. As God shows in His comments to Moses about desiring the people to always have respect and reverence, He wants things to go well for us forever. He is creating both a new Heaven and a new Earth because He wants an abundance of people to join Him for eternity. His arm is not too short that He cannot reach to the depths of sin to pull a person toward Him. No matter how far away someone has gone, remember that God wants them for His own. He wants to reward those who come to Him, and leave their temporary sin, with blessings that will last an eternity. He desires to see many waiting there with joy and praise when He comes around the mountain of return to bring His people home.

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

Be Kind, Rewind


Be Kind, Rewind by Flickr User Charles Hope, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Be Kind, Rewind by Flickr User Charles Hope, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Be Kind, Rewind, isn’t something most of our younger generation is likely to hear anymore since video cassette tapes have been replaced by DVDs and Blu-ray discs. But there was a time in the not-so-distant past that a random act of kindness was simply to rewind the movie you had just rented before you returned it to the rental store. Audio cassettes were still in use then too, and this reminds me of the time I found an LP record of Queen’s greatest hits for my husband and decided to play it for my nephew. I think he was about 13 or 14 then, but I figured it would be good for him to hear the music his uncle grew up on, and I was pretty sure he would like it. I was right. As soon as it got to the end, he told me he liked it, and he asked me how to rewind it. 😉

In today’s reading from Exodus 34:1 through Exodus 34:9, we have God telling Moses to meet Him on the mountain top, so they can rewind their earlier activity of inscribing God’s laws onto stone tablets. If you can see God as having a sense of humor, you should be able to laugh at the way He speaks to Moses in verse 1… “Adonai said to Moshe, “Cut yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones; and I will inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.” In future readings, God will make more statements about “the first tablets” and “the ones you broke.” I don’t know if it’s just the way the scribes wrote it, or if God really did say these things to Moses more than once. I think the latter, and I think it was to remind Moses that even he got fed up with how the people acted when there was no one around to watch them.

So Moses climbs the mountain with the two new stones, cut like the first, and goes to meet God as He requested. This meeting was to include ONLY Moses, to the extent that God didn’t even want the animals grazing near the base of the mountain. When Moses gets up there, God descends in the cloud to meet him, and the first thing He does is pronounce His memorial name–Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh (YHVH aka Yahveh, also written in modern language as YHWH aka Yahweh)–just as He had done with Abraham. This is a big deal, and it speaks of just how Yahveh felt about Moses.

Next, God repeats His name again, and this time He frames it with a statement that He, Yahveh, is The Lord who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth, showing grace to the thousandth generation. He goes on, I believe as a precursor to the laws He is about to give again, and tells Moses that He is God who forgives offenses, crimes, and sins, yet does not exonerate the guilty but causes the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be visited on future (even to the third and fourth) generations.

I want to point out here that I’ve heard people make statements about the unfairness of God visiting effects on future generations, but it’s just the law of the harvest in action. If I plant bad seeds, it is not only me that is affected. Everyone who eats the bad plants, or who can’t eat because crops won’t grow, will be affected. The ground can be affected and cause future crops to not grow. And even when people don’t care enough for themselves, they will often change for others, so God was just using the same psychology as social service workers who threaten parents with a loss of their children if they don’t change their own behaviors–such as drinking or drug use. And while negative effects are visited to the third and fourth generations, as God says at the first, His mercy is given to the thousandth generation.

When God finishes speaking, Moses bows his head and prostrates himself before God. Moses then speaks and asks God that if he has indeed found favor in His sight, would He please stay with the people of Israel. He admits that the people are stubborn, but he asks that Yahveh will pardon their offenses and sin, and that He will take them as His possession once again. So, we started with God telling Moses to be kind, rewind, with the tablets, and now we have Moses asking God to be kind and rewind in His forgiveness and favor of Israel.

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

Home Base Camp


Campsite by Flickr User mm-j, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Campsite by Flickr User mm-j, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab/window to view original and to access user’s photo stream at Flickr.

What makes a home? The walls? The pictures on the walls? The people who live within the walls? In today’s reading from Exodus 19:1 through Exodus 19:6, the people of Israel have made a home by creating a camp at the base of the mountain of God. They have their deliverance; they have each other; they have their hope for the future; and–mostly–they have the presence of Yahveh.

The reading is quite short again, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s harder to pick things out of the long readings, or find a major point in the short ones. For this one, I guess the thing that stands out to me is how much Israel’s physical situation seems so much like our lives on this earth.

They were delivered from bondage, just as we who receive God’s salvation are delivered from the bondage of sin. They have hope of a promised land in front of them, just as we have hope of life in a new Heaven and new Earth one day. They have the presence of God leading and following them, and they have camped out at the foot of His mountain for protection and shelter, just as we have God’s Holy Spirit to lead us, and we can camp in His presence for shelter and protection.

In the reading, God tells Moses to remind the people what they have seen Him do to their enemies. He tells him to remind them that it was He (God) who carried them out of that bondage on eagle’s wings. And He tells Moses to remind them to keep God’s covenant in order to be His people, a chosen priesthood and a special treasure from among all people on earth. We too have been chosen by God to be His special treasure and royal priesthood, (see 1 Peter 2:9-10). What precious history and promises on which to build our base camp for this life.

And now, just for fun, here’s a video of Dailey and Vincent singing Camping in Canaan’s Land

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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