Crystal Writes A Blog

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Purity Testing & The Nazarite Vow


Testing Lab by Flickr User USDAgov, CC License = Attribution

Testing Lab by Flickr User USDAgov, 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.

It sure seems hard to find anything or anyone that is truly pure anymore. Even when you find shows that are “pure” for the most part, you must endure commercials that are not. It’s like trying to find pure seeds that have not been affected by the farm next door that is growing genetically modified crops. Everything around us seems to be seeking to bring us out of a state of purity and into a state of chaos.

In today’s reading from Numbers 5:11 through Numbers 6:27 (the end of the chapter), we have a long reading with God telling Moses how to have the priests deal with matters of impurity. I chose the image of the lab above because it reminded me of what the office of the high priest might look like today if God still wanted purity testing done. It’s a pretty detailed process that God lays out, but it’s interesting to read about.

If a man becomes jealous of his wife because he thinks she cheated on him, he is to bring her to the high priest for a test of her purity. The husband comes in with a sacrifice for his own spirit of jealousy, and then the wife meets with the priest who performs a ritual to see if she really has been unfaithful. The ritual involves water, a clay pot, and some dust, and if the woman is found guilty, she receives a curse that her private parts will shrivel and her abdomen will swell. I think that would be enough to keep a woman faithful, don’t you? Read it for yourself if you want to see the details of the ritual.

The next part of the reading concerns men who want to take the Nazarite vow. This is the same vow that Samson took, and it includes not cutting the hair, not drinking any wine or other alcohol, and not ever touching anything dead. Again, it has a lot of details, which is why the reading is so long, but it’s actually quite interesting. It is in my plans to go read it in The Message Bible as well, to see how he deals with it in a more poetic type of writing. But there is a poetic end to the reading that some of you may be aware of. It is called the Aaronic blessing and it goes like this from The Complete Jewish Bible…

24 Y’varekh’kha Adonai v’yishmerekha.
[May Adonai bless you and keep you.]
25 Ya’er Adonai panav eleikha vichunekka.
[May Adonai make his face shine on you and show you his favor.]
26 Yissa Adonai panav eleikha v’yasem l’kha shalom.
[May Adonai lift up his face toward you and give you peace.]’

And just a quick note before I close tonight: Most of the images we see of The Messiah have Him with long hair because of this Nazarite vow. The confusion comes in the crossover of the words “Nazarite” and “Nazarene.” Yeshua was a Nazarene because He was born in Nazareth, but He did not take the Nazarite vow as evidenced by His touching the young girl to raise her from the dead. So, if you didn’t know this already, you can say you’ve learned something today. And with that, may the blessing above be upon all of my readers and followers, and upon the whole community of those who love Our Almighty Creator, Yahveh. Amen!

May 20, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prepare to Let God Fight for You


Territorial Battles by Flickr User Thomas Izko, CC License = Attribution

Territorial Battles by Flickr User Thomas Izko, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

In Proverbs 21:31 (AMP), we are given the following wisdom…

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance and victory are of the Lord.

So we do all we can to prepare to take a stand and to fight if necessary, but in reality, the battle against sin truly belongs to The Lord. Paul said he kept doing the things he didn’t want to do, and he kept failing when he tried to do the right things, because sin reigned in his mortal body. That doesn’t mean we quit fighting, but it does mean that it takes something (or Someone) greater than our personal self-control to wage and win this war.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 16:25 through Leviticus 16:34, we are still reading God’s instructions for the priest making atonement for the sins of Israel. We’re told that the man who takes the scapegoat outside the camp must wash his clothes and bathe before he can return to the camp. And then we’re told that the person who takes the hides and dung from the offerings and burns them outside the camp must also bathe and wash his clothes before he can return to the camp.

I see the verses above as a sort of physical representation of the symbolic steps we take as we change from who we are without Christ to who we will become with Him. These steps include confession (we saw that over the head of the goat yesterday), repentance, sending our sinful behaviors away from us, burning up any remnants of sin, and then washing our bodies and clothes (baptism) to show that we are fresh and new without even the smells of “old goat” or “smoke” of sin remaining on us.

And this walks us perfectly into the next part of today’s portion where we learn about The Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. We learn that the community is to take a complete Sabbath on this day, and that atonement will be made to purify them. While this high holy day is prepared for with fasting, self-assessment of sins and weaknesses, confession and repentance, the day of Yom Kippur is a day of complete and total rest, and a day of self-denial. It is the actual day when the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies, and the congregation would wait in silence to see if he would come back out to them alive to declare their salvation.

In our lives today, we should not enter lightly into the atonement we have under the blood of Yeshua. Yes, He does all the work. Yes, His blood completely cleanses us. But to say we should not prepare for that holy moment would deny us of the knowledge of the awesome work Christ (our High Priest) does on our behalf. How can we value the depth of what He has delivered us from if we go in with our eyes closed and never look at the pit? How can we even know which side we’re on until we understand where the enemy occupies in his stand against our souls? Yes, Yahveh Almighty is The One who will win the victory for us; who has already won the victory through the blood of Christ, but let us prepare for the battle to stand for Him that we can cheer with everything in us when we hear His voice as He declares our salvation.

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

Declared Clean


 

Clean Dirty Magnet by Flickr User Lindee Photo Designs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Clean Dirty Magnet by Flickr User Lindee Photo Designs, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

 

Are you old enough to remember this slogan: Have you had your Shower to Shower today? Or maybe you remember the old Irish Spring commercial slogan: Fresh and clean as a whistle. And then we’ve got: If it’s got to be clean, it’s got to be Tide. And, finally: You’re not fully clean until you’re Zestfully clean.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 13:18 through Leviticus 13:23, we have a very short reading about priests declaring people clean. The whole thing just talks about how to tell if a boil is clean by examining whether it is red, raw, swollen, has white hair, is dried out, etc. Each of the instructions either says the priest is to declare the person clean or unclean.

Without much to work with in these few verses, I am choosing to focus on the term “declared clean” because there is a difference in actually being clean and in being declared clean. Of course, if the person who is doing the declaring is honest, the two will mean the same thing. But what about when the declarer is not honest? Maybe it’s a preacher who’s just trying to get more money or accolades from the sheep, so he tickles the ears of any sheep that will give him a dollar bill or a pat on the back.

But the one that really worries me is the person who just doesn’t want to accept any kind of judgment (even personal accountability), so she declares herself clean (or saved) just because it seems easier than actually repenting. It would be like someone taking the dishwasher magnet above and turning it to say “clean” when the load has not been run through the dishwashing cycle. What good is it to put dirty dishes back into the cupboard just because the magnet says they’re clean?

I’ll close with this. We have promises of forgiveness in Scripture, and our promises are beyond what we deserve because of the wonderful blood of Christ. But declaring ourselves to have mercy without changing anything in our lives is not supported in any Scripture that I have found. To the contrary, we have abundant Scriptures that read like Proverbs 28:13 that says (in NLT)…

People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
    but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Just as God told the priests how to determine if someone was clean before they declared the person clean, we have God’s precious word to speak to us now. If we confess our sins, it doesn’t say we are covered. If we forsake our sins, we haven’t been given promise. But, if we both confess AND forsake our sins, God’s promise is that we will be declared clean.

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

Calling Doctor Cohen


Doktor Sleepless by Flickr User Team Tanenbaum, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Doktor Sleepless by Flickr User Team Tanenbaum, 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.

So how would you feel if your doctor walked into the examination room looking like the costumed guy above? Probably not comfortable unless you were a little kid. And what about if a priest of God was the one who walked into the room; would that make you feel at least a little better? The Hebrew word Cohen means “priest,” and Cohen HaGadol is “high priest.” And they had some duties that go well beyond those who are in similar careers these days.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 13:6 through Leviticus 13:17, we pick up where the last paragraph left on in the previous portion that was talking about leprosy. Between the two days, we have some detailed description being given to the priests, so they can determine whether or not a person is unclean with leprosy. Yesterday, the description talked about sores that turned the body hairs white. Today, it talks about raw skin and how much of the body is covered by the sores.

I was actually looking for an image of a pair of exam gloves because I planned to focus on the difference in perspectives from then to now. I mentioned before that there was no thought of germs or germ theory. I don’t know if anyone back then had any type of material they would put over their hands to prevent them from touching the raw or swollen wounds that are described in the reading, but I imagine having to examine a person for an uncleanness was one of the least desirable parts of being a priest. It’s probably pretty undesirable for a lot of medical professionals as well.

Upon studying, I found some information that said the Scriptures that speak of leprosy were likely speaking of many different kinds of spreading skin infections and not just what we know today to be leprosy. The main thing it seems they were looking for was to see if a person was contagious. If they were covered with sores but with no swelling or rawness, and all their sores had dried up and turned white, they were declared clean.

As with all of God’s laws, the purpose behind this one was to protect His people and give them a longer life. When His children didn’t know about germs, He devised ways to protect them before hand-washing and exam gloves. Before we learned that fish without both fins and scales would absorb toxins from whatever water they swim in, He told His children to only eat fish with both fins and scales to protect them from digesting toxic substances.

While so many (mostly those who don’t follow God, but some who do) are complaining that God makes too many rules, those of us who love and trust Him know that He is trying to create a safe environment for those He loves. We can thank Him as would a child who grows up to thank the loving parent he once considered overprotective until he had his own children to protect. Even what we don’t understand from the Old Testament is worth examination to look for God’s purposes and protection for those He loves.

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

Light’s, Camera, Action


Clapperboard by Flickr User Kirill Proskurin, CC License = Attribution

Clapperboard by Flickr User Kirill Proskurin, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

The script has been given, read, studied, read again, spoken, rehearsed, and memorized. It’s time for the actual filming of the the actual movie. In today’s movie, directed by Yahveh Almighty, and set in the Sinai desert in front of the Tent of Meeting, we have many stars, including Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s two sons. Oh, and the stand-ins include the entire camp of Israel.

Our reading for today’s portion comes from Leviticus 8:1 through Leviticus 8:13, and is similar to what we have read twice before. This time, however, it is no longer a script reading or a rehearsal. This time, the real action begins. God tells Moses to gather Israel at the front of the tent of meeting because today is the day when he will anoint Aaron and his sons as the high priest and priests of Israel.

Moses brings Aaron and his sons to the tent of meeting, washes them, clothes them in the priestly garments, and then begins the anointing process. The anointing includes the men and all parts of the tabernacle to consecrate all that will be used in service for The Lord. No person or garment or article that will be used is left untouched because the work that is done for God must be done with dedication and decision.

And these parts about consecration really got me thinking about the often-heard question: Is nothing sacred anymore? For something to be consecrated, it means it is set aside for sacred use. If something is anointed, the meaning is similar. We say we want to be anointed for God. We talk of WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?), but do we really want to be as set apart for God and His work as Jesus was? He gave up Heaven for us, but we struggle to give up Hell on earth for Him. We can hear the word from a preacher–and even from God Himself, and we can even memorize His directions like a script. But if we really want to be set apart (holy and acceptable) to Him in our works, there is nothing like the times when we finally take action.

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

Broken Bread


Broken Bread by Flickr User Michael Porter, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Broken Bread by Flickr User Michael Porter, 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.

What does it mean to be broken? And why are there so many biblical references about brokenness? I’m going to start with a familiar New Testament reference from 1 Corinthians 11:23b-24, New King James’ Version…

…the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Why did His body have to be broken by death and by being convicted of that for which He was not guilty? I think we can find part of the answer in today’s reading from Leviticus 6:12 (19) through Leviticus 7:10 where we learn more about the sin, guilt, and grain offerings, and about the differences when those offerings are made by and for the priests. In the first part of this portion, it talks about the grain offering on the day when a priest receives an anointing. The bread is to be mixed with oil and cooked on a griddle, and then it is to be broken, and THEN it is to be offered up in smoke with no one eating any of it.

When I think of broken bread, I think of the body of Messiah as in the Scripture at the top of this post. Like the grain given on the day of the priest’s anointing, Yahshua, though filled with the oil of God’s Spirit, endured things that would normally harden a person: rejection, abandonment, loss of a friend, betrayal, unfairness, false accusations, homelessness, hunger, thirst, etc. But if there was any hardness in Him at all, it was only so He could become broken for us. He knew He was the offering to become anointed as our High Priest.

The next part of this portion focuses on the sin offering. Unlike the grain offering for anointing, this one is to be eaten by the priests. Before it can be eaten, the activities such as sprinkling the blood must be done to make the offering holy. The holiness surrounding the sin offering is so important that if any of its blood touches a brass bowl, the bowl must be scoured. And if any of it touches a clay pot, the pot must be broken. There’s the brokenness again. And since clay often represents humanity, I see this offering as focusing on us and our need to be broken.

I believe brokenness is a necessity because it is evidence of repentance. Even though Yahshua had no reason to repent, He set an example by becoming the first one to be broken. (Just like He set the example of being washed in baptism even though He had no sins to wash away.) And while the grain offering for anointing was not normally eaten, I believe He wanted us to eat His broken body to connect it to the sin offering since He is both our High Priest and our Sacrificial Lamb.

In brokenness, we imitate Christ. We lay our sins on the altar, and we allow God to break the sin of our flesh away from us, and to scour our hearts clean. We must be cleansed, so we can adhere to the last part of the command for the sin offering; that it must be eaten in a holy place. Brokenness cleanses us to make us a holy place, so we can be an acceptable offering to God. After we have broken the flesh and have been cleansed, we are His royal priesthood, and we are that holy place (temple) for God’s Spirit to dwell. At times, we may become hardened again by life and by sin, but under God’s anointing, we can find an altar and be broken again, and we can offer ourselves up in holy praise that rises to Him as a sweet-smelling aroma.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Vested Interest in Israel


Cute Vests by Flickr User TheUglySweaterShop, CC License = Attribution

Cute Vests by Flickr User TheUglySweaterShop, CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I love when a title can be seen in multiple ways, and even more when all the ways can be true. Based on the definitions of the word vest, it can be a garment worn to the waist, and the priest in the camp of Israel will wear the garment. It means to bestow power or authority on someone, and God definitely bestowed a lot on the priests of the tribe of Levi. And, it can mean to have a personal stake in something or someone. Both God and the priests have a vested interest in Israel and in the mercy and grace that are represented by the priesthood and the tabernacle practices.

In today’s reading from Exodus 39:2 through Exodus 39:21, we get to see the details of the vest that the artisans are making for the high priest. The parts of the vest, such as the breastplate, are made from gold; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; and finely-woven linen. And, yes, the first item in that list is actually gold, not just gold yarn. The reading says that they hammered the gold into thin sheets and then cut the sheets into threads in order to work them into the yarns and linen.

Can you imagine gold thread that is actually made from gold? Elvis Presley could imagine something close since he had a famous suit made from gold lame’ which was a yarn made with metallic ingredients. A famous tailor to the stars named Nudie Cohn created that suit, and many other famously outrageous outfits. You can read about him at Wikipedia, but since there are no pictures, I found a Pinterest page with lots of fun images, including Elvis’ suit and Nudie’s famous car. I actually got to see the car in person when I was a little girl living in Southern California. There were coins in the dashboard, the doors opened by pulling triggers on pistols, and there was a huge set of bull horns on the front of the car.

So, getting back to the original celebrity designer, God issued detailed instructions for the designs that would cover the priests in His service, and then He anointed skilled men to create them. He did all of this to represent the value of Israel to Him since the high priest was a representation of God Himself. And the part I find the most moving in this story is that God wanted the breastplate fastened down with gold chains, so it would ALWAYS be over the heart of the priest. Need I say more?

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Is As Holy Does


Holy Ground by Flickr User Roger Lynn, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Holy Ground by Flickr User Roger Lynn, 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.

I grew up hearing the statement “Pretty is as pretty does.” It was a good lesson for teaching me to look beyond outward beauty, and it may be the reason I rarely thought of celebrities as any more valuable than non-famous people. Of course, even pretty behavior doesn’t guarantee a pretty heart, but the self-control required to maintain things like courtesy and respect can at least slow a person down to a point of being more reachable. In a culture that now seems to value wild unruliness over dignity and chivalry, it would be nice to see the quietness that would come from pulling people back to a place of more controlled character and virtue.

In today’s reading from Exodus 29:19 through Exodus 29:37, we read a number of duties and details for becoming holy. Just being selected as a generation of priests, or even for the position of high priest, did not make Aaron, his sons, or any part of Israel automatically holy. Just being washed, redressed, and anointed didn’t even do the job. And as if offering sin offerings, atonement offerings, and sacrifice offerings was not enough, today will add the “wave offering.” Yet, even all of these things together did not create any kind of guaranteed position of holiness.

As I read through the required works, including the seven days required for sanctification, two things caught my attention. First, I noticed that from days ago, none of these works are random. They are all prepared for in advance. The bread the men will eat today was put in a basket before the washing had ever begun. The clothing was created in advance. Because of the stringent requirements of perfection on the part of the animal sacrifices, there couldn’t just be a noisy stampede by the door while the priests grabbed the first critters they could get their hands on. Being holy is not just something to be, it requires becoming; constantly renewing those things that don’t fall into line the same way a lady would do in guarding her every step and word to fall in line with the behaviors of a true debutante.

Planning ahead takes planning ahead. I have never been very good at that. If I was, it wouldn’t have taken me years after starting my blog to become regular at posting on it. Still, if I had not already started it, that may have become an excuse for not moving forward, so I’m glad I had a place already prepared. I’m trying to learn to do better at planning ahead for my Sabbaths. There is even a word in speaking of biblical Sabbaths that means “Sabbath preparation day” rather than actual Sabbath, and that is the word used when they said they had to hurry up and get Yahshua crucified because “the preparation day” is coming. Unlike most of us Christians who run rampant getting ready for services on Sunday mornings, most Hebrews spent a full day preparing for their day of rest, so everything would already be taken care of ahead of time. Of course, this is also why I’m fairly certain that Yahshua was crucified on a Thursday, but that would be another whole blog post in itself.

The other thing I noticed was the last line that “whatever touches the altar will become holy.” I’m certain this relates to the first thing in that nothing was even allowed near the altar until it was prepared. The priests had to be washed, dressed, and anointed before approaching the altar. The animals had to be chosen, washed, and cut into whatever pieces were required for specific rituals before the remains were put on the altar. Even Our “Sacrificial Lamb” spent 33 years being human, and enduring human things like weakness and hunger, before He came to the altar of sacrifice. He had to learn obedience to parents before being considered mature, and He had to learn the value of manual labor before He graduated to miracles. He even had to go toe to toe with His enemy after 40 days of suffering in the wilderness before He was even ready to get baptized.

As I said above, we live in a world of wild abandon, and too many just want to throw themselves on an altar and become instantly holy. Maybe that’s why so many fall to their knees in moments of emotion but run back to their old and familiar ways when the going gets rough for them. If I could teach anyone anything of true value it would be that Yahveh Almighty is worth the preparations and sacrifices required to be holy to Him. Feeling His presence and love surround you and separate you from the distractions and clamor of your worldly needs and desires is more valuable than any reward the world has to offer. As the song of the same title says, “I keep falling in love with Him over and over, and over and over again,” and that love makes me want to do holy as much as I want to be holy for Him.

P.S. Just in case you’d like to hear that song, here’s a link for it at YouTube…

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dressed for Success


Christ the Anointed One by Flickr User Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

Christ the Anointed One by Flickr User Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon, 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.

There’s just something about a uniform that evokes more trust than everyday clothing. For me, working for a company that gave me a uniform, even if it was just a vest to wear over my own clothes, made me feel like I was a part of something important. The first picture I ever saw of my husband was of him in a uniform. It didn’t have to be his dress uniform for me to know he was a soldier, and I felt a sense of pride in that even before meeting him. After getting to know him, I noticed that the uniform didn’t only affect me, but it affected his behavior as well. He knew when he was dressed in uniform that he represented more than just himself, and he cared that others saw that representation as perfectly as possible.

In today’s reading from Exodus 29:1 through Exodus 29:18, we step into the dressing room of Aaron and his sons. I’m going to try my best to compare the steps that prepared these first priests with the steps today’s servants of God should be taking. After all, we are called “A Kingdom of Priests” and “A Royal Priesthood.” See Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9-10, and Revelation 1:6. I hope I can bring it all together, and I hope each of my readers will feel dressed for success after reading about this wonderful calling to walk before Yahveh as servants and friends.

In yesterday’s reading, we were told that Aaron and his sons were to be anointed, inaugurated, and consecrated to serve in the office of priest. I looked up the definitions of those three words and found the following: anoint = ceremonially confer divine or holy office by smearing with oil, and nominate or choose; inaugurate = begin, admit formally, or mark the beginning of office; and consecrate = dedicate formally for divine service, ordain or devote to service. Based on the definitions, I believe that lines up with the Scripture in Revelation 17:14 that says those who will minister on the side of Christ in the final war are His called, chosen, and faithful.

For Aaron and his sons to take their chosen offices, and for us to take our positions in service to God, I believe the steps are similar. They start with things that happen at the door of the tabernacle before anyone even approaches the Holy Place or The Holy of Holies. The first thing done to Aaron and his sons were that they were washed. They could not put on the ministry uniforms until they were cleansed. We usually hear our call to serve God outside the church as well. Maybe we see a good example, maybe we have a dream, or maybe someone ministers to us. Maybe we hear Christ knocking a number of times before we choose to open the door and walk through. Once we walk through, we often choose to get baptized to represent that we are washing away our old lifestyle, so we can be consecrated to God’s service.

After Aaron and his sons were washed, then they were dressed in the ritual vestments. Those uniforms, as I pointed out previously, covered them from head to toe. These new priests were completely washed and completely covered in a new image. When we make a decision to walk according to God’s will, we are told (in Romans 13:14) “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” We are also reminded in Galatians 3:27 that if we have been baptized (washed) into Christ, we have put on Christ. Since the word baptism means “immersion” that means we have been dressed or uniformed–head to toe–in Christ, just as the priests were dressed in their vestments.

The last thing done to Aaron and his sons to prepare them for service was to have the anoiting oil poured over their heads. It was only after these new priests were washed, redressed, and anointed that the sacrifices could be offered in atonement for their sins. They placed their hands on the head of the sacrifice to be offered. I believe that gave them a connection to it. It wasn’t just some light message of an errand boy running up saying it was done. They were a part of the sacrifice as it was slaughtered. Once we have committed ourselves to Christ, and after we have been washed and dressed, it is time for us to become connected to Yahshua. When we have a relationship with Him, His atonement for our sins will mean that much more to us.

Let me break here by giving a quick example of how much more something means after a connection has been established. When I read Eli by Bill Myers, the crucifixion scene was done quite differently since it was shown in the 1970s instead of 33AD. I have never seen a live crucifixion, and other than biblical stories, I haven’t even seen them on television. But I have seen fights, and I have seen televised fights that included people being kicked when they were down. So when the author describes Jesus being kicked in the ribs with pointy-toed cowboy boots, I felt it to my core. I cried as much or more than I did when I watched the beating scene in The Passion.

After the initial offering of the bull, the remains were given as a burnt offering, and then the whole ram was also given as a burnt offering. I believe that last offering is the one that represents us burning up our old ideas and our old ways because it was only after the washing, the consecration, the new image, the anointing, and the first blood sacrifice that the second offering became a sweet-smelling aroma to Yahveh. It is after we have begun our dedicated service to God that the sacrifices we make in the form of good works, or things we give up for Him, are seen by Him as acceptable.

As with the priests, being anointed for ministry to God is only one step in our service to Him. It’s the step that says He has called us to do what He has already prepared us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are of God’s making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do.” (Red letter emphasis is mine.) After we are anointed and washed, we can dress for success in the uniform that is Christ. When we’re wearing that uniform, we walk as if we are consecrated, or “set apart,” for our anointing and calling. As we walk in that calling, we will have opportunities to fail, but like Aaron for his sons, our High Priest, Yahshua, is always making atonement for us, so we can continue to walk. Micah 6:6-8 puts it most simply, and here it is from The New Living Translation…

Micah 6:6-8

New Living Translation (NLT)

6 What can we bring to the Lord?
What kind of offerings should we give him?
Should we bow before God
with offerings of yearling calves?
7 Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?

8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.

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

Jingle Bells


Golden Jingle Bells Kaleidoscope by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Golden Jingle Bells Kaleidoscope by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view my original image and to access my full photo stream at Flickr. There are other kaleidoscopes from the bells, and you can find the link to the original image from which this design was made.

I was looking for something with a picture of bells when I came across the above image from a challenge I had while in a digital kaleidoscope creation group back in 2008. I was torn between using an image and a song title, so in my search, I also discovered that there are a lot of songs out there with lyrics or titles about bells. So, just for fun I thought I’d ask, how many songs can you name that are about bells or have bells in the title? Here are some to get you started…

  • Jingle Bells
  • You can Ring My Bell
  • If I Had a Hammer (verse 3: If I had a bell to ring)
  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
  • Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Christmas Bells Are Ringing
  • Let ‘Em In (Somebody’s knocking on the door, somebody’s ringin’ the bell)
  • Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead
  • Silver Bells
  • When They Ring Those Golden Bells

And the last one I’ve listed is the perfect segue into today’s reading from Exodus 28:31 through Exodus 28:43, the end of the chapter. The details for adorning the priest are now up to the blue robe that the priest will wear under the ritual vest. On the hem of the robe, the artisans are instructed to add blue, purple, and scarlet pomegranates with golden bells between each of them. The bells will ring continually while the priest walks around and ministers in the Holy Place, so the people will know He has not gone into the presence of Yahveh with a sinful heart and collapsed in death.

So now my mind is all over the map with trying to figure out if the bells signified anything else besides the evidence of life. I know from a tour of The Tabernacle Experience when it was in Louisville that on the highest holy day, Yom Kippur, the people knew the importance of their sins being pushed forward a year, so they waited quietly, listening for the priests bells to make sure nothing interrupted this important part of his ministry. But, I also wonder if the bells were a type of music to God. Did He long for the sound of the bells that said one of His priests was about to enter His presence? Did He rejoice with the music of the bells as the priest went out to announce to the people the good news that their sins were forgiven for another year? Interesting things to think about, huh?

In addition to the adorned robe and vest, the priest is to wear a linen turban that includes a golden seal engraved with the words, “Set Apart for Adonai.” This reminder is needed because the high priest, Aaron at the time, goes in bearing the guilt of the people who have erred from God’s commands. It is both a blessing and a grave thing to be set apart for the Lord. It is a blessing because to be set apart means to be holy in God’s eyes. And it is a grave thing because, for the high priest, it meant he carried a very heavy burden until it was hoisted upon the altar. For our final High Priest, Yahshua our Messiah, it was a blessing to come to this earth holy enough to bear the weight of our sins permanently, but it was also said to be a curse to die upon a cross as He had to do to free of from our sin.

The priests were also to wear woven tunics and colorful belts to hold everything in place. And while I haven’t checked it piece by piece yet, I think there’s a connection to all these priestly vestments and the whole armor of God. Be my guest and see what you can come up with, and add your notes to the comments section.

Finally, the last paragraph talks about what I think is the very first pair of underwear. With both pomegranates and underwear in the same story, I momentarily thought of using the title “Fruit of the Loom,” but I decided against it because of the holiness that all the priests vestments represent. In this case, God tells Moses that the men are to wear linen shorts that they will not be found guilty in His presence, and so they will not die.

I am amazed at how God covered, literally, every part of the human form that our humanity and sin could be covered to allow for ministry and sacrifice. He desired to be connected to us so much that when these artistic coverings and the blood of bulls and goats were still not enough, He created a priest’s garment made of flesh and robed His Spirit head to toe to give us His life in our place. While He was still walking in that flesh, He stated that there was no greater love than that of one who would lay down his life for a friend. His word tells us that we are not just His flock as the people were like flocks for Aaron and other priests, but we were also Christ’s friends. Truly, there never has been, and never will be, a greater love.

February 10, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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