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The Frog and The Scorpion


The Frog and The Scorpion by Flickr User José António Fundo, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Frog and The Scorpion by Flickr User José António Fundo, 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’s an old fable about a scorpion who asks a frog if the frog would carry him across a river. The frog is wise enough to know the deadly effect of a scorpion’s sting, so he tells the scorpion he won’t carry him. But the scorpion tries to reason with the frog by reminding him that if he stings him while they are in the water, both will die. The frog is convinced and lets the scorpion climb onto his back while he swims across. But just as they are halfway across, the scorpion breaks his word and stings the frog. The frog immediately feels the paralysis start to set in, and he begins to sink. Just before he goes under, he asks the scorpion why he would do something like that when it would kill them both. The scorpion’s dying declaration was simply this: It’s in my nature.

In today’s reading from Numbers 31:13 through Numbers 31:24, we have the men and leaders coming back from war with the Midianites and bringing the prisoners and the spoils to Moses and Eleazar. As the commanders came in from the battlefield, Moses got angry with them because of the women he saw with them who were being held as prisoners of war. He told them they should have killed the women because they were the ones that, because of Balaam’s suggestions, were tempting the children of Israel and causing them to transgress God’s law. Moses then instructed the leaders to kill every male plus every female who had slept with a man. They could keep the young virgins alive.

Moses then told the men to pitch their tents outside the camp, so they could complete all necessary cleansing rituals. They would have to stay outside the camp for seven days, and then they were to purify themselves on the 3rd and 7th days. Because of their proximity to corpses, it was also required for them to purify every garment, whether made of skin or goat’s hair, and to purify all wood. In addition, even though gold, silver, brass, and other metals had already been purified by fire, because they were spoils from the enemy, Moses told them to purify them under water. Anything that could pass through fire would be put through fire and water, and anything that could not pass through fire needed to be cleansed with water. After seven days, the soldiers were to wash their clothes and be clean, so they could enter back into the camp.

Sometimes, seeing people killed even if they’re the enemy feels harsh. It’s an especially harsh feeling when we stop to think of God’s grace–and of Yeshua’s words to love our enemies. But remember, these instructions were given even after the commandment that said “Thou shalt not kill,” so as it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time to kill. Are there people who refuse to discard their old nature and will continue to attack and sting even to their own detriment? Ask a suicide bomber. Even when someone seems like an innocent woman or child, if they are from the enemy’s camp, they are not friends, and if we do not handle the battle correctly, we will become casualties of war.

Remember these things when you fight battles in the spirit realm as well. We know, as Scripture says, that our weapons are not carnal because most of our battles are not in the flesh. That said, the enemy will try to convince you to fall for some kind of trickery in an effort to destroy your soul, and you have to arm yourself with wisdom and preparation, so you won’t give in and end up paralyzed as you press your way to the other side. Don’t fall for sin just because it looks pretty or innocent, and always remember that you are a soldier for God. The good thing about this fight, however, is that both the battles and the weapons belong to The Lord, and the end of the war promises victory.

As for the physical battles in this life, most of us won’t have to fight them, but we should have compassion and love for those who do. God will lead those who need to fight for us as He would have them to fight, and the rest of us can support and uplift them. If you know a soldier who fights for the good, pray for him or her, and ask God to protect that soldier from attacks of our enemies. If you don’t know any soldiers, pray for all of our U.S. troops. Also, pray for the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) to prosper against all advancement of their enemies and the weapons of their enemies. Pray that only those in the perfect will of Yahveh Almighty will prevail.

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

God’s Affordable Health Care Act


 

Medicine of the Highest Order by Flickr User Benjamin Golub, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Medicine of the Highest Order by Flickr User Benjamin Golub, 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.

It is not in God’s perfect will for anyone to be left out of any blessing He has to offer. Unlike politically motivated health and welfare services, God’s idea of affordable health care is not driven by brownie points to get votes. God has actual compassion to make sure we can all receive His benefits even if we have previously rejected Him and/or brought many of our troubles onto ourselves. Oh, if only those who think God makes all His rules to exclude people could just see that He actually makes them to be inclusive of more people. Rather than just letting us languish in our sins and sicknesses, He provides instruction for prevention, healing, and purification. And He even provides adaptations to His plans, so they can apply to both rich and poor.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 14:21 through Leviticus 14:32, we have the same basic instructions as yesterday, but today’s rules are slightly different to cover a case of a poor person who needs purification after healing from leprosy. The many offerings that were used in the act of purification could get expensive, especially if someone did not already own flocks and herds. So God set up a contingency plan to make sure those who could not provide sacrificial lambs could also receive the needed rituals.

Most of the steps toward purification are exactly the same, including putting blood on the right ear, the right thumb, and the right toe of the person needing to be cleansed. The priest is still required to pour olive oil in his left hand and then sprinkle it seven times before The Lord before also placing it in all the places where the blood has been placed. The difference for a poor person is that the blood for the sacrificial offerings can come from a dove or pigeon instead of it needing to come from lambs.

God is more than good to us, and He has provided all we need in order to serve Him according to His perfect will, including even having the desire to serve Him in the first place. Why can some people get saved in some room or deserted place when they are all alone? Because the desire was planted in their hearts from the beginning. It may be hidden beneath ignorance, false teaching, sinful desires, etc., but God will make Himself known to a hungry soul just as soon as He is invited. He says we will find Him when we seek and search for Him with all our hearts.

For me, I can see where God actually pursued me–before I invited Him. I believe He tries to show people how much He cares before we meet Him, and then He confirms that it was Him all along once we begin to study His word. I used to sing a song called “I Keep Falling in Love with Him” that says in part, “I thought I couldn’t love Him (God) more than I did right at the start. But when I look back over the mountains and valleys where we’ve been, I find I love Him more every day, much more than I did then.” The more I get to know Him, the more I realize that ALL His plans (for health, for life, for salvation, for eternity) are for our good and to give us a hope and a future.

March 31, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palm Oil


Palm Oil Plantation by Flickr User Rainforest Action Network, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Palm Oil Plantation by Flickr User Rainforest Action Network, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

I’ve always known there were different types of palm trees–like date palms and coconut palms, but I had no idea there are also completely different palm trees that are used for making palm oil; oil palm trees to be exact. And until I did a search to go with tonight’s post, I also had no idea that using palm oil is said to have a negative effect on rainforests. Of course, that’s what the rainforest defenders say, but I also haven’t read the whole story, so I can only report what I found while doing my search.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 14:13 through Leviticus 14:20, the palm oil mentioned here is not actually the kind from the trees, or from any palm tree, but rather it is oil in the palm of the priest’s hand. I thought that might be harder to find a picture of, so I decided to add an image of something a little greener and prettier. In the process, though, if we can learn something more about the earth God created and how to protect it, that will be a good thing. The image above will open a new tab or window, so if you want to see all of what the group posts, and read about what they stand for, don’t forget to click on it before you leave.

So, we know the focus for this week’s portion is on helping a person become clean who has been infected with leprosy. We saw most of the process in yesterday’s reading, and what continues today is a bit more detail on the lamb sacrifices. The two lambs, one for the sin offering and one for the guilt offering, are to be slaughtered in the place of the sanctuary that is designated for those offerings. That is what is most often represented by an altar in the sanctuary of a modern church. The altar is the place we humble ourselves and confess our sins and our need for atonement, and it’s a place where we understand that the blood of Our Messiah is the only thing that can truly deliver us from our sins. And, just like the altar in the Torah, it is there for us every time we need it.

Truthfully, I’ve always disliked the statement that a person who wants to follow God just has to accept His salvation. My reason for this is that acceptance says to me, it’s a one-time thing. We can only accept the same gift from a friend once. I think it’s more important that we teach new believers that their new life is more about rejection. We reject sin; we reject doing things our own way; and we reject anything that is not of God as much as we are able. This is not a one-time thing, but a daily, and sometimes multiple times per day, activity. We actively seek to push away those things that would separate us from the heart and love of The One who offers us His salvation. That is an active way of accepting His gift.

After the sacrificial offerings have been taken care of, part of which includes placing the blood of the guilt offering on the right ear, right thumb, and right toe of the person seeking purification, the priest is told to put oil in his right hand and dip into it with his left finger. He sprinkles the oil seven times, and then he takes what’s left and puts it over the blood on the ear, thumb and toe, plus over the blood of the guilt offering, and then on the head of the one who needs atonement. After these things are done, the priest is to offer the burnt offering and the grain offering, and then the person will be clean.

After having gone through so much to be purified, don’t you suppose the person who is now clean will reject anyone he even thinks might be contagious? And don’t you suppose he will do his best to be cleaner than he has ever made an effort to be in the past? I think so, and I think that rejection of the things that put him out of the camp, and that needed to be atoned for, will now be easy for him. It’s not always easy for those of us who make an effort to walk blamelessly before Our Creator to reject every sin that comes our way, but the more we learn about the depth of the sacrifice He made for us, the more we willingly reject anything that separates us from His salvation, His love, and His wonderful presence.

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

Shave and a Haircut–Two Birds


Shave and a Haircut by Flickr User Pete Markham, CC License = Attirbution, Share Alike

Shave and a Haircut by Flickr User Pete Markham, CC License = Attirbution, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Even if you’re not old enough to realize there is a tune to the words shave and a haircut, two bits, you probably know the rhythm. Someone, at some point of your life, probably knocked on a door with the beat of “knock knock knock knock knock (rest) knock knock.” Then again, that may only be for my readers in U.S. since I don’t think a quarter was called two bits anywhere else. Still, I find it a catchy tune, and I can rarely see a barber shop pole without thinking of it.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 14:1 through Leviticus 14:12, we begin a new Parashah (portion); number 28. The Hebrew title for it is M’tzora and it means “Person afflicted with Leprosy.” Okay, so that means I was wrong yesterday when I said we were probably done talking about leprosy. Of course, for me, the hard part is taking a few verses–often with repeated statements or themes–and trying to find something deeper to share with my readers. When I can find the truly spoken word within the written word, I get very excited though, and I hope you do as well.

So, from the title of the portion, I’m going to guess that our entire week will focus on what to do if someone is definitely infected rather than in making the determination as to if the person is clean or unclean. Today’s section of the portion deals with a person who has been infected and has been put out of the camp to begin purification. The first thing I noticed here is that the priest goes outside the camp to examine the man. If you think of leprosy as sin, it means we should not be waiting for sinners to walk through the church doors, but should be ready to speak with them about their sin where they are.

Next, the purification requires a sacrifice of two birds. One of the birds must be slaughtered over a clay pot under running water, and the other will be sprinkled with the blood of the dead bird and then set free. The live bird, along with a cedar plank, scarlet yarn, and hyssop leaves, is to be dipped into the blood, and then all of those will be used to sprinkle blood on the person who needs to be purified. The death over clay speaks of Calvary to me, so I’m certain there is more here in the process that is represented by the sacrifice of our Messiah, but I am unsure, so I won’t try to teach something I don’t know.

Once the infected person is cleansed, he is to shave off all his hair, beard, and even his eyebrows. Then he must wash his clothes and bathe before he returns to camp. Once he’s in the camp, he still can’t go to his own tent for another seven days, and then he has to shave everything off again before he is completely clean. Once he has reached that point, the priest will offer a sacrifice of two lambs and a grain offering to complete his purification process.

The one thing that stands out to me in all this is how difficult it is to become clean once you have been infected by leprosy. We want to march people into a church building and say that since Christ offered Himself for their sins, becoming sin free is just as easy as reciting the sinner’s prayer. But the offering of blood was only one part of the process. I know we don’t want to scare people away with a bunch of religious rituals, but I think it’s important to teach that our walk with God is not to be taken lightly. If God required these things to represent purification during the times of the wilderness temple, He has made a way to fulfill those things for us now. They haven’t gone away, but are being carried out in another way–through the blood of Christ, through the Holy Spirit making intercession for us, etc. To me, that is all the more reason to get up each day and praise Him for all He has done, and for all He continues to do, to bridge the gap between Himself and us. He is worthy of more than we can even think to praise Him for.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Set Apart for a Time


Isolation by Flickr User digitalmindphotography (David Smith), CC License = Attribution

Isolation by Flickr User digitalmindphotography (David Smith), CC License = Attribution
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Have you ever felt the need to just “get away” for a little while? Do you ever find that the day in, day out, ongoing events of life sometimes make you feel like you’ve just got to declutter and thin things out a bit? Something about isolation can often help us to sort through the stresses and re-prioritize what’s important in our lives.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 13:29 through Leviticus 13:37, we read about times of purification–set apart times of isolation to allow the healing necessary to be considered clean once again. In this week’s portion, we’ve read all about leprosy and learning it could be speaking of other viral or contagious skin diseases as well. Today, we see the instructions to the priest on how to check a sore on someone’s head or on the skin beneath a beard to find if the person has an infectious disease. If the signs of infection are there, the person is to be put into isolation for 7 days.

There’s nothing that describes the isolation, whether they had a quarantine tent or just what, but later, the time in isolation is described as a time of purification. The instructions even include having the person shave around the sore, but not shaving the sore itself. After that time alone, the person is to be examined again, and if there is no change, they get 7 more days in isolation before they will be examined again to determine if they are clean enough to go back into the community.

While these instructions were given for the physical health of the community, I can see how the same situation could be a good way to reclaim the spiritual health of a Christian community as well. If we’re all so busy planning events and looking perfect for “Sunday School,” when do we take time apart to examine ourselves before God to determine if there might be some purification needed? I’ve heard it preached that we should be in church every time the doors are opened, and I spent part of my Christian walk doing just that. But now, I see the great need for that time to be set apart for a time of purification.

We all need vacations from the daily grind, the irritating boss, and the demands of life in general. We need vacation to renew and refresh our minds and bodies. And I believe we also need times of renewal for our spirit, and that won’t always come with just a different set of circumstances–even if those circumstances are for a higher purpose. The priests had to examine sores to look for crusty spots that might be contagious to others. Let’s examine ourselves, or get with an accountability partner for examination, before we get any “crusty spots” on our spirits that might be contagious to others. 🙂

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

It’s a Boy, It’s a Girl, UhOh


Twins by Flickr User Brandie, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Twins by Flickr User Brandie, 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.

I’m trying to think back to all the family members I can remember having babies, and I don’t think anyone in our family has ever had twins–or any other multiple births. I guess it really is something that runs in certain families. And, while our Torah reading for today doesn’t say anything about twins, you’ll see when you read it why I would wonder how twins would affect a new mommy based on the Levitical laws.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 12:1 through Leviticus 13:5, we begin a new week with Parashah (portion) 27. The Hebrew name for it is Tazria and it means “She Conceives.” The first paragraph in this reading concerns how a woman is to be considered if she conceives and gives birth. If she has a boy, she is unclean for 7 days and then has 33 days of purification to follow. If she has a girl, those numbers are doubled. And that’s where I asked myself, “But what if she has twins, and one is a boy and one is a girl?”

I always wonder things in a more complicated way, but I guess it would be as if she had a girl since she would have. I wonder, though, what the scientific reasoning behind this is. Does a female infant do something different to the mother’s body that keeps her bleeding longer than if she carries a boy? Bleeding is the reason for the uncleanness and the need for purification, so it would not surprise me to find out there is something physiologically different about carrying a girl. I mean, this is where it says to circumcise a boy on the 8th day, and I have read that on the 8th day of life, every male’s blood coagulates faster than on any other day of his life. That’s a good idea when your physician is actually a priest and may not be the best at what he does with a knife.

The next paragraph talks about her atonement after her days of purification have passed. The mother is to bring a lamb, or a pigeon or young dove if she cannot afford a lamb, to make an offering for the child. This appears to be sort of the sealing for her days of purification.

The final paragraph talks about leprosy, but there is more on that tomorrow, so I’ll save that conversation other than to say, this is actually medical training for the priests. I think it’s amazing that God was giving them information on how to diagnose viral illness, so it would not spread through the camp. He gives exact descriptions for the priest to look for to make sure the priest can know whether to get the person into quarantine or let him go about his business. We truly have a God who cares for us in both the big and little details. Have a blessed week walking in His presence.

March 22, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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