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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

How Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow


Field at Sunrise by Flickr User Moyan Brenn, CC License = Attribution

Field at Sunrise by Flickr User Moyan Brenn, 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 remember sprouting a lima bean in a wet paper towel when I was in one of my lower elementary grades. I also remember that I found it fascinating. I think most people who take the time to see how God makes things grow are in awe of His handiwork. I am especially in awe at how, just as His Word tells us in John 12:24, it takes the death of the seed to make the plant grow and bring forth fruit. Sometimes, we only look at things at the point of death or hopelessness, and we forget that even out of that, God can bring new life.

Today’s reading from Leviticus 27:16 through Leviticus 27:21 doesn’t talk about anything growing, but it does talk about the fields where the growing is done. It’s basically about people who want to consecrate a field to The Lord. God informs Moses that the priests are to value the field according to its production using a standard measure of barley. Later, if the person wants the field back, he can redeem it for the value plus another one-fifth of the value, unless someone else purchased it. If it has been sold, then on Jubilee when the new owner vacates it, the land will become a permanent possession of the priesthood, and it will be holy to The Lord.

So, a field consecrated to The Lord will either be redeemed for a greater value than when it was consecrated, or it will become perpetually holy. Because God takes possession of it, He brings new life from old. If that can happen with a field, what then can happen with a soul? How many times have we prayed over a person and dedicated them to the work of God from their youth. And then they grow up and make bad decisions that go against everything we hoped and dreamed they would do for The Lord. But if we let go and trust them into God’s hands, He can add value to them or draw them to Himself as His permanent possession.

I write this at the end of a long day with a lack of sleep, but I am happy for the day because the works done in its hours have been necessary due to the work God has done in our lives. A few weeks ago, you may recall my writing about the nephew who was in a coma due to a drug overdose. If not, you can read the post “When Brothers Weep” for more information. At that point, and based on all the tests, we prayed for a miracle but were fairly certain that we had a long road ahead even if he ever woke up. Our tasks today were part of that road–which it turns out will not be as long as anticipated.

Beyond the test results and expectations, our nephew Joshua is out of both the hospital and the in-patient rehab facility, walking with a walker, thinking and remembering with almost perfect cognition, and in the process of amazing his out-patient rehabilitation workers. His biggest deficit is neuropathic pain in one foot that keeps reminding him that he just took his body through something from which it should not have recovered. And yet it has. And we are praising God for the opportunity to encourage him to use his second chance to become what God created him to be and to share his testimony with others.

My husband and I took Joshua and his three brothers to church when they were very young, and we prayed over them more than once. We had dreams of their dedication and service to God. We didn’t get to keep them in our custody very long, but we loved them as if they were our own, and it has caused us great pain to see these “fields” misused and under attack of the enemy because their mother makes herself more available to the enemy than to God. But today gives me hope of change and hope that those prayers from so long ago will be answered. Those prayers came before all the attacks of the enemy that have sought to bring these boys down, and maybe it’s those prayers that have stopped the enemy from being able to fully take their lives. Maybe these boys that we dedicated to God will each find their way to Him, increased in value and perpetually holy, before their ends come and/or before the end of life on this earth. I am going back to that prayer and that dedication and asking God to make it so. You, my friends and readers, are welcome to join me. Thank you.

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

The Right of Redemption


Redemption Poster by Flickr User Sapphire Dream Photography, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Redemption Poster by Flickr User Sapphire Dream Photography, 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.

When you purchase an item, especially when it’s something from a salesman in your home, you usually have what is called a “right of rescission” where you have a chance to change your mind. It is often used when getting a loan as well, and most of the time, it is a “cooling off” period of about 3 days. It gives buyers a way out of their “buyer’s remorse” when they feel they’ve made a bad purchase decision.

In today’s reading from Leviticus 25:19 through Leviticus 25:24, we read about the opposite of rescission. It begins with God answering a question He was sure the people would ask about how they would eat during the years their fields were in Sabbath rest. He tells them He will bless the sixth year to make it produce for three years. That would make sure it provided for them in the 6th year when they both planted and harvested, in the 7th year when they ate from the harvest of the 6th year, and in the 8th year when they planted but still had to eat of the old harvest while waiting for the time of the new harvest.

After speaking to them of harvest, God reminds them again that their land does not belong to them, but it belongs to Him, and they are foreigners and temporary residents on the land. He explains that this is also the reason they cannot permanently sell their land but must always include the right of redemption.

When God made us, He gave us our temples to live in as temporary residents just as He put Israel in the Promised Land. Though He gave us free will, He reserved for us the right of redemption. Like the land He owned, He has already bought and paid for our souls and redeemed us for Himself. By paying for our sins before we ever asked, He has gone way too far to change His mind and rescind the contract, so once we accept His salvation, we can trust that God will not try to undo the contract.

The definition of redemption comes from the Latin word redimere and Old English redeem, and it means to “buy back.” The right of redemption we have in Christ to buy us back from our sins is not a contract He entered into lightly. After all, He paid the price with His own blood and life. We know He won’t have any buyer’s remorse because He knows exactly what He’s getting into when He makes us His own. Therefore, we should make sure we don’t end up with a case of seller’s remorse by taking care to not enter into our covenant with Him as if it’s a minor thing.

In fact, the covenant He wrote for us in His own blood is a major thing. But, oh what a pleasure to know that God first showed His love for us by redeeming us while we were yet sinners, and that He continues to show His love for us with mercy that is new every morning. And there is coming a day when He will claim His right of redemption over us once more, when we are redeemed from this temporary home to live in eternity with Him.

And with that, here’s a video of another older song I love to listen to and to sing. It’s called “Temporary Home” by The Heritage Singers…

April 28, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tried and Failed


Fail Reel by Flickr User Nicko Gibson, CC License = Attribution

Fail Reel by Flickr User Nicko Gibson, 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 the movie reel of my life (somehow, I really think God has one of these), I know I have tried and failed thousands of times. I have made promises that still go unkept, whether because I’ve forgotten or for some other reason. I’ve had all the best intentions, all the best plans, and all the best efforts, and still I have failed. I fail because I am human. We fail because we are human. God understands because He made us. He says in Psalm 103:14 that He knows our form.

As I read through today’s reading from Leviticus 4:27 through Leviticus 5:10, I looked at all the answers God gave for what to do in case of failure during the times of the tabernacle and priests. Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, I don’t think He would have us discard any of it. As a matter of fact, The New Testament does not say that the old law is done away with. Rather, it says that it was fulfilled so we are no longer under the curse of it. What was the curse? It was that if we failed in one point, we failed in all of it.

I woke up one morning having an awake dream–maybe a vision. I saw a steel ring with bits of it missing and the word law in the middle of it. As I watched it, another steel ring came into view. This one had the word love written in the middle, and it had no missing pieces. As the vision continued, the ring of love settled into the ring of law and filled in all the missing parts. God’s law of love became the law and absorbed all the emptiness that keeping the works of the law could not fill in. I have never forgotten it.

But as for why all these commands were there to begin with….I believe God laid them out because He never wanted His people under a curse. He knew His children, and He knew they would fail, but He wanted to put every possibility of provision out there to make a way out of the bondage that comes with sin and failure. It’s like a mother, one many would call over-protective, giving her child an abundance of “just in case” scenarios to make sure the child is protected no matter what.

“Okay, honey, don’t answer the door; make sure the deadbolt is locked; the doorknob is locked; the chain lock is pulled; the intruder alarm is set; and your phone is charged in case you need to call us. I put the number where we’ll be on the refrigerator, but I also gave it to the neighbors on both sides in case you have to run out of the house to get away from a bad guy. Oh, and Aunt Sally will call you at 8 to check on you, and then Uncle Mike will call you at 9. Make sure you answer or they’ll call me to report you might be in trouble. Etc., etc., and, and, and.”

Does this seem like too much? God provided 613 total commandments to the Levitical priesthood. We have commandments in today’s reading that include when to sacrifice a goat, when to sacrifice a sheep, when it must be a female offering, and when a dove or pigeon can be used. He even provided for the unplanned sins, including those committed by making a promise (whether to do evil or good) and not keeping it. God has always wanted to make sure that we have ways out of our sins if we have a heart that is willing to step out of them through repentance.

And that is the most important part of it all… repentance. Whether it was following the Levitical commands back then, or stepping under the cleansing of Christ’s blood now, repentance is what makes the difference. Now, as then, a person must see his sin and failures as bondage (if nothing more than the bondage of being separated from his Loving Creator), and he must want to be set free. It’s not about finding reasons or excuses, and it’s not about trying to find some way to continue in sin. The blood–all the way back to the garden–has always been about repentance and being set free.

March 6, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Little Lambs Eat Ivy


Spotted Lambs by Flickr User Eva Mayer aka Eva Ganesha, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Spotted Lambs by Flickr User Eva Mayer aka Eva Ganesha, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream on Flickr.

I don’t know how many years I sang words that sounded something like “marezeedotes and dozeedotes and little lambsy divey,” but as a child, I did not understand that this song was about real animals. I really didn’t understand the word “akittleediveytu,” and why it then asked the question, “wouldn’t you?”

When I first read the Old Testament words from Exodus 13:1 through Exodus 13:16, it is also likely I didn’t understand all the types and shadows I was reading of that God had set up intentionally. Reading in this part of the Bible used to sound confusing to me, much like the words to the song, Mairzy Doats above. But now, I not only understand it, I personalize it.

Today’s story begins with God claiming that the firstborn of all creatures belongs to Him. Well, guess what? I’m a first-born child. Wow, that means I belong to Him! Of course, I love to read it that way, but it doesn’t mean I believe that my younger sister belongs any less to Him than I do. I know we are both redeemed by the blood of The Spotless Lamb that came in the form of Yahshua our Messiah and willingly laid down His own life for each of us–as well as for everyone who receives Him.

As God explains everything to Moses about lambs, redeeming firstborn humans with lambs, redeeming goats, etc., the thing He keeps repeating in this reading is that His people should never forget. He wants us to remember for ourselves by marking birth with redemption. He wants us to remember by wrapping His words around our hands and heads. This is likely talking of what we will see described later in the Torah, and what in Judaism is called “phylacteries,” but I’m certain there is also a type and shadow in this to make sure His words are written in everything we do and in everything we think.

More than once, God tells the people to pass these stories to their children, so that when they are living in the land of plenty that is promised to the seed of Abraham, they will know it came by way of a great deliverance by the Hand of God. And I don’t find it coincidental that He would tie that deliverance to physically cleansing the land and houses of all types of leaven (representing pride and sin) because it lines up with the New Testament Scripture in Ephesians 2:9 that says, “You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast.

None of this is really any more of a mystery than the fact that mares eat oats, and does eat oats, and little lambs eat ivy. Serving God is as simple as it is beautiful even if it is not always easy. If we just remember where God should be in every part of our lives–FIRST–we will have a way to follow that will lead us on a path to eternity with Him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After I posted this, I found a video of the above song on YouTube, and it has an adorable slide show to go along with it…

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

   

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