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The Next Time Ever I See Your Face


Hidden Fireman by Flickr User Ardin Hasa aka Ardinnnn :),  CC License  = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Hidden Fireman by Flickr User Ardin Hasa aka Ardinnnn :), CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab to view original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr.

Do you remember that funny song with sort of an Italian lingo called “Shaduppa You Face“?  The lyrics didn’t make a lot of sense, but I can just see Pharaoh hollering at Moses and saying, “Ah, Shaduppa you face, Moses.”

In today’s reading from Exodus 10:24 through Exodus 11:3, Pharaoh calls in Moses to tell him that he and the women and children can go ahead and leave to worship God. I guess that plague of darkness had him pretty freaked out. I’ve been on a few cave trips where they introduced what they call TCD or Total Cave Darkness, and it’s not fun to put your hand right in front of your face and see nothing. But even three days of total darkness wasn’t quite enough because, once again, Pharaoh has restrictions.

“What are you planning to take with you?” he asks. First it was the who he wasn’t satisfied with, and now it’s the what. And when Moses tells him they need to take the cattle, and that not one hoof will be left behind, Pharaoh tells him it isn’t necessary. Of course, that was now the only cattle Pharaoh had since he allowed everything else to be destroyed by plagues, so I’m guessing Pharaoh was even more defensive than before.

Moses tries to explain that they need the livestock to worship Yahveh, and that they will not know which ones are chosen for sacrifice until they are out there, but Pharaoh refuses to relent. Beyond that, he gets angry and tells Moses to go away and not to ever see his face again. He warns him that the day he sees his face will also be the day he dies. And Moses basically says, “Okay, if that’s how you want it,” and leaves.

Now God tells Moses that He is going to bring one more plague on Egypt, and that it will be so bad that Pharaoh will actually throw the people of Israel out. God then tells Moses to have the people of Israel go to their Egyptian neighbors to ask for gold and silver jewelry. The people willingly give what they have because God has given Israel favor in the site of the Egyptians. Moses is even thought of as a great man by the servants of Pharaoh.

It’s too bad Pharaoh’s servants couldn’t pull enough weight to convince Pharaoh of the value of Moses, but then again, I guess that goes to show that it is truly God who gives us favor in the eyes of man, and He did not give Moses favor in Pharaoh’s eyes. I believe God chose to keep Pharaoh hard-hearted because He knew what was in the depths of Pharaoh’s heart. His word says He will have mercy on some, and He will harden some. I love the way it’s stated in Romans 9:14-18 in The Message Bible. Hover over, or click, the previous verse to link to Bible Gateway and read it yourself. And remember that even our desire to serve God is from Him, so none of us can boast in ANY part of our salvation or deliverance.

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

He’ll Leave A Light On For You


Candle with Shadow Cross by Flickr User John Harvey aka monkeyc.net, CC License = Attribution, Noncommerical, Share Alike

Candle with Shadow Cross by Flickr User John Harvey aka monkeyc.net, CC License = Attribution, Noncommerical, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab with access to original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr.
User graciously allows derivatives on this image, so I was able to frame it and add the Scripture verse.

Light is such a welcoming feature that a famous U.S. motel chain created the slogan, “We’ll leave a light on for you.” Few people like to walk into a place with no light, especially if that place is unfamiliar. And in all truth, that’s why we have God’s Word. It is God’s way of bringing us from darkness into His marvelous light. For those who are living in darkness and do not understand it, God’s light can be blinding at first, so we who live and walk in His light do well to remember to bring it up gently. We can also remember that in total darkness, it takes very little light to illuminate an entire room.

In today’s reading from Exodus 10:12 through Exodus 10:23, we will see that God is the Creator of light, and He can take it away just as sure as He can send it. In the beginning of our reading, Moses is instructed to stretch out his hand. When he does, God causes a wind to blow from the east that brings in more locusts than Egypt has ever seen. When it is all said and done, not one green thing remains in all the land.

Pharaoh rushes to bring in Moses, and this time he actually confesses that he has sinned against God and against Moses. He asks for forgiveness of his sin “just this once” and begs Moses to intercede for God to remove this plague. God sends a west wind and drives the locusts into the Sea of Suf, but Pharaoh does not let the people go. As an answer, God begins plague number nine. He tells Moses to raise his hand to the sky, and it brings in a thick darkness over all the land of Egypt. It was so dark that people could not see each other or go anywhere for three days. But the people of Israel had light in their homes.

I love that last line because it can be taken in more than just a literal sense. When the people of Egypt chose to be disobedient to God, even their trusted sources of light (I’m guessing that would’ve basically been candles in those times) did not seem to work. When people now choose to live in disobedience to God, their sources of light–knowledge, power, money, things, beauty, etc.–won’t illuminate their way either.

How many stories do we read of those we would think have everything who end up descending into hopelessness and ending their lives by suicide? There’s a whole set of books by Patricia Fox-Sheinwold that covers stories of celebrities whose lives came to a tragic end instead of a natural one. Many of the stories are about suicide. This tells us that no matter what else people have or do not have, we all need God in our lives and in our homes if we want true peace and light. If we seek God with our whole hearts, we can be sure He WILL leave a light on for us, so we can find Him.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leftovers Again


Leftovers for Dinner by Flickr User Avi and Elina Flax, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Leftovers for Dinner by Flickr User Avi and Elina Flax, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab with access to original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr.

Well over twenty years ago, I read a story in Reader’s Digest from the Life In These United States section. It was a story of a mother who was talking about how much television was beginning to influence her family. She served leftovers for dinner, and one of her children complained loudly, “Aw Mom, reruns again?” For some reason, it was cute enough that it pops into my mind almost anytime I think about leftovers.

In today’s reading from Exodus 10:1 through Exodus 10:11, Pharaoh should have thought about his leftovers with gratefulness. In this new portion, Parashah 15 titled “Bo” in Hebrew and meaning Go, Yahveh is talking to Moses about going to Pharaoh with another warning. He encourages Moses by reminding him that the great works He is doing in front of Egypt will be stories Moses can pass on to his children and grandchildren, so that future generations will know that He is God.

The warning to Pharaoh is that if he does not allow God’s people to leave for worship, God will send, as plague number eight, so many locusts that they will eat up every growing thing that is left over from the hail damage. He warns it will be worse than anyone in his generation, or in previous generations, has ever seen, and that it will fill all the houses of Pharaoh and his servants. Moses gives his message, and then he turns his back and leaves.

After he’s gone, Pharaoh’s servants begin to beg him to reconsider. They basically ask Pharaoh how long Moses must be a thorn in their side, and Pharaoh relents and calls Moses back in to tell him the people can leave. But, he does add one caveat. He asks who they will take with them, and when Moses tells him it will be men, women, children, livestock, etc., Pharaoh tells him there’s no way they can all go and assumes it’s a trick. He tells them that only the men can go, or no one can go. And then Pharaoh drives the men out of his presence.

Because Pharaoh did not know God, he did not understand that it is not up to mankind to question God’s request or try to make changes to God’s will. He opened the door to allow even more loss into his life, and the hardness of his heart would cost him a greater price than he could ever have imagined. It would do us all well to take this lesson to heart and to use it to teach others that they do not have to lose everything before they turn to God. Resistance will not change God’s mind no matter how much those in sin might think it will. It’s as simple as this: God is God, and we are not.

January 4, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hail or No, We Won’t Let You Go


Leaves and Hail by Flickr User Michael J, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial

Leaves and Hail by Flickr User Michael J, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial
Click image to open new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr.

What is it about stubbornness that makes so many people hold onto it so strongly? I mean, Pharaoh has had far more than three days of trouble. All he had to do was let the people go for three days, but because he remained stubborn and hard-hearted, he is getting ready to suffer yet another plague. And we can be pretty sure that he is blaming all of these plagues on God, on Moses and Aaron, and/or on the people of Israel. But all the blame and justification in the world will not change the fact that a simple act of obedience, and maybe a little compassion from Pharaoh toward Israel, could have stopped all of Egypt’s troubles.

In today’s reading from Exodus 9:17 through Exodus 9:35 (the end of the chapter, and the end of this week’s portion), God is having to issue yet another warning to Pharaoh. This time He tells Pharaoh that He is getting ready to send a terrible hail storm on Egypt that will be worse than anything they have ever seen. But, this time they actually have another way out. Anyone who brings their slaves and animals inside and out of the field will not lose them. But every human and animal left out in the field will die from getting pelted by the hail stones. Those among Pharaoh’s servants who believed Yahveh brought their slaves and animals inside.

When the storm begins, it comes with thunder and fire as well. From the way it’s worded about flashing up, I’m guessing the fire is lightning, but I can’t be sure. The storm destroys plants and kills animals and people, but in the land of Goshen where God’s people stayed, there is no storm at all. As I’m typing this, I’m imagining Goshen to be in the eye of the storm and thinking how this would be like saying they were being watched by God as the storm was going on around them. If we trust in God, we too can have the promise of His eye watching us and of His protection in our midst. If we keep our eye on Him, then we do not have to fear no matter how severe we see the storms raging around us.

Now this next part almost made me laugh. Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron with a confession. He says, “This time I have sinned.” What? This time? So he’s not only stubborn and hard-hearted, he’s an idiot too? Maybe the plagues are finally starting to wear him down, but why would a person need to be scraped along the bottom before he decides to look up? And why, when he does finally look up, does he look through half-closed eyes instead of confessing and forsaking all his sins so he can be set free from them? It makes no sense to me, but then pride never has made sense since–from the time Lucifer used it at the throne to this moment. It always comes before destruction, but we humans continue to push the boundaries anyway.

Still, after Pharaoh pleas for deliverance, God does stop the storm. Moses even gives Pharaoh the good news that the crops which had not yet blossomed would still come up for him. And yet again, when Pharaoh is no longer uncomfortable, he hardens his heart like a big piece of hail, and he changes his mind again about letting the people go–just as God told Moses would happen. And this is the end of the week’s portion, and the news of the seventh plague. Shabbat Shalom.

January 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh The Games Pharaoh Plays Now


The Games People Play by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The Games People Play by Crystal A Murray, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Image from our messy game closet at our old house. It was up in a closet I couldn’t reach well, so I basically had to toss most of the games up there. The new closet of games is a little better. 🙂

Sing with me…

Oh the games Pharaoh plays now,
Every night and every day now,
Never meaning what he says now,
Never sayin’ what he means.
La la la la la la la la…

If you don’t know the song for the tune, here’s a link to a YouTube video of it…

So, in today’s reading from Exodus 8:19(23) through Exodus 9:16, we have the continued warning from God to Pharaoh about the fourth plague, an abundance of bugs (some say flies) that would swarm Egypt yet be spared from God’s people. All this if Pharaoh did not release the people to go worship, which, of course, he didn’t. So God kept His word and sent the swarms of bugs just when He said He would. I even contemplated a title for this post of “Vex and Bugs and Stock with Boils” but since hubby didn’t figure out the connection to “sex and drugs and rock and roll,” I wrote the parody title instead.

Anyway, Pharaoh summons Moses and tells him the people can worship, but they must do it right there in the land. Moses wisely explains that the animals they would sacrifice would be an abomination to the Egyptians, so it would not be a good idea for them to stay in the land. Pharaoh concedes and says they can go out to worship, and Moses warns him to stop playing games if he doesn’t want to see more plagues. Of course, as soon as Moses prayed, and God took the plague of insects away, Pharaoh recanted and refused to let the people go.

In Chapter nine, Moses takes God’s word back to Pharaoh to warn of a plague that would hit only Egypt’s livestock. After all of them died, and none belonging to Israel died, you’d think Pharaoh would wake up, but he didn’t. That was the little-talked about plague number five.

When Pharaoh would not obey God’s commands or warnings, Moses followed God’s direction to begin plague six. He blew some kiln ashes into the air where God turned them into infected sores on all the men and animals. This time, the magicians couldn’t even stand in the presence of Moses because of the sores, let alone try to work any of their magic. Of course, Pharaoh remained hard-hearted.

As today’s reading comes to an end, Moses comes with a warning that God Himself will now send plagues that will infect Pharaoh and all his top officials. It’s hard to tell if they had been under the previous plagues. Never-the-less, God’s word to Pharaoh is that He could have sent such severe plagues that Pharaoh and all his people would’ve been wiped off the face of the earth, but He chose to let them live, so that they would see that God has no equal. He warns that He will now show them a power that will cause His name to resound throughout the whole earth. Not that He ever did, but I think we can safely say that Yahveh Almighty does not play ANY games.

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Petrified Heart


Petrified Forest Logs by Flickr User Morten Rand-Hendriksen CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works

Petrified Forest Logs by Flickr User Morten Rand-Hendriksen CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab to access original image and user’s photo stream at Flickr.

I’ve always thought petrified wood was the coolest stuff. Of course, I like a lot of things in rock form. I mean, I even own my very own box of rocks, and I don’t think they’re dumb at all. 😉 Petrified wood actually looks like wood, but time and weather hardens what once was wood into a stone substance. It’s just like Pharaoh’s heart. It might look like a real heart, but it has been petrified by his fear of losing control until it has become impossible to touch and soften, even by the Hand of God.

In the last few days’ readings, we’ve seen where God was the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but today we read that Pharaoh himself hardens it. I said from the beginning that I guessed God only hardened it because He knew Pharaoh’s heart to begin with. That shows quite well in today’s reading from Exodus 8:7 (11) through Exodus 8:18 (22). (Parentheses are verse numbers in versions other than The Complete Jewish Bible.)

As the reading begins, Moses is seeking God to get rid of the frogs as he told Pharaoh he would do. God answers by killing all the frogs which the people then sweep out of the houses into big heaps until the towns stink. But as soon as Pharaoh found some relief from the plague, Scripture says he hardened his own heart and refused to keep his promise to let Israel go to worship. God tells Moses to have Aaron strike the dust of the ground so it would turn to lice, and pretty soon there was lice on every living creature in every home.

As usual, Pharaoh tries to get his magicians to do the same, and this time, they are unable. I wonder if it’s because only God is able to create something from the dust of the earth–especially something living. This time, even the magicians claim that the miraculous work is the finger of God, but Pharaoh is hard-hearted again just as Yahveh said he would be.

God tells Moses to go out to Pharaoh the next morning and again request that he let the people go to worship. He says for Moses to warn Pharaoh that if he doesn’t do it this time, there will be swarms of insects in every part of the land except the land of Goshen where God’s people dwell. By that, Yahveh says, all will know that Pharaoh will then know that He is God right there in the land. And what Scripture does not say is that also by that, Pharaoh will know the he is NOT the god of that land. It’s too bad Pharaoh didn’t know that the fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Because we have the promise that with God’s touch, a heart of stone can become a heart of flesh, if Pharaoh would’ve learned to fear God instead of things of man like pride and control, even he would have had hope.

January 1, 2014 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Than; Less Than; No Equal


Equals Sign by Flickr user Colin Jagoe, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Equals Sign by Flickr user Colin Jagoe, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open a new tab with access to the original image and the user’s photo stream at Flickr.

Here are a few questions to think about… 1. What is the opposite of light? 2. What is the opposite of good? 3. What is the opposite of love? More than likely, your answers are dark, evil (or bad), and hate. Now, a new question… What is the opposite of God? If your answer is satan, guess again. I’ll tell you the answer by the end of this post, but you may get it out of today’s reading from Exodus 7:8 through Exodus 8:10 (8:6 in Complete Jewish Bible since there are more verses in chapter 7).

Our reading begins with God speaking to Aaron and Moses about what miracles to perform in front of Pharaoh. They do as Yahveh commanded, but Pharaoh is unimpressed because he is able to call out magicians to perform the same “trick” with turning a stick into a serpent. Well, except for the fact that Aaron’s serpent ate up all the magicians’ serpents. Still, Pharaoh stayed hard-hearted as Yahveh told them he would be. Even in the face of the miraculous, Pharaoh could not see God as greater than him nor himself as less than God. It’s the same fatal mistake made by the angel Lucifer when he thought he was equal to God.

The next miraculous work performed by Aaron and Moses turns all water in Egypt to blood. The water in the river turns to blood, kills all the fish, and makes the river stink with their death. Even water in jars and buckets turns to blood. The whole land of Egypt is filled with blood, but Pharaoh is so hard-hearted that he actually has his magicians perform the same feat. Now why didn’t he have his magicians make him some pure water to drink? I guess hard-heartedness comes bundled with idiocy or something.

Never-the-less, even after seven days of drinking blood, when Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh to let the people go to worship, he still refuses to let them, so the men warn Pharaoh of the coming plague of frogs. At God’s word, frogs come up from all over the place and swarm the land and homes of all Egypt. And, again, Pharaoh has his magicians do exactly the same thing. Political logic is just illogical. Demonstrating power just for power’s sake has no wisdom. This is why it is so important to make sure that we who believe in the miraculous do not worship the miracles themselves, nor should we worship those whom God uses to perform His great works. Worship should be saved for Yahveh Almighty and Him alone. Not the miracles, but the God OF the miracles. See the wisdom here?

Finally, Pharaoh gets it enough to realize that he needs Moses to intercede with God for the frogs to be taken out of the land. He promises that if Moses will intercede, he will allow the people to go worship. Moses tells him that he will not only intercede, but he will allow Pharaoh to choose the time. Pharaoh requests the frogs be taken from all but the river by the next day. And I love Moses’ answer to Pharaoh’s request: Moshe said, “It will be as you have said, and from this you will learn that Adonai our God has no equal.”

And just in case you haven’t quite grasped my point from the question at the top, the answer to what is the opposite of God is NOTHING. In order for satan (ha satan meaning “the adversary”) to be the opposite of God, he would need to be as purely evil as God is good; as purely hate as God is love. But God has no equal even in the opposite sense. God is greater than all, and absolutely nothing or no one is greater than–or equal–to Him. And yet, He cares enough for us to create for us, walk with us, talk with us, listen to us, lay down His own life for us, and prepare an eternity for us. Hallelu-Yah!!

December 31, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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