Monthly Archives: May 2011
“May your light never go out” – a blessing
YHWH gave a command to Aaron and Israel. Never allow His light to go out in the tabernacle. It was the priest’s job to keep the lamp in the tabernacle lit at all times. His light is to shine in the darkness, never consumed or put out. His light is to shine at all times and for all times. It is a beacon of hope to the world. It is holy to the LORD.
In the same way, the priest is to take fine flour and bake 12 loaves of bread and place them on the pure (gold) table in the presence of YHWH. These 12 loaves are to be continually before him, to be eaten by Aaron and his descendants and then replenished every Sabbath. They are holy to the LORD.
More than that, the Name of the LORD is holy. When a man blasphemes the Name of the LORD, there are consequences. It becomes a death sentence. To dishonor the Name of the LORD is to dishonor the LORD. That cannnot be allowed in the camp and presence of God. YHWH is not going to strike down every person who says something negative about Him, but He does expect His people to respond appropriately. He is the LORD, and His name is Holy.
Do we treat YHWH and His name as holy. Are we a light that never goes out, or are we on and off and on and off. Do we point to the bread of life, or only to ourselves?
That’s one of the things that i like about YHWH. It’s not all just about rules and regulations. It’s about utilizing all kinds of aspects of life. It’s about creativity and connecting the past, to the present, to the future. Worship is not just about sacrifices and burnt offerings. It’s also about bringing something before God that you are to consume in his presence. It’s about festivals and rest as well.
There are a number of festivals that are to be celebrated throughout the year; the Passover, Pentacost, the feast of weeks, the feast of booths, etc. They all have meanings and important interpretations. For instance, passover is a celebration of freedom from bondage and slavery under the Egyptians. It is a celebration of new life and hope. It is a celebration of freedom. Meanwhile, the feast of booths is a week long celebration in which the first day is a day of rest and the only work that can be done is the building of small booths made of the branches, boughs, and fronds of trees. It is a celebration as a reminder of the Israelite’s time in the wilderness where they had to rely on God for protection and provision. It is a time of blessing. The feast of booths begins and ends with a day of rest to the LORD. I mean honestly, how many religions do you know that celebrate rest?
Are we taking seriously what YHWH has done for us? Do we make it a point to remember and celebrate together the ways that He has brought health and healing to our lives? Do we remind one another and celebrate together His work and purpose in and through us? How can we do this more?
The priestly laws continue. It must be hard to be a priest in Biblical times. The rules and regulations you had to keep track of. Some of them are obvious of course… like if you touch something unclean you will remain unclean until evening. No leaper of the sons of Aaron may eat of the holy sacrifices, and while the family may eat, the married daughters may not eat unless she is divorced or widowed with no children and returns home to her father’s house. It just seems like the laws and rules never end, but they are there for a reason. An important reason. Because someone needed to represent the people to YHWH, and YHWH to the people.
So the priests were responsible for the sins of the people and their relationship with YHWH. They are the ones who placed their lives on the line day after day to make sure that the people’s sins were covered. They are the ones who had to do everything perfectly every day and every time. They had to teach the people the precepts of YHWH. It is their responsibility and their honor. YHWH is a holy and a jealous God. To serve Him day by day is an honor and a responsibility of a lifetime.
Do we take YHWH seriously, or do we just use Him as a rescue raft. Do we worship the Holy God, or do we demand assistance from a galactic servant. Do we pursue a relationship with Him in awe and wonder, or do we attempt to flippantly use Him for our advantage and advancement? We are the servants of the Most High. Maybe we need to start acting that way… if that’s alright with you.
Whenever YHWH sets a leader over His people, He sets up some pretty high expectations. There are things that the people can do that the leaders must stay away from. Those who act as priests, prophets, and kings are expected to live at a higher standard than those who do not have a direct connection and responsibility to YHWH.
In this chapter those of the priestly line and especially the priests who serve the LORD are instructed that they may not defile themselves by a corpse unless it is a direct family member. Even then, the high priest may not even do that. They may not marry a woman who has been widowed or divorced, or who has slept with any other man at any time in her life. She must be a virgin or he may not marry her. Nor may a priest tear his clothes in mourning or uncover his head. If his daughter profanes herself in harlotry, it rests on him as well. Then finally, if there is any physical defect in a man, He may not serve as priest before the LORD. YHWH even goes so far as to say that if a man has a broken hand or foot, he may not serve the LORD.
Do we take our responsibility in representing the LORD seriously? Do we set ourselves apart from the world, or do we do what everyone else is doing? As people who pursue God and seek His work and will in our lives, we should be living examples of God and His work and will. We should be truly pursuing Him in all holiness.
Leviticus 20 parallel’s chapter 18 in most ways. They both deal with those things that profane the people and the land. They both respond to sexual sins and blatant ungodliness. Both refer to the corruption of the nation through the corruption of the people, and that the very land itself will spew them out when their actions come out this way.
All of this is important for all people. These are sins that cause the land to become unfertile and to reject its inhabitants, whether they be Christians, or Muslims, or Jews, or Hindu’s, or Buddhists, or Atheists, or Animists, any others. When we pursue sexual immorality and spiritists, we will find time and time again that our nations will become more and more corrupt and that we will lose what we cherish most.
On a more positive note, in this chapter we come across a new name of God; YHWH Qadash. YHWH Qadash appears in verse 8, and it means the LORD (YHWH) who sanctifies you. It is a beautiful picture of how YHWH cherishes His people and sets them apart for Himself. Those who are His children are blessed and honored by His name and His work in and through us. We are pursued and set apart by the Most Holy God. It is both an honor and a responsibility, and it must not be taken lightly. It must not be profaned.
Leviticus 19 is a chapter of miscellaneous (sundry) laws and regulations. It starts out focusing on idolatry and that that is to be forbidden among the people of Israel. From there, the chapter focuses on various laws directly and indirectly related to the Ten Commandments, such as not stealing and dealing falsely with neighbors, and not swearing falsely in the name of YHWH. There are also other sundry laws. Some of those laws we will see again, and some don’t really reoccur in the Torah.
Here we see the command not to take vengeance on your neighbor because “I am the LORD (YHWH)” We also see commands about what to do with the fruit of your fruit bearing trees in the first five years after they are planted, as well as tattoos and self-cutting, and having respect for those with grey hair.
Overall, there are many interesting laws and regulations within this chapter, most of which i haven’t even hinted at. So i recommend that you take some time and look through and read the chapter for yourself.
This chapter is a very controversial chapter and tends to bring up all kinds of questions and debate. In it YHWH deals with defilement (primarily sexual defilement); what defiles the people and what defiles the land. In this chapter YHWH gives instruction for the people not to uncover their relative’s nakedness (or have sexual relations with them). Incest is forbidden including incestual relations between a man and his mother, a father and his daughter-in-law, a man and both a woman and her daughter, and other relations.
There are other issues at work in this chapter as well. For instance there is the command not to uncover a woman’s nakedness during her menstrual period, not to sleep with a neighbor’s wife, and not to sacrifice your child to Molech (this doesn’t happen anymore… does it?). Each of these issues is very important and significant and should in no way be minimized.
However, the most controversial verse in this chapter (according to the current cultural view) is verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” You can see where a big part of the controversy begins here. There are many that say that this passage does not apply anymore due to Christ having fulfilled the law. That since Christ came and died and was raised again, and the curtain to the most holies was torn, we are no longer bound by the law. We do not have to fulfill the sacrificial rules and regulations because Christ became the perfect sacrifice. Since this passage is part of the legal instructions given to the Israelite people, it is completed and fulfilled and no longer applicable to us.
To some extent, that is an accurate (albeit flawed) understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the law. This entire chapter holds a different kind of sway than most of the rest of the law. It is true to some extent that the law was for the nation of Israel, but this chapter is about what supersedes that law. Verses 24-25 explain this a little bit better:
“Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.”
It doesn’t take an exegetical genius to understand that the commands in this chapter aren’t limited to the people of the Israelite nation. These are laws that defy nature itself. They are not limited to the people of Israel. They apply to all people and all time. It is because of these kinds of sins that the Israelites have the right, and the responsibility to not only conquer the land of Canaan, but to destroy its inhabitants as well. The land itself has judged the Canaanites and is spewing them out because of the sins listed in this chapter. The Israelites are simply tools to the fulfillment of that justice.
So how should we respond to those caught up in these kinds of sins? Are we to judge and condemn them? Is that our “right”? I don’t believe so. God says, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” In that passage He is referring to not judging those of the world. That judgment is His, not ours to dole out. However, in I Corinthians 5 we are instructed to judge those within the body that are sinning against the body, and the sin refereed to there is a sin directly related to this chapter. It was a sin being accepted and even praised within the church that should have been condemned. That is a pattern we would be wise to heed. The leaders of the church are responsible for understanding and responding appropriately to sin within the body. In NO WAY should the church be lifting up and encouraging within the body what YHWH has condemned. We are to be the light of hope to the troubled and struggling, not following in the defilement of the world.
“Then God (Elohim) spoke all these words, saying,
‘I am the LORD your God (YHWH Elohim), who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God (YHWH Elohim), am a jealous God (Elohim),’” Exodus 20:1-5a
Leviticus 17 expands on and deals with the particulars of this passage a little bit more. There are two connected issues here. First, no one may slaughter an ox, lamb, or goat within or outside of camp without bringing the body to the tabernacle to offer it as an offering to the LORD. This is to ensure that there is no other worship except the worship of YHWH in the Israelite camp. If a man or a woman sacrificed an animal to another god, that would have brought defilement upon the camp and people of Israel.
Reading that you could not slaughter an ox, sheep, or goat without offering it as a sacrifice to YHWH, i wonder how the Israelites could harvest their flocks and herds. If sheep, goats and oxen were the primary means of meat for the Israelites, and they could only be slaughtered to sacrifice them to God, where do they get the meat needed to live on? I don’t have the answer to that one, but knowing me, i’m probably just missing something simple.
The second part of this chapter deals with the command not to consume blood. Blood is the life of the creature. That’s been backed up by research for centuries. The essence of the creature, it’s life and support system, comes from the blood. As such, God requires that we do not consume of it. In fact, when we hunt or kill an animal, we are instructed to let the blood drain out and cover it with dirt.
Do we take Exodus 20:1-5a seriously? Have we made for ourselves gods other than YHWH? Obviously we don’t make idols. However, we have a tendency to worship, pursue, and trust in many things other than YHWH. Some worship the god of money, others the god of family, others the god of education, others of technology. Most American’s worship and bow down to the god of self. When we place any of these things before YHWH, we are making them gods in our eyes. What will it have to take to change our view and for us to start truly worshiping YHWH, the one true God, once again?
Most of the sacrifices previously mentioned have been for the individual. Whether it was a burnt offering, or a peace offering, or a wave offering, or a grain offering. Each person would bring their sacrifice to the tabernacle to cover their own sins or for themselves and their families. However, the day of atonement is different.
The day of atonement is very special in comparison to the other “daily” sacrifices. The day of atonement occurs once per year on the 10th day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. It is a time when all of the congregation of Israel was to get together at the tabernacle / temple for a special sacrifice for all. The day of atonement is about bringing cleansing to the high priest and his family; to the tabernacle, alter and tools of worship; and to the congregation of Israel as a whole. It’s about purifying and bringing all to right. It’s kind of like rebooting or restoring a computer. It cleans out the system and gives a fresh start.
This is very important over the succeeding centuries, and if it had been done and taken seriously as it should have been, it would have gone a long way to help prevent the corruption and downfall of the nations of Israel and Judah. Yet it didn’t.
This principle still applies today. While it is important for each individual to come to repentance before the LORD, and that seems to be a lost art. Even more so the repentance of the nation. How often do we take responsibility for the sins of the nation. How often do we come to YHWH in worship of Him and seeking not only forgiveness and healing for our own sins but for those of our nation. How often do we take responsibility for the decisions and direction of the nation. It is something that the leaders of the nation especially are to do, but that the people of the nation need to pursue and take accountability for as well. It is our nation and our responsibility.
Rev. John Camiolo