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Numbers 19 – Purpose

We talked about the weight of being chosen and the wages as well.  Now we look at the purpose.  Aaron & his sons and the rest of the Levites were not chosen for the fun of it.  They were given a reason, a purpose.  This is where we begin to see that.

This is where we see the ordinance of the red heifer.  The red heifer is meant to be a sacrifice, but not just any sacrifice.  It is the sacrifice that cleanses the tabernacle.  That is one of the primary roles and purposes of the priest.  They are to offer the sacrifices and teach the people so that they can be purified and so that their sins can be covered.  Their purpose is to serve YHWH, and to help the unclean to become clean before the LORD.

What happens when the unclean does not become clean… when the priest does not do his duty as he has been called by YHWH to do?

20 ‘But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD;

If the priest did not do his duty, the peoples sins were not covered, and they were forever separated from the assembly … the people … the congregation of YHWH.  That’s quite the responsibility.

Aren’t you glad that there is both a perfect Sacrifice and a perfect Priest.  One who cannot fail in his priestly duties because He is both the one who cleanses us, and the one who makes us clean.  The one sent of YHWH to answer the perfect call with perfect purpose.

Thank you Jesus the Christ.  The one prophesied to come, and the one to fulfill all of the prophesies.  Now we too can have a purpose!

Rev. John Camiolo Jr.

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Numbers 18 – Weight & Wages

YHWH has shown who He has chosen.  He has made it clear that HE has chosen Aaron and his line for the priesthood.  This is the calling of the LORD.

Last chapter so many were seeking it, but only one was chosen.  Verse 1 of chapter 18 says, “So the LORD said to Aaron, ‘You and your sons and your father’s household with you shall bear the guilt in connection with the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the guilt in connection with your priesthood.”  Wait a minute?  I thought that the priesthood was supposed to be a blessing!  Yet as soon as it is clear that Aaron’s line is chose, the weight of that choice is laid out.

Oh, to be the chosen of the LORD!  Tevya (Fiddler on the Roof) said,  “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”  The Levites are the chosen people, but it also means that they have a huge responsibility.  If anything goes wrong, the blame fell squarely on them.  Being chosen is a blessing, but it comes at a price.  Look at anyone chose of YHWH.  The prophets were chosen of God, yet so many of them were rejected and killed for speaking the truth.  Job was chosen to be blessed of the LORD, yet look at the trial he went through.  The disciples were chosen, yet martyrdom became their prize.  The Messiah Himself came and fulfilled His purpose.  The purpose outlined in Isaiah 52-53.  53:7 says,

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth. 

That’s what it means to truly means to be chosen.

That is not the end of the chapter.  That may be the weight, but there are still the wages.  The priests may have had to bear the weight and the responsibility of priesthood, but they were not without the wages.  Many of the sacrifices offered to YHWH were the priests payment.  In vs. 17, it says, “…they are a gift to you, dedicated to the LORD…”  Given to the LORD, yet payment to the priests.

This principle should still exist today.  Those called to be pastors have a HUGE responsibility.  More so than even they realize most times.  However, there should be no one more blessed in all the congregation than the pastor who has been called of God.  It comes at a price.  A price that is overwhelming.  BUT, it should not be without the blessing.  Keep that in mind if / when you are ready to be critical of a pastor.  Chances are, they are holding the responsibility, are you giving them the blessing?

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Numbers 15 – Answers

I copied over this chapter a couple of days ago, and my initial reaction to it was one of surprise.  Numbers 14, the chapter before, was all about how the people did not listen to YHWH, but took the bad report from their leaders and instead disobeyed God.  As a result of that, the people are sent to the wilderness for another 40 years so that they will die in the wilderness and their children will inherit the land.  Yet, here we are in Numbers 15 and the chapter starts out; “Now the LORD (YHWH) spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When you enter the land where you are to live, which I am giving you, then make an offering by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering or a sacrifice to…“, and it goes on.

Am I the only one that is a little confused about this?  The people have just been told that because of their sin, they will spend the next 40 years wandering around in the wilderness.  They will die and will never see the land promised to their forefathers by YHWH.  Now suddenly YHWH is telling them that when they enter the land that He is giving them, they are to make an offering by fire to Him, and then He proceeds to explain the offering to them!?

That question went to the back of my mind as the chapter went on.  Any sacrifice made by someone who is an alien (later to be referred to as gentile) or sojourner was to be the same as that of the native (Jew).  The firstfruits were to be lifted up as an offering, and offering for unintentionally sinning.  There was a man who had been gathering wood on the Sabbath day, and the people’s response to that.  Then finally it ends with YHWH instructing the people to put tassels on the corners of their garments each with a cord of blue to remind them of YHWH’s laws and to obey them.

However, this morning i turned to Numbers 15 to write this post, and the answer hit me.  It wasn’t that YHWH was trying to be cruel to them, or that He was trying to tell them that they actually would enter the promised land.  It was not Him teasing the people, it was about Him giving them hope.  Because of their sin to God, the people have just lost everything that they had been working towards.  The wilderness was now all that they would know and see.  As a result the people would become demoralized and hope / vision less, and as Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,  But happy is he who keeps the law.

These statements are made to provide the people with hope.  To give them something to look to.  The people’s hope and purpose is now to raise up their children to be the generation that will not turn away from YHWH, that will go forward and take the land.  They may not be entering it themselves, but their children would, and they needed them to be ready!

These three abide / remain / are not consumed; faith, hope, and love!  With YHWH these will always be.  The people needed the answer of hope.  What do you need?

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Numbers 12 – Rank Unrest

The unrest continues.  In chapter 11 the people complained to Moses & the LORD yet again.  Moses became fed up with having to deal with it all the time and he complained to the LORD about the people.  So YHWH gave Moses 70 elders to assist him in leading the people.  Every one of them spoke prophetically when the Holy Spirit descended on them the first time.  Then the people’s complaints led to YHWH striking them with a plague.

Now, we arrive at Numbers 12, and it’s not done yet!  The people are doing it; Moses has done it; now Miriam and Aaron are joining the fray.  Everyone’s airing their complaints, now they are going to as well.  A while back, before the whole Exodus trip, Moses had been in the wilderness for 40 years and while there he married a woman of the people of Cush instead of an Israelite woman.  This is part of the problem as this is what leads into the other complaint, the real issue.  Miriam and Aaron use this as a stepping point to help justify their big complaint.  Moses is getting all of the glory!  He leads, and now he has just given these other people, these 70 elders some of the leadership and authority given to him by YHWH!

How do we know that these 70 elders are worthy of being leaders?  The Holy Spirit came upon them and they prophesied!  So if proof of God / YHWH’s divine calling is to prophesy, Miriam & Aaron should be able to lead as well!

Why does Moses get to do all the leading?  YHWH has obviously spoken in and through them as well.  These other leaders have only been doing this for a day and they are leaders of the people.  Miriam and Aaron have been at the forefront, been actively involved, and have been prophesying (being a mouthpiece of YHWH) since before Egypt for Aaron, and at least since they crossed the Red Sea for Miriam!  Yet here they are, playing second fiddle to these underlings!

Does that sound familiar to some of you?  Was there some merit in their argument?  Absolutely!… kind of.  They had been used by YHWH that whole time.  Aaron had even performed miracles in Egypt.  The reality is that Miraim and Aaron had been leaders the entire time.  They did not have the titles that these other “leaders” were given (although Aaron was High Priest), but they were just as much leaders, if not even more, than those appointed.  So what happens to Miriam and Aaron when they, as leaders, speak out against Moses, YHWH’s chosen leader?  “…behold, Miriam was  leprous, as white as snow…”  Miriam was the leader in this complaining (hence her name showing up first), so she received the responsibility and the brunt.  She got what she asked for.  She was the leader and she got the punishment.  Even then, her leadership was proven.  She ended up cast out of the camp for a week because of her uncleanness from the leprosy, and the whole congregation refused to leave where they were until she was back where she belonged.  THAT’S what a good leader looks like!  She may not have had the title she wanted, but she was a leader.

Are we so caught up in titles that we lose focus on our purpose?  Do we get upset when someone lower than us is “given” a leadership role we “deserve”?  Be careful what you speak against YHWH’s anointed.  YHWH does not take that criticism lightly.

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Numbers 11 – Unrest

There appears to be unrest in the ranks.  Two chapters ago God was telling the people to look back and remember all that had happened in the last year.  He called for the celebration of the Passover feast and a time for the people to reflect back.  He was setting / reinforcing a precedent, preparing the people for the next stage of the journey.  So the people had their second Passover feast and their time to reflect on all the ways YWHW has blessed them.  They are finally setting out on their journey to the promised land!

Then… well, the first verse says it all: “Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled”  Oy vey!  The complaining just continues.  The people are on their way to the land flowing with milk and honey.  They are eating Manna, food provided directly to them by God.  They have seen miracle after wonder after miracle after wonder, and what do they do?  We complain!  We complain and we complain and we complain!  How often does YHWH do something amazing for or through us, and within a month, a week, or even a day we are ready to complain that things are not good enough!

I’m a little bit behind again on my posting (about 4 chapters or so), so the other day I was talking with my wife about this chapter and how much this is a reflection of us.  We have really felt like the last few years of our lives have been a wilderness experience for us.  In this wilderness YHWH has blessed and provided for us in so many different ways.  He has continued to take care of us even when I was jobless or only making a minimal wage at a very difficult part-time job, and my wife has been a stay at home mom with our four young kids.  Through this time His blessings have continued and all of our “needs”, and even many of our “wants” have been provided for.

Yet through this all, my wife and I find ourselves complaining about what we don’t have; about how we are going through all of this and these other people are being blessed even when they act foolishly and we are acting wisely; about what we can’t do and where we aren’t living.  It’s funny; after going through chapter 9 where it talks about the people celebrating the Passover it’s easy to be critical of them complaining and their foolishness, but the reality is that we aren’t much different.

Lord, YHWH, forgive us for our complaints, our unrest.  Help us to have the right attitude and  to worship you freely.  Help us to look to You and to be a blessing to those around us.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Rev. John

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Numbers 10 – Israel Go

The time has come,
The time is now.
Just go, go, go!
I’ll tell you how.

Silver trumpets sound,
That’s when all will know;
Time for battle or for feast,
Leaders meet and the nation go!

When the tabernacle cloud arise,
Or the pillar as of fire go by night;
As it leaves from that place,
All Israel move out at its sight.

Each tribe in its place,
Goes out in its way.
The people know it’s time,
Whe’r by night or by day.

They move on out,
All tribes in formation;
As a cross they proceed,
The Israelite nation.

Only YHWH does know,
Where their steps will all lead.
So the people with faith,
Do trust and concede.

Following cloud or fiery pillar,
The people proceed;
With faith and with hope,
YHWH’s all that they need.

When the time has come,
For the nation to settle;
The icon they follow,
Drift down as a petal.

Now the nation does rest,
Where cloud & fire remain.
Will they stay in peace,
Or will they go on and complain?

The time had come,
The time had went.
The people of Israel,
Had gone as been sent.

 

The introduction was adapted from Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by Dr. Seuss 

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Numbers 9 – Anniversary

Wow, a year has passed since the people of Israel have come out of the land of Egypt!  So much has happened in all that time.  Now, it is time to look back on all that has happened.  It had been exactly one year previously that the people of Israel had still been slaves in Egypt.  They were celebrating their first Passover and were in wonder of all the miracles God / YHWH had done in their midst and to Egypt.  That night the angel of the Lord / YHWH passed-over the nation of Egypt and took the lives of the firstborn of all who lived.  However, those who were of the lineage of Israel and were celebrating the Passover feast were passed-over and their lives were not taken from them.

Now a year later they look back and see all the miraculous wonders of all that the LORD has done for them since then.  It is an amazing picture that is hard to put into words.  I am almost envious of them of this moment.  How many of us, in a year’s time, get to bee freed from slavery, watch the army of our biggest enemy buried by a sea right after we walk through it on dry land, complain and then see nasty foul water turned pure and clean by a tree placed in it, cross a dessert, come  to the mountain of YHWH, have YHWH speak to you from the mountain and completely shake your world, see a religious system (one of  the longest lasting ever) built in front of your eyes, watched THE tabernacle being built and erected, and a hoard of people become organized into a huge standing army that is about to be led by YHWH in a cloud by day that becomes as a pillar of fire by night?  It’s an amazing picture!

Maybe it’s time to look back on our own lives this past year.  What amazing and miraculous things has He done in and through us this year?  Are you able to come up with 100?  …how about one?  If you are having a difficult time coming up with even one miraculous thing that YHWH has done for you in the past year, maybe it’s time to start asking the question, “Why?”.  Why in a year’s time can I not think of a single miraculous thing that God / YHWH has done for me?  Why does it seem like God isn’t doing anything?  Is it God / YHWH, or is it me / us?

YHWH is always at work.  He is always doing the miraculous.  Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19)  Jesus spent His entire ministry doing the miraculous.  Every life that He came into contact with He touched and affected.  The very last verse of the Gospel of John says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” Jesus was continually doing the miraculous.  So His father… so much more!  If we cant see the work that YHWH has done miraculously in our lives, then we are either ignorant (which is fixed with education) or we are blind, and we need a touch of YHWH’s hand once again to help us see.

Lord, open my eyes and help me to see.  Also, open the eyes of the reader to see as well.  You make the seeing blind and the blind see.  You are a God of miracles, give us the wisdom and knowledge to see!  Thank you Lord / YHWH!  In Jesus name we pray… Amen (let it be done)!

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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