The word Apostle in Greek is Apostolos which means a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders. The basic understanding is that it is one sent (with specific orders). It is someone who has been directed to leave, go somewhere and do something specific. In today’s church, our closest example would be a missionary.
Here in Matthew 10 we see Jesus sending out disciples, giving them specific instructions about where to go and what to do. It is a primer for ministry. Start with your own people, “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, 1)preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 2)Heal the sick, 3)raise the dead, 4)cleanse the lepers, 5)cast out demons. Freely you received, 6)freely give. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts…”
With these commands we begin to see that basic ministry is one part preaching and a whole lot more parts “ministering” to people. Being a disciple / apostle of Christ means not only preaching, but going and doing. It’s not 90% teaching / preaching and 10% doing, it’s preaching, with a whole lot more reaching than anything else.
Is this what we are doing?
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
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.
Looking at the chapter and trying to sum up the themes and basic concepts in one word brings me to the idea of ownership. Verses 1-16 are an intermingling of two ideas that most of us would consider separate. There are these very different and distinct concepts. The first is that YHWH spared the firstborn of Israel, and as such they belong to the Lord. Form here on out the firstborn, the one to open the womb, belongs to God. They must be given to God, or they must be redeemed. The second concept is that every year the people of Israel are to have seven days of unleavened bread and a feast at the end. This is in celebration of the Lord passing-over the Israelite’s, destroying the Egyptians, and rescuing the people from slavery. In honor of that event, Passover must be celebrated every year. The people of Israel are to take ownership of the acknowledgment and remembrance of this event. This should be something that they not only acknowledge and understand, but that they also celebrate. The Israelite people must take ownership of the remembrance of this event.
What’s interesting to me, is that these two very distinct and separate concepts are so intermingled in these first 16 verses that as much as it seems like they should be different, it becomes clear that they are interconnected and dependent upon one another. I can’t say that i fully understand it. To me they seem like two very different concepts, but God seems to say otherwise. How and why?
The final concept of ownership in this chapter goes from vs. 17 through the end of the chapter. In this section God takes responsibility / ownership for the people of Israel. He doesn’t just tell Moses to lead them to the Mountain of God; He leads them. He goes before them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He does not leave this to someone else. He takes ownership and does it himself.
We serve a God of words and actions. He doesn’t just tell us to do something. He makes it happen. As a result He is also a God that expects action and ownership from us. We are to take ownership of the tasks that He gives us to do.
You can tell that God has a sense of humor and a thing for irony. You see it throughout the Bible and here especially is no exception. So the magicians and priests have attempted to stand against Moses and God with every new miracle that occurs, but take a look at verse 11; “The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians.” Yeah, good luck trying to oppose Moses and God like that. They can’t even show up because of the very miracle they are trying to oppose. So much for that problem. Talk about irony.
This chapter is the first place that we see God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. After each miracle Pharaoh keeps hardening his own heart, but God hardens his heart after the plague of the boils. There are some that say that this is not right; that this shows that Pharaoh is being unjustly treated. I don’t buy that argument on many levels, and i will probably talk about that more in the coming chapters.
In the meantime, there is proof that Pharaoh was not ready to let the people go whether he hardened his heart or God did. Later in the chapter, during the plague of the hail, Pharaoh tells Moses to stop the plague and that he will let the people go. Moses says “But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.” This is later proven when Moses stops the storm, Pharaoh hardens his heart, and he goes back on his word.
Pharaoh rejects God and what He is doing. He rejects his own responsibility and what needs to be done. He even rejects his own word. He as well is rejected by God. Pharaoh is not the only one that does this. We do this as well. There are times when God commands and directs us, but we reject Him by refusing to trust and obey him. It’s not even a question of do we do it. It’s a question of why do we do it. So why do we do it, and what do we need to know / do to change that?
This is going to be a two-part chapter. I am finding that i can only copy out ~30+ verses in about an hour and a half, which is most of my time limitations for this project each day. So since this chapter is 67 verses, i have to split this one up into two days; vs. 1-34 today, and 35-67 tomorrow.
The time was coming and going. Abraham knew that he only had a limited time before his life would end. He still had some very important business to attend to. One of those things being; taking care to provide the proper wife for his son. So he sends his most trusted servant on a mission to return to his home and family and find the right bride for his son Isaac. It is a quest that his most faithful servant is sworn to fulfill. Not only that, but also the servant must never bring Isaac there. The maiden must come to him, or not at all.
This chapter contains two new names / titles for God, or it could possibly be considered one: “…the LORD (YHWH), the God (Elohim) of heaven (Shamaim) and the God (Elohim) of earth (Erets)…” This is the name to whom Abraham required his servant to swear that he would not get Isaac a wife from among the Canaanites.
The servant swears and goes, but is still concerned about the fulfillment of the promise, so he does the wise thing. He brings it before the God of his master. He wants to be sure that he finds the right person, so he asks God to bring the right girl to him. God, of course being who He is, is way ahead of the servant, brings Rebekah, and brings reassurance to the servant.
Rebekah shocks me in this passage. When he first sees her, Abrahams servant, rushes at her. “Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your jar.'” How would you and i respond to some strange dirty traveler running at us begging us to give them water? We might be a little freaked out. What does Rebekah do? She says “sure”, gives him water, and waters his camels as well. The servant rewards her by giving her a gold ring and two gold bracelets and then asks to be invited to stay the night. Wow, the cultural differences there!
How do we react to strangers and those in need? Jesus says, “those who do so for the least of these my children, do so for Me”. The letter to the Hebrews says “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” The servant (purposelessly) feared the fulfillment of his promise to his master. Do we (purposelessly) fear assisting / entertaining the stranger because we’re surrounded by those who would feed us a negative report? Or have we sworn to help those in need?