Well, I’m a few days further behind on my writing than on my copying. I’m actually in Matthew 27 today in my copy work, but I’m writing about the beginning of Matthew 26.
Time seems to be speeding up here. Final preparations are being made. Jesus is where He often seems to be. He is with His flock; at the home of Simon the leper. A woman comes and pours out over his head a vial of very costly perfume. This is so very significant in so many ways. This kind of vial of perfume is often used as a life savings. When a person has extra money that he / she wants to save long term (for when they are old / retired) they would invest it in perfumes and burying spices. It held it’s value well, and was less likely to be stolen than Roman coin. When this woman pours this perfume / burial incense & spices out on Jesus, she is giving up her best, her future for Him. She is preparing Him for burial, and trusting God to provide for her future. This is a huge sacrifice on her part, and everyone knows it. Thus what she has done is remembered.
Next we see Judas preparing as well. The Passover meal is coming, and he goes to the chief priests to sell out his master. He takes the silver, and provides the direction to allow the leaders to take out their wrath through the destruction of something beautiful.
Finally, we come to an extremely important event. One that is celebrated at least monthly in churches around the world. The last supper and communion. It’s funny that we use this official word “Communion” for this process. What is communion? Communion can be defined as: “The sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings”. It is two or more people coming together for a common purpose to share / celebrate together with one another. It is a process of celebration, joy, hope, sharing, and intimacy. When i think of taking part in communion at church, i do not think of celebration, joy, hope, sharing, or intimacy. It is more like seriousness, melancholy, monotony, dividing up, and self-focus. That’s not to say that it is those things, but that certainly is what it seems like at times.
This Last Supper is that final time that Jesus has to share and be in relationship with His disciples. He knows that this is His last chance to just be able to relax and spend time with them. Imagine what it would be like if you knew that your next meal would be the last meal you would spend with your family. The last chance you had to really BE with them, and enjoy their company. Would you want it to be remembered as a stuffy occasion in which everyone passes around little tiny crackers and little tiny cups of juice and they sit there holding their little tiny cups trying not to spill them and stain the carpet? There are a whole lot of things that the church does really well, but I really think that we miss the target on this one.
Celebrate communion with someone today.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
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?
If Leviticus 1 was all about the very basis of the sacrificial system (blood sacrifice) and its basis is the end of life, then Leviticus 2 is all about the celebration of life. The grain offering is an offering of the fruit of the earth. It is the fruit of the toil of man. Man works 6 days a week, and he rests one. His work is to bring food and provision for himself and his family. God is the one that gives that provision. He creates the seasons and produces the harvest. He defines growth, life, and hope. The grain and first fruits offerings are a celebration of that.
With the celebration of life is creativity and choices. I see this represented here in the numerous ways that a grain offering can be prepared and presented. It can come as just the grain with oil and frankincense, or it can come having been baked in an oven, or it can come from a griddle, or from a pan, or roasted in the fire. Each has a reason and a purpose, and each can be an acceptable sacrifice and offering to the Lord.
A common theme here is that in each of these, part of the offering is sacrificed, and the other belongs to the priests. They do not work without receiving from the fruit of their labor, and this is the fruit of their labor.
Also, what is the issue with leaven? YHWH really can’t seem to stand it in anything that is offered to Him. I don’t know why. I know He has His reasons, but i certainly don’t know them.
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.
Joseph’s brothers need to return to get food / sustenance, but boy is it a chore. They know what they have been told by Joseph. They cannot return to Egypt without their youngest brother. They also know that their father is not going to let Benjamin go without a fight. So the argument ensues. Jacob / Israel wails and moans that if they take Benjamin he will lose a second son. They remind him that if he doesn’t let Benjamin go, they will not be able to buy food. Jacob complains that they are trying to send him to an early grave. They remind him that if he does not let them go, he, they, and all the grandchildren will dis as well. Judah takes full responsibility for Benjamin’s health and safety. So Jacob / Israel finally consents.
So they return with not only Benjamin, but the money from the first trip that they found in their bags on the return home. When they return to Egypt Joseph arranges for them to eat with him. They are worried about the money, but Joseph’s intent is only to eat with them and see how they respond. In the process, Joseph has the table set up youngest to oldest, to their surprise.
How about us? How often does God do the same thing. He wants to sup with us. He wants to spend time with us. He wants relationship with us. What is our focus? We focus on what we want, or what we are afraid of, or what we have done wrong. We allow those things to prevent us from having a blessed celebration with our Father. All He wants is for us to return to Him, and we are still afraid that He might find out about something that we are ashamed of.
Is that where you’re at today? Are you missing out on an amazing relationship with the LORD because you are afraid of His response to something that happened in the past. Well, get over it; “Stop it!”
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– for He says,”AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.”
Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”– (II Corinthians 6:1-2 NASB)