It’s amazing how even simple daily chores and tasks can be so very different day-by-day when we are connected to other people. Our lives can have set schedules and predefined plans, but once you add in the “other person” factor, everything we plan and do suddenly changes. Our “set schedule” suddenly becomes a possible plan or a good idea or a guarantee of what WON’T happen. This is the case while Jesus is ministering as well.
Jesus ministers to a leaper, and all is normal… or as normal as they can be when you heal a leaper with a touch. Then along comes a Centurion, a solider, many of whom dislike and mistreat the Jewish people. Only this one is asking Jesus for help. Not only does Jesus help him, but Jesus then turns around and says that He has not seen such faith in all of Israel! Next we see people desiring to be His disciples, but then Jesus pushes them away. What kind of teacher doesn’t want students?
After a long day, Jesus and His disciples head out in a boat and cross the sea. Suddenly a tempest strikes and it looks like they will all drown. When His disciples wake Him to help with the boat, He rebukes them. Then He rebukes the storm and it immediately stops!
They all reach the other side only to run into a pair of men who are demon possessed and who have been driving people out of the region. They free them from the demons only to be driven out of the region by the rest of the people BECAUSE they freed these men from being held captive by demons! (I have my own theories as to why they kicked them out, but i’m not going to say them here and now.)
When you minister day by day directly with people, these are the kinds of unusual days and situations you are going to run into. If you are in the ministry, and your schedule is well defined and set. If you don’t have days where your plans and schedule are messed up by people, then i would wonder if you you are “ministering”, or if you are “doing the ministry”. If you are doing the ministry I would challenge you to consider what your call and purpose is.
Jesus did not sit in an office all day. He was hands on, and if we are to be like Him, we need to reconsider what it means to “minister” to the flock.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
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.
Everyone is unclean at some point in their lives. Some of us just more so than others. So what do you do when you have an unclean people and a holy God who can not stand uncleanness in His presence? You don’t want their uncleanness to cause their destruction. So how do you separate their uncleanness from YHWH’s tabernacle?
Well, the simplest and easiest way would be to set down some ground rules. Set up some basic rules and expectations of ways to keep the uncleanness away from the presence of the one whose holiness would consume the one with the uncleanness. Once that uncleanness is dealt with and accounted for, that should allow life to go on as needed.
Do we recognize our need to separate our sin from His holiness? Do we attempt to pursue Him while still being consumed by our sins, or do we come to Him with a repentant heart? Do we acknowledge our uncleanness emitted through our actions as sins, and do we come to Him for forgiveness; or do we just excuse them as “flaws” that give us character and personality? What is our attitude about our uncleanness and the “emissions” in our lives?
So YHWH finishes giving the people His first set of instructions. They have heard His Decalogue and His various other commands, so now we get to see their response to this sampling of the laws. God starts out by telling Moses and the leaders of Israel to come up to worship Him, but before that happens Moses wants to make sure that the people understand what is expected of them. He doesn’t want them rebelling as soon as Moses and the leaders go up the mountain or anything.
So Moses starts out by recounting to the people what YHWH expects of them. YHWH told them once, now Moses tells them again. The people respond that they will listen, and they will obey. Great! Now Moses and the people sacrifice to the LORD, and Moses sets up 12 pillars to represent the 12 tribes. Then for good measure, he takes the evening / night to write down the covenant and instructions that God has given to him and the people. Then, to MAKE SURE that the people know and are aware of YHWH’s instructions, he reads the book of the covenant to the people!
Don’t you think that that’s a little overkill! I mean come on! They heard it from God Himself, then Moses reminds them of what they have already heard and agreed to, so they confirmed it to him again. Then after worshiping and sacrificing to the LORD…THEIR GOD, Moses wrote it all down and read it back to them the very next day! I mean come on Moses, didn’t they already agree to this TWICE! I mean honestly, what do you think is going to happen here? Do you think you will go up the mountain with the leaders and the people will forget everything that has happened and everything that they have sworn to do!?! Give it a rest already!
So now Moses and the leaders go up. The leaders actually see YHWH, the God of Israel! Wow! I mean, WOW! To see the LORD in all His glory! Now that is a life changing experience! Isn’t it!?! No man can see that and ever rebel or fall away… can he?
How many of us desire to see God? How many of us think that if we just see Him perform a miracle or see just a part of His glory it will change who we are and how we live the rest of our lives? He is The Living God after all. Is that enough?
We are coming to the end of the beginning. Israel is dying and Joseph is bringing his sons to Israel so that he can bless them. Israel does something unexpected. He tells Joseph that Joseph’s sons do not belong to him. Israel is taking Manasseh & Ephraim and claiming them as his own. Joseph can claim any others that come after them, but these two are his.
Then Israel goes to bless them. Joseph puts Manasseh (the elder) at Israel’s right hand, and Ephraim at Israel’s left. So Israel goes to bless them and he crosses his hands and places his right hand on Ephraim giving him the blessing of the elder while Manasseh gets the lesser blessing.
God does that sometimes. He sets up certain expectations and standards of His own actions and behaviors and of ours. Then He goes ahead and breaks those expectations as if they don’t really matter. Go figure, the God who sets the expectations can rearrange them as He sees fit. 🙂 God blesses / favors him who he wishes to bless / favor, and curses him who he wishes to curse.
Does that mean that we can do the same thing? I would say, absolutely positively, without a doubt, usually not. God puts his rules and expectations into place for specific reasons, they are important and when we ignore them it means trouble (…the rules serve the reasons). However, the purposes and reasons extend beyond the rules.
So when God chooses to bless His favored over the expectations of society and the individual, that is a choice He is free to make.