The people complained again (ch 16), this time about Moses AND Aaron! So God has decided, yet again, to make it clear to the people who HE has chosen.
I really like this response. God gives the leaders a task. Take a rod from the leader of each tribe. Have them carve their name in the rod so it is clear who’s rod is whose. Then put them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony before YHWH overnight and see what happens. It’s a beautiful sign. The rod of Aaron… a dead piece of wood with no hope and no future but to be used, broken, and discarded is given something more. After one night in the presence of YHWH, with His blessing, it has new life.
It’s such a beautiful picture because it is a picture of us. How many of us have had no hope and no future. We have been used, broken, and discarded… sometimes even by ourselves. Sometimes the hopelessness is because we have everything. For the most part, we have what we want. We have what we need, but we have found that it just isn’t enough. In spite of everything we are. In spite of everything we have accomplished, we just feel like a dead stick. Yet one night in the presence of YHWH is all that we need to become alive once again.
That is the message, power, and work of God / YHWH. Faith, Hope, and Love!
Well, the damage has been done, and it has only just begun. The bad report has been made, and now the people respond! “Why have you brought us and out children out here to die?” “Their walled cities are just too big!” “There’s some terrible people up in them there hills!” “We won’t stand a chance!” “The enemy’s too big” “I just can’t figure it out” “We don’t have a five-year plan” “But we just don’t have time” “We can’t afford to do that in this kind of economy” “It costs too much” “How am I going to take care of my family?” “But God! Be reasonable!” “Why do we need to do that. We haven’t needed to do it that way before.” “What about the separation of church and state?” “We could lose our tax-exempt status!” “Someone else will do it” “I’m just not ready”
There is always a reason why we can’t do what God / YHWH has called us to do. The people sinned because they rejected what YHWH was doing. It didn’t matter that God was in control. What matters is what we can think / worry about. We look at how big the enemy is, and we forget about how much bigger our YHWH is.
What promised land had YHWH already promised to give to you? Are you pursuing it under God’s direction, or are you running from it because the problems look too insurmountable? Will you lose out on the promise that YHWH made to you because of your own fears and lack of faith, or will you proceed under YHWH’s direction and pursue the work and will of God?
LORD, give me the ability to see these concerns and these problems through your eyes. YHWH, continue to give me guidance and direction. I do not want to be a foolish builder, but then neither do i want to be an Israelite rejecting the promised land for fear of the Canaanites. Guide and direct me today. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN (that it be done).
John J. Camiolo Jr.
Well, we’re on to the book of Numbers. It’s easy, when you have some limited knowledge of the Bible (who really has unlimited knowledge) to see Numbers and think, “Oh man, not more of this genealogy stuff.” And that has been my reaction as well, but there is so much more to this book than just the genealogies and families ofIsrael. This is whereIsraelfinally leaves Sinai and goes to the land that has been promised to them. This is where all kinds of spiritual debate occurs, and where the people of Israel have to turn around and ask themselves the question “Am I really going to do what God / YHWH is calling me to do?” It’s a book of tough decisions, major successes, and major failures. It is a book of people responding to overwhelming challenges and finding out what they’re really made of. I know I don’t exactly come through with flying colors in those kinds of situations, and that’s what these men and women face day by day.
In one sense, if I could go back to Biblical times and experience and live what occurred in those times, this is one of those times I would love to be a part of. To see God / YHWH leading the people day-by-day. To be a part of the amazing wonders that were occurring all around. To have that chance and opportunity to be a daily part of what God / YHWH was doing. That is worth all the treasures and all the wonders in all the world. Not to be my own master, but to serve the only one worthy of serving. Do we have that attitude day after day? We have the chance to be a part of something so much greater than we are, and yet we would rather pursue our own miserable little lives doing what we want, the way we want to, even if it means we live our lives miserable and with no lifetime value. So much so that we lose out on what God / YHWH wants for us, and we have to pass that opportunity on to our kids, unfulfilled. Then they have to live what God / YHWH has planned for us rather than what He has for them that requires a foundation of what we were supposed to do.
Are we living our lives for Him, or for us?
I have a hard time writing about this section. I don’t know why. It is such a rich section of the scripture with beauty, majesty, & strength. I look at this section of scripture and it seems like time is slowing down and almost coming to a standstill. Like if you could be there, you could almost see every drop of blood and hear the cry of every vulture. It’s almost like every bit and piece of reality is slowed down and magnified. Like all of life and time itself has been preparing for this moment and is now holding its breath in anxious anticipation of this, the very moment that it exists for. Distantly, in the background, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” ringing through all of reality. The flutter of the wings of a bird; the racing heartbeat of a little boy; the sound of the laughter of the roman soldiers slowing down as a moment is extended into five. It is almost deep and primal, and then… it is done!
Jesus, the Christ, has died! The heaven’s mourn. The Father / YHWH tears His veil, as the priest had torn his robes only hours before. The very earth and rocks cry out. They expel the very bodies of the dead righteous, just as the blood of righteous Able called out to YHWH from the ground that had swallowed him up from the hands of Cain.
Nothing else matters in all of history and time, as what happens in that very moment when “Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.“
… except maybe what happens on the third day
This is the last chapter of teaching in Matthew before Passover comes, Jesus has His “last supper” with His disciples, and He is betrayed by Judas. There are three parables here. All three deal with Christ’s relationship with His people at the end of the age. All three are preparation for the kingdom to come.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to 10 virgins…” Are we living our lives in preparation for the kingdom to come? Are we ready to work and be prepared for the bridegroom to come any time? Are we pursuing God’s / YHWH’s purposes for us, or are we simply living life as if it doesn’t matter. Christ is returning, and He could return at any time. Are we foolish virgins who have not prepared for a long wait and sudden entrance, or are we the wise virgins who are expecting Him at any time and living life as if it matters?
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.” We have each been given talents and financial provision. What are we doing with those gifts? What is our purpose and what does it mean? Are we investing what we have and helping it to grow, or are we ignoring and burying our gifts and finances using it only for our own good? God is expecting a return on what He has given us. He is expecting us to use what we have for something more than we started with. He has not blessed us for our sake, but rather for the growth of the kingdom. If we are not working towards kingdom growth (not our own), all that we have will be taken away.
“All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left…” The judgment is coming; what’s the difference between the sheep and the goats? Christ says that the difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep don’t just sit on what they have been given. The difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep have passion / compassion for others (or just obedience towards God). They reach out and help those in need. They step out of their own lives and into the lives of others. They do the opposite of what our culture teaches. They reach out and touch the lives of those around them. Do We?
Jesus sermon while on the mount continues through chapter 6 and into 7. Here we get into more depth of life and ministry. Jesus begins to deal with what it means to serve and worship Him. Here we begin to see and get an understanding of what religion is, our purpose, and having a relationship with the Father.
From chapter 5 to 6 there is a transition from dealing with personal relationships to how we relate to the world and to God. Jesus criticizes the Pharisees and religious leaders because while they obey the letter of the law, they do so for personal and political gain. It’s not that they care for the poor and orphans. It’s that they desire to show the world that they are obeying the commands of God. Meanwhile Jesus is saying here not that doing those kinds of things is wrong, they’re not. In fact the pharisees are completely correct in giving to the poor and praying and fasting and everything else. The issue is not so much in what they do, rather it’s in how they do it.
Jesus the Christ seems to be saying here that why and how we do what we do may be even more important than our doing it. He tells the disciples that the pharisees have the action and obedience right, which was more than most, but at the same time He was very critical of them for how and why they were doing it:
Give to the poor, but do it in secret so you will have treasure in heaven.
Pray like this, but not in vain repetitions.
Forgive others so it may be forgiven you.
Make sure you fast, but don’t let others see or know you are fasting.
Don’t store up your treasures here on earth. Store them up in heaven where they have real value.
You can’t serve God / YHWH and wealth. You can either serve the maker or the tool.
Then last but certainly not least… Do not Worry! God / YHWH is in control. He provides all things for all. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will continue and be added. I honestly believe that this is one of the most accepted sins in the church. When we worry, we live by works and not by faith. We say, “We know You say You are in control, but I don’t really believe that. Not fully.” I know that this is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.
This is one of those things that i find so awesome about the Bible and the scriptures. How even the little things mean a whole lot. And, how everything seems to just come together. It becomes clear that God is a step ahead of man and his work… or hundreds, even thousands of years ahead. In this chapter we see AT LEAST four different prophecies being fulfilled in those first years of His life.
What’s even more interesting to me is that of these four prophecies, three of them seem to be contradictory of one another. The first one states that from Bethlehem of Judah will come forth the ruler (Messiah). Thus Jesus, the Christ, is born in Bethlehem. The second says that “Out of Egypt I called My Son”. So the Messiah is to come out of Egypt… wasn’t He supposed to come out of Bethlehem of Judah, not Egypt? Yet here He is, the Messiah coming out of Egypt as well. Then there’s the prophecy that, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” He shall be called a Nazarene because He came out of Nazareth. So now we have three different conflicting prophecies being fulfilled by the same child.
This is what i love about the scriptures. In what seems like an insurmountable conflict and opposing ideas, there is a smooth and elegant solution that surpasses and bypasses our lack of understanding. Prior to understanding how all of this comes together in the end, these three passages could almost seem impossible to reconcile together. Yet God / YHWH brought it all together. That brings us back to the conflict mentioned in chapter 1’s post. The conflict seems almost insurmountable with no real answer in sight, and it may remain that way through your entire life. Yet, as we can see from this chapter; what seems impossible to man, is more than possible with God / YHWH.
I have answers to the conflict of Chapter 1, but i will not give them at this time. Faith, Hope, and Love abide. In this conflict, pursue those things.
Rev. John Camiolo
When i was in college and engaged to my wife, Lori, we were having Sunday dinner at her apartment. It was Lori, her roommate, another friend (girl) from seminary, and me. I’ll call this friend Karice. So the four of us are all sitting around this little table together just hanging out and talking and the conversation slid idly over to the subject of kids. Karice very excitedly look each of us in the eye and says, “Do you realize, we are all going to be mothers one day!”
As she says this i’m trying very hard not to spit milk out my nose or mouth from laughter. After i finish swallowing i ask her a clarifying question; “So we are all going to be mother’s some day?” In a very serious tone she says, “Yes, we are all going to be mothers some day!” So i give it a few seconds to sink in, “WE are ALL going to be mothers one day.” Karice looks at me like i am talking gibberish, and continues confused yet excitedly, “Of Course we are ALL going to be mothers some day.” Meanwhile Lori and her roommate are both trying very hard not to break out laughing. This goes on for another minute or so as Karice becomes more insistent and the rest of us are trying so hard not to break out laughing. Finally Lori says to lost and confused Karice, “So John is going to be a mother some day too?” It finally sinks in and Karice turns about 3 shades of pink darker as the bewilderment on her face quickly morphs into complete embarrassment, poor girl.
Eight years later and her prophetically spoken statement is 75% accurate. I’m still not a mother, and i think that at this point it is safe to say that i probably never will be. The three ladies in the room are all married with kids, and i am still the only guy in a place full of girls.
Motherhood is blessed. It is not a thing of shame or to be disappointed about. It is not dirty or unclean. It is about faith, hope, and love embodied. To bring new life in the world. To share the joys and sorrows of life, and to pass down who you are to the next generation.
YHWH understands that… He created it. Here in chapter 12 of Leviticus He tells the mother what needs to be done for her purification and return to communion with Him. It is a beautiful promise given after a beautiful process of bringing about life. The very work that YHWH has done and is continuing to do.
Blessed be the name of the LORD!
John J. Camiolo Jr.
Well, things changed as a result of God’s referendum to Pharaoh alright. God said, “Let my go!” Pharaoh said, “What? You want me to do what with your people? …you want me to make their work harder? OK, I can arrange that.”
Wow, this overarching concept and idea feels very familiar for some reason. The LORD gives a command to do something. In obedience it is carried out. Life gets harder, not easier as a result of the obedience. You would think that when the God of the universe instructs you to take a stand and obediently place yourself at risk before everyone, He would come through when you expect him to. But, that’s not necessarily how He works. Taking that step of faith sometimes means getting your toes run over by a steamroller.
The question is, knowing that that is the case, are we willing to be obedient? Are we willing to step out in faith? Are we being obedient to get something out of it, or is our obedience because He is LORD of our life? Can He trust us to obey even when it means more trouble for ourselves?
That’s a difficult problem for most of us Americans. Many times our outlook is; “What’s in it for me?” If we aren’t getting something out of it, we aren’t willing to put anything into it. God doesn’t work that way though. He’s not a direct “If…then…” God. “If you do this for Me, then I will do that for you.” If that’s what you are looking for in a god, then you are looking in the wrong place. Yes, God will bless you amazingly and abundantly when you obey Him. Yes, you will find peace in your life. Yes, you can trust Him, but you cannot count on Him to do what you want Him to do, or even anywhere close to when you want Him to do it. He works on His terms not ours. However, we are still responsible for obeying Him. The benefits will be amazing, but so will the troubles.
So what’s the LORD calling YOU to be obedient to today?
Here we go again. Joseph is still in his bind. He still doesn’t know what he’s doing there or why. He’s still a prisoner, working as a servant to the chief prison guard. He continues to obey God and not get angry and reject the right thing because of his situation that is out of his control. He doesn’t like being in this situation. He knows it’s not his fault, but he also knows that it’s not right and wants out.
So, what’s a young man to do? He does his job faithfully. He works hard. He cares for those he is responsible for. As a result, God blesses him and his master trusts and relies on him. He continues to work, grow, and excel, and God continues to prepare him.
So one day in doing his duty, he sees two under his care in confinement that appear visibly disturbed. So he tries to reconcile the problem. First off, why should anyone care about how two lowly prisoners feel? Isn’t prison supposed to be miserable? …especially confinement? Isn’t the point to make it so that people don’t WANT to be there? Yet here Joseph is, treating these prisoners like they are children under his care.
In probing he finds out that they both had unusual dreams that are bothering them. So Joseph, being the man that he is, tells them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.” He then proceeds to listen and explain their dreams to them. He tells the cup-bearer that in three days he will be back at his old post, and he asks him to remember him in prison because he has been imprisoned unjustly. He tells the baker that within three days he will be hung up by his neck and the birds would eat his flesh. He does NOT ask the baker to remember him in his situation when he meets with Pharaoh.
So, their dreams are fulfilled, and as soon as the cup-bearer is back in his position, he immediately proceeds to forget about Joseph entirely. Isn’t that the way it seems to be sometimes? I can definitely feel for Joseph in this situation. I’ve never been imprisoned on false charges. I’ve never been sold into slavery. But, I have been in situations where it seems like it doesn’t matter that i’m doing the right thing. It seems like no matter what i do, my situation keeps getting worse and worse. It seems like even when i try to get out of the situation, i just keep getting more and more stuck and people just forget me.
But you know what? That doesn’t matter. God knows what He is doing. Even when we feel like He has forgotten about us, He hasn’t. Even when we feel like there is no hope, God is in control. He brings us through when we least expect it. It’s not about us, it’s about Him.