YHWH takes a strong stance on defilement. He is Holy, and He cannot have sin in His presence. So when He puts His name on and makes His residence among the people of Israel, it is, must be, and must remain a big deal that the people remain pure. As much as God / YHWH is Love, even more so He is Holy.
So we come to chapter 5. God / YHWH makes it clear, that anyone who becomes defiled cannot be in the camp. They must reside outside of the camp. As such, anyone with leprosy, anyone with a discharge, anyone who has touched a dead person, anyone who was unclean had to be sent outside of the camp. So the Israelites did it. They sent them outside the camp. What’s amazing to me is that this is one of those things that the people of Israel continued to do. They didn’t just do this for a little while and stop. This separation of the defiled from the rest of the people of Israel extended up to the time of the downfall of the city of Jerusalem. We see in Jeremiah that when the Assyrian army was at Jerusalem’s doorstep, it was the leapers and outcasts that were outside of the city walls that went to the Assyrian camp and found that the army had been destroyed. Even when Israel had abandoned almost all of the other laws of YHWH, this is one that remained.
The second part (majority) of the chapter deals with a husband that suspects that his wife has had an affair. If a husband suspects that his wife (who is under his authority) has cheated on him, he has the ability to bring her to the tabernacle and have YHWH pass judgment on whether she has defiled herself. The priest offers a sacrifice and goes through a specific ritual including taking the dust from the floor of the temple and using it as part of a holy water for this woman to drink. The woman makes an oath that she has not been unfaithful and that if she has been, she will be cursed with her abdomen (stomach) growing big, her thigh (fertility) would waste away, and she would be a curse among her people. It was very shameful if she truly had disrespected her husband and marriage by coming out of her husband’s authority. If she had not, then she was truly justified in front of her husband, the priest, and all of Israel.
I think it’s interesting that God / YHWH tells no one how to do their jobs except for the Levites and priests. Everyone has free reign to choose the job / position / role that they want to play. They could choose to herd sheep, be an artisan, run a shop, take care of kids, teach, whatever. But not the Levites. They were not just set aside as holy, they were set aside with a purpose.
Not only did the Levites have to serve the priests, temple, and God / YHWH, but they also each had their own tasks depending on their families. The Kohathites for instance, were in charge of moving and caring for the most holy things. Even in this, the Kohathites were not allowed to see the most holy objects. It was the duty of the priests to cover the objects such as the alter, the lampstands, and the ark of the testimony.
Next the Gershonites were responsible for the coverings and hangings of the tabernacle. They were responsible to take care of the screens for the doorways, the hangings of the court, and the covering of the tabernacle.
Then finally, the Merarites were responsible for the frame of the tabernacle. They took care of the pillars, the boards, the bars, etc. They were responsible for the very skeleton, the frame of the tabernacle. If they did not do their jobs right, the whole of the structure would fall down upon them.
Does God give us duties, or simply roles. Does He direct our every step, or are we responsible enough to seek the Lord and all He is and allow obedience to His overall calling guide us?
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.
How lightly do we esteem divorce? How easily do we let it go? In the time of Christ, divorce was an easier process than it is now. You had just to get a certificate of divorce from the Scribes and/or Pharisees. I have heard it said that it was easier than that. I have heard it said that all a man needed to do was to tell his wife, “I divorce you.” three times together, and they were divorced.
Jesus makes it clear that once the marriage has been sealed, divorce is not in the design or the plan. Yet so often, we don’t see it that way. Men are looking for t he perfect wife, and women are looking for the perfect man. They marry the person that they think is “the one” or their “soul mate” and when things don’t quite go as expected, there is a running of the bulls. The couple flees and the marriage dissolves. Yet that is not how it is meant to happen. Yet we, in our selfishness and pride, would rather destroy what God made and blessed than admit that we may be wrong, or that we need to change in ways that we don’t want / like to… especially when we feel hurt by someone who was supposed to protect / respect us. There are so many things i could go into explaining and blaming for this mentality; the age of marriage, pre-marital emotional intimacy, a lack of marital support / mentoring, a lack of understanding of what marriage really is, but i need to move on.
I am very interested in this story of the rich young ruler. In Bible college I had a professor that put a very interesting spin / perspective on this story. The rich young ruler is a young man that clearly desires to be righteous and be a part of what God / Christ is doing. However, he gets so caught up in his own wealth, that he can’t let it go to pursue Christ. However, this story may not end here. From what i’ve heard, this young man reappears in the Bible in the book of acts. Apparently Josephus (the non-Christian Jewish historian) reports that the Apostle John taught his disciples that this rich young ruler was the same man that is named in Acts (4:36-37) “Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Barnabas went on, partnered with Paul, and was one of the first missionaries. He did great things with the kingdom, but ONLY after he let go of his riches. I have not studied this in depth, but i believe this to be true because i have seen how God works. To have a man consumed by his riches and reject Christ / his call at first because of these things finally turn, reject the wealth, and become the true man of God he was meant to be. That kind of redemption can only be the work of God / YHWH!
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” A young lady that i know posted this quote on facebook a couple of days ago. This is the type of quote that i would normally “like” and comment about how true it is, but the more i began to think about it, the more uncomfortable i became with it. This is definitely the kind of statement that seems good, and that seems right, but that if lived out can lead to destruction.
If i let my mind wander (unrestrained) invariably it will end up drifting into sin. It will drift into thoughts and areas where it should not be. Verses 16-20 of Matthew 15 say; “Jesus said, ‘Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; …‘” Is that where my heart is, or is that the sin in my life trying to rise up and consume me?
Once you get to know me, you can get a pretty good idea as to where my heart is… what i am passionate about. Two big things that i’m passionate about are family and God / the Scriptures / Christianity / the church / Christian life. These are things that mean a whole lot to me. They are life consuming. But, if i let my mind wander, too often my mind will meander to the areas of raw passion. To emotions and desires unmet. If you would, to areas of the ID (related to the Ego and Superego). Are those thoughts my heart, who i am as a person? They can be if i allow them to be! Those are my raw emotions and passions, and if i allow them to be, they are my heart!
Colossians 3:2 says: “Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” II Corinthians 10:5 says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” We must take every thought captive. We must make it a decision to set our minds in the right direction. If we let a meandering mind set the direction of our hearts, we will end up being consumed and ruled by our passions which will end up destroying us and all that we care about.
If you want your heart to be more than just your destructive raw passion and emotions, you must take your thoughts captive lest you become consumed. The only way to have the strength to truly overcome your raw passions and reach all that you are meant to be, is to seek the one who created you in His image and from whom emotion and passion originated.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
There was a young man who grew up in a simple, small town. He left the small town, got his degree in engineering, and became famous for his simple, yet extremely effective designs. Time and time again this man would take a complex situation and find a simple, elegant solution. He went out to third world countries and helped the people find easy ways to find and build wells, design stable structures in earthquake prone countries that could withstand decades of major tremors, contracted with NASA to help design the next stages of the international space station. His work was amazing, revolutionary, and had won him the Nobel Peace Prize.
One year his hometown, which was in a valley, was hit by really heavy rainfall and was in danger of being crushed by massive mudslides. This young man came home and brought a plan to the town of how to simply, effectively, and inexpensively redirect the mudslides away from the town in into an area that had been unsuitable for farming due to the nature of it’s ground and (lack of) soil. This would have effectively rescued the town and produced all new usable land putting life and industry where there had been none.
The response from the leadership of the town and of the community was one of awe, but ultimately of rejection. The plan wasn’t a bad plan. It was a great one, but they wanted to rely on their own ways of doing it. The town had been threatened numerous times by mudslides. One year part of the town had even been buried, but they would be alright. They had always gotten through just fine.
Three months later, while he was doing some work in South America he got a message. His hometown had been buried in a record breaking mudslide. The entire town had been swept away with only a handful of survivors.
Do we fail to live out the message because we have heard it so many times we have just stopped listening? “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Those of us born and raised in the church, we have been born, bred, and raised on the Word of God. Are we bearing fruit, or have we become too hard for God / YHWH to plant a new seed in? Will we be consumed when the day of destruction comes, because we were of His household?
“When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.” When i read this, I take it as Jesus instructing and sending out the disciples and while they are sent out to do the work of ministry, He is going to their home cities to teach and preach. It seems almost like a mentality of, “You go take care of these places and meanwhile I have your back. I am going to make sure your families and friends are taken care of. ” It’s like His reaction to their stepping out is to take care of those they care about.
Meanwhile, John the Baptist, the one who recognized Jesus conception from the womb and leapt in his mother’s womb at His presence, the one who prepared the way for Jesus, the one who told Jesus that he couldn’t baptize Him because he was not even worthy to untie His sandals, the one who heard the voice of God (YHWH) speaking and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Jesus, the one who said, “He must increase, and I must decrease”, that John; He has set for too long and has come to the point of wondering and doubting that which He had previously known beyond a shadow of a doubt. So he sends his disciples, the ones that are left, to Jesus to ask if He is the one. Jesus reaction is not one of disgust that John is even asking such a thing and reacting in such a way, but His reaction is to tell them to observe and report. That that is the answer for John’s doubt. There is no criticism of John, only comfort.
Meanwhile, Jesus begins to respond to the reaction of the cities He has already been to. He had preached, and taught, and healed, and done miracles, and called them to repentance, yet they had not. They had continued doing what they knew was wrong and treating Jesus teaching like a passing fad. So Jesus pronounces “Woe” on them. They rejected the message, so that reaction is going to affect their standing on the judgment day.
Finally, Jesus calls for a reaction from the people. The conclusion to the chapter is, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
So what is your and my reaction to His message?
John J. Camiolo Jr.