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Numbers 18 – Weight & Wages

YHWH has shown who He has chosen.  He has made it clear that HE has chosen Aaron and his line for the priesthood.  This is the calling of the LORD.

Last chapter so many were seeking it, but only one was chosen.  Verse 1 of chapter 18 says, “So the LORD said to Aaron, ‘You and your sons and your father’s household with you shall bear the guilt in connection with the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the guilt in connection with your priesthood.”  Wait a minute?  I thought that the priesthood was supposed to be a blessing!  Yet as soon as it is clear that Aaron’s line is chose, the weight of that choice is laid out.

Oh, to be the chosen of the LORD!  Tevya (Fiddler on the Roof) said,  “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”  The Levites are the chosen people, but it also means that they have a huge responsibility.  If anything goes wrong, the blame fell squarely on them.  Being chosen is a blessing, but it comes at a price.  Look at anyone chose of YHWH.  The prophets were chosen of God, yet so many of them were rejected and killed for speaking the truth.  Job was chosen to be blessed of the LORD, yet look at the trial he went through.  The disciples were chosen, yet martyrdom became their prize.  The Messiah Himself came and fulfilled His purpose.  The purpose outlined in Isaiah 52-53.  53:7 says,

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth. 

That’s what it means to truly means to be chosen.

That is not the end of the chapter.  That may be the weight, but there are still the wages.  The priests may have had to bear the weight and the responsibility of priesthood, but they were not without the wages.  Many of the sacrifices offered to YHWH were the priests payment.  In vs. 17, it says, “…they are a gift to you, dedicated to the LORD…”  Given to the LORD, yet payment to the priests.

This principle should still exist today.  Those called to be pastors have a HUGE responsibility.  More so than even they realize most times.  However, there should be no one more blessed in all the congregation than the pastor who has been called of God.  It comes at a price.  A price that is overwhelming.  BUT, it should not be without the blessing.  Keep that in mind if / when you are ready to be critical of a pastor.  Chances are, they are holding the responsibility, are you giving them the blessing?

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew 28 – The End Begins

Part 1 of all of time and life has ended.  Part 2 now begins.  Christ has risen.  He has risen indeed.  This is an interesting rendition of this his-story.  It is short and sweet.  It hits the highlights of the main story.  It tells of the reactions of the guards and the religious leaders, and it tells of the directions given to the disciples.

It’s at these directions that i want to dwell.  I learned something a long time ago.  It is something that has changed my outlook on this great commission.  It’s may not be super deep and life redefining, but it is an interesting revelation none-the-less.

First off, I love how Christ starts this.  It is classic YHWH.  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  (You) Go therefore…”  It’s just like when God spoke to Moses, “I am going to free My people Israel… now you go and tell Pharaoh to let My people go!”  YHWH says He is going to do it, then He tells us to.  It’s great!

My big note relates to vs 19-20.  Jesus tells the disciples to go and make disciples… baptizing in the name of the Father and of the the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…  Yet, when you look at the scriptures talking about the disciples baptizing in Acts, these are the statements you get (2:38) Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  (8:14-16) Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Nowhere else does it give an account of what is said during the baptism.

What you notice here is that there is nowhere in these or any other accounts in which it is said that they baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  In the accounts of water baptism the people are baptized in the name of Jesus, the Christ.  Yet when we baptize, WE say, “…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Why?  Because in the book of Matthew, Christ tells us to.  But, isn’t that what He told the disciples as well?  Is there something we’re missing here or was it something the disciples were neglecting?

The more I’ve studied this, the more I’m convinced that we’re missing something here.  For instance, no where in the great commission does it say anything about coming to God in repentance, or even to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  It’s not there.  But when you do look at what the disciples did, there was more to the story than just water baptism.  Acts 2:38 says, “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”  There are three parts to this.  1) Repent  2) Water baptism in the name of Jesus, and 3) Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  So how are these connected to being baptized in the name of…

In order to understand that, you have to understand what baptism is.  Baptism is in essence the representation of a death, a burial, and a resurrection (what Christ did for us).  In water baptism you “die” are “buried” in the water (hence not sprinkled), and are “resurrected again into new life.  When we are water baptized it is a physical representation of what, that we have already done?  It is a physical representation of our repentance… 1) death of self 2) burial in God / YHWH’s grace, and 3) resurrection as a new man.  Thus repentance is a baptism.  Water baptism is an outward baptism expressing what we have already done in our heart, and baptism in the Holy Spirit is a baptism of the Holy Spirit’s power.  Thus it is baptism in the name (name represents power) of the Father (repentance) and of the Son (water baptism), and the Holy Spirit (the HS’s empowerment for the building up of the saints for the work of service).

So what does this mean for us?

 

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Genesis 50 – Mourning & Hope

What is the difference between happiness and joy?  How about between mourning and dismay?  What keeps trials from becoming desperation, and sadness from depression?  There is one word; one concept or idea that divides these from each other.  That is hope.  Hope creates joy (long-term & deeply rooted) rather than happiness (short-term & fleeting).  Hope separates mourning (the natural response  to loss) from dismay (fear of facing the future resulting from loss).  This almost undefinable, nugget of life we call hope is a key and defining ingredient that separates sadness from depression.

Jacob is dead; he has died of old age.  The time of mourning is here, and Joseph and his brothers work to fulfill their responsibility to bury him in the cave of his fathers resting place.  There is a huge procession of Israelites and Egyptians that carries the body of Jacob to the burial mound.  All that is expected and more has been done.

With the passing of their father, Joseph’s older brothers begin to lose that hope.  Their past sin that has continued to haunt them their entire lives now comes to a head.  What will Joseph do to them?  What will he do to their families and children?  Will he enslave them as they did to him?  Will he treat them with cruelty and contempt?  Will he have Pharaoh and the Egyptians do it for him?  So many troubles caused by one choice.  They fear because of the seeds sown by their own actions so long ago.

What does Joseph do?  He relieves them of those full grown weeds; the result of those seeds planted so long ago.  He gives them hope.  He tells them that all that they did was part of the plan meant not for the destruction of his life, but for life for the Egyptians and themselves.  They have no need to fear.  They have no need to be troubled.  God has a plan bigger than they are, and all this trouble and fear is simply wasted life.

How about us?  Do we have a hope, or are we buried in our mourning and fear?  Does mourning turn to dismay and sadness become depression?  It’s time to let all of that go, and to seek the hope that has been freely offered and given.  The one who has created us has a plan.  He has a purpose that includes you and me.  We need to pursue Him… to find He who has been pursuing us.  Are you ready?

 

Rev. John Camiolo

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Genesis 42 – Testing

Joseph is more than 37 years old at this point.  He was sold into slavery at the age of 18.  He has lived more of his life in Egypt than he ever did in Canaan.  Now, for the first time in 19 or more years he comes face to face with his brothers.  They sold him into slavery because of his dreams and their jealousy of him and their father’s love for him.

Now, here they are bowing on their faces before him.  After more than 19 years, Joseph has the opportunity to exact his revenge.  He could arrest them, imprison them, and sell them into slavery, or worse.  He could mock them, laugh at them and let them starve to death.  He could reveal himself and simply threaten their lives.  So what does he do?

Joseph decides to test them.  He wants to know if they are the same jealous, angry, bitter men that they were when he was a child.  He wants to know if there is remorse or if there is humility and love.  He wants to know if they care more about themselves, or if they care about their family.  So he accuses them of being spies, questions them, and puts them for a short stay in prison.  Then he tells them that in order to be released or to get more grain they need to bring their youngest brother Benjamin back to Egypt with them.  Meanwhile, he took Simeon and held him until the other brothers returned with Benjamin.

The brothers return home and tell Jacob, their father, what happened in Egypt.  Jacob is upset and as time goes by they begin to run out of grain again.  The brothers know that they can’t return to Egypt empty handed, so Reuben takes responsibility for Benjamin placing Benjamin’s fate on his own sons heads.

Are there situations that occurred a lifetime ago that you are still bitter and angry about?  Do you have anger and unforgiveness towards someone that did something to you, or have you forgiven and moved on.  It’s not a question of whether there is someone who hurt you.  I don’t think that there is a person over the age of 20 who does not have emotional scars from something someone said or did to them.  The question is, what are you doing about it?  Joseph tested his brothers to see if they were still angry and bitter towards him and his brother Benjamin, but at the same time, God was testing Joseph to see if he still held anger and hostility towards his brothers.

When (not if) you are tested, how will you respond?  Have you allowed anger and bitterness to take root in your life.  I know that this is something that i am struggling with, and that i am in the process of trying to deal with.  What about you?

Rev. John

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Genesis 38 – Sins of the Father

How many know that it is good to have passages and concepts that you struggle with in regards to God and the Bible?  If you didn’t have any at all, I would be concerned with your spiritual state.  This has been one of those chapters for me over the years.

So Judah marries a Canaanite.  He has three sons.  The first is evil in the sight of the LORD and dies.  The second is to raise up a progeny for his older brother with his older brother’s wife.  He decides that he wants to take/lie with his brother’s wife, but is not interested in fulfilling his duty (promise) as a brother.  God takes his life as well.  So now we have two brothers, sons of Judah, who were or did evil in the sight of the LORD.  Both at the cost of their lives.

So now, Judah tells Tamar to go and live in her father’s house and when his youngest son is old enough he will give her to him.  So Tamar agrees and does what is right.  Judah does what is not right, in being fearful for his youngest son’s life he refuses to fulfill his promise.  O.K. so we have the back story, and now for the qualm.

Judah’s wife dies and not long afterwards he goes to shear his sheep.  Tamar hears about it, and know and understanding the ways of men, she goes and sits as a prostitute to seduce him in his time of weakness on the way to where Judah’s sheep are.  Judah goes in to lie with her and leaves his signet (i always want to spell and pronounce it signent) ring, cords, and staff in promise for a real payment.  She leaves with the promises (items) and the promise (her real payment), and he attempts to bring her his promise (payment goat) to no avail.

Three months later, he finds out Tamar is pregnant from harlotry and wants to have her killed.  She makes it clear through his promises (items) given to her that she simply fulfilled her promise (wedding vows) to her husband as well as Judah’s promises (to give her the seed) that he had not been willing to.

At times this chapter has troubled me, and at others times it has not.  My big struggle has been that while the woman (Tamar) appeared to/was acting as a prostitute, she somehow deserved death.  Yet when he went in to a prostitute, there appeared to be nothing wrong with that.  For a long time i thought that the issue was that since he was a man it was considered acceptable due to unfair treatment towards women.  But as time has gone by i have begun to realize that it wasn’t about man vs. woman, it was about promise.

She had been married and vowed to Er.  When he died, so did her vow to him.  She could have married another man.  However, her father-in-law asked her to remain faithful and he promised to fulfill her vow.  Judah’s wife died, and his promise was fulfilled (|| with Romans 8).  He made no further promise and was not bound as such.  That was a big part of my conundrum.  It wasn’t a man vs. woman issue.  It was a promise vs. lack of promise issue… or actually in this case it was a promise vs. promise issue.

After saying all of that, i want to make it clear that just because Judah was not under any promise, does not make it all right to go in to a prostitute.  That is still a serious sin.  Just as being unmarried (unpromised) and playing the harlot would be.  That’s still a problem no matter what.  Two still become one flesh as a result, and that is not something that can be undone.

So, what are the struggles with God and the Bible that you have to work through?

John C.

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