Tag Archives: future

Matthew 3 – John the Baptist

John the Baptist had a purpose for his life.  He was to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.  His purpose was to point people to THE Christ.  His primary message was, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”  Once the Christ came, he was to decrease so that Christ could increase.

How often do young people, and even older people, seek purpose for their lives?  How often do they pursue understanding for who they are, and what they are to do and become?  But, what if we did know?  What if we did know that we were to prepare the way for something great… and then, that’s it.  What if we knew that we would spend years and years of our lives dedicated to the work of preaching, teaching, calling, etc.  Then it would lead up to ONE day!  …one minute!  …one moment!  And then… what?

You’ve just spent your entire life getting ready and it’s over.  Now “He must increase, and I must decrease.”  None of the rest of it matters all that much.  Your purpose is done, and the rest of your life is mostly meaningless.  Not only for that to happen, but to know that that was going to happen.  Wow, that’s tough.

I really wonder if in today’s world we could handle knowing the truth?  I really wonder if we aren’t so caught up in ourselves that if God / YHWH actually told us what we wanted to know, how many of us would simply run away.  There are those that would say that in those times people were made of sterner stuff.  I don’t know to what extent i would agree with that.  People are people.  Someone may be taught to be stronger, better, wiser… whatever, but we are still made of the same stuff.

Would you or I be able to simply let go, knowing that our purpose has been served and we have nothing left but to push people away and tell them to follow something else… not because we had done something wrong, but because we had done it all right?  John the Baptist was an amazing man.  He lived the life  that YHWH had made him f or, then when that moment was over, he decreased so that Christ could increase.  I don’t know if i could do that.

 

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Matthew – Introduction

I’m making a little bit of a shift right now.  I just finished Leviticus and i decided that i needed a little bit of a break from the Torah.  I was planning on doing the entire Torah and then breaking for a couple of books of the New Testament, but i think that now is a good time to make a quick switch.

The Gospel according to Matthew is an interesting book.  Many seem to see a parallel between Mattew’s Gospel and the five books of the Torah, seeing five sets of narratives and discourse meant to build that parallel.  When looking at Matthew, it becomes pretty obvious that the book of Matthew is all about Jesus fulfilling the role of the Messiah.  We see time and again how the life of Jesus fulfills the Old Testament prophecies of who the Messiah was to be and His role and purpose.

All in all, i’m looking forward to studying this deeper and getting a better feel for what sets Matthew apart from the other gospels.  Come join me on this journey.

 

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Leviticus 26 – The Old

As we are closing up on the end of the book of Leviticus, God / YHWH paints a picture of what the rest of the Old Testament / Covenant will look like.  It is a peek into the future of Israelite people, and a picture of both the good and the bad.  I just wish that it wasn’t SO bad.  Ultimately though, we begin to see the picture of the peoples relationship to God.  We get a feel for just how much the people will turn away, and how that turning away will affect their relationship with YHWH and their own futures.

YHWH starts off with a command.  “‘You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or…  You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD (YHWH).”  It’s simple really.  Don’t worship idols / false gods, and keep His Sabbaths and reverence His sanctuary.  How difficult can that be.  Apparently that can be very difficult because it does not take long (a single generation after Joshua) for all of it to begin to fall apart.

Are we any different?  Have we changed any from this in the thousands of years since it was written, or are we still going from generation to generation following the ways and directions of our culture over what God’s word says?  This is the picture of the Old Testament, the entire 49 books.  Yet, this is also the picture of today.  Instead of pursuing God / YHWH, we are pursuing education and technology and financial stability and comfortable homes.  Instead of keeping His Sabbaths and revering His sanctuary, we are keeping ourselves as busy as we possibly can with all of our “responsibilities”.  We are too busy trying to stay busy, that we push away the very purpose of our lives.  In the end, what does that bring us?  …exhaustion, sickness, loss, anger, frustration, being overwhelmed, seeing the work that we have built coming to nothing?

Our pursuit needs to be not a pursuit of what’s the best, brightest, and shiniest.  It needs to be a pursuit of YHWH first and foremost.  We need to not make the same old mistakes that the Old Testament Israelites made.  We must pursue YHWH.

 

John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Leviticus 25 – Understanding Ownership

During this time that my hand has been in a cast, it has not been totally useless.  As a result, i have been able to finally get chapter 25 finished.

As i am working through all of this, i’ve been starting to get a bigger / stronger picture.  Leviticus 25 has been about ownership, and understanding our place in the bigger picture of it.  The LORD promises to the people that He will give them the land of Canaan.  Yet at the same time, even while He is giving it to them, it does not belong to them.  The people of Israel are simply caring for the land and reaping of its harvest as a result.  They do not have true ownership.  God alone reserves that right.

Every seven years the people are to respect the land by letting it lie fallow / dormant for a year.  This Sabbath rest allows the land to rest and heal from use and prevent abuse due to over-use.  It is YHWH’s command to His people to not mistreat and abuse His land.

Then after every seven Sabbath’s is the year of Jubilee.  In the year of Jubilee the land rests for a second year, all debts are released, and all land ownership goes back to the original caretakers.  Anyone that has been paid for in slavery / servanthood is released and their freedom is returned to them.

It is a time of understanding that the land, the animals, the people; they do not belong to the people, they belong to YHWH.  They are His and they must be returned to His plans for them.  In the same sense, by understanding this concept, it means better understanding of and treatment towards others.

Outside of this project, i have also been reading about Abraham Lincoln, the civil war, and slavery.  In processing through all of this information, i think that i understand slavery a little bit better.  There will always be the wealthy and the poor.  There will always be those with more than they need, and the ability to improve on their financial situation.  There will also always be those who just can’t seem to break free of poverty.  Whatever the reason is, there will always be those who struggle to get by.

When the basis of a person’s understanding is that no one and nothing is truly owned by another.  That there is no one of more value than another.  That YHWH owns all and demands respect for His creation… Then, those who have more and have the ability to continually manage well what has been given them, can care for his fellow man by providing for them.  So the riches of the rich help to sustain the poor while the poor is having difficulty sustaining themselves.  The wealthy provide for the poor, in the meantime the poor work for and learn to manage that which belongs to the rich.  Thus slavery is not about abuse and mistreatment of man.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  Slavery / servanthood becomes about taking care of and providing for those who cannot care for themselves.

However, this concept ONLY works when the wealthy (and everyone else) truly understand ownership.  When those who are prospering understand that all belongs to YHWH and not themselves, then respect of personhood prevails.  As a result there is not abuse and maltreatment, there is love, caring, and provision for those in need.  Slavery / servanthood becomes about love and compassion rather than abuse and maltreatment.

It all stems from understanding ownership… do we?

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Leviticus 23 – Celebrate

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?

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Leviticus 18 – Defiled

This chapter is a very controversial chapter and tends to bring up all kinds of questions and debate.  In it YHWH deals with defilement (primarily sexual defilement); what defiles the people and what defiles the land.  In this chapter YHWH gives instruction for the people not to uncover their relative’s nakedness (or have sexual relations with them).  Incest is forbidden including incestual relations between a man and his mother, a father and his daughter-in-law, a man and both a woman and her daughter, and other relations.

There are other issues at work in this chapter as well.  For instance there is the command not to uncover a woman’s nakedness during her menstrual period, not to sleep with a neighbor’s wife, and not to sacrifice your child to Molech (this doesn’t happen anymore… does it?).  Each of these issues is very important and significant and should in no way be minimized.

However, the most controversial verse in this chapter (according to the current cultural view) is verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”  You can see where a big part of the controversy begins here.  There are many that say that this passage does not apply anymore due to Christ having fulfilled the law.  That since Christ came and died and was raised again, and the curtain to the most holies was torn, we are no longer bound by the law.  We do not have to fulfill the sacrificial rules and regulations because Christ became the perfect sacrifice.  Since this passage is part of the legal instructions given to the Israelite people, it is completed and fulfilled and no longer applicable to us.

To some extent, that is an accurate (albeit flawed) understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the law.  This entire chapter holds a different kind of sway than most of the rest of the law.  It is true to some extent that the law was for the nation of Israel, but this chapter is about what supersedes that law.  Verses 24-25 explain this a little bit better:
Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.  For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.
It doesn’t take an exegetical genius to understand that the commands in this chapter aren’t limited to the people of the Israelite nation.  These are laws that defy nature itself.  They are not limited to the people of Israel.  They apply to all people and all time.  It is because of these kinds of sins that the Israelites have the right, and the responsibility to not only conquer the land of Canaan, but to destroy its inhabitants as well.  The land itself has judged the Canaanites and is spewing them out because of the sins listed in this chapter.  The Israelites are simply tools to the fulfillment of that justice.

So how should we respond to those caught up in these kinds of sins?  Are we to judge and condemn them?  Is that our “right”?  I don’t believe so.  God says, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”  In that passage He is referring to not judging those of the world.  That judgment is His, not ours to dole out.  However, in I Corinthians 5 we are instructed to judge those within the body that are sinning against the body, and the sin refereed to there is a sin directly related to this chapter.  It was a sin being accepted and even praised within the church that should have been condemned.  That is a pattern we would be wise to heed.  The leaders of the church are responsible for understanding and responding appropriately to sin within the body.  In NO WAY should the church be lifting up and encouraging within the body what YHWH has condemned.  We are to be the light of hope to the troubled and struggling, not following in the defilement of the world.

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Leviticus 14 – Cleansing

Leviticus 14 is another long chapter with almost 60 verses, but the subject matter is very important.  Chapter 13 was about leprosy and how to discern leprosy from not leprosy.  Meanwhile, this chapter is about cleansing.  It’s about overcoming the problems and being able to return to health and life.  It is about hope and the process of coming to cleansing.  Leprosy was considered to be one of the more incurable diseases of the time.  Once you had true leprosy, there was little hope of ever living a normal life again.  It was generally a death sentence.

But this chapter brings hope.  It brings the promise that a person can come out of it.  This is a chapter of cleansing.  In  this chapter the priests and people are given instructions on what to do when a person is shown to be clean.  What steps are necessary to allow them to return to the lives that they lost… their homes, their families.  It is a promise that there are no true lost causes.

When i look and think about this, i think about those who have been consumed by drug and alcohol abuse.  Those who lose their lives and purpose due to choices they have made over the years.  There is hope.  YHWH can bring cleansing and strength to those who need it.  But it’s not limited only to drug and alcohol abuse.  It is also for all other sins.

We are not without a way out.  God can make a way.  Not only can He, but He does time after time, day after day.  No situation… no life is hopeless.  We need simply to pursue Him.  He is the one who brings cleansing.

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