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.
“Then God (Elohim) spoke all these words, saying,
‘I am the LORD your God (YHWH Elohim), who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God (YHWH Elohim), am a jealous God (Elohim),’” Exodus 20:1-5a
Leviticus 17 expands on and deals with the particulars of this passage a little bit more. There are two connected issues here. First, no one may slaughter an ox, lamb, or goat within or outside of camp without bringing the body to the tabernacle to offer it as an offering to the LORD. This is to ensure that there is no other worship except the worship of YHWH in the Israelite camp. If a man or a woman sacrificed an animal to another god, that would have brought defilement upon the camp and people of Israel.
Reading that you could not slaughter an ox, sheep, or goat without offering it as a sacrifice to YHWH, i wonder how the Israelites could harvest their flocks and herds. If sheep, goats and oxen were the primary means of meat for the Israelites, and they could only be slaughtered to sacrifice them to God, where do they get the meat needed to live on? I don’t have the answer to that one, but knowing me, i’m probably just missing something simple.
The second part of this chapter deals with the command not to consume blood. Blood is the life of the creature. That’s been backed up by research for centuries. The essence of the creature, it’s life and support system, comes from the blood. As such, God requires that we do not consume of it. In fact, when we hunt or kill an animal, we are instructed to let the blood drain out and cover it with dirt.
Do we take Exodus 20:1-5a seriously? Have we made for ourselves gods other than YHWH? Obviously we don’t make idols. However, we have a tendency to worship, pursue, and trust in many things other than YHWH. Some worship the god of money, others the god of family, others the god of education, others of technology. Most American’s worship and bow down to the god of self. When we place any of these things before YHWH, we are making them gods in our eyes. What will it have to take to change our view and for us to start truly worshiping YHWH, the one true God, once again?
In Exodus 32 (Sheep and Calf) we brought up this concept of the people’s desire to worship and offer sacrifice to God. They wanted it so much that when it wasn’t given to them how and as fast as they were looking for it, they created their own god so that they would have something… some sort of god to worship. They had been instructed by Aaron to give the earrings from their ears and he created a god for them from the gold. Here however, God, YHWH, has a better way. He doesn’t just want gold, He wants silver, and bronze, and fine fabrics, and goats hair, and acacia wood, and oil, and spices, and setting stones, and so much more. There should not have been a single person of the sons of Israel that could not give / offer something. They have all had a desire to give to the God that gave to them. Now they finally have a chance to do that. They can finally give back to YHWH to their heart’s content. They finally have a healthy outlet for their appreciation.
We have that need too. We have the need to honor and serve something / someone: to express our honor and our praise. It is something that is deep inside of every one of us. It is as much a part of us as our very need to breathe. We are a people of thanksgiving and blessing. If we are not worshiping YHWH, the God of the universe and everything, then we are worshiping money, or family, or education, or entertainment, or ourselves, or something else entirely. We have to find an outlet for our praise and worship or it tears us up inside. We are a people of offering.
It is such a fascinating concept to consider; that WE are beings with a need and primal desire to worship. To give and be an offering. It makes sense when we understand that YHWH created us for relationship with Him. Whether it is purposeful or simply a side effect of that purpose, we NEED to praise, worship, give an offering, and BE an offering.
This chapter also parallels back to Exodus 31 (Work & Rest) in a couple of different ways. Right away the LORD emphasizes the need for a Sabbath rest. In fact, in verse 1 the people are told, “These are the things that the LORD (YHWH) has commanded you to do:” Then the very first thing listed is observing a sabbath rest. In our busy schedules, how often do we ignore this so important command? The other parallel from chapter 31 is that our offering is our giving of our skills and abilities. So often we get into this rut of thinking that our tithe and offering to God is the first 10% of our money, but God doesn’t just ask for our money. He seeks our hearts and our lives. He accepts /expects / demands from us our very lives. Our tithes and offerings are not just our money, they are our skills, abilities, and work / play.
We ARE our offering, and we need to live that way.
John J. Camiolo Jr.
Either i’ve become a faster writer, the verses are shorter or easier in this chapter some how, or both. It took me less than an hour and a half to copy over the 40 verses in this chapter. When i started this project it took me an hour and a half to do ~30 verses. If i was to gander a guess, i would say that it is probably a combination of things. Either way, its good to see this, as i will be starting an earlier class schedule today and i have less time to get prepped each day to teach.
Here we see God prepping Moses and Israel to build Him a sanctuary. He calls for the people to raise a contribution by asking for specific materials, and He gives Moses the plans for how to make the ark with the mercy seat, the table, the lamp stand, and other necessary tools and utensils. It’s funny, when i think of the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat, what i visualize is the Ark of the Covenant from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, and that’s very different from what is described here.
What i thought was interesting about this chapter is that YHWH initiates the first fund raiser for a church building project. He also doesn’t just ask for gold or money to purchase the right equipment to do the job, but He asks for the material itself. It’s an interesting and intriguing way of getting things done. It’s not just… “Write a check for this much money.” It’s about investing in the actual building and development. Then the people can turn around and say to their kids, “look, see the fine linen that is used in the ephod and breastpiece? We donated that.” Or, “See the red rams skins used in the curtains of the tabernacle, that’s from us and our family! See, we are a part of this place.” It gives the people some semblance of connection and identity with the project. The very building itself becomes a legacy. It’s much more personal than just writing a check.
Are we investing OURSELVES into the kingdom of God, or are we just writing a tithe check? Is the kingdom work about us doing the work, or us funding the work? Maybe that’s a key to helping people embrace the mission and work of the church and ministry?
Joseph’s brothers need to return to get food / sustenance, but boy is it a chore. They know what they have been told by Joseph. They cannot return to Egypt without their youngest brother. They also know that their father is not going to let Benjamin go without a fight. So the argument ensues. Jacob / Israel wails and moans that if they take Benjamin he will lose a second son. They remind him that if he doesn’t let Benjamin go, they will not be able to buy food. Jacob complains that they are trying to send him to an early grave. They remind him that if he does not let them go, he, they, and all the grandchildren will dis as well. Judah takes full responsibility for Benjamin’s health and safety. So Jacob / Israel finally consents.
So they return with not only Benjamin, but the money from the first trip that they found in their bags on the return home. When they return to Egypt Joseph arranges for them to eat with him. They are worried about the money, but Joseph’s intent is only to eat with them and see how they respond. In the process, Joseph has the table set up youngest to oldest, to their surprise.
How about us? How often does God do the same thing. He wants to sup with us. He wants to spend time with us. He wants relationship with us. What is our focus? We focus on what we want, or what we are afraid of, or what we have done wrong. We allow those things to prevent us from having a blessed celebration with our Father. All He wants is for us to return to Him, and we are still afraid that He might find out about something that we are ashamed of.
Is that where you’re at today? Are you missing out on an amazing relationship with the LORD because you are afraid of His response to something that happened in the past. Well, get over it; “Stop it!”
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– for He says,”AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.”
Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”– (II Corinthians 6:1-2 NASB)
From ashes to ashes; from dust to dust. Her time had come, and Sarah was no more. After everything that has happened, it’s hard to imagine Sarah (Sarai) no longer being in the picture. It’s also a signal that though one main character may be gone (and another nearing the end of his journey); a story may take a pause, but history stops for no one.
Life must go on, and Abraham has a responsibility to care for his deceased. Even in a time of mourning, the work is never done. Abraham sets about getting the appropriate final resting place for his wife and family. He already knows what he wants and is looking for. So he goes to make the transaction and we yet again see his mentality that he will not take what is not his. He is offered the land and cave that he wants free of charge, but he insists that he will only take what he has rightfully paid for. Its value resides in what its value is to the one who owns or is seeking it. If a man is not willing to pay fair price for it, is it worth owning?