Tag Archives: mourning

Leviticus 21 – Responsibility

Whenever YHWH sets a leader over His people, He sets up some pretty high expectations.  There are things that the people can do that the leaders must stay away from.  Those who act as priests, prophets, and kings are expected to live at a higher standard than those who do not have a direct connection and responsibility to YHWH.

In this chapter those of the priestly line and especially the priests who serve the LORD are instructed that they may not defile themselves by a corpse unless it is a direct family member.  Even then, the high priest may not even do that.  They may not marry a woman who has been widowed or divorced, or who has slept with any other man at any time in her life.  She must be a virgin or he may not marry her.  Nor may a priest tear his clothes in mourning or uncover his head.  If his daughter profanes herself in harlotry, it rests on him as well.  Then finally, if there is any physical defect in a man, He may not serve as priest before the LORD.  YHWH even goes so far as to say that if a man has a broken hand or foot, he may not serve the LORD.

Do we take our responsibility in representing the LORD seriously?  Do we set ourselves apart from the world, or do we do what everyone else is doing?  As people who pursue God and seek His work and will in our lives, we should be living examples of God and His work and will.  We should be truly pursuing Him in all holiness.

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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 37 – Beasts

Well, it seems the slower i write, the better i write.  Since i ran out of ink in my Pilot Varsitys (disposable fountain style pens) i have had to switch back to ball point.  As a result, my writing speed has increased.  It is easier to write with ballpoint.  The fountain pen is rougher and scratchier, and thereby requires a slower more careful pace.  Also, the ink is is lighter in the ballpoint due to the nature of the ink and pen.  As a result, i have been writing faster and much sloppier, and it has really been effecting the work.  So today, i purposefully started slowing down and writing more carefully.  As a result my writing definitely has improved, but by the end of the chapter i can definitely tell that it is slipping again.  I really need to get myself another set of Varsitys or other fountain style.

The reality of the human condition and situation becomes darker in the face of this chapter.  Here we begin to see the relationships between the siblings.  We find that Joseph (Rachael’s older son) is clearly favored by his father and hated by his siblings.  He tells his siblings about dreams he had that they and his father would bow down to him, and they become even more bitter and angry.

When they get a chance, a group of his brothers decide to gang up on him and kill him, but Reuben wants to protect him.  So Reuben sets up a rescue plan.  Unfortunately, at the last minute the other brothers change their mind and decide that money is worth more  than blood on their hands, so they sell him as a slave, foiling Reuben’s plans.

Meanwhile; they kill a goat, put the blood on Joseph’s coat, bring it to their father, and allow their father to think that Joseph was killed by wild beasts.  Thus their father mourns for Joseph, refuses to be comforted, and almost goes to his own grave.  The brothers go on with their lives as if nothing had happened.

So who are  the beasts?

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Genesis 7 – Loss

Well, i know that God is working in me through this project.  I have said previously that by going through the Bible this way i am getting a much more intimate picture.  The lives and people become more personal.  The situations and lives have gone from stories of history, to a history of people.  Well, that has not been more clear than here in chapter 7.

I started today waking up with the song “Take Me In” by Kutless running through my head.  So i was singing it as i went down to the basement to start working on chapter 7.  I opened my Bible and journal, looked at vs. 1, and started crying. “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household…”  I knew what was coming, and i just couldn’t handle it.

Now to put this into perspective; I remember where i was the day that the Oklahoma city bombing occurred.  I was at a friend’s house.  It was someone i hadn’t seen in years.  His mom turned on the TV, and it was all over the news.  My reaction was, “Oh great, that means that this is going to be  all over the news all day.”  Not a tear shed; more annoyance about the life interruption than anything else.  I didn’t understand why everyone was getting so worked up about things.  And sure enough the drama went on for days and weeks.

Then September 11, 2001 occurred.  I was in class working towards my Masters in Counseling when the news hit.  It seemed like all these people all around me were crying and upset.  The loss of life affected them, but not the same way as with me.  I was shocked and upset about what was happening, but i was more fascinated with seeing the whole event unfold.  I kept wanting to see before and after comparison pictures to see the extent of the damage.  The loss of human life was not as much of an issue for me.

Now with that background, i come into this chapter.  I’ve read this chapter more times than i can remember.  I’ve heard the story in Sunday School and classes even more than that.  It has always been just a story to me.  …A story with important historical and theological implications.  Today though, it was something completely different.  It was no longer just some story.  Those people, those lives, have become important.  Seeing all the energy, all the effort, all the work that has gone into these lives.  Not just the people, but the animals and the plant-life.  Those people have become my people.  It’s like i’ve watched them grow up.  I’ve seen their dreams, joys, failures, children, and grandchildren.  I’ve seen them live, love, lose, and find redemption.  I’ve been there as man loses his home and he comforts his wife.  I’ve seen children born, destroy their lives, and continue feeding that through the generations.  I’ve seen new hope born.  I’ve seen generation after generation consume themselves more and more with their anger and selfishness.

I understand WHY it needs to happen, but i’m crushed that it DOES.  “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household…”  I knew what was coming, and i just couldn’t handle it.  How must it have been for Noah and his family?  How hard was it for them knowing that all that they knew and cared for was about to be destroyed.  How much more for God, who had created and cared so lovingly for.  This wasn’t just some trivial matter.  This was a necessary revulsion of all of the corruption  that was acting as a cancer that was destroying the world.  It was all the hard work and effort.  It was all the hope dreams and lives, gone.  I started crying.  (You can ask my wife, that’s not something that happens very often.)

Then it’s almost like my eyes were drawn straight down to verse 16 “Those that entered,… entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him.”  At that point the crying turned into weeping and i had to turn away.  This is something that God HAD to do personally.  He HAD to set it into motion Himself.  The work of His hands, the man created in His image, the birds, the cattle, even the creeping things, all of it.  A necessary and total loss… except for that one hope that floated along in that little boat.

It took me about 10 minutes and some serious toughing up to get to the point where i could pick up my pen and start writing.  Needless to say, this project is completely changing the way i view the scriptures, and the world around me.

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