There appears to be unrest in the ranks. Two chapters ago God was telling the people to look back and remember all that had happened in the last year. He called for the celebration of the Passover feast and a time for the people to reflect back. He was setting / reinforcing a precedent, preparing the people for the next stage of the journey. So the people had their second Passover feast and their time to reflect on all the ways YWHW has blessed them. They are finally setting out on their journey to the promised land!
Then… well, the first verse says it all: “Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled” Oy vey! The complaining just continues. The people are on their way to the land flowing with milk and honey. They are eating Manna, food provided directly to them by God. They have seen miracle after wonder after miracle after wonder, and what do they do? We complain! We complain and we complain and we complain! How often does YHWH do something amazing for or through us, and within a month, a week, or even a day we are ready to complain that things are not good enough!
I’m a little bit behind again on my posting (about 4 chapters or so), so the other day I was talking with my wife about this chapter and how much this is a reflection of us. We have really felt like the last few years of our lives have been a wilderness experience for us. In this wilderness YHWH has blessed and provided for us in so many different ways. He has continued to take care of us even when I was jobless or only making a minimal wage at a very difficult part-time job, and my wife has been a stay at home mom with our four young kids. Through this time His blessings have continued and all of our “needs”, and even many of our “wants” have been provided for.
Yet through this all, my wife and I find ourselves complaining about what we don’t have; about how we are going through all of this and these other people are being blessed even when they act foolishly and we are acting wisely; about what we can’t do and where we aren’t living. It’s funny; after going through chapter 9 where it talks about the people celebrating the Passover it’s easy to be critical of them complaining and their foolishness, but the reality is that we aren’t much different.
Lord, YHWH, forgive us for our complaints, our unrest. Help us to have the right attitude and to worship you freely. Help us to look to You and to be a blessing to those around us. In Jesus name, Amen!
Wow, a year has passed since the people of Israel have come out of the land of Egypt! So much has happened in all that time. Now, it is time to look back on all that has happened. It had been exactly one year previously that the people of Israel had still been slaves in Egypt. They were celebrating their first Passover and were in wonder of all the miracles God / YHWH had done in their midst and to Egypt. That night the angel of the Lord / YHWH passed-over the nation of Egypt and took the lives of the firstborn of all who lived. However, those who were of the lineage of Israel and were celebrating the Passover feast were passed-over and their lives were not taken from them.
Now a year later they look back and see all the miraculous wonders of all that the LORD has done for them since then. It is an amazing picture that is hard to put into words. I am almost envious of them of this moment. How many of us, in a year’s time, get to bee freed from slavery, watch the army of our biggest enemy buried by a sea right after we walk through it on dry land, complain and then see nasty foul water turned pure and clean by a tree placed in it, cross a dessert, come to the mountain of YHWH, have YHWH speak to you from the mountain and completely shake your world, see a religious system (one of the longest lasting ever) built in front of your eyes, watched THE tabernacle being built and erected, and a hoard of people become organized into a huge standing army that is about to be led by YHWH in a cloud by day that becomes as a pillar of fire by night? It’s an amazing picture!
Maybe it’s time to look back on our own lives this past year. What amazing and miraculous things has He done in and through us this year? Are you able to come up with 100? …how about one? If you are having a difficult time coming up with even one miraculous thing that YHWH has done for you in the past year, maybe it’s time to start asking the question, “Why?”. Why in a year’s time can I not think of a single miraculous thing that God / YHWH has done for me? Why does it seem like God isn’t doing anything? Is it God / YHWH, or is it me / us?
YHWH is always at work. He is always doing the miraculous. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19) Jesus spent His entire ministry doing the miraculous. Every life that He came into contact with He touched and affected. The very last verse of the Gospel of John says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” Jesus was continually doing the miraculous. So His father… so much more! If we cant see the work that YHWH has done miraculously in our lives, then we are either ignorant (which is fixed with education) or we are blind, and we need a touch of YHWH’s hand once again to help us see.
Lord, open my eyes and help me to see. Also, open the eyes of the reader to see as well. You make the seeing blind and the blind see. You are a God of miracles, give us the wisdom and knowledge to see! Thank you Lord / YHWH! In Jesus name we pray… Amen (let it be done)!
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
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.
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?
Looking at the chapter and trying to sum up the themes and basic concepts in one word brings me to the idea of ownership. Verses 1-16 are an intermingling of two ideas that most of us would consider separate. There are these very different and distinct concepts. The first is that YHWH spared the firstborn of Israel, and as such they belong to the Lord. Form here on out the firstborn, the one to open the womb, belongs to God. They must be given to God, or they must be redeemed. The second concept is that every year the people of Israel are to have seven days of unleavened bread and a feast at the end. This is in celebration of the Lord passing-over the Israelite’s, destroying the Egyptians, and rescuing the people from slavery. In honor of that event, Passover must be celebrated every year. The people of Israel are to take ownership of the acknowledgment and remembrance of this event. This should be something that they not only acknowledge and understand, but that they also celebrate. The Israelite people must take ownership of the remembrance of this event.
What’s interesting to me, is that these two very distinct and separate concepts are so intermingled in these first 16 verses that as much as it seems like they should be different, it becomes clear that they are interconnected and dependent upon one another. I can’t say that i fully understand it. To me they seem like two very different concepts, but God seems to say otherwise. How and why?
The final concept of ownership in this chapter goes from vs. 17 through the end of the chapter. In this section God takes responsibility / ownership for the people of Israel. He doesn’t just tell Moses to lead them to the Mountain of God; He leads them. He goes before them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He does not leave this to someone else. He takes ownership and does it himself.
We serve a God of words and actions. He doesn’t just tell us to do something. He makes it happen. As a result He is also a God that expects action and ownership from us. We are to take ownership of the tasks that He gives us to do.
It is almost time. It is here. The passover is truly the most important festival for the Jewish people. It is about reprimand, redemption, & rescue. It is about reprimand in that the angel of death would come and take payment for the sins of the people. It is about rescue in that the Hebrew people would be rescued from the Egyptian in their slavery, as well as being rescued from the angel of death by the passover lamb’s blood painted on the door posts and lintel. It is about redemption in that the Jewish people are ultimately redeemed from slavery and from sin.
The Passover lamb is a prophetic representation of the work Christ would do and his purpose in rescuing and redeeming all people. His purpose is to draw all men unto Himself.
This first part of this chapter is all about getting the people prepared for what is about to happen. With every other plague, God tells Moses to talk to Pharaoh and give him a command from God. At this time, all of that begins to mean something more because God starts preparing the people to leave. It’s nice to hear that YHWH is going to bring them out. It is something else entirely when YHWH says, “It’s time! Let’s get prepared to move out.” Now that plan is beginning to come to fruition.
What about us? Are we living as if our sins have been removed as far away as the east is from the west? Are we celebrating God’s passing over our lives in destruction?