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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 Since this passage is part of the legal instructions given to the Israelite people, it is completed and fulfilled and no longer applicable to us.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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Exodus 28 – The Robes

As i began reading this chapter i began thinking about the purpose of the priestly garments and the relationship between man and God.  The question popped into my mind, “Does God need the priest to be dressed in special visually attractive garments?  Are these garments related to giving honor and glory to YHWH because He IS God, or are they aesthetically pleasing and more serve the purpose of giving the Israelites an identity of worship to YHWH?  Is it that elegant clothing somehow draws YHWH to the priests and His people more than plain clothing would?… I know, to some extent that sounds silly… Is it about giving YHWH glory and honor by bringing only the best into His presence? …like somehow He NEEDS that?  Or; is it like when God spoke aloud honored Christ before the disciples not for Christ’s sake, but for theirs?  Does this relate to God’s need for honor or glory, or the people’s need to be able to honor and glorify him through beautiful worship and sacrifice?

I thought it was a really interesting question and i really liked the direction that the question was leading.  It’s a question that was definitely worth pursuing even if i already had a good idea as to the answer.  Then i hit the end of verse two, and in all honesty i felt a little gipped.  There was the answer sitting right in front of me; “for glory AND for beauty”.  My reaction was, “Awe come on!  You’re just going to GIVE me the answer!  That’s no fun!”  I figured that the answer was probably going to somehow be both, but it’s just so much fun to process through.  At least i got to do it here.

The other thing i wanted to note really quickly is that the robes; the priestly garments seem to be given the same attention to detail and significance as the temple building itself.  It started to get me thinking about the parallels between the temple as the outward covering of the Glory of God, and the priestly garments as an outward covering bringing glory to the priest.

Well, that’s all for now!

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Exodus 21 – Treatment of Others

Yesterday was on the 10 commandments and the Israelite’s reaction to God, so i don’t know what i expected for chapter 21, but it certainly wasn’t this.  To put things in perspective a little bit; there were originally no chapters and verse in the scriptures.  They were added later on to help people study and reference the Bible better.  As a result when the text was originally written, there was no real division between what was commanded in 20 and then in 21.  So, God gave the people the 10 commandments / promises, then almost immediately we get into the topic that opens chapter 21: slavery!

Now i know that back in the day both supporters of and those opposed to slavery used the Bible to prove their point of view.  Ultimately though, it was those who understood that God’s view of humanity being created in His image and his redemption bringing equality to all that overcame and was a driving force in especially Great Britain’s move to make slavery illegal.  But when i started copying this chapter over it hit me.  Almost immediately after giving the 10 commandments / promises God begins the rest of the law and legal instructions with rules about slavery?  Isn’t that a huge piece of evidence that God is in SUPPORT of slavery?  Doesn’t that justify that abominable practice?

I was really struggling through this idea and concept for a good chunk of my writing this morning.  It was really bothering me.  Then, as i was writing, struggling with this, and questioning God about it; He brought an answer to my mind.  It’s not that He supported slavery.  It’s that He knew slavery was going to occur no matter what.  He set His 10 primary promises / commands then immediately He set the rules to protect those who would end up as slaves.  It wasn’t an attempt to encourage the mistreatment of His creation.  It was making it a priority to protect those least able to protect themselves.

The chapter continues by dealing with how to respond to murder / accidental deaths from other people as well as animals.  Obviously this is a very important aspect of the law to deal with.  This theme of protecting the innocent continues with the instruction that if two men are fighting and a pregnant woman is struck resulting in premature birth but no harm is done, then the husband may demand any fine he requests.  If there is an injury it is an eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, hand for hand, etc.

If we call ourselves Christians, are we protecting those less able to protect themselves?  Do we live our lives taking responsibility for those around us?

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Exodus 10 – Struggle

If things weren’t deep and passionate before, there is a whole lot of that going on now!  The plagues keep getting more and more intense and powerful, and Pharaoh’s frustration and anger are getting worse and worse.

Pharaoh is doing everything he can to attempt to delay or stop the inevitable, but he just can’t stop YHWH.  I kind of feel bad for the guy.  But at the same time, i know why this is happening, and his involvement / responsibility in it.  It’s kind of like working with troubled youth.  Sometimes the only way they learn is to allow them to learn and understand the consequences of their actions.  Explaining it to them, processing it with them and protecting them from it can only get you so far.  Sometimes you just need to let them see, and until they see they will not understand.

You can see Pharaoh’s will / resolve start to soften in this chapter, but Pharaoh is not a man to change easily or lightly.  Nor is he a man likely to accept defeat.  God continues to harden an already hard heart.  Pharaoh continues to attempt to compromise with God, but the cost of that compromise is much higher than the cost of the original price.

How do you help a man who is so insistent that he wins, that he is willing to destroy himself and everything around him in order to do so?  How do you open the eyes of a man so blinded by his own pride and rebellion that he thinks he can stand against God?  What drives a man to become what you see before you?  Yes, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and yes, God had every right to do that!  But the truth is, He didn’t need to.  Pharaoh was so intent on doing it to himself that he did not need any real help from God.

How do help a man like that?

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Exodus 3 – YHWH!

I really hate that i have come to this chapter on a Saturday.  This is my most rushed day of the week.  I am very time limited in the morning, and i work a 13 hour day.  There is so much really good stuff here, that it’s really hard to limit what i want to say and still look at more than just a speck of what is here.  I could study and talk about this chapter alone for close to a month.  Well, here goes not much. 🙂

So Moses has gone from being trained in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, with a courtly education.  He has lived this way for approximately 40 years.  From there, he has gone out to the wilderness, and spent another 40 years wandering around Midian with a flock of sheep.  My, how the mighty have fallen!  It is here, after 40 years in the wilderness that God / YHWH calls him.  A man uniquely gifted, both in the highest courtly education possible, and as a lowly shepherd who has learned to lead a flock of sheep.  It is these two polar opposite preparation that provide him with the skills that he needs to do this tremendous work.

It’s amazing and fascinating to me the way that God works sometimes.  Here he tells Moses, “I have seen the affliction of my people… so I have come down to deliver them… Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”  It’s hilarious to me.  God says that He has come down to deliver them, so now Moses YOU go and bring them out of Egypt.  So is it God / YHWH that’s bringing them out, or is it Moses?  God says that it’s Him, and then tells Moses to go and do it.  Talk about priceless!

Then, Moses asks God a simple question; “What is your name?”  What does God answer?  “I AM WHO I AM!”  I almost feel bad for the guy.  Suddenly he is going from a simple shepherd to the redeemer of a nation.  Then when he asks a simple question, he gets what appears to be a non-answer.  What’s the poor guy to think!

What about us?  Does God teach and prepare us in unusual ways, giving us unique and unusual giftings that seem to make no sense.  Then we come to YHWH with a question, expecting some sort of significant answer, we find Him not only NOT giving us the answers that we are looking for, but also expecting us to do something that is so out of our comfort zone that it feels like it is going to kill us?  I love it!  That’s God for you alright!

If you have never been blessed that way, i pray that you will be, and you will be soon.  God Bless.

 

John Camiolo

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Genesis 29 – Wrestling

This chapter is the beginning of the fruition of of who Jacob has become and is becoming.  It is Jacob in the process of not only seeing the fruit of deception, but becoming the target and recipient of it.  He must learn to accept the consequences and purposes that are out of his control.  He must also work hard  to achieve what his father had been freely given.  This is the time when Jacob has to make a choice, do i rise to the challenge and be a man, or do i try to force my will on another person requiring that they give me what i feel like (and rightfully do) deserve, acting like a spoiled child?

This is a struggle that every person must face, especially every man.  Jacob is trying to prove himself.  He is trying to work and overcome.  In this and the following chapters he is trying to be a man.  He is answering the questions:  Who am i?  What gives me value?  Where is my purpose?  Like most every man, he is seeking to understand his role and his purpose.  As such, he is wrestling with expectations placed on himself, and what he can and does achieve.

Leah is going through the same struggle in this chapter.  She sees her value coming from her relationship with other people.  So she wrestles with that.  The fact that she is given to this man who does not love her in trickery.  The fact that even in her role within that marriage she still cannot find true acceptance.  She does what every woman of her world does, she pursues childbearing as a large part of who she is.  She even succeeds in having son after son, but she still does not gain the acceptance and approval that she seeks.  Finally, after wrestling and wrestling and wrestling, she finally finds her love and acceptance in God.  She recognizes that He is her source of love and acceptance.  As a result, her final son she names Judah, meaning “praise”.  Praise to the LORD for His blessing and love.

How do we respond in the face of struggle and trial?  Do we face it like a man (woman), or do we throw a fit and attempt to make everyone else bow to our will through force, control, or manipulation?  Understand as Leah did, that our love and value can only come from one source.  If we wrestle with and seek fulfillment of those desires through anything else, we will eventually be let down.  It will never be enough.  It is only by wrestling and finding our love and purpose in the LORD, in YHWH that we can finally praise.

 

John C.
A Masterpiece in Progress

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