Tag Archives: Sabbath

Matthew 12 – The Changing of the Guard

In this chapter we really begin to see a different side of Jesus.  So far in Matthew, we have seen Jesus heritage and his ministry.  We have seen where He came from, His lineage and his birth, including how the prophecies were coming true.  We have also looked at His temptation and His ministry.  His message for his disciples and how He responds to the peoples needs.  His working of miracles and His compassion are key principles so far, but now we begin to really see a different side of Jesus in this chapter.

It starts out with Jesus and His disciples walking through some fields one Sabbath.  The disciples began to pick and eat the grain as they walked.  The Pharisees ever watching and lofty eye searching for something, began criticizing the disciples for this.  Jesus began to shine the light on the situation reminding the Pharisees that the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  In response, Jesus comes into their synagogue and heals a man.

The Pharisees are furious, and seek to destroy Him.  They call Him the devil, and criticize all that He does.  Yet the people keep coming and Jesus continues to heal and minister.  Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and their actions.  He defines a tree by its fruit and a man by his actions.  Thus He condemns the Pharisees and flips the Israelite society on its head.  He shows that it is not about having lofty words and the proper lineage, it’s about obedience to the one to who obedience is due.  It’s about pursuing God and the truth, not about following a bunch of rules for the sake of the rules… that’s not to say that the rules are to be rejected.  Jesus, the Christ, did not reject the rules.  In fact He lived in them and embodied them… but rather pursuing the Father, the creator of the world and the rules.

Jesus goes even further by redefining the very nature of family.  He states that those who do his will are His brothers and mother, not those who He is born to / with.

We see in this chapter Jesus going from ministering to the people, to rejecting and correcting the sin and corruption of the leadership.  We see an outright attack against the Pharisees: “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. ”  We see a changing of the guard.

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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 24 – Holy to the Lord

“May your light never go out” – a blessing

YHWH gave a command to Aaron and Israel.  Never allow His light to go out in the tabernacle.  It was the priest’s job to keep the lamp in the tabernacle lit at all times.  His light is to shine in the darkness, never consumed or put out.  His light is to shine at all times and for all times.  It is a beacon of hope to the world.  It is holy to the LORD.

In the same way, the priest is to take fine flour and bake 12 loaves of bread and place them on the pure (gold) table in the presence of YHWH.  These 12 loaves are to be continually before him, to be eaten by Aaron and his descendants and then replenished every Sabbath.  They are holy to the LORD.

More than that, the Name of the LORD is holy.  When a man blasphemes the Name of the LORD, there are consequences.  It becomes a death sentence.  To dishonor the Name of the LORD is  to dishonor the LORD.  That cannnot be allowed in the camp and presence of God.  YHWH is not going to strike down every person who says something negative about Him, but He does expect His people to respond appropriately.  He is the LORD, and His name is Holy.

Do we treat YHWH and His name as holy.  Are we a light that never goes out, or are we on and off and on and off.  Do we point to the bread of life, or only to ourselves?

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Exodus 35 – Our Offering

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.

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Exodus 31 – Work & Rest

In the New Testament there is a listing(s) of spiritual gifts.  Gifts given to the people of the body of Christ in order to strengthen the body and to help the people do the work of ministry.  There are people who debate about how many “gifts” are actually represented in the list(s) and what it all means.  It can be an interesting conversation sometimes trying to process through the information, but the conversation of the gifts of Spirit will oftentimes come back to the Old Testament.  To Exodus 31.  Why?  “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.”  Suddenly, there is a whole new discussion.  Are there “gifts” of the Spirit that we don’t even know about?  YHWH gave this man and others gifts to be able to do the work of building the tabernacle and all that was to be in it.  They were given gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the people and the work of service, yet craftsmanship is not listed in the New Testament gifts.  It certainly gives you pause to think.

I would so love to see the work that was done by these people.  I can only imagine the beauty and craftsmanship of their work.  To see the alter and the tabernacle.  To smell the incense and the sacrifice.  To hear the sounds of the work and the worship.  What beauty.  But, it is not a privilege that i will have on this side of eternity.

The other key aspect of this chapter is its focus on the Sabbath.  Six days are for work, and one for rest.  God takes that command very seriously, even when we don’t.  We know that we should be taking a day of rest, but how often do we truly take a Sabbath?  Aren’t we working around the house, or in the yard, or preparing for work, or some other “important” task.  I know that many times i’m teaching a class on Sunday mornings.  Monday through Friday i’m teaching college level psychology in the high-school.  Wednesday through Saturday i’m working with boys and young men who have low IQ’s and behavioral problems.  Add to that the time spent working around the house, and that i am working on this project almost every day, and it all adds up to working 7 days a week almost every day of the year.  I know i’m not the only one who does this kind of thing.  So if God’s word is so important, and He takes the Sabbath so seriously, why don’t we?

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