The priestly laws continue. It must be hard to be a priest in Biblical times. The rules and regulations you had to keep track of. Some of them are obvious of course… like if you touch something unclean you will remain unclean until evening. No leaper of the sons of Aaron may eat of the holy sacrifices, and while the family may eat, the married daughters may not eat unless she is divorced or widowed with no children and returns home to her father’s house. It just seems like the laws and rules never end, but they are there for a reason. An important reason. Because someone needed to represent the people to YHWH, and YHWH to the people.
So the priests were responsible for the sins of the people and their relationship with YHWH. They are the ones who placed their lives on the line day after day to make sure that the people’s sins were covered. They are the ones who had to do everything perfectly every day and every time. They had to teach the people the precepts of YHWH. It is their responsibility and their honor. YHWH is a holy and a jealous God. To serve Him day by day is an honor and a responsibility of a lifetime.
Do we take YHWH seriously, or do we just use Him as a rescue raft. Do we worship the Holy God, or do we demand assistance from a galactic servant. Do we pursue a relationship with Him in awe and wonder, or do we attempt to flippantly use Him for our advantage and advancement? We are the servants of the Most High. Maybe we need to start acting that way… if that’s alright with you.
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.
We are coming to the end of the beginning. Israel is dying and Joseph is bringing his sons to Israel so that he can bless them. Israel does something unexpected. He tells Joseph that Joseph’s sons do not belong to him. Israel is taking Manasseh & Ephraim and claiming them as his own. Joseph can claim any others that come after them, but these two are his.
Then Israel goes to bless them. Joseph puts Manasseh (the elder) at Israel’s right hand, and Ephraim at Israel’s left. So Israel goes to bless them and he crosses his hands and places his right hand on Ephraim giving him the blessing of the elder while Manasseh gets the lesser blessing.
God does that sometimes. He sets up certain expectations and standards of His own actions and behaviors and of ours. Then He goes ahead and breaks those expectations as if they don’t really matter. Go figure, the God who sets the expectations can rearrange them as He sees fit. 🙂 God blesses / favors him who he wishes to bless / favor, and curses him who he wishes to curse.
Does that mean that we can do the same thing? I would say, absolutely positively, without a doubt, usually not. God puts his rules and expectations into place for specific reasons, they are important and when we ignore them it means trouble (…the rules serve the reasons). However, the purposes and reasons extend beyond the rules.
So when God chooses to bless His favored over the expectations of society and the individual, that is a choice He is free to make.