Tag Archives: sin

Numbers 15 – Answers

I copied over this chapter a couple of days ago, and my initial reaction to it was one of surprise.  Numbers 14, the chapter before, was all about how the people did not listen to YHWH, but took the bad report from their leaders and instead disobeyed God.  As a result of that, the people are sent to the wilderness for another 40 years so that they will die in the wilderness and their children will inherit the land.  Yet, here we are in Numbers 15 and the chapter starts out; “Now the LORD (YHWH) spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “When you enter the land where you are to live, which I am giving you, then make an offering by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering or a sacrifice to…“, and it goes on.

Am I the only one that is a little confused about this?  The people have just been told that because of their sin, they will spend the next 40 years wandering around in the wilderness.  They will die and will never see the land promised to their forefathers by YHWH.  Now suddenly YHWH is telling them that when they enter the land that He is giving them, they are to make an offering by fire to Him, and then He proceeds to explain the offering to them!?

That question went to the back of my mind as the chapter went on.  Any sacrifice made by someone who is an alien (later to be referred to as gentile) or sojourner was to be the same as that of the native (Jew).  The firstfruits were to be lifted up as an offering, and offering for unintentionally sinning.  There was a man who had been gathering wood on the Sabbath day, and the people’s response to that.  Then finally it ends with YHWH instructing the people to put tassels on the corners of their garments each with a cord of blue to remind them of YHWH’s laws and to obey them.

However, this morning i turned to Numbers 15 to write this post, and the answer hit me.  It wasn’t that YHWH was trying to be cruel to them, or that He was trying to tell them that they actually would enter the promised land.  It was not Him teasing the people, it was about Him giving them hope.  Because of their sin to God, the people have just lost everything that they had been working towards.  The wilderness was now all that they would know and see.  As a result the people would become demoralized and hope / vision less, and as Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,  But happy is he who keeps the law.

These statements are made to provide the people with hope.  To give them something to look to.  The people’s hope and purpose is now to raise up their children to be the generation that will not turn away from YHWH, that will go forward and take the land.  They may not be entering it themselves, but their children would, and they needed them to be ready!

These three abide / remain / are not consumed; faith, hope, and love!  With YHWH these will always be.  The people needed the answer of hope.  What do you need?

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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Numbers 11 – Unrest

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!

Rev. John

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Numbers 5 – Defiled

YHWH takes a strong stance on defilement.  He is Holy, and He cannot have sin in His presence.  So when He puts His name on and makes His residence among the people of Israel, it is, must be, and must remain a big deal that the people remain pure.  As much as God / YHWH is Love, even more so He is Holy.

So we come to chapter 5.  God / YHWH makes it clear, that anyone who becomes defiled cannot be in the camp.  They must reside outside of the camp.  As such, anyone with leprosy, anyone with a discharge, anyone who has touched a dead person, anyone who was unclean had to be sent outside of the camp.  So the Israelites did it.  They sent them outside the camp.  What’s amazing to me is that this is one of those things that the people of Israel continued to do.  They didn’t just do this for a little while and stop.  This separation of the defiled from the rest of the people of Israel extended up to the time of the downfall of the city of Jerusalem.  We see in Jeremiah that when the Assyrian army was at Jerusalem’s doorstep, it was the leapers and outcasts that were outside of the city walls that went to the Assyrian camp and found that the army had been destroyed.  Even when Israel had abandoned almost all of the other laws of YHWH, this is one that remained.

The second part (majority) of the chapter deals with a husband that suspects that his wife has had an affair.  If a husband suspects that his wife (who is under his authority) has cheated on him, he has the ability to bring her to the tabernacle and have YHWH pass judgment on whether she has defiled herself.  The priest offers a sacrifice and goes through a specific ritual including taking the dust from the floor of the temple and using it as part of a holy water for this woman to drink.  The woman makes an oath that she has not been unfaithful and that if she has been, she will be cursed with her abdomen (stomach) growing big, her thigh (fertility) would waste away, and she would be a curse among her people.  It was very shameful if she truly had disrespected her husband and marriage by coming out of her husband’s authority.  If she had not, then she was truly justified in front of her husband, the priest, and all of Israel.

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Matthew 20 – Eyes Blinded & Opened

This parable about the vineyard seems to bug me.  So early in the day this man goes out and hires a bunch of people.  They start working and keep working all day.  As the day goes on, he goes out and hires more and more people.  As the day goes on he continues hiring people until, an hour before finishing time he hires the last group of people.  So then at the end of the day he pays the workers their wages… starting with the last first.  So now he’s paying the last, those that have only worked an hour, not only the same as those who have worked all day long, but also he pays them all the same.  Those who have worked all day long are kind of ticked off, they have families and lives that they need to get home to.  They are tired from working so hard, and these other guys not only get paid as much as they do, they have to wait to get paid until these others do.  I mean come on!  Give these guys a break!  But the owner doesn’t.  He responds to their frustration by saying, “This is what we agreed to, so why are you so upset about how I paid these others?”‘

I’m pretty sure that i understand the meaning behind the parable.  The workers are people.  Some have been serving God all their lives, others reject Him until not long before they die.  Yet they both get paid the same.  Why?  Because God wants to do it that way.  Being one that has served Him since i was young, i struggle with this one quite a bit.  I think that part of it is a pride thing, and part of it is an envy thing, and part of it is a blind thing.  I feel like I DESERVE more because I have worked SO HARD for SO LONG (pride).  I feel like as i see others doing the wrong things (what they want) for so long, yet they seem to have all that they want / need, and they will get the same payment at the end it just doesn’t seem fair (envy).  It’s also a blind thing.  I don’t know what i’ve been missing out on.  I can’t see 5 dimensionally.  I can’t see what could have happened if i had made a different choice, but i wonder.

In the parable, the owner of the vineyard says, “Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’”  I have to be careful of how i react to these kinds of things.  Matthew 18:8-9 says, “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.”  I have to be careful.  If my envious eye is not brought under conviction and dealt with (removed), it can lead to my own downfall.

There is so much more to this topic that i don’t have time to go into, but i did want to touch on one more thing in this chapter.  At the end of the chapter, there are two blind men sitting.  They heard that Jesus was passing by and they cried out for mercy!  What had they done wrong to deserve blindness that they needed mercy for?  Christ asked them what they wanted Him to do (significant).  He had compassion and healed them.  When we are physically blind, or blinded by by pride and envy.  Only one can have mercy on us and bring healing to our eyes.  He is the one we serve, and who has served us.

Rev. John J. Camiolo

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Matthew 18 – Value

“Value” is an interesting word.  We talk about how valuable something is, or how something has value, or is a value.  Yet,  that value is not really standard.  The saying goes that “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  What is important / significant / valuable to one person is worthless to another.  One person sees “high art” another sees “junk”.  One sees “junk” and another sees “potential”.  Even the value of money is dependent upon the person and situation.  To some people, money is everything!  They seek after it even at the cost of the people around them.  To others, money is nothing but a tool… and not a very good one at that!

So it should be no surprise that what Christ or God values can be very different than what we value.  The disciples came to Jesus at one point and asked Him, “Who then is the greatest (has the most value) in the kingdom of heaven?”  Jesus response is, unexpectedly, a child.  One must have faith as a child, and anyone who receives a child in His name, receives Him.

What’s more, anyone who causes a child to stumble (away from God) has done such a grave danger that he may as well have been drowned… not that Christ is condoning murder.  This is such an issue that Jesus give His disciples the analogy that if their eye causes them to stumble, they need to pluck it out.

The analogy of value seems to continue with the picture of the flock of sheep.  When one sheep wanders off, Christ says that He will leave the entire flock of sheep to seek out the ONE that is lost!  He values each person so much, that He would leave everything else behind to rescue one lost soul.  If that doesn’t define our value to Him, i don’t know what will.

He goes on even further.  We must value others enough to not only discipline them, and kick them out when they refuse to accept the truth, but we must also forgive them as well!  So when a man / woman sins against you, hurts you, and your pride, you must be willing to forgive; not just 7 times, but 7, 70 times (or as many as it takes).  Yet that forgiveness does not preclude discipline and even to the removal of the offender.  Why, because God values His creation, even to the point of understanding the need for discipline and the removal of the cancerous.

Do we value His whole creation?  Or do we only care about those who directly affect us?

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Matthew 15 – Man’s Heart

“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.”  A young lady that i know posted this quote on facebook a couple of days ago.  This is the type of quote that i would normally “like” and comment about how true it is, but the more i began to think about it, the more uncomfortable i became with it.  This is definitely the kind of statement that seems good, and that seems right, but that if lived out can lead to destruction.

If i let my mind wander (unrestrained) invariably it will end up drifting into sin.  It will drift into thoughts and areas where it should not be.  Verses 16-20 of Matthew 15 say; “Jesus said, ‘Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?  But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; …‘”  Is that where my heart is, or is that the sin in my life trying to rise up and consume me?

Once you get to know me, you can get a pretty good idea as to where my heart is… what i am passionate about.  Two big things that i’m passionate about are family and God / the Scriptures / Christianity / the church / Christian life.  These are things that mean a whole lot to me.  They are life consuming.  But, if i let my mind wander, too often my mind will meander to the areas of raw passion.  To emotions and desires unmet.  If you would, to areas of the ID (related to the Ego and Superego).  Are those thoughts my heart, who i am as a person?  They can be if i allow them to be!  Those are my raw emotions and passions, and if i allow them to be, they are my heart!

Colossians 3:2 says: “Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”  II Corinthians 10:5 says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,”  We must take every thought captive.  We must make it a decision to set our minds in the right direction.  If we let a meandering mind set the direction of our hearts, we will end up being consumed and ruled by our passions which will end up destroying us and all that we care about.

If you want your heart to be more than just your destructive raw passion and emotions, you must take your thoughts captive lest you become consumed.  The only way to have the strength to truly overcome your raw passions and reach all that you are meant to be, is to seek the one who created you in His image and from whom emotion and passion originated.

Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.

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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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