Tag Archives: slave

Leviticus 27 – Belonging to God

I was not expecting the last chapter of Leviticus (the book of the law) to be what it is.  I don’t quite know what i was expecting.  For some reason i figured it would be about some parting words the LORD had for Moses before leaving Mount Sinai, or that Moses and the sons of Israel packed up what they had and began to head out to Canaan.

Instead this last chapter is about value, ownership, dedication to the LORD, and tithe.  It starts out placing a monetary value on people of different ages.  Each has a different value depending on their age, sex, and the amount of time until the year of jubilee.  What i think is interesting about this is that it pushes this concept that ownership of people, animals, homes, and land only truly belongs to the LORD / YHWH.

When most things of true value are sold or redeemed, they are done so with reference to the year of Jubilee.  If a field is dedicated to the LORD, the priest places the value of that field at a certain price, related to how many years until the year of jubilee.  After which the LORD reverts that land back to the family that He initially gave it to.

Thus it is not slavery, but servanthood.  When a person is “sold”, they are done so in reference to the amount of labor that person would do between then and the year of jubilee.  It is understood that the “Master” is not “buying” a person.  They are simply paying for service from a person for a certain time period.  This would be similar to a person signing a contract to work for a company for a certain number of years.

The other major theme is that of tithe.  Of all of the animals that the people of Israel own, one out of every 10 must be returned to God.  As they go through the gate, every 10th, whether male or female, the pick of the flock or a little sickly one, the 10th gets dedicated to Him.  Also, the first that opens the womb is holy to YHWH.  Thus the first lamb, the first goat, the first bull, etc. that are born; they must be dedicated to YHWH and returned to Him.

The emphasis here is ownership.  Everything; the land, the people, the flocks, the fruit of the harvest, they all belong to YHWH.  We are simply caretakers receiving back a part of the profits from our hard work.  Do we view life and our work  that way?  Do we recognize that all that we “own” belongs not to us but to YHWH?  Do we treat people and our things as if this is the case?  Should we?

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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 15 – Emissions

Everyone is unclean at some point in their lives.  Some of us just more so than others.  So what do you do when you have an unclean people and a holy God who can not stand uncleanness in His presence?  You don’t want their uncleanness to cause their destruction.  So how do you separate their uncleanness from YHWH’s tabernacle?

Well, the simplest and easiest way would be to set down some ground rules.  Set up some basic rules and expectations of ways to keep the uncleanness away from the presence of the one whose holiness would consume the one with the uncleanness.  Once that uncleanness is dealt with and accounted for, that should allow life to go on as needed.

Do we recognize our need to separate our sin from His holiness?  Do we attempt to pursue Him while still being consumed by our sins, or do we come to Him with a repentant heart?  Do we acknowledge our uncleanness emitted through our actions as sins, and do we come to Him for forgiveness; or do we just excuse them as “flaws” that give us character and personality?  What is our attitude about our uncleanness and the “emissions” in our lives?

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Leviticus 8 – Anointing

The time has come.  Everything has been built to specs and the work of the tabernacle is about to begin.  Now is one of my favorite times.  It’s anointing time!  I don’t know why, but i always find this so exciting.  It is the dedication of the work for service.  It is a time of change and of new work with YHWH.

He is an amazing God, and He works through us, His people.  Even though He is the AWEsome, overpowering, holy, creator of the universe; He works in us, but he doesn’t consume us and our personality in the process.  In fact, not only does His personality not overpower us; who He is actually strengthens our personality and makes us each more unique and distinctive than we were before.

As a result, when a new work is being done and a new anointing comes, it changes who we are and how we worship HIM!  YHWH never changes, yet He is new every morning!  His work and ways continually change, but He never does.  I think that that is part of why i find this anointing process so exciting.  Things are about to change.  A man and his sons are about to find  their purpose and destiny.  YHWH is working anew, and this…THIS is a turning point!

I think we should celebrate turning points more often.  I don’t think that we do it like we used to.  The turning point from child to adult (rite of passage) has been lost.  The celebrations of new roles and purposes  has gone  to the wayside.  This change in life.  This change in anointing should be something we embrace and become excited about.  It should help  to define, and redefine who we are.

Aaron and his sons are about to embark on a whole new journey.  They are being anointed by YHWH for His work and purpose!  Everything is beginning to change!

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Leviticus 5 – Repentance?

In chapter 4 God gives Moses instructions about the types and ways of guilt offerings.  Here in chapter 5 God gives some instruction and examples of unintentional sins and the guilt offering required for them.

It’s funny how much our world changes.  We live in a culture where even most Christians don’t take repentance seriously unless there are consequences that drastically affect them.  We sin daily, and we talk about having a relationship with God and our prayer life, but how often does our prayer life consist of a list of demands to make our life more enjoyable and “better”?  How often are we so worried about our own “problems” and wants that we completely ignore the directions and instructions that YHWH puts in our life?

Sin, both intentional and unintentional, becomes so commonplace in our lives that we begin to not even recognize that we have sin that we need forgiveness from.  Yet God takes even minor, unintentional sins (like touching a dead body or swearing thoughtlessly) seriously.  Do we take time daily to come before God daily for repentance, or do we see YHWH as our buddy, buddy?

I know that i fall into that struggle, and that it is something that i need to be doing daily, yet it is something that i rarely do.  Maybe it’s time for me to change that… Lord, you know me, my comings and goings, my desires and actions.  YHWH I want to be obedient and not carry all of these sins around with me.  YHWH forgive me and help me to turn away from…

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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 32 – Sheep & Calf

Well, here is where it all hits the fan!  The people are tired of waiting for Moses to return from the mountain.  He has been there for 40 days and nights.  They are growing impatient with Moses and God taking their time, and they decide to do something about it.  So what do they do?  They decide to make their own god!  They convince Aaron to make them a god so that they can worship it.  Aaron makes them a golden calf and the people begin to worship it!

I have been trying to understand this.  I really have been.  I try to make it a point to understand the situations that the Israelites are going through.  I know that these are people just like you and i.  I can usually get some sort of grasp on some of the insane things that the Israelites do and make some sort of sense of it, but this one absolutely takes the cake!

God has done all of these amazing things for and with the people of Israel.  He has rescued them from Egypt.  He has done miracles and wonders to the Egyptians absolutely destroying their nation.  He brought them across the Red Sea.  He made water come out of the rock.  He even appeared in a cloud to the people and the leaders saw Him.   He spoke His 10 commandments out loud to them; the second of which was not to make for themselves a graven image!  They even agreed!  Yet here they are.  Moses has returned to the mountain, and is gone for only 40 days.  Now here they are doing one of  the most foolish and insane things they could possibly do.

I try to imagine myself in the situation.  I try to picture it and try to process what is going on in their minds, and i just don’t get it.  I mean, i can kind of get it.  When you are in that emotional high and you need a release… you need to release it some how, i can understand needing to be able to worship.  But wow!  I mean really!?!  WOW!  I think that that’s all I can say about that situation.

I look at YHWH’s response, and i am in no way surprised that He wants to destroy them all and start over.  My real amazement is in Moses response.  He sticks up for them and hold’s God’s fury at bay, but he also doesn’t really know what’s going on the time.  Once he finds out… it becomes a bloodbath.  What is a man of God to do?

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