Posts tagged ‘Moses’

Leviticus? Oye!!

How many of you have set out with the admirable goal of reading the entire Bible? Genesis is good. It has a great bunch of stories in it. Certainly can’t complain about Exodus with all the suspense. Both are not only pretty easy to read, but actually rather enjoyable. But then there is Leviticus. Not much else can derail a Bible-reading plan faster than…*snore*…huh? What was I saying? Oh yah, Leviticus, the book of the law.

Not meaning to pat myself on the back or anything, but I am pleased to say I have now finished reading it for the 2nd time. Don’t be too quick to congratulate me, though. It took me several months to read those 27 chapters. With Paul’s words to Timothy floating in the back of my mind, the reminder that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, I asked God many times why Leviticus is even in the Bible.

I have read and re-read, with great fascination, the chapters about the  7 God-assigned feasts of Israel. But I have to admit, my eyes were pretty glassy through the rest of the book. I did find that there were so many commands in chapter 19, that I needed to read that one 2 or 3 times to unpack it all.

Leviticus is the third book of the Old Testament, and written by Moses.  It is the record of the law given by God to the Israelite people after leaving Egypt.  It is not the 10 commandments.  Rather, it is the very extensive list of what sacrifices should be performed for what purpose, and the pretty detailed list of how to go about doing that.  It’s not a book for the squeamish as it talks quite a bit about the particular parts of the sacrificial animals that are to be used, and where to pour the blood, etc.  It contains quite a list of sins and what their punishments should be.  Also an extensive list of what makes a person, or thing, unclean and what to do to be considered clean again.  One can even learn how to deal with mold in a dwelling.  It is a book that was obviously meant as an instruction manual for the Israelites.

Leviticus is for a people who had not yet been redeemed by the Messiah, thus the necessity of the sacrificial system.  So what possible purpose could it have for Christians today?  Why even bother making the effort to try to read it?  And yet, the Apostle Paul did say in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  We must bear in mind that when Paul wrote these words, there was no New Testament.  The Scripture he is referring to was the Books of the Law (including Leviticus), the Prophets, and the Writings, aka the Old Testament.  With this in mind, I can concede that even today it is important to recognize the behaviors listed in Leviticus as ones that God declares sinful.  Still, there must be something more for Paul to declare that ALL Scripture is profitable.  All means all after all.

As I continued reading through this book, pondering its usefulness, and praying for God to reveal that to me, the answer came while reading an unlikely passage.  In chapter 21, verses 16-24 God declared that no descendant of Aaron (the priestly line) who had a physical defect of any kind could go past the curtain of the Tabernacle to the alter and offer the sacrifices because he would profane God’s holy place.  As the daughter of parents who are both totally blind, and as a teacher for students who are blind and/or have other, sometimes quite severe, disabilities, this passage caused me to stop short.  As I paused to pray, I heard the Holy Spirit speak the answer to my first prayer.  Then I understood, not just why this command about the priests with physical defects, but the purpose of the book as well.

The following is the understanding the Spirit gave to me:  The Bible is not just a collection of stories, books, and letters.  It is, in fact, The Incomplete Works of God.  It is a partial biography, or perhaps autobiography of God.  His memoirs.  A record of His works and interaction with mankind.  Of course it is incomplete because no one can know the mind of God…there is so much more about Him that is not recorded in the Bible, but this is what we have.

Each page, chapter, and book is a gradual revealing of who God is.  And each book, as a whole document, has a theme that reveals something to the reader about the characteristics of God.  Genesis shows us that God is the creator.  He created the world, and everything in it.  He created animals and humans.  He created the family that He would send the Messiah through.

Exodus shows us that God is not only God of the Israelites, but God over everything and everyone.  No matter whether a person believes in Him or not.  No matter that person’s status in this world, peasant or king.  There is no one who does not fall under God’s jurisdiction.

Leviticus points to the complete holiness and righteousness of God.  By detailing what is required of His people in order to be holy in His sight, we see that there is no way humanly possible for any man to stand holy and righteous before Him.  Not only that, we see that God cannot, and will not, tolerate any sin, nor the effects of sin, in His presence.  That is what the whole thing about forbidding a priest with physical defects from carrying out a sacrifice was all about.  It was not because the defect was a result of any particular sin on the part of that person, or his parents.  It was because the defect is a result of sin entering God’s perfect creation and distorting all of it.  It was a physical apparition of sin; a living, breathing example of the curse of sin in the world.  This did not say that God did not, and does not love anyone with a disability, by the way.  We can see that He does by looking how mercifully Yeshua (Jesus) healed the many blind, deaf, and lame in the New Testament.  He was the extension of God’s love and mercy, and became the mediator between God and all men.

I wonder what Numbers will reveal?  I have already started reading, and praying for God to show me more of who He is in this book.  I have also begun to keep a record of these revelations in the front of my Bible.  I want a place I can go at any time to be reminded of all God is whenever I need to.  I can’t wait to finish Numbers and see the whole picture!!

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN GOD’S CALLING SEEMS TO FALL APART

Have you ever been hit upside the head by God?  Have you had that moment of absolute clarity when you know, without a doubt, that God has called you to do something?  In obedience, you step out in faith and begin this new journey He has mapped out for you.  Then suddenly you hit a brick wall…or perhaps the brick wall hits you.  Trouble has come from somewhere, in some way, shape or form.

You begin to doubt.  Oh, the questions that fill your mind.  Have I sinned and fallen out of favor with God?  Is He no longer able to use me?  Was I wrong?  Did I misunderstand?  Maybe He didn’t call me to this at all.  Maybe it was all just my imagination.  Maybe I’m going about it all wrong.  Maybe….  Your heart sinks.  There is a sickness in the pit of your stomach.  You probably even think of how foolish you must have looked to all those family and friends you excitedly told about what God was doing in your life and what He had called you to.  How embarrassing!  You sheepishly hide this new “revelation” that you were wrong, and hope no one ever asks you about it.  What are the chances they will forget it and you will never have to speak of it again?

Moses must have felt the same way, don’t you think?  In Exodus 3 God met Moses alone in the wilderness, and spoke to him through a burning bush, of all things!  The two of them shared this amazing, personal moment in which God revealed to Moses, of all people, His real name (YHVH, pronounced in English Yehova or Yahweh).  Moses-  the Hebrew rejected by his people because he was raised in the house of the Egyptian pharaoh.  The man raised in the Pharaoh’s home, yet rejected by the Egyptians because he was, in fact, Hebrew.  The man who, in his zeal to be associated with his people, and with impulsive anger, killed an Egyptian man for beating a Hebrew.  The man who escaped to the wilderness to become a lonely shepherd.  To this same man, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob intimately revealed His true name, and called Moses to be savior and leader of the Hebrew people.

Moses couldn’t believe it either.  He was a humble man and doubted God could use him for anything worthwhile.  Even if he did as God said, what made Him think that the people would listen to him?  They knew him, and he was not a respectable source of information from anyone, let alone God.  God gave Moses three miraculous signs to do the convincing for him.  Moses still questioned God’s choice of messengers.  “Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent.’” (Ex. 3:10).  And God put His foot down.  “Who has made man’s mouth?”  He asked.

In the end, of course, we know that Moses went.  He spoke the words God gave him to his brother Aaron, and Aaron spoke them to the Hebrew people and eventually to the Pharaoh.  The people were convinced that God had sent him and agreed to follow.

Pharaoh, on the other hand, would have none of it.  Rather than giving in to the demands of this Hebrew God, YHVH, of whom he had never heard, and who had no territorial rights in Egypt, he refused.  Not only did the Pharaoh refuse to let the Hebrews go on this 3-day pilgrimage to worship YHVH, he decided that their work was too easy.  He would no longer allow straw for the making of bricks to be provided to the Israelites.  They were required to spread out and gather what stubble they could find, and then use that to make the same number of bricks they had done before.  When they were unable to keep up with this quota, they were beaten.

Naturally, the people blamed Moses!  And BAM!  Moses was hit by the brick wall of doubt.  What had he done wrong?  Had he misunderstood?  He must have acted impulsively, and now look at the trouble he got this entire nation of people into!

 

But Moses did the right thing in the face of doubt.  He prayed.  Humbly before God, he said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people?  Why is it You have sent me?  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”  (Ex. 5:22-23).

Even though God had warned Moses that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened, and he would refuse to let His people go, Moses expected immediate results.  He didn’t understand that God had so much more to do there first.  The Israelites and the Egyptians needed to be shown the power of YHVH.  In those ancient times, gods were believed to be territorial.  God needed to show His power over the Egyptian gods so that Egypt would let His people go, and so that the Israelites would let the Egyptian gods go and willingly follow and serve Him alone.

God’s reply to Moses assured him of his calling, and that God was indeed in control of this situation.  “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.  For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’”  (Ex. 6:1).

Suppose Moses had given in to his doubts…or perhaps I should say Satan’s doubts.  Who do you suppose put those doubts in his mind?  Who do you suppose puts the doubts in your mind?  Who has the most to gain when we question what God has called us to do, and quit?  You better believe it!!!  When you hit those bumps in the road of your calling, stomp them down flat again.

Remind yourself of the certainty you felt when you first received that calling, and above all, pray!  Pray for protection from Satan’s deceptions, and attacks.  Pray for the faith to continue.  Pray for the wisdom to see and understand what God is doing.  Remember it was God who allowed the bumps in Moses’ path.  He did it for a reason, and the bumps in your path likely have some reason, too.  There is so much more going on behind the scenes that you are not aware of.  Work in your heart; work in the hearts of others.  God is in control.  Rest assured that when He calls you to something, He is faithful and just, and will complete it.

*Bible verses are taken from the New King James Version.

If you have been blessed by this article, please take a moment to thank God for what He is speaking to you.

Back To Square One: Starting over with God

Do you ever wish you could have a do-over?  You made the wrong choice, said the wrong thing, some how just really messed things up, and you want nothing more than to turn back the hands of time and do it over, but differently.  I don’t know about you, but I experience this several times a day!  Of course, no matter how badly I want that do-over, I am not going to get it.  I did what I did.  Said what I said.  The mess I made is here to stay.  And I will just have to deal with the consequences the best that I can.  This imperfect life, and its constant battle with sin is so frustrating!

Have you ever noticed there are some interesting parallels between the beginning stories of Moses and Joshua?  That is because there is a do-over played out in the history of the people of Israel.  Let me show you.

Moses began his call to service when God spoke to him through the burning bush.  He was told to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3: 1-6).  Joshua had a similar experience soon after Moses died and he took over leadership of the Israelite people.  The Commander of the Lord’s army (Jesus pre-incarnate) stood before Joshua.  He told Joshua to remove his sandals because the place where he stood was holy (Joshua 5: 13-15).

Under Moses’ leadership, the Israelites left Egypt during the night after they celebrated the first Passover Feast.  Forty years later the Israelites had entered the Promised Land and celebrated the Passover Feast before beginning their conquest.  The very next day they began eating the produce of the land, and the manna stopped coming.

God used the parting of the Red Sea to instill trust in Himself and Moses (Exodus 14: 21).  Again, forty years later, God used the parting of the Jordan River to show God’s great power and to demonstrate that He was with Joshua as He was with Moses (Joshua 3: 7, 15-17; 4: 23-24).

When the people started out from Egypt with Moses, they messed up, and messed up big.  They grumbled and complained, and ultimately demonstrated that, in spite of everything they had witnessed, they did not trust God.  The consequences left them wandering in the desert for forty years, unable to receive the land promised to them by God.  But when all of those Israelites died, and only their children remained, God gave the nation a do-over.  He brought up a new leader and started him off in the presence of the holy God.  He parted the waters of a great body of water and led the Israelites from an old way of life to a new one, full of hope and promise, and the power of the Almighty God.  And God reminded the people of His faithfulness to them, past, present and future, through the Passover Feast, which marked the beginning and end of their journey to Canaan.  It was like God saying, “Okay.  You made a mess of things, but that is over and done with.  It is the past, and now is the time for a new beginning.  I’m starting you over from square one.  It’s your chance to get it right this time.”

Just like the Israelites, when we mess up, we bear the consequences.  They lost an entire generation to the wilderness.  We lose relationships, the respect of our children, opportunities to help others and do what honors God, our witness for Christ.  Sometimes the damage can be repaired.  Sometimes the consequences are permanent.  But God loves us.  He understands more fully than we do ourselves that we are not capable of living up to His standards.  And He loves us.  Did I say that already?  I’ll say it again.  GOD LOVES US!!!!  Every time we sin, He gives us the opportunity to repent; to confess and turn away from what we did wrong, and get it right the next time.  So no, we don’t get do-overs.  But thank the God of grace and mercy that we do get one chance after another, unlimited, until the day that His work in us is complete!!!  

TO GOD BE THE GLORY IN ALL THINGS, FOREVER!  AMEN

Moses Died and HE Buried Him: What can you take away from Moses’ death?

English: Moses views the Promised Land, by Lor...

English: Moses views the Promised Land, by Lord Frederic Leighton, relief print from Illustrations for “Dalziel’s Bible Gallery”, engraved by the Dalziel Brothers and published 1881 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are so many prophets in the Bible.  Good ones.  Lots of good ones.  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea…the names of the books of the Old Testament is a litany of prophets.  They were God’s messengers to His people.  It was what they asked for.  When God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai, God was present there.  The Bible says there was thunder, a trumpet, lightening, and smoke rising from the mountain.  The people of Israel were terrified!  “They shook with fear and stood far away from the mountain” (Ex. 20:18).

Deuteronomy 5: 4-5; 23-28 (NCV) – “The Lord spoke to you face to face from the fire on the mountain.  (At that time I [Moses] stood between you and the Lord in order to tell you what the Lord said; you were afraid of the fire, so you would not go up on the mountain.) …. When you heard the voice from the darkness, as the mountain was blazing with fire, all your older leaders and leaders of your tribes came to me.  And you said, ‘The Lord our God has shown us his glory and majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire.  Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks to him.  But now, we will die!  This great fire will burn us up, and we will die if we hear the Lord our God speak anymore.  No human being has ever heard the living God speaking from a fire and still lived, but we have.  Moses, you go near and listen to everything the Lord our God says.  Then you tell us what the Lord our God tells you, and we will listen and obey.’  The Lord heard what you said to me, and he said to me, ‘I have heard what the people said to you.  Everything they said was good.'”

The people of Israel didn’t want to speak with God face to face, out of fear and reverence.  So God spoke to Moses instead.  Every message He had for them came through Moses.  It was an amazing time!  God was physically present with them day and night!  He was in the pillar of cloud traveling before them during the day.  He was in the pillar of flame traveling before them at night (Ex. 13:21).  When Moses met with God in the Meeting Tent, God was present in a cloud that lowered over the tent (Ex. 40:34-35).  Moses was not un-effected by this.  Remember how we are told that his face shown so brightly after talking with God that he covered it when he wasn’t speaking with God, or sharing God’s message with the people (Ex. 34: 33-35).

Moses had a relationship with God that fills me with awe and wonder!  While God spoke to other prophets through dreams and visions, He spoke face to face with Moses.  He didn’t show Moses visions that needed to be interpreted, He spoke clearly, straight forward, with no hidden meanings (see Numbers 12: 6-8).  God said exactly what He meant to say, and there was no mistaking the message.  God trusted Moses to lead Israel.  God even allowed Moses to see His glory (Exodus 33: 18-23).

But Moses disobeyed God.  Exodus 20: 6-12 tells us that Moses was told to speak to a rock and water would come out for the people.  But Moses was angry with the people for their complaining, and he struck the rock, not once, but twice.  Moses’ punishment for this sin was that he would not be allowed to cross over into the Promised Land.  God told him the punishment was because he didn’t believe God, and because he didn’t honor Him before the people.

Eventually the people of Israel arrived at the Jordan River.  All the laws had been given.  Those who had not believed in God in the first place had died.  Their children were going to inherit the Promised Land, and they were poised and ready to go.  God called Moses up to the top of Mount Pisgah in the land of Moab.  There he was allowed to see all of the Promised Land, the richness, the beauty.  But there he would die, held back from ever entering what he spent his life working toward.  It must be noted that Moses did not die of old age, even though he was old (120 years).  Deuteronomy 34: 7 tells us that his eyes weren’t weak, and he was still strong.  He didn’t die of a sickness.  He just died.  But he didn’t die alone, either.  God was with him.  Only God.  When it was time for Moses to leave this earth, even though his untimely death was a direct result of his disobedience to God, God was there with him.  God loved Moses so much that He took him in an intimate and personal way, known only to the two of them.  They had shared so many of these face to face times throughout Moses’ life, this must have been the most natural and fitting end.  I wonder how God took Moses’ life.  I can’t see Him striking Moses with a bolt of lighting, or burning him with flames.  Maybe it was just a touch, and He caught Moses’ body in His arms as he fell.  Or maybe God did what he wouldn’t do earlier.  Maybe He showed Moses His glory, and he died struck by the very sight of Holy God.  God Himself lovingly buried Moses there in the valley opposite Beth Peor (Deut. 34: 6).  Perhaps one of the most touching scenes in the Bible, when we see played out before us, the love of God for just one man.  I admit I cried when I read it.  But what are we supposed to take from this?  Is it just another story in the Bible?  Is there a lesson to be learned?  I don’t know.  I am left with this, though, an intense longing to have that kind of relationship with God.  To have His trust.  To speak to Him face to face.  To see His glory.  I want my face to shine from being in His presence!!  What about you?  What has God put in your heart today?

May the God of Moses show you His glory today!

A Fly Landed on My Coffee Cup!

I shushed it away!  The fly.  But it came back, and it kept landing right on the spot I was drinking from.  Yuck!!  Flies are so filthy.  I rubbed the spot off with a napkin, probably in vain.  I should have just squashed it, but I honestly didn’t want to take the time to do it.  The fly was nothing more to me than a pesky annoyance, and I wanted nothing more to do with it other than to move it away from me.    I didn’t care if it had needs, thoughts, or feelings.  I had no interest what-so-ever in studying it to learn   more about it.  It did not matter one iota if it had 2 wings and 6 legs, or only one of each.  It was a disgusting, germ-laden, disease-carrying thing and I wanted it gone.

Do you know that God could view us much the same way?  He has the power to squash us, like I could have done to that fly.  He finds our sin as filthy and disgusting as I find the germs on that fly.  He could see us as nothing more than a pesky annoyance, and care not an iota about us.  But thankfully, gratefully, that is not who God is!

God is not going to destroy us because of our sin.  In fact, He already provided a way for us to be near Him without the filth of our sin getting in the way.  That way is through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

In Deuteronomy 7:7-8 (NCV)  Moses told the Israelites, “The Lord did not care for you and choose you because there were many of you–you are the smallest nation of all.  But The Lord chose you because He loved you.”  Give that a personal twist.  God has not chosen any of us because of what we can offer Him.  We are puny.  We are sinful.  We are flies.  God chose us, chose to sacrifice His Son for us, because He loves us!!!

Luke 12:7 – “But God even knows how many hairs you have on your head.  Don’t be afraid.  You are worth much more than many sparrows.”  God loves us so much, He takes the time to know all about us, down to the very number of hairs on our head!!  I don’t even know that, and it’s my head!  Although, I’ll admit to counting grey hairs on occasion:-)

This week I discovered a lump on my breast.  I typically try to spend a lot of time in prayer.  I include in that time prayers for family, friends, people I know have specific requests.  I pray for my spiritual growth.  I don’t pray for specifics for me…a new house, a new job, whatever.  I generally just leave it to God to provide as He sees fit.  When something like this happens, I don’t know what to pray.  I don’t know what to think or feel, so I stop praying.  That is what I did.  But I didn’t just not pray about my health situation, I stopped praying entirely.  I found it a real chore to voice the smallest prayer.  Not that I was angry, scared, or anything like that.  It really just is what it is.  But I don’t know how to pray for myself when it comes to something so personal.

I was so relieved when God pointed out to me that His knowing how many hairs are on my head is not just a superficial  passing curiosity about who I am.  He knows everything about me, including the thoughts and feelings that I don’t even have a handle on.  I don’t know what I am thinking and feeling, but my God loves me so much that He knows.  And even more than that, when I don’t know what to pray, His own Spirit prays in my stead.  Romans 8:26-27 – “Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness.  We do not know how to pray as we should.  But the Spirit Himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain.  God can see what is in people’s hearts.  And He knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for His people in the way God wants.”

What is on your heart that God cares about, and the Spirit is praying for?  Take comfort in knowing how very deep His love is for you at this very moment!!!  God bless you all!!!

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