THIS IS THE REASON FOR THIS WEEK!
Modern day telling of the Samaritan woman in John 4.
THIS IS THE REASON FOR THIS WEEK!
Modern day telling of the Samaritan woman in John 4.
The entire heifer, without blemish and never having been under a yoke, was to have been taken outside the camp to be slaughtered in the presence of the priest, but not BY the priest. The entire animal was to be burned, and the priest was to add “cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool” to the fire. The ashes were then to be kept in a ceremonially clean place and added to “cleansing water” for purification. Verse 11 tells us “They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.” But specifically the other verses speak of removing defilement incurred through contact with the dead. Ashes and water. Dead and living.
This site (click here) explains about the antifungal and antibacterial agents that were present when the red heifer was burned with “cedarwood and hyssop and scarlet stuff.” Basically, burning the entire animal rendered fat also so the animal ashes and wood ashes mixed with water became soap! The cedar wood and hyssop smelled nice plus had the antiseptic qualities necessary to make an antibacterial soap! But it doesn’t address any spiritual significance to this law.
The mystery deepens.
Then I found this article by Chuck Missler that addresses PROPHETIC SIGNIFICANCE: “It is this water, the Water of Purification, which is required by the Israelites today. It is needed to “purify” today’s Levitical priesthood and to “purify” the temple mount in preparation for the building of the Third Temple.”
And guess what is needed for this Water of Purification? Uh, huh. A new red heifer’s ashes to be mixed with the OLD ashes that according to Jewish tradition “all the heifers are sanctified through Moses’ original heifer, and a portion of those ashes were put away for the future sanctification of Israel. ” And guess what? There are people trying to breed this red heifer.
Other articles I found such as this one (scroll down its page) from a few years ago discuss this process, although none of these have been found to have been acceptable.
And guess what else? The Mishnah or Oral Law (read about that here) holds that there have only been 9 red heifers up until the destruction of the Second Temple “… and the tenth red heifer will be accomplished by the king, the Messiah; may he be revealed speedily, Amen, May it be God’s will.“ The great Rabbi Maimonides
Amazing, isn’t it? Of course, I haven’t even addressed the issue of any relationship of the red heifer to Jesus….and I found several sites about that, too. If you’re interested, you’ll need to look those up yourselves.
Well, well. It’s been quite a foray for me. From being intrigued by a weird-to-me sacrifice to a mind-blowing revelation!!!!! As I wrote about here, my theme verse for 2012 was Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Or as the Amplified Bible says: “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).” I’d say so.
There is a very interesting site called The Temple Institute that “ is a non-profit educational and religious organization located in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the Biblical commandment to build the Holy Temple of G-d on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. “ I had heard that the utensils, etc. have been made or in the process of being made, and it seems The Temple Institute has been the guiding force. It has an extensive section on the red heifer.
I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts about this!
I started my ash-pondering in Part 1, planning to link Ash Wednesday with the red heifer and its ashes that I recently read about in Numbers 19 but veered off down another path about the value of traditions and rituals. Although the more I think about it, the less I believe I veered off.
I’m reading through the Bible again and find that the more often I read through books such as Leviticus and Numbers, some of Exodus and Deuteronomy with their repetitive recitation of detail after minute detail, the less tedious it becomes. God obviously told Moses ALL of these details – that to us usually seem redundant, downright weird, and a little OCD to be honest – for a specific reason. The LORD had reasons for every single little detail. We may not KNOW what all the reasons were for each little detail, but He didn’t outline them because He was a micro-manager. He didn’t give details about how the lampstands were to be decorated because He liked pretty little almond buds and thought they’d go well with the rest of His decor. I still don’t know why He gave some of the details He did, but there has to be a reason.
We’ve been discussing this in our Life Group, and one member postulated that perhaps some of the little details were to see if the Israelites would really obey Him and follow all the details. Perhaps. Moses does tell them in Deuteronomy 8:2 “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.”
I’ve also heard that many of the laws (so detailed) were designed for health reasons, such as the regulations for mildew and infectious skin diseases, etc. Again perhaps. Obviously, some were protective in nature. With our medical knowledge now, we understand what the Israelites did not understand at the time.
But perhaps there is another reason that has more to do with “setting the stage” for a more sacred space, a re-alignment of your heart and posture of worship that I wrote about in Part 1. These details, these rituals kept God in their hearts and minds as something..someone…different than they’d ever known or heard of. All the ritual made the worship, the fellowship, the contact extra-ordinary (yes, I meant to use the hyphen). It kept Him in an elevated place in their minds and hopefully their hearts. The Bible tells us that He wanted His people “set apart” from the pagans. But He wanted to be “set apart” also. And still does.
(You’re probably thinking “yeah, I knew that already. How long has she been a Christian?!?” Remember, I’m writing this blog for me – for my “learning to be” so forgive my not-so-ground-shaking writing here.)
I realize there is a downside to ritual and tradition also. It can become tooooooo “ritualized,” thus losing its meaning. As I spoke about in Part 1, finding the balance between the cozy relationship and the fear of the Lord can be hard.
Stay with me here. I’m heading back to the red heifer and its ashes.
When I read Numbers 19, this RED HEIFER AND ITS ASHES totally caught my attention for some reason. It didn’t seem to be an offering. At least not like the others. The red heifer was to be slaughtered and burned outside the camp, its ashes mixed with “water of cleansing” for purification from sin, and specifically cleansing from contamination resulting from touching a dead body.
I was totally intrigued by this red heifer. And even more so, when a few days later, I attended the Ash Wednesday service at our church – my first Ash Wednesday service.
As the pastor spoke about ashes and being washed clean – ashes and water – the wheels in my brain started turning.
“Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”Genesis 3:19
Ashes signify repentance and purification from sin. Sin = death. Water signifies cleansing from sin. Living Water = life.
More ash-pondering to follow. This RED HEIFER and ITS ASHES had many surprises in store for me. Maybe for you. Tomorrow?
I participated in Ash Wednesday for the very first time last week. It was the first time for many of us at our church since we do not normally follow “high church” liturgical traditions. However, over the past few years, I have really come to respect, and in fact, VALUE some of these traditions and rituals in a way I never thought I would. There’s something about them that “sets the stage” for a more sacred space, a re-alignment of your heart and posture of worship that I’m finding more and more appealing.
Growing up, I had the viewpoint of God as the judgmental, vengeful Almighty who was trying to catch me in the act of doing something wrong so He could punish me. That I was going to hell if I didn’t shape up. If I wasn’t “good.” And of course, I never could measure up. So for many years, I figured He wasn’t a God I wanted anything to do with. It’s taken me quite a while to start feeling the “friendship” aspect of Jesus. The friendship that someone has defined as “knowing the heart of another and sharing one’s heart with another.”
I want that closeness to develop and grow deeper and deeper. I most definitely want My trust in Him to grow so much that I AUTOMATICALLY confide in Him and understand so completely and confidently His “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” that I do not worry or fear any longer. I want to know His Heart more. I want Him to share His Heart with me more and more.
But the danger is being too casual in this relationship. To ignore or forget His sovereignty. To not be in AWE of who He is.
That’s where I seem to need some of these traditions and rituals. After reading through Leviticus about the exacting measurements for the tabernacle and rituals pertaining to offerings and festivals, I felt I needed to define a sacred space for my morning devotions. I have a special corner in my living room where I’ve placed meaningful items as reminders, much as the Old Testament patriarchs piled up stones as markers to remember what the Lord did. I’ve gotten in the habit of lighting a candle, too.
I started this post pondering ashes.
It seems I’ve have taken off down a path that I hadn’t originally intended, but since ashes denote purification, among other things, I guess it’s not entirely off-base.
Ash-pondering to continue next time….
That song from Tom Petty has been rattling around in my head after my Life Group’s discussion about Genesis.
The patience….and impatience….of God’s people in Genesis. God’s timing. How they waited….or didn’t wait for God’s timing. How their patience…or impatience…. affected God’s blessings on their lives.
I love to read the stories of Abraham and Sarah, Rebekah and Isaac, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, among others. They’re fascinating, human, flawed. They make mistakes, but God loves them anyway. He has plans for them, and even during their impatience, HE is patient. And faithful. And during it all, they learn something about Him.
Now insert our names for theirs….because their story is our story.
How often do we get impatient for God to work? To answer our prayers. To fulfill His promises. How often do we try to make it happen, without waiting for God’s timing?
Yes, the waiting is hard.
Sometimes, we are like Sarah. I actually think she had faith in God’s promise of a son but thought she needed to take a ACTIVE role and make it happen with Hagar. Isn’t that pretty common? We’re not really sure where/when/how to take action and when to just wait. We think we need to do God’s work for Him because He is not doing it to our satisfaction and timing.
Rebekah and her favored son Jacob just couldn’t wait for God to fulfill His promise that the youngest twin would be the one through whom God’s promise & blessing would pass. They schemed to do the work themselves, taking both Esau’s birthright – he actually lost that due to his own impatience – and the blessing from his father Isaac away from him. And in doing so, missed out on the path & blessings God had in store for them.
Jacob was learning to be fairly patient later as he waited to wed Rachel and for Laban to release him, but he still wanted to be in charge. God had to wrestle with him before Jacob acknowledged that He was in control. And I’m pretty sure it was NOT easy for Noah to wait, to be patient for God’s timing.
The waiting is hard. But God still works in the waiting. He works ON us. He works IN us. He’s not making us wait for no reason. He’s got His own reason. I’m reminded of one of Moses’ last speeches to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 8:2:
Don’t forget how the Lord your God has led you through the desert for the past forty years. He wanted to find out if you were truly willing to obey him and depend on him, so he made you go hungry. Then he gave you manna, a kind of food that you and your ancestors had never even heard about. The Lord was teaching you that people need more than food to live—they need every word that the Lord has spoken.
Plus I wonder how many blessings I’ve missed due to my tendency to run out ahead of God…
After I heard someone talking about this on KWVE radio, I
forced recommended cajoled encouraged my Life Group to Read the Bible in 90 Days. We are not participating in their program but are following a schedule, and during our weekly get-together, discussing what we read. It is, and will be, a streeeeeetch to complete this task in such a compressed period of time, but it seemed right to do this. I had started reading through the Bible last summer/fall, but I know we are going to grow so much from this intense, dedicated time in His Word. So far, we gotten through Genesis, and I already have a lot to think about and write about what He’s already shown me. Now I just need the time. Not a lot of time left over after such an intense reading schedule. *Insert smile*
During the reading, I found a note in the version I was using. And even though, the goal is to just READ and not be distracted by notes or stopping to research something that is intriguing (we’re supposed to keep notes & study later), these particular words grabbed me for a few reasons. One, I’ve always struggled with what I call the Moses-Syndrome. “Who am I, that I should……” whatever I feel God is telling me to do/say. Two, someone said something similar to me a few months ago.
God’s presence in Abram’s life does not appear to be based upon any special meritorious qualities that Abram himself might possess but simply because God chooses him as the man through whom he will bless all of mankind.
Simply because God chooses.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
This is as far I got this morning.
I woke up this morning with my mind spinning, as it has been lately. My last couple of posts have dealt (and the ones unwritten in my head and heart) with the clamor surrounding me & the unease & whatever it is that’s been making my mind spin. So this morning, as soon as I woke up….before I got out of bed….it started. I began quoting one of the passages that I’ve known since I was a kid (hence the KJV) that I love. That helps calm me in the darkness.
And I could only get through verse 3. Because that’s where I got stuck! My mind would shut off. I would doze off. Whatever. I either couldn’t remember past that verse or seriously, my mind just stopped working. On a Bible passage that I’ve known for more years than I’d like to admit!
After this happened about 5 times, I realized that the Shepherd was stopping me. THAT was what He wanted to tell me this morning. Just like yesterday’s GC, He wanted me to STOP and rest in His Presence. And like last week’s post, I NEED His Strength and He wants to give it to me.
HE WANTS TO RESTORE ME.
What an incredible thought. What a Loving thought.
A year or so ago, I read a book called Stress Busters: 40 Days with the Shepherd by Phil and Linda Sommerville - one of the most life-changing books for me.
Obviously, I need to review….how about you?
Update: A few minutes after I published this, I picked up the Stress Busters book & read: “Unfortunately, people have come to associate this Psalm with dying when it is in fact about living. This Psalm is about a way of life that decreases stress and increases joy, that decreases fear and increases confidence.” Isn’t that awesome?
I’ve watched the movie “The Book of Eli” a couple of times, and as I wrote in this post here, was completely captivated by the fact that……spoiler alert……..Eli had memorized the entire Bible. I haven’t been able to get that out of my mind.
I’ve been feeling SO STRONGLY that I’m supposed to be memorizing more scripture. Reading the Bible – The Living Word of the Living God – is a privilege and should be a joy. Should be a desire. Should be a passion. We should hunger and thirst for it. And that passion to read the Bible has been re-kindled in me, thank you, Spirit! But we, as Americans, have taken for granted our privilege of even HAVING Bibles…having MANY Bibles with different versions in our house, Bible apps, online Bibles..We CAN read the Bible whenever and wherever we want! And we shouldn’t be taking that for granted. So many Christians in places around the world either do not have access to a Bible or do not have the “legal” right to have possession of one. I’ve been reading a book about persecuted Christians that have been arrested, thrown in jail for their beliefs, and obviously, do not have access to a Bible. Cannot read scripture that would encourage & comfort or share with fellow prisoners…. And that scenario could be in America’s future……But at the very least, having His “Word hid in my heart” can only deepen my relationship with Him and provide comfort, exhortation, encouragement, etc. as well as the Good News when I don’t have a Bible in my hand. There have been a few nights when quoting Psalm 23 has quietened my racing, anxious heart.
I still know verses that I memorized when I was a child and I “kinda” know many more just from reading the Bible the last few years, but I haven’t been intentional about it. It took Eli 30 years. At least I can start…..
I asked God what I should start memorizing first this go-round. There are so many great passages that will be beneficial to have in my heart, but I have chosen Ephesians 1. It has special meaning to me, as I wrote about here. And yes, the entire chapter. I read this great blog post by Jean Williams entitled Why You Shouldn’t Memorize Bible Verses. Yes, got your attention, too, didn’t it? Just like she wanted. She talks about why Bible PASSAGES are better to memorize than just Bible VERSES. Love her comment: “ Why passages, not just verses? Because they are more useful to remember. Instead of a single nail, they give you a shelf to rest your thoughts on.” She wrote a series (I’ll say again…great) about memorization that has given me much to think about:
There are many ways to memorize, but here are a couple of sites that I’m using to help me in my effort.
http://thegoodbookblog.com/2012/jan/28/the-easiest-way-to-memorize-the-bible-what-i-learn/ teaches us to memorize passages by READING many times before “rote-memorizing.” I realized that actually this was how I’d “unintentionally” memorized several verses.
There are sites that have word-for-word Psalms set to music to help in memorization. Being on the worship team for years has already given me a vast number of songs that I know by heart so I understand how music can help you memorize better than just words alone. Here’s one site.
Here are a handful of other sites I’ve found.
With another great quote from Jean Williams: “Why passages, not just verses? Because God has invited us to a feast. Let’s not stop at the hors d’oeuvres.” YUMMY.
I’ve been crazy-busy lately so I haven’t had a lot of time to WRITE about what I’ve been hearing & learning - some really good stuff! BUT I’ve been getting a lot of GC’s about God’s Promises lately. And you know what that means…..PAY ATTENTION!
The latest…just read this snippet by Pastor Tony Evans. I don’t really know much about him but know that this is true.
The first blessing that comes with the ladder (Me here: this is continuing a previous discussion from Tony Evans about Jacob’s Ladder) is God’s Promises. God restated His covenant promise to Jacob that He would bless his descendants and give them the land of Israel.
One of the greatest tragedies in the church today is that many believers don’t know the promises God has given us in His Word, and thus they don’t know enough to claim those promises and to move heaven to act on earth. There’s nothing worse than having a ladder to heaven and not even knowing it.
Satan has effectively kept many Christians ignorant of God’s Promises. And because of that ignorance, we’re discouraged when we ought not be discouraged. We’re complaining when we ought not be complaining. And we’re defeated when we ought to be victorious.
You can’t claim what you don’t know, and that’s why a thorough knowledge of the Word of God is critical for you to experience this blessing of the ladder – that is, access here on earth to truths known in heaven.
Reminds me of my 2012 “theme” verse:
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
I am on the quest. That’s why I’m studying, re-reading the entire Bible and why I want to memorize more Scripture….
Following the bolded words is a post I wrote back in either July or August but didn’t feel comfortable publishing at that time. But this dream started me along a certain path. I, with some help from the enemy, got all sidetracked for a while, but I’m getting back on course.
There have been several GC’s lately convincing me that it’s time to push the publish button, including turning to a KWVE radio station yesterday morning and hearing a portion of a message from Jon Courson. I had not listened to this station in months – many months – but yesterday there was too much static on Air 1 (really?) so I changed stations and was only able to hear about 5 minutes of his message. What did I hear? He was talking about hearing revelations from Jesus. Then he quoted Acts 2:17: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”
A few years ago, a man from our church came up to me and told me that he had dreamed that he was supposed to read some Scripture to me. And he said it was weird because he had never had anything like that happen to him. Acts 2:17 was the verse he read to me.
I have had a few dreams & experiences over the last few years that were incredibly real to me at the time they happened. Afterwards, I sometimes would start to doubt them…because they were not “ordinary” and I wasn’t sure what they were or what they meant. But most of the time, I just didn’t want to tell people about them….in case they thought I was weird. But I did experience them. I realize that every thing needs to be confirmed and tested. But most of the time, I do get some kind of confirmation…
The Unpublished Post:
I want to tell you WHY I started learning/reading/thinking/praying/writing about the Holy Spirit. I’ve been praying & wrestling about IF and WHEN I should write about this. Not because I doubt what my experience was – that it was from God. Oh, no. I’ve been…..wait for it……wait……..AFRAID to tell others about this!
Afraid of people thinking I’m wacko.
Afraid that this was private FOR ME from God & that I shouldn’t talk about it. But my Bible and other readings tell me that information/revelations/Spirit-led experiences…I’m not really sure what word fits here – are to be used for the edification of the church. Our pastor recently shared a supernatural experience with our church body. Something that happened to him that was out-of-the-ordinary, can’t-be-explained, different, “weird” (see previous posts about these words). And let me tell you. I was EDIFIED! I was THRILLED to hear how God SPEAKS to others! How He comforts! How He cares! How He was working in the life of one of His children. And I was encouraged to know that I am NOT WACKO when God talks to ME through other means besides His Holy Living Word. BECAUSE HE DOES!
Afraid of others thinking I consider myself “special” because God talked directly to me. And I don’t even want that sentence to sound conceited or full of myself. (I’m laughing at myself right now! Still working on that humility/humble thing. Denigrating yourself is NOT being humble, I know.) Then yesterday, as I was reviewing last Sunday’s sermon, I re-read a passage that our pastor had included: 2 Corinthians 12:9. Which is a favorite, favorite, favorite verse of mine. But this time, I decided to read around it, starting from verse 1 through 11. And what did I read?!?!? Something that I didn’t really pay much attention to before….
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Not that I’m comparing myself or my experiences to Paul by any means…..but maybe it’s time to boast of the power of the Lord and of my weaknesses. I don’t think my dream is talk of “inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.” I think it’s something that all believers would benefit from knowing in their hearts and believing. But that phrase is causing me to pause & pray for a clear go-ahead. Before I push the “publish” button, I’m going to still be praying & asking for permission. I’ve been so hesitant on talking about this since it happened…I’m still not sure whether it’s due to my fear, God saying”no” or God telling me to “wait” until the right time…..Lots of GC’s. In my devotional reading and my perpetual calendar this morning, two….count them…two things. Luke 14:28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost?” Boy, am I weighing and counting. Then a note in my Bible: “Satan will try to convince you that obedience carries much too high a price, but he will never tell you the cost of NOT obeying God.” Again, my dilemma…which way am I supposed to obey? Tell or not tell? I feel dense, Lord.
Sunday’s message was still about Deut 31:1-8 and Joshua 1:1-9 with the emphasis this week on “Be Strong.” Our pastor said that Joshua was not strong, so in essence, God was telling him to “start BEING strong.” Hebrews 10-39-11:1 “39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. 11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” In fact, the theme of the message was “start getting your faith pumped up.”
Finally, THE DREAM. And its confirmation. I hope someone reading this will be EDIFIED.
I was sitting on the beach when a man, that I understood that I knew, walked up to me, poured oil into his hand, placed his hand over my heart and looked deeply in my eyes. He said, “I have placed my mark on you.” He kissed me and left.
Immediately after this, I’m not sure if I woke up or thought about this still during the dream, but I was a little concerned about the nature of this dream. I’m sure you understand what I mean.
In the morning, as my feet hit the floor, I said – out loud, mind you – “that was You, wasn’t it, Jesus?” I was overwhelmed. I grabbed my coffee and headed to my special chair to read my devotional and my Bible. And became even more overwhelmed.
My devotional had one of my favorite verses, Eph 28:10
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I just realized this talks about boasting about one’s self, too! Hmmm.
Anyway, the devotional was about Redeemed Masterpieces. “The value of artwork depends in large part on who created it. The signature of a master artist gives great value. So it is with you. There is nothing you can do to increase your value. You are among the redeemed: you have been saved but not from yourself. You bear the signature of the Master.”
I decided to look up and read the actual verse Eph 28:10 in my Bible and found a note for Eph 1:13 – “We are marked as belonging to God by the Holy Spirit.” My mouth dropped open.
The actual verse says;
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Now you see why I wanted – needed – to know more about the Holy Spirit. I need to understand. I am marked. He placed His mark on me. And if He wants to talk, to reveal something to me, I want to listen.