Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Matot: "Tribes"

I am very eager to dive into this parsha reading with you.  It is a rather short reading, Numbers 30:2 - 32:42 (with Haftorah Jeremiah 1:1 -2:3 and Brit Chadashah Matthew 5:33-37).  I am so excited over this parsha because it contains something I have greatly pondered over for the past year, in which I believe I came to understand its meaning in this week's reading.  There are ordinances, like that of the red heifer, that are a mystery, but then other commandments that just plainly make sense for very obvious reasons in their foreshadowing.  We come to read of a list of commandments that state a difference in gender and responsibility with gender at this time when the uni-gender influence has made its way into many conversations I've held recently.  This parsha also contains something pertinent to the situation Israel has recently found herself in, and our response to it.  Don't you just love how the parsha readings are always pertinent to what is going on at that time?
And YHWH spoke to Mosheh, saying, "Take vengeance for the children of Yisra'el on the Midyanites.  After that you are to be gathered to your people." ... And they fought the Midyanites, as YHWH commanded Mosheh, and slew all the males.  And they slew the sovereigns of Midyan with the rest of those who were pierced:  Ewi, and Reqem, and Tsur, and Hur, and Reba, the five sovereigns of Midyan.  And they slew Bil'am son of Be'or with the sword.  -- Numbers 31:1-2, 7-8
Last time we heard of Bil'am, he was blessing Israel when he was asked to curse them (Numbers 22 - 24).  This was a good thing for him, because according to the Abrahamic Covenant that YHWH was clearly honoring through Israel, any cursing against Israel would be a cursing against the curser.  Yet, Bil'am, who blessed Israel, seems to have been without a blessing for his blessing, but instead is found in a curse of death.  Why did he die even though he didn't curse them?
And Mosheh said to them, "Have you kept all the women alive?  Look, they are the ones who caused the children of Yisra'el, through the word of Bil'am, to trespass against YHWH in the matter of Pe'or, and there was a plague among the congregation of YHWH."  -- Numbers 31:16
Bil'am did curse the people, without actually cursing the people.  The passage above tells us how he did so.  The situation Moses is referencing (and the reason why God calls this war a 'vengeance') goes back to Numbers 25, when an Israelite man entered the camp with the Midyanite woman and the people went whoring against God in their persuasion to mix Him and Midyan's Ba'al Peor through these women.  A plague came of this and was not subsided until Pinchas slew the Israelite and the Midyanite.  The passage above tells us that these women were the voices of Bil'am in this persuasion.  His word caused them to lure Israel into this matter that was very much against the Lord.  By this, he found a way to curse the people without cursing the people.

Leadership has to be very careful on how we persuade Israel in such a sensitive time as this.  We quickly want to remember to openly bless them, but let this be a reminder that there are still ways to curse without cursing, there are still ways to persuade a people to their death without open cursing.

The matter I am most excited to share goes back to the first chapter of this parsha.  Chapter 30 speaks of vows and oaths made by men and those made by women.  Those made by man will stand, and those made by women can either stand or be annulled in the day that they are heard.  If the woman in question is in her youth, not yet married, her father can annul her words.  If the woman is married, then her husband can annul her words.  This is very important -- the Torah says the male can establish/confirm or annul her words in the day that she made them, the day that he first heard them.  If the woman's vows or oath have been annulled, then the Lord will pardon her.  What is the pardon?  The pardon is that of the vow or oath, because as Deuteronomy 23:21 tells us, if we make a vow or oath we had better pay it, and pay it in haste -- it would be a sin to not.  So then, the Lord will forgive her of the words, that she may not be held to them and therefore not be found in sin by failure to uphold.  There is a difference between genders that I gladly embrace as a woman.  We women are very emotional creatures.  We tend to bond ourselves to many things, simply by our feelings; and we have our men with their strong egos (that can work for great advantage for a family) to protect us from such things.  This is the order of genders, and if it weren't so, then Messiah Himself as Husband couldn't claim right to annul any silly vow or oath His bride makes.  

In the last paragraph, I said it was very important to read the Torah speak of annulling and pardon, or establishment, in the day the vow or oath is made.  I say this because at the end of the chapter, it appears as if this same statute is repeated...or is it?
"But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity."  -- Numbers 30:15 KJV
Actually, this is not a repeat.  This is the matter I have pondered over the past year.  The torah was an annulment and a pardon of having to pay the bonding vow or oath on the day the vow or oath was made.  We must remember and submit to the fact that all vows and oaths are binding, whether in part or in whole, of the soul.  This pardon works out to our understanding of Messiah annulling our soul ties and bonds if he annulled them all on the day we made them.  However, we made most of those before we even knew Him.  By the time we come to Him, our soul ties are many and our bonds are from days of old.  So what of these most binding of all?  This last verse uses the word "after", which in the Hebrew means just as it says.  Just a simple looking into the original tongue led me to believe that this specific verse is referring to annulment after it was said, after the day it was made.  Yet, there is a stipulation in this verse as well.  So then soul-binding vows and oaths can be made void after they are made; howbeit, when the Husband makes them void thereafter the day they were made, He must pay a cost of iniquity to void them.  He has paid that cost.  Behold, old things are done away, a man becomes a new and free creature.


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Friday, July 11, 2014


Pinchas is a special parsha reading to me.  It marks my one-Biblical-year anniversary of blogging about the parshas.  One year ago we read Pinchas in the month of June, but this past Biblical year has brought us two months of Adar, and so we find ourselves in Pinchas during the month of July.  The Torah readings have really blessed my family and me.  It keeps us tuned into the foundations of our Messiah, gives us a base to understanding the Messianic prophecies, separates Yehoshua from all other messiahs to reveal Him as the true chosen One, gives us a beautiful picture that actually makes sense as to Messiah's purpose of both His first and second comings, helps us understand Paul's writings, shows us the echad nature of God, keeps us walking echad with Him by revealing His character to us in black and white, reveals what is to come through the ancient times within, lets us know God's 'love language'.  Really, I could go on; but, essentially, the Torah readings have been study into our very roots of faith, the foundation of why we believe what we believe, why we even believe Messiah.

Back to Pinchas.  This week, the readings of the Torah are accompanied with a story of Eliyahu/Elijah being threatened by Izebel/Jezebel in I Kings 18:46-19:21, and the story of Messiah overturning the tables in John 2:13-22.  All three stories have a very important similarity that I fear is missing today, and that is that all three readings point to zealousness.  Even the passage in John, referring to Messiah's overthrowing of the vendors' tables, quotes a passage in Psalms (69:9) to reflect what drove Him to do such a thing.  Zeal is what drove Him.  Specifically, it is the Hebrew word qinah, which is the noun form of the verb qana, accredited as Pinchas' driving action that stayed the plague.  It is also the verb Eliyahu accredits to himself in our readings of I Kings nineteen.  

Pinchas observed an Israelite, a brother of his, whoring with someone.  Even if the Yisraelite was married to that woman, he was still whoring because she was a Midyanite -- he whored against his faith.  Pinchas acted accordingly.  How can this man enter the camp like this, and why in the world isn't anybody else flabbergasted at how he and the woman he's adulterating with are so open in what they are doing?  Not too much has changed today.  I have known people to leave churches because of brethren that come in openly in their sexual and physical and spiritual adulterating sin, and some places that say they are a house of God clearly show they will allow such relationships openly by their failure to rebuke or be zealous for God's character that is being falsified.  We see the plague that God started with this and other whoring actions of the congregation.  The whole congregation suffered.  What a reminder to us that the congregation will die if sin is allowed to be within.  Sin = death.  There is no love of God when sin is accepted, and no love of brethren when the sin accepted means the death of all.  Our response is clear -- the Torah says we are to separate ourselves from such sin, cutting off brethren if need be.  Paul reaffirms the Torah by saying if such sin is being committed by a brother, we are not even to eat a meal with him (I Corinthians 5).  On a brotherly level, failure to obey Torah in this matter condones the flesh rather than saves the soul, as Paul so puts it.  It also discourages repentance, encourages others to follow, and brings about a bad image of God.  It bears a false witness of the Lord that results in false followers, rather than real salvation for souls to be free from the law of sin that equals death.

Eliyahu warred against the prophets of Baal, who Israel allowed to come in.  By Israel allowing such entrance, Eliyahu saw his brothers claim a Holy God and also a false one, which is totally against the Covenant.  It is adultery, spiritually.  His actions were for the Covenant.  Holy Covenants demands faithfulness.  I knew someone who had an old pastor that knew one of the wives was committing adultery with a fellow congregant while her husband was overseas.  The pastor refused to throw them out.  Acceptance then became the failure to uphold the sanctity of marriage.  Acceptance of sin by brethren is even our failure to uphold the sanctity of the Covenant, which is a marriage.  Eliyahu says that he acted for zeal.

In the case of Messiah, the noun form of the verb is being used.  It is more than just an action, but it (zeal) is an actual thing that He possesses.  With Pinchas, Elohim doesn't say Pinchas has zeal, but says he performed a zealous action (qana) for His sake.  This is because the zeal is not Pinchas', it is actually God's.  "Sake" is this same noun (qinah) used for Messiah in the John passage.  It means zeal.  It is the noun that God says is His.  Pinchas acted for God's own zeal.  His action was based upon the character of a jealous God.  So then we can say that both Pinchas and Eliyahu were in fact acting in God-likeness, or even in [pre] Christ-likeness.  This acting in God's own likeness is what pleased Him.

How can a man please God?  God's pleasure and His complacent love comes through our likeness to Himself, which is only made possible by His Messiah and maintained by His Spirit.  Of course we know He keeps His own Torah, but even in love toward us He keeps one of His own greatest commandments by making possible our likeness to Him -- by this likeness, He loves us as He loves Himself.


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Thursday, July 3, 2014


This week's parsha centers around the story of Balak, king of Moab, trying to curse Yisrael by the word of Bil'am so he may overcome them.  When I gave my children the overview of this parsha, Amira stopped me and said, “That [the cursing ] is not possible.”  Cursing and blessing are both possible, and not just in the Old Testament.  Both are with limitations today, as they were then.

Bil'am is a very unique character.  Every year when I get to reading his story, I submit that I can't wrap my head around him, but at the same time I am settled with some certain thoughts of him based upon his end.  He dwells amongst the heathen, and is of the heathen, but He calls the Lord by His actual Name.  Remember, the Name is used in the appearance of personal deliverance.  Did he know a deliverance of the Lord?  He also calls Him, “My Elohim”/my God (Numbers 22:18), but he is familiar with sorcery (Numbers 24:1) and accepted a fee for divination (Numbers 22:7).  Before we settle on the context of Bil'am's character, let's look into the content of the readings.
And Elohim said to Bil'am, “Do not go with them.  You do not curse the people, for they are blessed.” – Numbers 22:12
Balak just sent his messengers to seek Bil'am's presence in order to curse Yisrael, who happens to be camping at the outskirts of Moab.  Bil'am first sets out to seek the Lord.  He recognizes there is a limitation here.  This is the first inquiry Bil'am is making of Yisrael.  Why are they a blessed people, and why is God telling Bil'am not to curse them?  We'll get into that in later verse.
And Elohim came to Bil'am at night and said, “If the men come to call you, rise and go with them, but only the word which I speak to you that you do.”  And Bil'am rose in the morning and saddled his donkey, and went with the heads of Moab.  But the displeasure of Elohim burned because he went, and the Messenger of YHWH stationed Himself in the way as an adversary against him.  And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. – Numbers 22:20-22
So you see he inquired of the Lord a second time.  This time, God said he could go but the limitation is that he could only speak the word the Lord would give him.  Then he goes, and God sets Himself as an adversary against him.  Wait, didn't God say it was okay to go, and now it is not okay?  This reminds me of the story of the quails.  God gave the quails, but then caused a plague because the people ate the quails.  Yet, God gave it, right?  The important thing to remember in both cases is that what seems like God's go-ahead came after God first gave an answer, and it was due to the unaccepted receipt of His words that led to complaining (or petitioning, as we may choose to kindly call it; or inquiring, as Bil'am called it) for a different answer.  We do this to this day.  Sometimes it appears as if my children's brains don't register my answer unless it I act like I have a neurotic disease that causes me to repeatedly say “No” over and over, or by yelling it.  Doesn't this drive you to the point of being upset?  Of course it does!  God, being so much holier than we, is justly driven to hot displeasure in such cases.  Let Him give His answer, and let it suffice.  Then let Him test the hearts to see if they are against His counsel or not!
And the Messenger of YHWH said to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times?  See, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is reckless before Me.   And the donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times.  If she had not turned aside from Me, I certainly would have killed you by now, and let her live.” – Numbers 22:32-33
On three different occasions, the donkey saw the Messenger with sword in hand, and turned aside the way, each time the choice of travel becoming narrower and narrower, lest her master Bil'am get slaughtered.  She is a faithful servant.  He rewards her with hitting her each time; he did not have eyes to see the Messenger.  It is a sad truth that those without eyes to see the spiritual often hurt the One who attempts to save their lives, the One who serves them with life each day, and all too often ignore the narrowed path in front of them as His bidding to go the one narrow way.

Before I move on, I have to say I don't know what is more shocking – the fact that the donkey spoke, speaking of her faithfulness to him, or that Bil'am answered her as if it was normal that she spoke.  It is an accomplishment that ears are opened to hear outside of the natural, even if the hearing is first met with argumentative disposition, that these matters would later resolve with an appreciated understanding of salvation.  If we are all honest with ourselves, we first came to hear the Gospel with an argument, but alas our ears were open.  It was through that striving we acknowledged one of the parties (either ourselves or God) had to be suppressed and denied, and came to suppress ourselves unto denial and death, being true followers.
And it came to be the next day, that Balaq took Bil'am and brought him up to the high places of Ba'al, and from there he saw the extremity of the camp. – Numbers 22:41
Bil'am, who hears from El, is found upon the high places of Ba'al.  Is this possible for a man 'of the nations' be brought to hear from God and allow himself to be led in the high places of mighty ones?  Yes indeed.  The church today is full of the kind.
“For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I observe him.  Look, a people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations.  Who shall count the dust of Ya'aqob, and the number of one-fourth of Yisra'el?  Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!” – Numbers 23:9-10
This is the saying that Bil'am set upon Yisrael.   He was brought in to curse them, but he blessed them.  He accredits them to being upright and desires his end would be like theirs.  If you desire your end to be likened unto Yisrael and her salvation, you have to consider all up until that point, including dwelling alone and the separation from the nations that is mentioned in this passage.

“Who shall count the dust...” this terminology should bring about a familiarity.  It should bring you back to the Abrahamic Covenant.  The limitations of blessings and curses go back to this exact Covenant.  Blessed are those who bless Abraham's seed Yisrael and cursed are those that curse them.  The words of cursing may be able to come out of any one person's mouth, but God has determined to bless them, honoring His covenant with Abraham, and they will be a blessed people.
“El is not a man, to lie; nor a son of man, to repent!  Has He said, and would He not do it; or spoken, and would not confirm it?” – Numbers 23:19
The context here is the blessing.  El said He would bless them, and He will not repent of this!  He spoke it and He will do it; and He has given, thereafter Abraham, what appears as 'other' Covenants to confirm this Word of blessing and promise. Yes, all Covenants are simply a confirmation of one, by a further disclosure of how He would accomplish the terms of the Covenant. It's like peeling back an onion until we get to the core which is Messiah Yehoshua. Same onion, new layer unraveled.
“For there is no sorcery against Ya'aqob, nor is there any divination against Yisra'el.  Now it is said to Ya'aqob and to Yisra'el, 'What has El done!'” – Numbers 23:23
If God's blessing is referring back to His Covenant to their father(s), then it is safe to go back to the Covenant in regards to the limitations on blessings and curses.  This means if you attempt to curse what God has not cursed, it will just be a curse upon yourself.
“He bowed down, he lay down like a lion.  And, like a lion, who would rouse him?  Blessed is he who blessed you, and cursed is he who curses you.” – Numbers 24:9
This is Bil'am's last proverb over Yisrael. If you were questioning the blessing going back to the Abrahamic Covenant, this verse should affirm this.  It is exactly what He said to Abraham.  To further add, lest blood ties be abused, both the natural seed of Abraham and the adopted have to walk the faith of Abraham in order to have the blessing.

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook this past week.   It said, “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The real church fathers.”  I was quite astonished to see how many negative remarks came from that reminder of God's faithfulness to His words and promises, by those that call themselves the church.  All throughout God's Word you see Him longsuffering with a rebellious people for the sake of their 'fathers,' coming in the flesh and dying to reconcile with the lost sons of these fathers.  In this week's New Testament readings, we read that these people are beloved for their fathers' sake.  Even the promise of 'the nations' coming into blessing came through a Covenant made with the fathers.  The fathers are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their Father has been faithful to promise.

In the end, I settle with this:  Bil'am is a type of many of our modern day religions.  He is the type that knows God by Name, even prays to Him, but goes to the places of idols, accepts money for blessing, complains by vain repetition of inquiry.  His end is not that of Jacob's as he wished.  He did not hold to the faith of 'the fathers', and therefore is not a part of their blessing.  I am not referring to the church fathers after our Lord who claimed Messiah as their Savior but tried to be their own savior of persecution by mixing true religion with Roman practice.  I am speaking of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Hebrews 11:8-10).  Indeed, these are the real church fathers.


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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Korach: "Korah"

Let every being be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from Elohim, and the authorities that exist are appointed by Elohim.  So he who opposes the authority withstands the institution of Elohim, and those who withstand shall bring judgment on themselves.  For those ruling are an object of fear, not to good works, but to evil.  Do you wish to be not afraid of authority?  Do the good, and you shall have praise from it, for it is a servant of Elohim to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword in vain.  For it is a servant of Elohim, a revenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  Therefore, it is necessary to be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of the conscience.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are servants of Elohim attending continually to these duties.  Render therefore to all what is due to them:  tax to whom tax is due, toll to whom toll is due, fear to whom fear is due, respect to whom respect.  -- Romans 13:1-7
In this week's Torah reading (Numbers 16-18), we read about real-life scenarios of judgments and their causes from whence this Romans lesson is penned.  It is a lot easier to not connect the two, or to not study the Torah [portion] as it pertains to living, eternal truths, because it takes less submission.  It takes significantly more submission to realize the writings of the Torah (instruction) are based upon the character of God -- His righteousness and His kingdom -- and therefore are as standing as He is, as long as He makes the way.  It greatly changes our lives, our attitudes, our witness, and our burdens, if we accept this full submission to God's unchanging word, even as it pertains to submission to authority.

We can read the chapters in Numbers and say the great sin was lack of submission.  I would like to go a little bit deeper than that and go to precisely what the rebels were against submitting unto, and see if we can find similarities worth repentance within ourselves.

In truth, they were rebelling against submission in the orders of God's kingdom -- 1) that there is a need for a priest; and, 2) that there are different positions, which in turn mean different responsibilities and different privileges.  This whole Torah portion is all about differences in God's kingdom.  It is an argument that there are (or should be) differences.

This goes against what the people want, and quite honestly, goes against some modern-day teachings that tickle the ear as well.  God established how His kingdom was going to be, and to not accept it is to be as Korah and the rebellion.  All of Israel were God's people, they all had Him as Father, the same atonement applied for them all, the same Torah to be followed by all, the same protection and provision applied to them all.  However, there very much was an establishment of differences in this kingdom -- not all held the same position, not all had the same responsibility, and not all had the same privileges that came of those responsibilities.  An even harder truth is that not all got to dwell within the courts.  Mind you, all traveled and dwelt with Him, moved as He moved, stayed as He stayed, but not all camped within those courts.  

There are obviously different positions within the kingdom of God, and these positions call for different responsibilities and different privileges by them.  We aren't talking just mankind and angels, although with angels we can understand and accept a difference in their positions, there are seraphim and cherubim, messengers and fighters, etc.  Even within mankind, God established different positions, responsibilities, and privileges in Sinai, though all equally under His provision and protection.  There is a wedding feast, and all are invited.  All Israel will dwell with Him, but not all hold the same position.  This feast has those in the position of being a guest and those in the position of a Bride (Matthew 22).  These positions have different responsibilities -- after all, if God is against unequally yoked marriages, He is against them for Himself as well, which means a bridal preparation.  A few preachers (in comparison) will teach this truth -- and many would like to murmur against them.  However, just as Moses said Korah and the rebels were not murmuring against him and Aaron, but they were murmuring against God in His order; so it is that murmuring against such preachers is really murmuring against God's own order.  

It is beautiful to note how the Torah portion ends, it ends with God affirming differences yet again, while at the same time quashing favoritism by weights and balances.  Aaron and his sons may not have the land, but they have the priesthood.  Israel may not have the priesthood, but they have the land.  The Levites may not have the priesthood nor the land, but they have the sanctuary.  

To argue against this order is to argue against God.  The fact that there are many positions, and that these positions operate interdependently to a common goal, glorifies God in His thoughts, wisdom, perfection, creativity, and orderliness.  We can still claim that God establishes many positions to an order, while at the same time say that God is not a respecter of persons because the context of that last phrase is in regards to the same atonement and salvation for the all, and the same provision and protection for the all.  As said above, even though Israel held different positions, responsibilities, and privileges in Sinai, they still all had the same atonement requirement, same provisions, and same protection. 

As the King of His kingdom, Elohim sets an order within; but as the King of the Universe, He sets an order with all.  Therefore, as the Romans passage tells us, we are to submit.  We spend so much time speaking against the risen order in this world, but nowhere near as much time seeking knowledge as to why (the 'why' is plainly said in the Scriptures), or giving reverence to the fact that there is one Elohim over all, and these risen are not exempt from His power to do what He will.  His ways so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).  As Psalm 92:5 tells us, "O YHWH, how great are Your works!  Your thoughts are very deep!"  These words are to be accepted even in the most unfavorable of situations and rulers.  If you recall, the submission of Israel under Pharaoh brought about an affliction, an affliction by which they called upon the Lord and would not have if it weren't for that submission.  Oh, the depths of riches, and wisdom and knowledge of Elohim!  How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!

(For further study of positions, I recommend Passion for Truth's teaching entitled, "Who is the Bride of Christ?"  See also implications from Matthew 20:21 and Mark 10:37).


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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Shelach Lekha: "Send For Yourself"

This week's readings target the same exact situation and different ways to respond -- the Torah tells us what not to do; the Haftorah, what to do; and the Brit Chadashah, the salvic truth of each of these responses.  I want to focus more in the Brit Chadashah's readings.  However, this reading does refer back to the situation in the Torah, so we will first examine --

When we last left off in the Torah, God gave command to pick up your stuff and go.  At this point of time, Israel had been in Sinai for over a year, God giving them a 'rest' before He utilized the army He made of them, and also built His house.  -- Quickly, do you remember the command for men to not go to war or be assigned work the first year of marriage (Deut 24:5)?  They are to take this first year to know their wife and build their house.  Amazing how that is exactly what God had Israel do with that first year 'off.'  His covenant with Israel is, after all, a marital one.  -- So the Torah portion (Numbers 13:1 - 15:41) starts with the journey from the year-long stay in Sinai.  They journeyed only three days and were told to stop so that one man from each tribe could be sent into the land to search it out.  They came back and gave a report of the dangers therein.  They started to question the Lord, saying He brought them out of Egypt to kill them.  They started reminiscing of Egypt, no longer thankful for the deliverance.  In fact, no longer seeing the deliverance as a deliverance, but as a death sentence.  Essentially, they choose not to enter.

The Lord's response is that after all He has done for them, shown them, carried them, provided for them, they continue to not trust Him.  One may argue that he may disobey the Lord, but still have faith that saves.  This parsha shows you that you cannot separate the two.  We will get back to this later.  YHWH, the Just God, responds that just as they have murmured so it will be done.  They will die out here and they will not enter.  The exception is Ephraim's spy, Yehoshua, and Judah's proselyte spy (he was a grafted-in Gentile), Caleb.  These two alone trusted and were ready to obey, regardless of what they saw.  

An interesting thought sovereign grace over children... Many accept that God graciously covers children before the age of accountability when their intellect, knowing right from wrong, bears witness of their thoughts and actions as a treachery against the most High.  Yet, these argue that actual age.  I merely bring this up to provoke intelligent thought, but perhaps the story of Sinai could help answer this.  The older generation died, the younger did not.  Specifically, the age cut-off was the age of the registry, which means the age of twenty or above.  Mind you, human beings were different in those times.  I would initially say they were more mature, having married earlier than what is accepted in today's society.  Yet there are clearly noted later marriages -- that of the patriarchs, for instance.  I would also counter earlier maturity with continued absolute honor for mother and father.  Even if they married younger than us or established their own tents at a younger age, the push for independence in today's society starts much younger than the Bible's societies of interdependence.

The Haftorah readings in Joshua (2:1 - 2:24) tell of the same situation, second chance.  In many ways, God is the God of second (and more) chances.  There are times when there isn't another chance -- therefore, do not harden your hearts "today."  This is the Brit Chadashah's reading, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Yet, you see with the first generation, when it was "today" they refused, but the next day (tomorrow) they decided to obey.  It was then too late.  You may say He didn't give the first generation a second chance.  Look again at the verses:  "And YHWH said to Mosheh, 'How long shall I be scorned by these people?  And how long shall I not be trusted by them, with all the signs which I have done in their midst?'" (Num 14:11).  Have you ever known someone scorned?  You know a person scorned as someone who has been utterly done wrong.  Listen to the plea, "How long...?"  This is longsuffering.  Verse 22 -- "...for none of these men who have seen My esteem and the signs which I did in Mistrayim and in the wilderness, and have tried Me now these ten times, and have disobeyed My voice..."  They have repetitively tried Him.  Beloved Reader, He gave them many chances.  Notice how in the first verse He says they didn't trust (have faith in) Him?  Yet the last verse doesn't say they lacked trust (faith), but lacked obedience.  Again, you cannot separate the two -- still to be discussed later.  If you do not listen to the voice that tells you to move forward, how do you expect to get to where you are going?  So this second generation is in the same situation, different report.  "Truly YHWH has given all the land into our hands, and also, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away because of us," (Josh 2:14).  What a change.  This is faith and obedience.

The NT readings (Hebrews 3:7 - 4:1) are packed, and shows a great truth of salvation, using the two generations as example.  One of the greatest teachers I know once told me that salvation is the finish, redemption is the now.  It took me a while to understand that, and honestly I came to understand that mostly from the Torah.  Most recently I came to see that concept from the end of Leviticus, as it pertains to something someone dedicates [to the Lord] and that person's ability to take back that which was dedicated before the Jubilee.  If it tarries until the Jubilee, it is ever belonging to the Lord and cannot be taken back.  However, more initially I saw that concept starting from Exodus, when I saw deliverance as two parts -- coming out of, and going into.  There's a lot that happens in between the two, as we can clearly see.  Let us study the writer of Hebrew's words regarding the completion (everlasting salvation) as exemplified through the parsha's Israel (TLV) --
"Therefore I was provoked with this generation, and I said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.'" -- Heb 3:10.  What are His ways that is He referring to?  He is referring to Torah.  Many would say this generation of Israel knew Torah, but clearly it says they hadn't.  Oh, they heard it, we cannot deny that; but clearly did not 'know' it.  'Know' is an intimacy in Scripture, and this Torah was far from their hearts.  We learn from other parts of the Scriptures not all hearers are doers.  This is the Shema:  hear and do (obey).
"As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'"  Take care, brethren, that none of you has an evil heart of unbelief that falls away form the living God.  -- Heb 3:11-12.  These passages in Hebrews beg the question, "Was that generation saved?"  We cannot deny that generation was redeemed/delivered from the house of bondage, but we also cannot deny that they did not see the 2nd part of their deliverance.  He swore they would not enter His rest.  If you read Hebrews, you will notice that the writer refers to rest in two ways -- the Shabbat, mirrored with the eternal.  Were they saved?  Did they ever have a saving faith as we know it?  The answer is yes -- they left Egypt knowing not only that they were going to be delivered, but that they would be delivered to a specific place of rest, had faith to see the Red Sea parted, etc.  That specific place was a hope for their faith, and that faith played out in active obedience -- they heard, believed, and obeyed.  This is the Shema.  They actively moved forward toward that hope; but remember, no man with hand to the plow, looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).  Sadly, we see these words all too true.
For we have become partakers of Messiah, if we hold our original conviction firm until the end.  -- Heb 3:14.  So their original conviction was faith, and its accompanied hope, which played out in active obedience towards it.  Yet, did they hold firm that faith until the end?  No.  Above, in the Torah portion, God said they did not trust (have faith in) Him.  Just as the faith in Him was exemplified by obedience (they moved forward and out of Egypt), so the lack of faith in Him was proven by their disobedience.  God put the two (faith/trust and obedience) together above, as I noted.  See how the writer is faithful to do the same (vv. 18-19):  "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest?  Was it not to those who were disobedient?  So we see that they were not able to enter in because of lack of trust."
Let us fear then!  Though a promise of entering His rest is left open, some of you would seem to have fallen short.  -- Heb 4:1.  If you are alive, the completion (the actual salvation) is left open, and also left open is the ability to not complete.  The language of the King James actually supports this more, warning those who started with a firm belief to continue in it, lest the same thing befalls them.  
For we also have had Good News proclaimed to us, just as they did.  But the word they heard did not help them, because they were not unified with those who listened in faith.  -- Heb 4:2.  What is Good News, but the Gospel?  What is the Gospel, but a saving message?  Did "they" (referring to the first generation in the wilderness) have the Gospel?  The Scriptures are telling us that they did.  Same message of salvation, from beginning to end.  The unchanging God does not change the essentials of His salvation message.  It says they did not hear it in faith.  Wait, but faith is believing.  No, faith is believing and doing (again, the Shema), as we have been studying and also clearly noted in James 2:14-26.  This has been the essentials of seeing the 2-part deliverance, the essentials being faith and obedience.
I am not giving a message about losing salvation.  I am sharing what the Bible says about salvation as it relates to the different types of hearers (see also Matt 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-15).  The precious blood of the spotless Lamb is eternal blood and sufficient for eternal life, paying our eternal debt, but as the writer of Hebrews points out that we humans are often found with an evil heart, Jeremiah also saying the heart is deceitful -- how many want true salvation and how many are just looking for a place called heaven?  One has us deny ourselves, the other adds unto ourselves.  God identified that we would need saving from our nature and its consequence and provided His salvation accordingly.  We speak of our hope in salvation, that the Ruach would raise our dead corpses into a glorified body.  This is called saving faith, because that is the completion of salvation.  To some, the correct terminology would be that this is the salvation (remember, 2-part).  Therefore, as the dedicated things making it to the Jubilee, it is not able to be given back.  This same Ruach, as spoken of in promise of God's Renewed/New Covenant is to dwell in the believer to help with the obedience part of faith, reminding us of God's instructions (John 14:26) and causing us to walk it (Jer 31:33; Ezek 36:26-27).  I had once been one to say that God's Torah was too hard, and that is why He sent His Son so that way His walking it would mean I didn't have to.  A wise person shared with me a precious and life-changing truth -- it takes more faith to believe the Ruach will raise my dead corpse from the cold ground, as glorified eternal body, than to believe this same Ruach would raise me above my stumblingblock (my sin nature) to walking God's Torah.  It is the same Ruach for both, so then the faith that saves is the faith that obeys.


*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Friday, June 6, 2014

Beha'alotcha: "In Your Setting Up"

This week is quite special in the Biblical calendar.  I think it quite Divine the Jews have this exact reading on such a week.  Of course their understanding should not be thrown out the window -- they are only half blind, according to Scripture (Romans 11:25).  The ones that hold the half they're missing (the Gentile believers) are yet to come into a fullness of understanding as well, according to Scripture (Romans 11:25, I Corinthians 13:12).  Seems this half may be missing the other's half.  This thought is not original to me, but sure does seem that with two parties missing the other's half, the first that opens to the half understood by the other might get the full picture.  This parsha and this Biblical time frame show passages that are treasures to one group, different passages that are treasures to the other, but truly they are a full picture together.

But first, let us discuss a few things within the parsha that are huge revelations of the character of Elohim, and how He feels about our attitude in certain situations.  Some of these things changed my perspective of how He feels about certain attitudes.  One of those situations I caught myself repeating just this morning, and realized that if it didn't get accepted from Him then, why do I think it would be accepted from an unchanging God now with me?  I had to repent.

The first of the two situations is found in Numbers eleven.  The people complained and it was evil in the ears of YHWH (v. 1).  It was so evil, that He consumed those in the outskirts of the camp.  My friend Tammy and I were having a conversation in which she asked me how I felt about cremation.  Of course I think the body should go the ground where it came from, and surely ashes can be put back in a ground.  Yet the reply I gave instead, considering I just read this passage, was, "Well God cremated people."  I know, not funny.  Seriously, it is not funny to provoke God to anger, nor to complain against Him.  As a parent, I cannot stand complaining.  It gives a picture of ungrateful children, untrusting children, children who would sooner rise up against their parents in rebellion for the lack of trust they obviously have in their parent, children who then question authority, and children whose questioning and want have risen them as their own lord as opposed to the parent being in that position.  It is not funny, and it is not a light thing.  We can either train our children to trust absolute truth and authority, or we can allow space for complaining and entice their sinful natures to trust self, rise as a self-lord, and choose self -- which in fact is a nature birthed by Satan.  I think I'd rather raise children to be an extension of God than the devil.  In an eternal view, if you play the part [of a devil in his nature], you partake of the punishment.  So, fire they received.  It is not funny, and let us (speaking to myself) not be found too lazy to train in the Way, the way they should go.  

So if complaining doesn't work, here comes the waterworks -- 
And the mixed multitude who were in their midst lusted greatly, so the children of Yisra'el also wept again and said, "Who is giving us meat to eat?  We remember the fish which we ate without cost in Mitsrayim, the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic, but now our throat is dried up.  There is naught to look at but this manna!"  -- Numbers 11:4-6
Before we get 'judgmental' let us uphold Scripture and judge ourselves with the same mete (Matthew 7:1-3).  These people cried -- "wept" is the word.  They wept.  I cannot tell you how many times I wept over something I no longer had and in my self-pity thought that surely God would hold nothing but compassion over my tears.  I no longer think that way.  Obviously the Bible allots for times of mourning, but let us rethink weeping of any sort over something that is attached to the place of deliverance -- even just the food!  This isn't even the un-kosher stuff, this is cucumbers and what not.  I'm sure we could justify how much God would want us to have these things, because they come from His earth and He wants us to be full, and therefore justify our weeping for them to His face like He doesn't know our needs nor our desires nor what is best for us in light of our needs and desires.  Surely the food cannot be a bad thing for us to miss right?  I mean I'm not weeping because I miss the fornication in the past, I'm just weeping for stuff that isn't sin, stuff like the food, or for the house, or for the... whatever.  What is the message really saying?  Is it accepted by the Lord for us to weep over something in our past, regardless of what it is?  What does it say of our trust and thankfulness today?

When I divorced, I left a house and a husband.  Struggles caught me weeping over not just what I use to have, but over what the children used to have.  Those hard times of not having the non-sinful things I missed, the things that appeared to be a provision and blessing, actually gave me eyes to see that truly I left with a house and a Husband.  Let Him remove the stuff and be your all in all.

God provided quail in their complaining.  Now you would think this was a blessed answer to prayer.  He said they would eat it until it came out of their nostrils and until it became an abomination to them.  Does that sound like a blessed answered prayer?  Brant and I originally had different perspectives when reading what happened next.  The way he read it was that God showed His disapproval, and those that love Him would not quickly continue in action upon what was in their heart knowing how that petition made Him feel.  So then immediately upon them acting upon that lust in the heart, He punished them.  You know when someone you love is about to do something that would completely dishonor you, and though you give leave of it (because you want the relationship, not the heartless enslaving obedience) you still think that maybe they will choose you before they act upon it.  They don't and you are left thinking, "I can't believe you did that.  You know how I felt about it."  That person has clearly displayed who is more important to them, and unfortunately it is not you.  Our hearts deceive us like we love God and choose Him, but let Him try the reigns and see if just the thought of Him is enough to stop you from going against Him in even just this tiny thing like food.  Does your love stop you or just the robotic, straight-faced, stiff-necked compliance?  There is a difference.  I read it as if they practically swallowed their food, not even taking the time to appreciate the fact that God supernaturally brought that quail to them.  Maybe I read it that way because I strongly dislike my children talking to me when the meal I prepared is still in their mouth, between their teeth.  Either way you read it, it shows lust, and should reveal to us the character of God towards lust.

The other situation is gossip found in Numbers twelve, when Aaron and Miriam murmured against Moses.  God's reaction was to strike Miriam with a physical manifestation of her unclean tongue and remove her from the camp.  Sometimes I wish God would still give us clear physical signs of someone with this type of spirit, but then I remember that He does.  The spiritual always a find to manifest in the physical -- we should pray for discernment and eyes to see.  I tie this into Proverbs 26:20-21:  "For lack of wood, the fire goes out.  And without a slanderer, strife ceases.  As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife."

Back to my initial point with this parsha and this time frame in the Biblical calendar.  The parsha is so named "In Your Setting Up," because it begins with instruction to Aaron in his setting up of the lampstand.  As high priest, Aaron sets up the lampstand, which is made of beaten gold, with 7 lamps.  It is a bit difficult as a Gentile-believer to understand the book of Revelation without the oracles given to the other group, that other group being the Jews.  The book of Revelation starts off with a vision that screams of this very instruction given to Aaron.  The rest of Revelation mirrors instances first practiced by Israel through God's Torah.  Look at items in Revelation and the terminology, even the scenarios -- all these made an appearance in the oracles given to one of those groups.  We can even see the scenarios are mirrored with appointed times given and practiced in the Torah.  So then the other group (the Gentile-believers) cannot understand the revelation if they cannot accept the original meaning of these terms and scenarios, and what they mean.  He said He makes known from ancient times what is yet to come (Isaiah 46:10).  If you want to understand the words written of what is yet to come, then Torah is where you should study.  As we were saying of the two groups and their separate understanding -- the two halves make a whole.

I want to bring up one final passage in this week's reading.  It is when the people wept for meat.  Moses came to God and said that these people were too much for him to bear alone.  God instructed that 70 elders would be gathered and the Spirit that was upon Moses would be put upon them as well.  Two men, who were not gathered, received the Spirit and were "prophesying."  Yehoshua (Joshua, son of Nun) came up to Moses and bid him to make them stop.  Moses replied (Numbers 11:29), "Are you jealous for my sake?  Oh, that all the people of YHWH were prophets, that YHWH would put His Spirit upon them!"

That is what we celebrate this week, in the Feast of Weeks known as Shavuot and fulfilled in Pentecost.  Shavuot, the first fruit of the new grain (wheat), is also the time when the Torah was given upon Mt. Sinai.  This coincides in the New Testament with the day of Pentecost, and hence why people were already gathered when the Spirit came.  Now some say at Pentecost we were given the Spirit of the Law so that we no longer are under the Letter of the Law (Torah).  As far as I have read about this 'Letter of the Law' (Torah), it was written by the "finger of God,"(Exodus 31:18, Deuteronomy 9:10).  God is Spirit, and His Spirit wrote that 'Letter'.  His Spirit writes it still, but not on stone.  This is the New Covenant, that this very 'Letter of the Law' would be written upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:21-24, Ezekiel 36:26-27).  Just as our hearts would no longer be as stone, that Letter is no longer upon stone.  Same Shavuot Letter, same Pentecost Spirit that wrote the Letter -- because God doesn't change.  Man is what had to change -- a different heart, one that wasn't stone.  They have long been divided -- two halves, one being the Letter and one being the Spirit.  By the New Covenant, with Jew and Gentile, let these be a whole.  God is One.  His Son is one with this Word we call the 'Letter of the Law," and why we call Him the Word-made-flesh.  In this, Father and Son are one (John 17) by the Spirit.  During Pentecost, let us celebrate the time when this Spirit wrote that letter upon our hearts that we may join this unity and find ourselves one with our God.


*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Friday, May 30, 2014

Naso: Elevate (the Head)

This parsha has so many subjects that seem to go all sorts of ways.  The only consistency I could really find in all of the readings is the numbers.  What do you know, numbers in Numbers!  This parsha contains so many numbers, and each command and teaching point comes with a set of numbers.  It is very interesting to study numbers -- even letters have numbers in God's language, so then we are left to accept that numbers mean something, which draws us to seek why.

What I will go over instead is another consistency I found throughout all the subjects:  relationship.  This parsha is packed full of relationships.  There are numbers in relationships.  A relationship needs a number, it needs at least the number two.  Therefore the first thing I want to target is the Aaronic benediction in Numbers 6:22:27 --
And YHWH spoke to Mosheh, saying, "Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying, 'This is how you bless the children of Yisra'el.  Say to them:  "YHWH bless you and guard you; YHWH make His face shine upon you, and show favour to you; YHWH lift up His face upon you, and give you peace."'"
We really want to claim this.  We want an Elohim that will bless and guard us, show us favor, give us shalom.  Yet, again, this is a relationship.  It involves two -- the blessed of this blessing and the blesser (YHWH).  Notice the part of the blessing that says, "and guard you."  In the Hebrew, this is shamar, and should be a VERY familiar word to you, because it is the continuous command that God has for us, from the beginning to the end.  Yet, He says He will shamar us.  Relationship involves two.  It means exactly as it says here, it means to guard, keep, observe, etc.  How many want to claim that He continuously observes you, keeps you, guards you?  Seeing to bear this claim, it is to bear the relationship with the observer, keeper, and guard, then it goes without saying that we should expect that He would like us to observe, keep, and guard Him in response.  How else do we do this but by the things written in His Word, which is equated with Him.  Hence, why it is written all over His Word to guard His Word, keep His statutes, observe His Sabbaths, etc., as a response to how He guards us.  It is also written all over His Word that we shall bless the LORD our God, delight in Him so as to have a shining face about His presence, favor Him as to choose Him, lift our heads to Him as to seek Him.

Actually, that is exactly what this parsha is so named -- "lift the head."  When I first read it, I could not understand where in the world they were getting this parsha name.  The Hebraic way of titling Scripture's books and readings is to do so by the first few words of the book or reading.  So when I read from Numbers 4:21 and did not see anything about elevating a head, I had to search the original tongue.  

Numbers 4:22 says, "Take (naso: lift) a census (rosh: head)..."  So there, I was sufficed.  Specifically, it is saying lift the head of Gereshon.  This is interesting because Gereshon is the firstborn of Levi, but not the first listed in service (Kohath was listed in the beginning of chapter 4), nor was Gereshon given the most holy of items to carry in their service.  The firstborn cast out of his spot and now elevated.  Doesn't this sound familiar?  What is ironic is that not only can this be mirrored to Messiah, but even Adam by Messiah.  Adam's sin certainly did merit a casting out of him as firstborn, but by Messiah the sons of Adam can now elevate their head.  And we can really only elevate it to one place, which is to the chosen Son.  Therefore, we let our lives be that which elevates our Head (Messiah).  Oh, I'm having fun with that phrase, so many ways to use it.  

This brings me back to the point in the Aaronic benediction -- elevating the head to seek Him.  Now in our relationship with Him, He says He will give us peace.  Once again, to appreciate or even understand what this means, let us look at the original tongue.  It is the word "shalom":  shin, lamed, mem.  The meanings of these characters are as follows:  consuming (shin), teaching and authority (lamed), and no water/no chaos (closed mem).  This is the definition of shalom.  The consuming Authority whose teachings end chaos.  As a King, Elohim is always aiming to end chaos... in the whole universe -- ask those in astrological physics.  You want shalom, you must get it from the Word, written for you and magnified in flesh as the Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace).  

Now we cannot, in the definition of relationship, return shalom to the Lord.  Yet, what we can do is allow His teachings to be an authority in our life, and choose not to suffer the Lord with our selfish chaotic adventures.

Numbers 5:5-10 deals with relationship amongst brethren.  It is the command dealing with our wrongdoings against our brethren.  What Messiah told us in Matthew 5:23-26 was not "new," but of course being the Word-made-flesh, He was referencing His own Word.  Neither was the word written by Ya'akob (James) in James 5:16 nothing short of a reiteration of the same Word.  Verse seven tells us you must confess your sin and restore, make amends.  The command here is very clear that you are to deal with the person you offended and then you come to the altar.  This is your reconciliation.  God is very serious about your relationships, and apparently always has been.

The latter half of Numbers 5 deals with another type of relationship:  spousal.  This is the directions on how to deal with a husband whose jealously has him suspicious that his wife has committed adultery.  In these cases, there aren't any witnesses nor did he catch her in the act.  However, this type of relationship gives space to jealousy.  Why?  Well, because God is a jealous God.  He completely understands.  Mind you, jealousy is not covetousness -- which is a sin.  Coveting is wanting something that is not yours; jealousy is wanting something that is yours.  Because marriages are an exclusive relationship, jealousy is very much allowed, and God will give space to it, as we clearly see and learn by His own example.

A woman is to take in a bitter water that will do nothing if she is innocent, but will cause her "thigh to waste away" and her "belly to swell."  Once again, the original tongue could only give a better understanding.  The word belly is the Hebrew beten, which describes the hollow part in the core, especially the womb.  The word thigh is the Hebrew yarek, which holds to a general area in the lower half, very specifically the generative parts.  That's right, this word is speaking of the parts that produce or reproduce.  The fact that these parts are instead meant is further confirmed at the end of the session, by God saying that if she is proven innocent, she will be able to continue seed-bearing.  So then, very truly, we could see that if this woman commits adultery, her womb swells and her generative parts fail.  Well...if you misuse something, you certainly can't expect it will still be able to function now can you?  God most certainly is not joking around with this type of relationship.

Chapter 6 wholly deals with relationship to God.  We already discussed the last few verses with the Aaronic benediction.  The earlier parts of the chapter talk about becoming a Nazir, which is relationship to God.  Chapter 7 is a beautiful display of relationship between congregants in relationship to the LORD, relationship amongst congregants and relationship with the LORD as one.  Israel gave an offering to the Levites to assist them with their burdens.  Seeing as Levi was to carry the tabernacle (Kohath, the holy items; Gershon, the walls; Merari, the frame), Israel had given them cattle and wagons to assist in bearing these items -- with the exception of Kohath, who was commanded to bear the holy items on their shoulders.  Now, they all needed this tabernacle, as it was directly related to their relationship with the LORD.  So then, the Levites' bearing helps them all, and the 'all' help the Levites in the bearing.  New Testament principles from Old Testament commands and examples.

A little side note about the long account of gift-giving in chapter 7... I taught my children that although it seems so boring, let it be such a precious reminder to them of the Father's heart.  My son colors me so many pictures, picks me so many flowers, etc.  From my daughter to him, I have felt utterly horrible to throw their gifts away, but I simply cannot keep them all.  Maybe I could follow God's example, and keep an account of their gifts.  How does it change your view in reading Numbers 7 to know that He is not a parent like myself (or even yourself) but He is a Father who keeps a faithful account of what His children give Him.  Mind you, brethren, He keeps just as faithful of an account of what you have given Him, and He will reward accordingly.  We read it and see numbers, but what love can be read in numbers!

So many read these books and call it religion.  I hope to have shown you that, in reading it, you will see relationship.


*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.