sacrifice

Day 97

Leviticus 7

Well, at least this explains why you’re not supposed to eat the fat or the blood: back in the day those things were needed for sacrifices, for atonement. As such, they were not to be consumed by the people of Israel.

This chapter also outlines some of the rules for voluntary offerings, offerings of thanksgiving. Rules for these are slightly less strict. When we sin, we make restitution in a very specific way, a way that only leads to God. But when we rejoice! When we rejoice and give thanks, we do it in our own ways and for our own reasons. Some of us hike mountains, some fish in lakes, some go to church, some blast their stereos. We can do all or none of these, but we should find ways and make time to thank God for everything he has given us.

Heh, and to think I was just going to write

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I guess if you look hard enough you can find something of value. Thanks, God. I see what you did there.

Good night, dear friends. Peace be upon you.

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Day 94

Leviticus 4

Goodness gracious. I’m looking ahead at what’s to come and there are at least 3-4 more chapters of laws and rules and sacrifices.

I suppose I can see the point here; the way parents have to be with children, for instance, is to set up strict rules (bedtime, diets, etc.) that over time grow less severe as the child gains more independence, knowledge, and wisdom. So it is with God as the Father figure to His children. Early on, the Law needed to be obeyed in very specific ways.

I notice, for example, in this chapter that atonement is done through the action of a priest and through a ritualized sacrifice. Later, with the death of Jesus Christ, animal sacrifice was no longer necessary for atonement. From the point of view of the New Testament, I suppose, the old Covenant is fulfilled; the old rules are no longer needed.

As a real world, personal example of this method of teaching, I think back to my math classes that I’ve taken over the years. They start by teaching you general rules, strict yet broad cases. Later, once you understand the general case, they move to specifics, and sometimes those specifics work around the general case. We have to understand the basics before we can understand or respect the exceptions. Perhaps this is a reason that the Old Testament is still a part of Christianity: by reading the old Law, we can see how things have changed and the grace that God has given us in Christ.

But has He made it easier or harder without the old rituals? Does He now trust us as people to give proper respect and worship without elaborate reminders? Does having infinite opportunities to be forgiven make us better or worse?

The world may never know.

Anyway, seriously, Lev 4 is about people goofing up and sacrificing animals. If you want more, go read it yourself.

I’ve said all I need to say for tonight, and I have to be up for work in the morning.

It feels good to get this done. Thanks, Lord, for everything.

Peace be upon you.

Day 93

Alrighty, back on schedule.

Of course, I’m behind on work stuff, but here I am making time for God. You know, late. Because I’m such a good minister.


Leviticus 3

Lambs and goats and whatever else! And now they get specific; apparently you have to be a biologist to be a priest:

“the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove.”

— Leviticus 3:4, 10, and 15

Seriously, that quote appears three times over. Apparently you save the best parts for God. I don’t know.

Well, I’m going to bed everyone. I’m tired and it’s late. I have much work ahead of me.

Good night, everyone.

Peace be upon you.

Day 91

(Note: This would/should have gone up on Saturday, June 14, 2014. It did not.)

You know, every time I get ready to right another one of these big headings for a new book of the Bible, the intro music to STAR WARS comes into my head. Every. Single. Time.

DUNNNNN dun dun dun… dun dun d-dun… da da DA da da DA da da da da da DA da da DA DAAAAAA da da da DAAAA daaa…

You get the idea.

Oh man. So awesome. Get ready for

The Third Book of Moses Called

leviticus

Boom! Look at that font! Even better than the last one.

So not that I had ever given it any thought, but I now realize that “Leviticus” is some Latin bastardization of something related to the Levites. The priestly types.

Oh yeah, new category.


Leviticus 1

Oh, that feels fresh. And Leviticus is only 27 chapters! I’ll knock this one out in less than a month.

This book is all like, “Kill the bull, bleed ‘im out, skin the corpse, wash the guts.” Leviticus opens like a heavy metal album cover.

Leviticus also gives handy tips on how to sacrifice a bird to the Lord.

Hooray!

(Two more to go…)

Day 60

I’m reading The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. It is awesome. My partner lent it to me but it is clearly the kind of book I will need to buy and read several times over. That is all.


Exodus 10

This chapter is very interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, God finally explains to Moses why they’re going through all this trouble and why Pharaoh is so ridiculously obstinate. God tells Moses:

“Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among themthat you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

— Exodus 10:1-2, NIV

I’m going to divert from the NKJV here, because apparently God tells Moses to “Go in to Pharaoh,” and I don’t think that’s quite what God meant… I was a little confused and shocked given the previous uses of the phrase “go in to.” You’re welcome to insert your own banjo music and Deliverance joke here. I really want to, but I’m not about to go that far. Not today, anyway.

But the point is that God specifically tells Moses that this is the way things have to go down so that way all the descendants of Israel will remember forever who God is. Makes sense enough to me.

Moses and Aaron go to warn Pharaoh about the impending locust plague and this time, Pharaoh’s servants finally beg him to end this madness and let the damn Hebrews go worship, already. So Pharaoh brings Moses and Aaron back. He tells them finally to just go, and then asks for clarification of who will be going to make this sacrifice.

Moses tells them that everyone will be coming, boys, girls, elders, youth, and the animals. Pharaoh’s response in different translations is interesting; I find the Jehovah’s Witness translation the best, as in it makes the most sense in context. This is what Pharaoh responds in NKJV (Exodus 10:10-11):

“The Lord had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desired.”

“God had better be with you, because there is evil ahead! But no! Send the guys out.” What? This is super confusing and I’m not sure I understand. Pharaoh sounds like he’s changing his mind mid-conversation.

Now let’s take a look at the NIV:

“The Lord be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil.No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.”

The NIV mentions that “Clearly you are bent on evil” could also mean “Be careful, trouble is in store for you!” But again, Pharaoh’s meaning is confusing. At least here he is clearly denying letting everyone go, and only wants the men to go.

The following is the New World (JW) Translation:

“If I ever send you and your children away, then Jehovah is indeed with you! It is clear that you intend to do something evil. No! Only your men may go and serve Jehovah, for that is what you requested.”

Does that not make so much more sense? “Wow, really? If I ever let all of you go, then God really is on your side. No, it’s totally obvious that this is some kind of trick. How about only the men go, and we keep everyone else as collateral?” (The bit about collateral is borrowed from Mr. Henry’s commentary/interpretation. Didn’t really think of it that way myself.)

Pharaoh makes his demand and kicks Moses and Aaron back out. They shrug and summon a plague of locusts that ravage the already-ravaged land. Whatever was left after the hailstorm gets devoured. Egypt is in a sorry state indeed. Pharaoh begs for forgiveness and asks Moses to ask God to remove the locusts. Moses does so, and predictably Pharaoh does not let the people go. Shocking.

Before we move into the ninth plague, I want to bring up another translation issue. Exodus 10:19 mentions that God summoned a west wind to send the locusts away and blow them into “the Red Sea.” The Red Sea in this case is in the proper direction for this to happen (i.e. east of Egypt) but the NIV notes that this could also be translated as “the Sea of Reeds.” While this isn’t such a big deal now, this potential mistranslation will come into play in the near future.

So, plague number nine! Pharaoh doesn’t let the people go; Moses stretches out his hand and darkness falls across the land.

thriller - zombie

Why yes, that is a Thriller reference!¹

The Egyptians are all stuck in the dark, but the Israelites are fine and have light. Gee, heavy-handed-metaphor, much? Didn’t even notice that til just now.

Pharaoh tells Moses once again to go make his sacrifice, but this time to leave his flocks. Moses tells Pharaoh that he does not yet know what kind of sacrifice they will have to make, and they will need their flocks to make burnt offerings. This exchange follows, ending the chapter with an awesome Biblical one-liner (in the NKJV, anyway. The other versions I’ve read are decidedly less cool).

Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”

So Moses said, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.”

mic-drop-charlie-murphy-o yeahhhhhOhhhhhh! Moses out, b****.


¹ Thriller. 1983 John Landis and Michael Jackson. Image retrieved from http://theukuleleblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/thriller-1983.html

Moses’ mic drop: http://gifsoup.com/view/1324222/mic-drop-charlie-murphy.html

Moses’ air punch: hiding in a link on http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-feed/2014/02/house-of-cards-season-two.html

Killer guitar riff: http://youfoundasecret.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/video-games-according-to-csi-miami/

Day 22

Three weeks! I’ve officially passed the three-week mark as far as consistent, daily writing. One of my absolute favorite quotes (which I just learned is attributed to Katherine Center) is

“You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.”

My soul burns with these words; it resonates on such an intensely personal level that it feels as though it were written for me alone. This is my philosophy and my creed. It is as beautiful as the Golden Rule of “doing unto others” but it is turned inward. It is about how one treats oneself, how a person lives his or her own life as a beacon, a shining example. It is about doing and about being, about taking risks and overcoming challenges and letting other people see and believe it is possible.

It is about challenging old ways of thinking and old patterns of behavior. It is everything I love about psychology and faith rolled into one amazing statement. My mind races and my body vibrates with energy every time I think of it. It makes me want to go out and change the world, to go out and do something incredible, something that would have seemed impossible.

That is why I am writing this blog. That is why I am reading the Bible. A daily commitment of time and effort to something is impossible based on all of my previous experience and attempts. I could not write poetry every day, I could not exercise every day, I could not clean my house every day. I had not the power nor the discipline to see these things through, to visualize them in my head, to need them to be true and to realize them, to use all of my strength and will to bring them into being.

But, by God, here I am. Three weeks in and I shall not cease. I will write every single day until I am finished reading the Bible. And then I will write more and more. I will fill my life with… I will fill it with many things. But I have a sneaking suspicion that by the time I am done reading the Bible three years hence, I will know how to decisively finish that statement.

I want to say thank you today to all my followers. Right now there aren’t very many but every single one means so much to me, because in a way it reminds me that what I have to say means something. I committed to this task and I will see it through no matter what, but it feels good to have others following on my journey. I know no one asked for my advice, but I want to share what I’ve learned thus far:

Search deep within yourself for that nagging feeling, that one thought, that one imperative that will not let go. Dig deep and find the goal that you cannot dismiss, and find a way to achieve  it. If you are to be a writer, then start writing. Find that desire that cannot be ignored, for that is the fire of your life begging to be lit.

My followers:

  1. Musings from a Tangled Mind
    http://www.musingsfromatangledmind.com
  2. GODisms
    http://godisms.wordpress.com
  3. Jarosław PlayWithLifE
    http://www.playwithlife.org
  4. Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger
    http://thepublicblogger.com/
  5. thisyearinmusic
    http://thisyearinmusic.wordpress.com

I just want to say thank you, and I hope that despite our diverse backgrounds or beliefs or what have you, I hope that the ideas I spread through my words mean something. I hope that watching as I move forward toward completion of this task, I hope that it brings you inspiration, that it drives you to do more than you thought possible.

This is nothing less than a realization of a dream, a transmutation of desire into reality, an exercise of pure will. And now that I have made up my mind, I feel a true and deep conviction… It is like nothing I have ever felt, and I know that my will has strength and that it will triumph at any cost.

Triumph_des_Willens_poster

Oh for Christ’s sake… That’s not what I meant and you know it!¹

Hey, just because I’m baring my soul doesn’t mean I can’t keep a sense of humor. I know, I know, Nazis aren’t funny, but… I can’t resist a terrible pun.

Also while I’m thanking people I want to thank my partner for being with me through this trying time, for encouraging me and believing in me. I love you so much.


Genesis 22

Ah, famous Genesis 22. God calls upon Abraham to kill and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. I like how God says, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love…” just to drive home the point and make this extra difficult for Abraham (Gen 22:2). But at this point Abraham seems to have learned his lesson(s) and this time he obeys without question.

Long story short, just as he is about to kill his son, God calls him again (“Abraham!” “Here I am.” I wonder if that rhymes in Hebrew too?) and tells him that he can stop now, and he doesn’t have to stab Isaac. God once again reaffirms his promises to Abraham regarding descendents and land and all that, and hopefully Isaac forgave his dad for this whole mess, and to wrap it all up, we get some genealogy of Abraham’s brother Nahor.

Matthew Henry says a good deal about this chapter but for the most part the story speaks for itself. The only thing that really struck me during this whole story was the parallels between the near-sacrifice of Isaac and the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “Your only son,” and so forth. Henry even makes the point that Isaac carries the wood toward his own sacrifice as noted in Genesis 22:6, just as Christ bore the cross on which he would be killed.

One excellent bit of information that Henry brings up is that

“In Hebrew, to tempt, and to try, or to prove, are expressed by the same word.”²

I’ll keep this in mind any time any of those words shows up. Also, I discovered Wesley’s Explanatory Notes today, my eyes having been drawn by a banner ad to that part of the page. I’d heard of them before but never explored them, having stuck with Henry. John Wesley is credited with creating the Methodist movement, apparently. His notes break each chapter down verse by verse. Frankly, I might use him for some clarification, but it’s… it’s just too much.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today; I’m going back to bed.

Peace be upon you.


¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_of_the_will

² http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=1&c=22

Day 15

Today has been a hell of a day. I drew my medicine card just now, after the end of it all, and it came up as a Contrary Blank. I don’t always know what that means, but today it feels like it has to do with the fact that no single card can encompass the day I’ve been through.

Good Fear and Bad Fear

The most interesting part of my day happened during work: I was out at a park when I ran into an awesome black grandmother who was there with her four grandchildren. We got to talking and I asked what she was reading; it turned out to be the Bible. Fitting, no?

Anyway, so I asked her why and I told her about my project. She said that she wanted to understand the Word for herself, that she wanted a deeper connection, and she wanted to understand what God wanted from her. I rephrased this as, “Give it to me straight, Lord!” She laughed.

We both were distracted but I did get to talk to her a little bit more and she told of a friend who I think was an atheist. This friend or acquaintance or whatever asked her why people were supposed to fear God. This wonderful woman said that for her, there were two kinds of fear: the good and the bad. She said that the good kind of fear was the fear of God, that which keeps people in line, so to speak. The bad fear was the fear of man, the fear that we have about our material life, the fear that drives us away from God and confounds our mind with mortal concerns. I told her I was going to quote her on this.

I of course decided to do my research and was richly rewarded. I immediately found this website, which has a wonderful breakdown of the different meanings of the Hebrew word yirah (יִרְאָה). According to this site, “there are three ‘levels’ or types of yirah.”¹ The first is what we normally think of as fear, or what the woman above called “bad fear.” This is the fear that leads us to do things or not do them only because we are worried about punishment or being cast out. The second type is what the grandmother called “good fear,” and “concerns anxiety over breaking God’s law.”¹ The Chofetz Chaim, “a holy book on the Jewish ethics and laws of speech,”² tells that

“even though the fear of God’s punishment may deter us from sin in the short run, by itself it is insufficient for spiritual life, since it is based on an incomplete idea about God.”¹

This is awesome, to me. This brings me to the third type of fear. I’m just going to leave this here:

“The third (and highest) kind of fear is a profound reverence for life that comes from rightly seeing. This level discerns the Presence of God in all things and is sometimes called yirat ha-rommemnut (יִרְאַת הָרוֹמְמוּת), or the ‘Awe of the Exalted.’  Through it we behold God’s glory and majesty in all things. ‘Fearing’ (יִרְאָה) and ‘seeing’ (רָאָה) are linked and united. We are elevated to the level of reverent awareness, holy affection, and genuine communion with God’s Holy Spirit.  The love for good creates a spiritual antipathy toward evil, and conversely, hatred of evil is a way of fearing God (Prov. 8:13).”¹

Reverence. Awe. These are the highest level of feeling that we are called to have in the name and in the honor of God. It is not fear in the human sense, but a seeing, a unity, a sense of presence and communion. This is what we need as a whole, is a “spiritual antipathy toward evil.”¹ It is clearly not enough to abstain from evil most of the time. We must actively do good, and cultivate our love of God and goodness so that there is no longer room for evil in our hearts and souls. Just as I vowed to not lash out against others in anger, so too do humans need to make a vow against evil. But we need to have the confidence and power to make such a vow. That power and confidence obviously can come from the Lord, but… I’m getting into a Catch-22 situation. The cycle of evil and suffering must at some point be broken. We are not perfect and we may not be able to leave it forever or in totality, but we can damn sure try.

Genesis 15

After all I’ve said above, I don’t feel the need to delve too deeply into Gen 15. Matthew Henry makes plenty of good points, some of which I will touch upon here and the rest can be found here by an interested reader.

Gen 15 begins with God coming to Abram in a vision; God tells Abram, “I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

Your eternal reward.

Your eternal reward. ³

At this point, Abram is having what seems to be a crisis of faith, perhaps this time motivated by the fear or concern that he will not be able to do what God asks, especially since he can have no children. God tells him not to worry, and says that He can prove it. Abram listens to God and makes a sacrifice of several animals; vultures come to eat the animals, but Abram drives them away. Here, Matthew Henry writes:

“A watch must be kept upon our spiritual sacrifices.”

— Matthew Henryª

We have to be attentive to God, and drive away distractions. After this, Abram falls into a deep sleep, where God speaks to him and lets him know about the future. God tells Abram that his descendents will suffer, but will suffer only material injury while enjoying spiritual wealth in the form of divine blessings. Abram wakes up to see “a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between [the sacrifices]” (Genesis 15:17). God makes a covenant with Abram, and Matthew Henry here says that “it intimates that God’s covenants with man are made by sacrifice…. And we may know that he accepts our sacrifices, if he kindles in our souls pious and devout affections.”ª

I really want to continue with this, but I have here reached the end, essentially, of Genesis 15. I have some things to say, but I will say them tomorrow. My partner is waiting in the other room and has no idea what I’m doing. She might very well find out soon just what exactly I’ve been up to.

Blessings to all of you, and peace be upon you. Good night.

 

¹ http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Parashah/Summaries/Eikev/Yirah/yirah.html

² http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chofetz_Chaim

³ http://therewillbefilms.tumblr.com/post/11388120758/your-eternal-reward

ª http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=1&c=15&com=mhc