I really don’t like this time.
I’ve just spent the last ten days on holiday, most of it in Perth as most people reading this will already know.
Now, though, is the come-down. Now is when I have to face reality again; and I don’t really want to. Well, I do, but I want my reality to change.
I know that God’s got it all under control, and that everything in his plan will happen in his timing, but there’s a large part of me that just wants to tell him to hurry up and move on to the next cool bit in my life. I also know that everything becomes like this, it’s a lot easier to love a place when you find yourself in that honeymoon phase. It’s a lot easier to love anything in that phase, when it’s all shiny and new.
Love isn’t an easy thing to manage, though, but it’s when you can still love after that new sheen wears off that you know that you really love something.
It’s amazing, though. I really have a strong sense for the future that God has for me, and I can’t wait to see it and experience it for real. It’s just the patience that I’m struggling with. I accept it, I’m just not liking it right now.
But anyway… More on the trip later…
This is not necessarily an easily read chapter. All about bodily discharges and cleanliness.
I spoke about hygiene laws once before, I think, about those laws that were there to help the Israelites live more comfortably. This is part of that. It’s all about keeping clean, lowering the potential spread of infection, etcetera.
I like verse 31 though.
“You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean so they will not die in their uncleanliness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.” ~ Leviticus 15:31
It’s quite pertinent to us today, too. The New Testament speaks about not being unequally yoked, and I think about not associating ourselves with those who deliberately flout the law. That’s not exactly what I’m thinking here, but it is worth remembering.
This chapter tells us to remain clean; to keep ourselves separate from the things that make us unclean. Not so much in the physical realm now, but certainly in the spiritual realm. It’s not easy to maintain cleanliness, purity or holiness when continuously surrounded by dirty, impurity and ungodliness
I’m certainly not saying never hang around with those who aren’t necessarily walking with God, not by a long shot. One of the biggest examples we can take from Jesus’ life was to associate with the ‘sinners’ of the world; to dine with them, to help them; to speak with them. That’s not what I’m saying at all, but what we do need to remember is to keep ourselves clean and pure. Our hearts.
The kingdom of God – God’s dwelling place – is inside us and all around us. When we allow sin into our hearts, and into our lives, we’re defiling the dwelling place of God. He lives in our heart, which means that we shouldn’t be allowing uncleanliness in there.
I pray for a purified heart.
Well, I have one less thing to worry about.
Those who know me, or anyone who’s read a few of my older blog entries in the past will likely know that I’m passionate about politics.
I’ve therefore been reasonably actively involved in politics on an administrative level for a while now. Tonight, I finally let it go; which was actually a lot tougher to do than I thought it was going to be.
I hadn’t really thought about it too much of late. Since the Federal Election, everything had been fairly quiet and even stagnant; so I didn’t really have to think about it. Just over the past few weeks, though, there’s been a bit of action stirring back up and I started getting my mind involved all over again.
It was just in the past few days that God reminded me of the choice I made a while back. Back when I was first coming back to him, and decided to go to Kazakhstan and give my life to the Kingdom cause rather than to other causes. The main choice that I had at that point, was Missions or Politics, putting my gifts, talents and abilities into the Kingdom of God, or the Parliament of Australia, so to speak. I chose God.
But with the rising up of all the politics again, God had to pull me aside and just remind me of that. I’d kind of forgotten about it a little, so I had to actually make it public and official tonight that I’m letting go of the politics. I’m not able to do everything, after all, and I’ve been worried about that. As hard as next year’s going to be, I’ve been worrying about the very basic points, where it looks like I just won’t have enough time in the week to do everything that I’d like to do and God’s wanting me to do. Well, now that we’re getting closer to that line in the sand that I talked about the other night, he’s starting to filter some of those things out so I can narrow down the priorities.
Which is good. I’m looking forward to it.
In other news – I have two days of work left, and then holidays. Hobart, Melbourne and Perth… I’m so excited. Not sure how much internet access I’ll have while I’m in Perth, though, so things might not be as on schedule as I’d like them to be.
Although – I can actually schedule blog posts to come out in future. Maybe I’ll just write ahead!
Wow! What a feast!
And how grateful am I that God made clean what was unclean.
I’m a big bacon fan. Although rabbit and badger I’m not so partial to.
There’s a veritable smorgasbord of different foods here. Much more of which, it would seem, cannot be eaten than what can be. I certainly would never have thought that locusts and grasshoppers were kosher.
Still, it’s an interesting list of foods.
I was talking to a friend recently about some of the law in Leviticus, and one of the things that he pointed out was that the law actually separates into Civil, Ceremonial, Food and Moral law in Leviticus and the Old Testament in general. It’s not hard, really, to tell that this is the food law, but it makes me wonder why. Why was it okay to eat beef, but not pork? What was wrong with bacon? Why not camels or rabbits? Why not sharks (Which, if I’m correct, have fins but not scales)?
Why did God actually need to specify that they don’t eat vultures, or geckos?
I’m willing to try most things, but I don’t know. If someone put a plate in front of me and said it was baked gecko, I might maybe choose that moment to be full or unwell.
Why were these animals unclean? I’ve heard people talk in the past about the hygiene. Food spoiled easily, and perhaps animals like pigs and rabbits were susceptible to particular illnesses that others weren’t. I can see that being the logic, especially for a lot of the birds – I think all of them are meat-eating birds. The same with rats and other rodents like that.
“I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45
All these animals the Israelites weren’t supposed to eat, at the heart of it, made them unclean. Even touching the carcass of the animals they could eat, if the animal died (rather than being slaughtered, presumably), then touching it would make them unclean. As obviously ‘food law’ as this chapter is, it also demonstrates a significant element of the ceremonial law that was required when holiness was dependent not on grace, but on actions. The Israelites were really expected to live to an extremely high standard of purity and cleanliness.
So, I found a whole heap of old photos on my computer tonight, and decided to upload them to Facebook.
Two things: Apparently I’m not ashamed of anything, am I, if I’m willing to put up some old photos.
Secondly: It got me reminiscing back to school days.
I had some good times back then. Perhaps the one thing that keeps me on Facebook is the ability to be in at least some form of contact with these people. For the first, almost ten years after I left high school, I hardly made contact with anyone, and when you think about it, these are people who were part of your life for ten years or more. I know we don’t all have the fondest memories when we think back to school – and I certainly don’t have all fond memories, but I do have enough that I tend to get a little wistful when I dwell on those memories.
And it’s really easy to dwell on the things of the past, sometimes it’s the good, other times it’s not so good. Still, one thing I’ve learned in my oh-so-many years of life, is that it’s good to remember the past, it’s great to honour the past. I don’t regret anything that I’ve done in the past, because each step has brought me here, and I’m happy where I am and proud to be who I am today. Still, the past should stay back there, it can’t change, we can’t do anything about it, it’s only the future that we can shape.
Probably something that we all knew, but that’s me for tonight.
The penultimate chapter.
Jacob, like his father and grandfather, has had his time in the spotlight, and now it’s time to say goodbye. He brings all his sons to him and gives them each a blessing – well, when I say blessing, as I read through them I wonder what some of his boys must have been thinking. He seems to come across extremely hard on some of them!
Then he dies, and is laid to rest. Once again, the term is used “gathered to my(his) people”, the same terminology that was used when Isaac died. He wants to go back to Mamre – this is one thing I find interesting, that his beloved, Rachel died and was buried near Bethlehem, and he states here that he buried Leah in Mamre, with Abraham and Sarah, as well as Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob wants to be buried there as well, not with Rachel. Even though Rachel was his beloved, Leah ended up getting the special place of being buried in the ancestral tomb, and then Jacob chose to be laid to rest next to her.
Anyway, the blessings:
Reuben: Firstborn, first sign of Jacob’s strengh, excelling in power – but then Jacob says he will no longer excel because he defiled his father’s bed, this, I’m assuming, goes back to chapter 35 where Reuben slept with Bilhah, Rachel’s maidservant and the mother of Dan and Naphtali. I know technically the two weren’t related, but… Ew. Still, it’s got to feel harsh, to have his father acknowledge his strength, honour and power, only to then take it away.
Simeon and Levi: The two brothers who took out an entire town, Shechem. Jacob refuses to enter their assembly, and says they should be dispersed in Israel. I’m not sure about Simeon, but this does kind of ring true for Levi, in recognition of the priestly tribe.
Judah: I’m thinking that this oral tradition may have come through from Judah, he gets a whole heap of good things. More to the point, though, there’s some allusion here that could be attributable to Jesus’ arrival on Earth.
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” ~ Genesis 49:10
Until he comes to whom it belongs – it, presumably, being the ruler’s staff and the scepter.
Zebulun: He gets a quiet one, really, he gets a nice life by the seashore, and a port for ships to haven in. Funnily enough, Zebulun’s landlocked when you look at a map of the dispersion of the tribes in the nation of Israel.
Issachar: I’m sure that donkey was a good thing to be called back then, my footnotes tell me that other sources have him as a wild colt near a spring, which sounds a lot nicer, really. Once again, though, the outcome isn’t that great. He has pleasant land and a good resting place, and will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labour.
Dan: Also comes out strong, as providing justice for his people.
Gad: Will be attacked, and will attack back.
Asher: Rich in food, presumably he was a bit more of a farmer than a shepherd, and was going to get the most luscious land in Israel.
Naphtali: How poetic is this?
“Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.” ~ Genesis 49:21
I can just imagine Naphtali rolling his eyes, shrinking back and going, “DAD!” Out of embarassment, after all his brothers were vipers and colts and oxen, and now he’s a doe – a deer – a female deer!
Joseph: Is really the focal point. A fruitful vine, blessed, strong, flourished – but the point is that Jacob clearly states that it is because of God, because of the Almighty, that Joseph will attain all of this. He will be blessed more than any of his brothers, but it’s because of God.
Benjamin: Finally, Benjamin, the other son of Jacob’s beloved. A ravenous wolf who devours his prey in the morning and divides plunder in the evening. Benjamin’s almost set up as the real warrior’s tribe.
It finishes off by saying that each of them received the blessing that was appropriate. This, to me, almost gives us one small picture of who each of the sons were. There’s brief stories about Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah – and of course the long story of Joseph, but the other sons, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher and Naphtali are pretty much not heard of throughout Jacob’s life. If the blessings were appropriate, then maybe we can suggest that Zebulun was a fisherman – or a surfer; Issachar had talent in working the land – perhaps he was very strong, but easily put to work – and so on.
I think, though, that that’s something really worth remembering; that they each received the blessing that was appropriate. Sometimes we want to be blessed, but do we consider whether the blessing we want is necessarily appropriate for us? God will bless us, our father won’t hold back his blessing, but he will bless us as is appropriate, and that might not necessarily be the same as the blessing we’re actually wanting.
Today was interesting. Not nearly as productive as I’d actually hoped, but still interesting.
Nothing really productive occurred – at least, other than giving the car a good and deserved wash. She still needs another going over, and a polish at some point. I’m thinking of actually paying for a full detail. That’d be fun to see the look on the detailer’s face.
“You want me to detail that?”
Shut up, that’s my baby. I’m taking my business elsewhere!
Something like that.
Anyway, for the past few weeks I’ve been going to church of a Sunday night. Tonight, I don’t even remember why I actually thought to go along. It might have even been out of sheer boredom, but anyway, yes, I’ve been going back along.
See, I haven’t been for quite some time. My journey over the past four or five years is a long and convoluted story that isn’t quite finished, so I’m not going to tell too much of it at the moment.
What I will say, is that tonight something strange occurred. I really shouldn’t have thought it strange, after all, I was raised in the church, and it hasn’t been THAT long that I’ve been out of touch. Has it?
Part of my journey over the past few months in particular, has been an attempt to reconcile the spiritual with the intellectual. I’m a very intellectual person – in the sense that I think a lot, about all sorts of things (I once actually researched what the ecological importance of mosquitoes is – turns out, it’s negligible; we’d do just fine without them), but the point is that it was perhaps one of the foundational points of me leaving the church, because I struggled with massive amounts of doctrinal Christianity, or the religion.
A good friend of mine was preaching tonight. I haven’t actually seen her in several years, but time doesn’t have to break friendships. Anyway, at the end of the service I ended up standing at the front for prayer – not exactly sure how that happened – but she came and talked to me first, saying that when she’d seen me in church tonight her heart had leapt at the opportunity to pray for me. She prayed, and the words that she spoke, it was like she could have been sitting beside me throughout the past three to six months every day. Everything was pertinent to exactly what I’ve been trying to work through.
Interesting things are definitely afoot.
Anyway, though – topic.
What to say about this? A family tree. I’ve actually done some study in genealogy. I’m trying to put my family tree together, determining who are my current relatives from my Great-great-great grandfather, who migrated to Tasmania from Scotland. Family history is interesting, entertaining and informative.
What must it have been like to live these lengths of life? Adam lived 930 years, Seth lived 912 years, Enosh 905 years, and so on… Can you imagine living for almost a millenium? I wonder what the world will be like in 2900? I’d be 919 at that point. It probably wasn’t as exciting back then, but imagine what you would see if you lived that long now?
500 years ago there had been no enlightenment, no series of rebellions leading to recognition of equal human rights and democracy, no industrial revolution. That’s only half a millenium. If we’ve made that much progress in 500 years, imagine what we might be capable of in another 500 years’ time? Or in 900 years time?
I guess I haven’t really got much of a lesson out of this chapter, just a real sense of wonder.
Enoch walked with God – and God took him away. Enoch and Elijah, the two men in the bible who didn’t die. Given that “the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23), that’s a pretty impressive thing to be remembered for, to have walked with God so closely that God just took him away, rather than have him die. Especially given the way society seemed to be going.
Today’s been a good day.
1. I have a snowboard! Of course, now all I need is snow, but for some reason Tasmania tends to realise that winter’s really here somewhere around August, so I’m not fretting too much. I just want to learn the basics – you know, steering, stopping – and next winter I’m hoping to do a trip to Mt Buller or Perisher, and if I’m really lucky, even a trip to New Zealand. We’ll see how that pans out, anyway!
2. Had a great cruise today, and was once again reminded that I live in the most beautiful place on Earth. We took a drive down through New Norfolk, originally scheduled for Mt Field national park, but ended up deciding to keep going and went all the way to Strathgordon, and wow… I wish I’d taken my camera. It was just amazing. Not to mention one of the best driving roads I’ve been on.
Oh, and a nice little gravel patch led to some great fun drifting, too.
3. It was my cousin’s engagement party tonight, had a great time. Reunited with an old friend I haven’t seen in over two years and sang a couple of karaoke duets just like the old days. It was fun, I had a ball.
But on topic. I was going to do two chapters today, but it’s late, so I’m just sticking with one. At some point though I’m hoping to catch up to Steve and balance the chapters out.
Reading Genesis is easy, Exodus will probably be okay too. It’s going to be the Leviticus/Numbers bit that will be the struggle, but I’ve got what – about three months to worry about that.
Almost everyone knows the story of Cain and Abel, they offered sacrifices, Abel’s was accepted (or at least “looked on with favour”) while Cain’s wasn’t. Cain spat the dummy, killed his brother and then God exiled him – Eastwards.
Strange thing about East, it’s also the compass direction that is detailed in the previous chapter. Adam and Eve were exiled from Eden, leaving a cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth on the East side. I’ve never noticed that before, I’m sure someone has though. I wonder what the significance of that is?
Anyway, moving on, Cain is exiled and sent to live in the Land of Nod. My bible’s footnote says that Nod means ‘wandering’, so it would imply that he lived a Nomadic life, at least until he built the city of Enoch, then a few more generations are born, and then this interesting little sidenote.
Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-Cain’s sister was Naamah. Genesis 4:20-22
This entire story, the tale of Cain, seems to be irrelevant. Given that in two chapters’ time, the entire population of the world is about to be destroyed, why tell the story? Where’s Enoch? Who are the people who live in tents and raise livestock, supposedly descended from Jabal? Or the musicians descended from Jubal? Or the iron and bronze-workers who were descended from Tubal-Cain?
My initial thought is more along the lines of those people being the “inventors” so to speak, of those things. Jabal made a life out of nomadic heritage; Jubal maybe was the man who invented man-made music? Tubal-Cain was the first blacksmith?
Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is that even though Cain was punished and exiled, that wasn’t the end of it. There was still a lot of good things that came from his lineage. In spite of being remembered in history as the first murderer, his descendants gave us – well, nomads – but also music and iron.
Perhaps there’s two lessons to be taken from this chapter:
1. Cain was worried about being killed, but God said that anyone who killed him would suffer vengeance seven times over. Perhaps we should take the lesson that really, we’re better off not doling out our own judgment on other people. Just let their lives take care of their own.
2. Even though Cain’s part in the bible is to be the world’s first murderer, his descendants did great things. It doesn’t matter what’s in our past or in our heritage, we can still do great things no matter where we come from.
God: takes care of things.