Thursday, June 23, 2016

Willing hearts

After Jacob's descendants were rescued from slavery in Egypt the next phase of God's plan for the Promised Savior began.

It didn't happen the way you or I would probably do it if we were in charge of making a way for salvation for the whole world.  God, from human eyes, seemed to take a BIG detour in bringing the promised Messiah to the world.

There seem to be so many details, unnecessary if I were in charge, but hey, I hate details that get in the way of my vision.

For example:

God thought it would be a good idea in taking thousands of people through a desert, oh, and while you're walking around, let's make a big tent.  He had the former slaves plunder their slave owners and they took from the slave owners fabrics, jewels, stones, gold, silver, any and everything they could carry, God made it so the slave owners handed over their treasures to the slaves!

See, that's just nuts!  If I were God and rescuing my people from slavery, I certainly wouldn't take the time to gather up souvenirs.  I'd be getting my tail and the tails of my precious children out of there, and right quick as they say in the south!

But, He's got his own way of freedom fighting.

So, the former slaves plunder their owners and start their journey in a desert.  Thousands, tens of thousands of men, women, children, babies, and animals walking in the desert.

I can't help think about the faces of the refugees we've seen splashed on tv through my lifetime.  The Cambodians drifting in boats in a big ocean.  Cuban refugees that were housed on a military base near my home when I was a teenager.  The Syrian refugees of the present day.  Shell shocked and numb looks on their faces, I can't help but imagine that's how these Hebrew slaves looked too.

Did they have even the strength to carry the weight of some of the treasure?  I don't know.  I wasn't there, I can only imagine what the scene looked like.

I wonder if they thought to themselves, What in the world are we supposed to do with this ornate goblet?  They did have difficulty finding water from time to time, a lot of good a drinking glass does a person when there is nothing to drink!

So these thousands of people wander, carrying these beautiful Egyptian treasures, shell shocked and weary, the weight of four hundred years of slavery bearing down on their bent over frames and worn out fingers.

But God had a detail that was going to be created from the very things those weak kneed Hebrews were carrying in their hands.

He was going to build them a tent.  Not just any tent.  A tent that was similar to the tents the Hebrews had seen the Egyptians use to worship their gods.  Only this tent would be used to worship THE God.  Yahweh.

God:  Moses
Moses:  Yes, God
God:  Here's the checklist for my dwelling place - gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn, fine line, goat hair, ram skins dyed red

(where on earth am I going to red dye? Moses may have thought as he is writing out the list).

Sea cow hides, acacia wood, olive oil, spices and onyx stones.

Moses:  Check.  Check.  Check.

God:  Now, I need people to do the work.

So who does God recruit?  No one.

He tells Moses, 
"Everyone who is willing is to bring the supplies....all who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the LORD has commanded."

So no one had to get a loan from the bank to supply the supplies.  The math genius' didn't have to help the perfumers.  The carpenters didn't have to help the seamstresses.

"All the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair....all the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do..."

See, God provided the supplies.  But having the supplies wasn't enough.  Your heart had to be willing.  And having a willing heart wasn't enough.  You had to have the supplies.

It's funny how God works like that, isn't it?

"Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiah and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work."

Having the right supplies is only half the list needed to do the work God requires.  The other half is to be willing.

If you're not willing, don't waste your time or God's time.

The interesting thing about the Hebrew word for willing is that the people God was using and giving the will to do the work were former slaves.  For their whole lives they were slaves.  Their parents were slaves, their grandparents were slaves.  They knew no one who wasn't a slave.  For generations.

What skill could a slave have?  What unique gift could a brick maker have in using gold or purple yarn?  What trade school did they go to for their post slave career?  The easy answer is:

  The work they did as slaves was the training ground for the work they would do for their Rescuer.

All that was necessary was to be willing.  To lift their eyes from the shame of their slave past and set them on their Freedom Fighter.  He would give the skill.  He would give the will.

The Hebrew transliteration says it like this:

"And called Moses unto Bezalel and unto Oholiab and every man wise hearted in whose had put the LORD wisdom heart.  Every whose stirred him up to come unto the work to perform."

God stirred up the heart.  He nesah them.  He lifted them, carried them, he made them who they were always created to be, for the use of God's glory.

He made them willing, he gave them the supplies by making the Egyptian slave owners provide them.  They only had to look up and be lifted up....oh, and to hold out their hands to receive the supplies.

So are you willing?  Are you willing to be made willing?  Are you willing to be made willing to be made willing?

It really takes the pressure off to know God provides it all, doesn't it?  No more feeling guilty for not doing more or giving more or serving more.  If you're not willing, it may be because God has not made you willing.

It's something you and Him will have to talk about and figure out.

Don't volunteer for one more thing until you have your talk with him.  You may be getting a lot of pressure from well meaning and desperate folks, but if you are hesitating, it may be God who is pressing his thumb on you to hold you back.

The only willingness needed is the willingness He gives.  The only willingness He gives, is the one he can use.  Don't make yourself something you're not just because it looks like the situation has need of you or your talent.  You may not be willing because God has not made you willing.  (Just double check with Him to make sure your stubbornness is not in the way of His willing you to be willing).  If you have the skill and the Lord has made you willing, than He will make a way for you to get the task completed.

"...every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work...."

He'll provide the tools, the means, the supplies.

Let him, Church.  Let Him.



The Children

I've been extremely busy the last six weeks since the challenge ended.  I finally did a little housecleaning on my blog and republished the the posts I had taken off for a time.  I don't know how it all works but if you got email notification for those, please accept my apology, I know there was a lot reposted.

At any rate, I came across this little breakdown I put together when doing the challenge.  I guess I wanted to see what Jacob's sons names looked like when they were written by their meaning....

How interesting it would be if we were all called by what our name means.

Leah's children
Reuben - for he has seen my misery (It is because the LORD - Yahweh has seen my misery.  Surely my husband will love me now).
Simeon - one who hears (Because the LORD - Yahweh heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too).
Levi - attached (Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons)
Judah - praise (This time I will praise the LORD -Yahweh).

Bilhah/Rachel's children
Dan - he has vindicated (God - Elohim has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son)
Naphtali - my struggle (I have had a struggle with my sister, and I have won)

Zilpha/Leah's children
Gad - good fortune or a troop (What good fortune!)
Asher - happy (How happy I am!  The women will call me happy)

Leah's children
Issachar - reward (God -Elohim has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband)
Zebulun - honor (God - Elohim has presented me with a precious gift.  This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons)

Rachel's children
Joseph - may he add (God - Elohim has taken away my disgrace. May the LORD - Yahweh add to me another one)
Benjamin - son of my right hand
Ben Oni son my my trouble

Misery-Reuben-Yawheh sees
Hears-Simeon-Yawheh hears
Add-Joseph-Elohim takes away/Yahweh adds
Right hand-Benjamin

Depending on the language the name Ronda is spoken, you can call Rough Island, Powerful River, Grand, The Good Spear.

For now though, I'll stick to Ronda and wish you


What does your name mean?  Does it define you in a good way or negatively?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Waiting for the Maestro till lift his baton

The notes for my next book are stacked next to me, waiting to be made into sentences then paragraphs then chapters.  I see the characters in my head, I hear their voices, see what they're wearing and yet to put them down into alludes me.

Am I in the way or is it simply the Giver of the words directing time as a Maestro directs an orchestra.  The violins stay silent as the percussion and woodwinds set the beat.  How hard it must be to be the violin's bow.  The music you know is possible if you are just picked up and placed on the strings of your partner's neck.

The gentle rumble of the tympani, the sweet fluttering breeze of the piccolo joined with the flute.  Soon the other woodwinds, the deeper clarinet and deeper still oboe join in to make a sweet harmony.

Alas, it's time for the violin debut.  Gently placed on the musician's neck, the bow at attention, waiting for the cue from the conductor.  Soon the strings are singing, adding harmony and depth, the violins, the viola, the cello, the bass.  How sweet the music sounds when each sings their harmonies, neither needing a solo, eager to be a part of something bigger.   How sweet the music is when each waits their turn to bring to the moment each perfectly planned measure and beat.

If one instrument, even two or three were missing, the music would be enjoyed, but when the full orchestra is in time with the Maestro, each waiting patiently for their debut, sweeter sounds have not been sung then an full orchestra in tune with the Master.

So alas, I wait, like the violin's bow.  Watching for the Maestro's signal, listening to the beat of the drum.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Post Challenge Trivia

There were many interesting facts I came upon as I researched and wrote this year's blog but didn't include in the challenge.  Perhaps you may want to use them for some Bible trivia.

If you want to know the exact birth order of Jacob's children:

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah, Joseph, and Benjamin.

Or, if you want to go by their name's meanings:

May He Add
My Struggle/My Right Hand

The order the tribes marched in the desert and camped by the Tabernacle:

On the East side - Judah (1), Issachar (2), Zebulun (3)
On the South side - Reuben (4), Simeon (5), Gad (6)
On the West side - Ephraim (7), Manasseh (8), Benjamin (9)
On the North side - Dan (10), Asher (11), Naphtali (12)

The Levites marched in the middle, carrying the Tabernacle and its furnishings.

Ezekiel saw the Tribes in heaven this way:

At the North Gate - Reuben, Judah, and Levi
At the East Gate - Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan
At the South Gate - Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun
At the West gate - Gad, Asher, Naphtali

There was a time when the tribes were divided up into two groups to bless and curse the Israelites.  Those who called the blessings did so upon Mount Gerizim and they were:
 Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, Benjamin.

Those who called the curses did so upon Mount Ebal and they were:
 Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

The explorers of the promised land from each tribe:
Reuben - Shammua son of Zaccur
Simeon - Shaphat son of Hori
Judah - Caleb son of Jephunneh
Issachar - Igal son of Joseph
Ephraim - Hoseha son of Nun
Benjamin - Palti son of Raphu
Zebulun - Gaddiel son of Sodi
Manasseh - Gaddi son of Susi
Dan - Ammiel son of Gemmali
Asher - Sethur son of Micahel
Naphtali - Nahbi son of Vopshi
Gad - Geuel son of Maki

The priest's breastpiece was made of 
Ruby, topaz, beryl, turquoise sapphire, emerald, jacinth, agate, amethyst, chrysolite, onyx, jasper.

Heaven's wall, as seen in John's vision was made of
Jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, amethyst

The Levites were responsible for the care of the Tabernacle.  Levis sons divided up the tasks.
Gershon was responsible for the care of the tabernacle and the tent, its coverings, the curtain at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, courtyard, curtain to the entrance of the courtyard surround the tabernacle, altar and the ropes and everything related to its use.

Kohath was responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lamp stand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain and everything related to its use.

Merari took care of the frames of the tabernacle, crossbars, posts, bases, all its equipment, and everything related to its use as well as the posts surrounding the courtyard and their bases, tent pegs, and ropes.

When the offering was made for the Tabernacle, after everything was prepared as the Lord has instructed Moses, a representative from each tribe brought:

one silver plate weighing 130 shekels filled with fine flour mixd with oil as a grain offering
one silver sprinkling bowl weighing 70 shekels 
one gold dish weighing 10 shekels filled with incense
one young bull
one ram,
one male lamb one year old for the burnt offering
one male goat for a sin offering
two oxen
five rams
five male lambs a  year old for the fellowship offering.  

The days in order each tribe presented their offering.
Day 1 - Judah
Day 2 - Issachar
Day 3 - Zebulun
Day 4 - Reuben
Day 5 - Simeon
Day 6 - Gad
Day 7 - Ephraim
Day 8 - Manasseh
Day 9 - Benjamin
Day 10 - Dan
Day 11 - Asher
Day 12 - Naphtali

The number of men 20 years old and older at the first census/second census:

Reuben - 46,500/43,700
Simeon - 59,300/22,200
Levi - Not counted in the first census/Males one month old and older at second: 23,000
Judah - 74,600/76,500
Dan - 62,700/ 64,400
Naphtali - 53,400/45,400
Gad - 45,650/40,500
Asher - 41,500/53,400
Issachar - 54,400/64,33
Zebulun - 57,400/60,500
Joseph (Ephraim) - 40,500/32,500
           (Manasseh) - 32,200/52,700
Benjamin - 35,400/45,600

Some more well known descendants of the tribes:

Simeon - Asa; Josiah
Levi - Moses
Judah - Caleb; Jesus
Asher - Anna
Benjamin - King Saul; Apostle Paul
Ephraim - Joshua

It's been a great ride, I hope you have been challenged to dig deeper.



Saturday, April 30, 2016


Zebulun seems a weird place to end this year's challenge.  It seems like Zebulun should have been dissected a few weeks ago.  If you are reading this and have read all of the posts this month, thank you.  I hope I didn't lead you down rabbit trails but instead peaked your curiosity and saw Jacob's story in a new light.  If I confused you or am off on any historical detail, please forgive me.  I did my best to stay true to cultural understanding as best I am able.  I realize my western understanding penetrated much of my posts, and I hope you will use this as a springboard to research on your own for more clarity.

Now, onto Zebulun.

Zebulun was the 10th son born to Jacob.  The 7th son born to and for Leah, but born as part of the bargain his mother and Aunt Rachel made:  sex with Jacob for a plant.

Zebulun was third in line during the desert wanderings.  His family camped on the east side of the tabernacle, a representative from his family brought their offering for the dedication of the tabernacle on the third day, and Ezekiel saw Zebulun's gate on the south side of heaven.

When he was born, his mother, Leah, said, "God has presented me with a precious gift.  This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons."  Hence, Zebulun means "dwelling."

When Jacob was dying he said this to his tenth son:  "Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon."

Moses said, about Zebulun and his brother Issachar:  "Rejoice Zebulun, in your going out, and you, Issachar, in your tents.  They will summon peoples to the mountains and there offer sacrifices of righteousness; they will feast on the abundance of the seas, on the treasures hidden in the sands."

When Jesus walked the planet he lived in Capernaum, in the area of Zebulun.

Zebulun had three sons:  Sered, Elon, Jahleel of whom no other significant details are found in the Bible.

I found the meaning behind the words Leah spoke when Zebulun was born somewhat heartbreaking.  The Hebrew transliteration says it this way:  

 has bestowed God upon me dowry a good now dwell with me will my husband because I have born to him six sons and she called his name Zebulun."  (Hebrew transliteration)

 "God has presented me with a precious gift.  This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons."  (NIV)

presented:  zabad - bestow upon, endow with

gift - zebed - gift, dowry

precious - towb - beautiful, pleasant, agreeable to the senses

dwell - zabal - dwell - English - to remain for a time; to live as a resident; to keep the attention directed

Synonyms of dwell:  abide, stay, hang around, remain, stick around
Antonyms:  bail, bail out, bug out, buzz off, clear off, walk out, take off, vamoose

Zebulun - zabal - see dwell above

Zebulun  was the last boy born to Leah.  When she named him, apparently she hoped the sixth son would be enough to make Jacob stay longer than his previous visits to her side of the camp.   (Apparently she must have forgotten that she had claimed Zilpah's sons as her own too).

But she couldn't make Jacob stay.

She looked into her little baby boy's eyes, the sixth of her womb, drinking him in, smelling that precious baby smell.  She looked at him and used the holy word God used when he looked upon his creation and saw that it was good.

Leah saw good like God saw good.  ("And God saw that it was good" sound familiar?)  She recognized good when she saw it.  She saw it in her precious boy Zebulun.

But it wasn't enough to make Jacob stay.

What Leah actually said, though the NIV English translates it poorly is in effect this (my paraphrase):

My time is now.  This precious gift from God is what will keep Jacob around.  Instead of running back to Rachel, this time, this time maybe he'll stay.  This time he'll stick around.  This time he won't bug out and take off in disgust.  This time...maybe this boy will keep him close by.

But there is no record that says sweet little Zebulun changed his father's mind about his mother.

But God did not walk out on Zebulun.  God hung around.  God planted Zebulun, Issachar, and Judah  on the east side of the Tabernacle, where the gate was and toward the sunrise.  Isaiah's prophecy concerning Zebulun was fulfilled in Matthew.  Eleven of the Christ's disciples came from Zebulun's territory in Galilee.

How many times do we fear God will walk out on us because of all we've done or haven't done?  Or is it just me?  How precious are the names of the twelve sons of Jacob.  They give us a picture into the heart of God.  Each child is precious to him.  Each of us grown physically, but infant in our understanding is precious to the God who created us.

He will never leave us or forsake us.  He is with us for the long haul.



Isaiah 9:1
Matthew 4:13-16
Judges 5:18
1 Chronicles 12:40
Deuternonmy 31:6
John 15