Notes on Exodus 39-40

Exodus 39-40 is the completion of the priestly garments and tabernacle itself. As I have mentioned in my previous notes, the Levite ephod is covered in the same gemstones that one would find on a cherub. Thus, the Israelite high priest was decorated in the same fashion as the highest order of angels (see my “Notes on Exodus 28-29”).

Over the last decade or so, the Jewish people began to fashion new utensils for a temple that does not yet exist. The third Temple will eventually rest on the area which houses the Muslim Dome of the Rock. Just last year, the Jewish Sanhedrin began training up new priests for the first time in close to 2,000 years. Because there has been no Temple since about 70 A.D., there has been no need for any utensils or priests. The Jewish preparation for another Temple is an interesting move toward the prophecy in Revelation 11; a prophecy that most Jews do not believe is true.

Exodus 40:34 says “the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Just as the literal glory of God filled the tabernacle, the literal Holy Ghost fills our bodies. How seriously do we take this?

Most of us have respect for a church building. When someone steals from or defaces a church, something inside us makes us uncomfortable at the mere thought. Just imagine coming to your church one day to find someone spray-painted graffiti all over it.

Yet the modern Christian has no problem with tattoos.

Imagine arriving to worship at church, and you walk in on piles of festering garbage left to rot. Yet the modern Christian eats fast food and dessert, getting fat and sick.

Would you pour gasoline on your church floor? Then why do you drink alcohol? Would you set fire to something inside your church? Then why do you smoke?

What would you do if you walked into church, and pornography was being shown on all the televisions? Yet we allow ourselves to consume such filth through our eyes.

Our bodies are supposed to be temples filled with the glory of the LORD, yet we desecrate our temples with no regard for what GOD wants us to do. We do not see our bodies as temples. When you hear someone say, “it’s MY body!” you must understand that it is not, especially if you are a Christian. We should stop filling our temples with perversions and filth. We should stop desecrating our temples with tattoos and cigarettes. If you wouldn’t do it to a temple or church, then you shouldn’t do it to your own body.

Notes on Exodus 28-29

Exodus 28-29 are seemingly monotonous chapters that describe the garments of priests and some rules on sacrificing animals. However, there are some interesting nuggets found within these passages.

1. Suiting up for the priesthood is similar to putting on the “whole armor of God” denoting that the priest was going to spiritual battle just as an army of soldiers would enter into physical battle. There are specific undergarments, a headdress, and a breastplate with shoulder pieces. The breastplate of Aaron was incredibly beautiful. It was made from gold and covered in precious gemstones.

I noticed that the gemstones in the breastplate, according to Exodus 28:17-20 (sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper) resemble the stones covering Satan, the anointed cherub (sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, and gold) in Ezekiel 28. Notice Exodus 28 and Ezekiel 28. Interesting.

2. The priest was to stand out from the crowd. These garments were incredibly ornate, and all the priests had a variation of it, though the HIGH priest’s garment was the most beautiful.

This is something we have lost in our churches. Some may call it “legalistic” to desire a pastor to wear a suit and tie, but there is something refreshing about seeing a pastor wear the nicest possible attire, rather than jeans and a polo shirt. A jacket and tie cannot compare with a golden, gem encrusted ephod, but it would be nice for a pastor to dress like they are entering the house of God, rather than an International House of Pancakes.

3. What in the world is the Urim and Thummim? The Bible is incredibly vague in their origin and use. Notice there is no command to make them, unlike all the other pieces of the priestly garment. They were just…there, and put in the breastplate near the heart. Urim (light) and Thummim (perfection) seems to act as an oracle of sorts and is related to God’s judgment (Exodus 28:30). Numbers 27:21 provides additional evidence for the priest, “who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim.”

The judgment of Urim? The Urim is not a person, and the greatest judge is God. 1 Samuel 28:6 gives a little more clarity, “And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.”

It seems that God uses the Urim and Thummim to communicate His judgment. It is sort of like a Ouija board or Magic 8 Ball that only God could communicate to the priests through. I have never in all my life heard a preacher broach the subject of this supernatural device.

4. Consecration of the holy garments using blood. This is a perfect picture of our sanctification through the blood of Christ.

As beautiful and ornate as these priestly garments were, they could not be considered holy until they were covered by the blood of a sacrifice. Even the most moral and wonderful human being cannot be considered holy until covered by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice.

You can be a “good person” though the Bible says that “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), but “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

We must accept Christ’s gift of salvation paid for with his blood upon the cross. This is represented by a seemingly mundane ritual performed by Israelite priests 1400 years before Christ lay down his life.

A Masculine Manifesto

The patriarchy is alive and well. Men are the highest paid group in the United States. Over 95% of the Fortune 500 has a man as CEO, and most of the other executive positions are held by guys as well. The richest woman in the world, Liliane Bettencourt, is still only the 14th wealthiest person in the world, and only 11% of the world’s billionaires are women.

Men dominate the global economy.

There are only 15 women in the on the planet who are considered a “world leader.” That means only 7.6% of the world’s nations are led by a female.

Men dominate global leadership.

The U.S. Congress is over 90% men, our executive branch is led by men, 5 of the 8 (soon to be 6 of 9) members of the Supreme Court are men, and 45 of 50 states are led by men.

Men dominate American leadership.

Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide. Men use a wider variety of drugs, and have higher overall rates of use of illicit drugs and alcohol. Males are close to 4 times more likely to be murdered, and more than 10 times more likely to be killed at work. Men die more often of stress related diseases (and non-stress related diseases as well). Men live an average of 7 fewer years than women. Men are more likely to fight and die in combat.

Men dominate being killed.

There are 1.47 MILLION men in prison compared to 111,000 women. Men comprise over 85% of military personnel, and almost 100% in combat. 52% of mental hospitals, and 97% of VA mental health clinics are filled with men.

Men dominate total institutions.

You see, while we keep hearing about the patriarchy, men are giving their lives for it. The ramifications of public social pressures to be the breadwinner lead men to work longer hours or take more dangerous jobs that pay more money. This causes stress related heart attacks or death by work related accidents.

While women may dominate the service economy now, they also dominate our universities. This means that the “good jobs” of the future that typically go to those with higher education will be filled with women. The calls for women to be wealthy CEOs are rising, but the calls for women to take sole responsibility as the breadwinner are not so prevalent. When a woman fails, she is told how strong and brave she is for even trying. When a man fails, his role as a leader, breadwinner, father, husband, and man is challenged by both other men and the women that expect him to live up to social standards.

The response when a man cannot fulfill this traditionally historical role is to take to substance abuse or a collapse in mental health; possibly even suicide.

Moreover, the media ignores any sort of abuse that men and boys may suffer. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. This is very similar to the 1 in 5 statistic for women that is touted by every social justice warrior and public university in this country. Do you hear about men?

Men wear masks to cover our insecurities. When we laugh around others, we may be feeling the most pain. We act toughest when we are the most vulnerable. Men are less likely to have any sort of emotional outlet. When a woman faces a problem, she can call up a dozen friends and pour out her feelings. Men who do this are almost immediately checked and told to “man up,” so we put our masks back on.

Bottling up emotions leads to violent outbursts (over 90% of our prisoners are men – more than half of those are for violent offences). Men are taught at a young age that the only acceptable emotions are anger and aggression. All others are shunned.

Is it no wonder that men are having more difficult times committing to one woman and understanding what love and compassion are?

If a man enjoys art, opera, or poetry, he is labeled as feminine and called a “fag” by his macho friends. Our generations forget that some of the greatest men in history were artists or enjoyed going to plays and musicals. Men are supposed to like women, guns, sports, and cars. All else results in the return of his “man card.” George Washington and Thomas Jefferson studied philosophy while wearing powdered wigs and tights. Abraham Lincoln was shot while watching live theater. If only they were “real men,” right?

In the name of “equality,” our young boys are finding out that they are no longer allowed to buy lunch or open doors for the opposite sex. Having any sort of intellectual conversation has now been deemed “mansplaining” and this notion of patriarchy – which is not felt equally by all men – has become a staple meme in the feminist movement.

Men can be bullied, but men cannot be victims.

We also tend to forget that not all men are CEOs of major corporations. Men in poverty are the most at risk for suicide, criminal behavior, job related deaths, and substance abuse; though CEOs are the ones having early heart attacks and stress related diseases.

What I propose is a radical solution. We should teach men that it is okay to show a full range of emotions. We should teach men that failing is sometimes necessary, and bravery is overcoming adversity, not avoiding it. We should teach men that they are human, they are loved, and they are free to enjoy football or ballet.

 

The model of true masculinity is Jesus Christ. God became a man who did get angry at times. However, Christ traveled from region to region helping the poor and downtrodden. Jesus respected all women, especially his mother. He was charitable, giving, caring, and loving. He showed a wide range of emotions and avoided any temptation that would have tarnished his character in any way. He stood against the political and religious powers of his day with brazen courage. He spoke truth to power with insurmountable wisdom. He was consistent in all things. He wore no mask.

And neither should we.

 

Taking God for Granted

Think of all the things we take for granted in life.
The concepts of white privilege and patriarchy are that white males have certain historical advantages that they never actually think about. Things are becoming more egalitarian, for sure. However, Western civilization has been, for better or worse, a product of straight white men exploiting others.
Don’t believe me? When we identify colleagues or even friends, we often clarify the race of minorities, but not whites. You do not hear things like “famous male inventor Thomas Edison…” or “the straight, white Founding Fathers like Jefferson and Madison.” On the other hand, we do that for racial minorities, homosexuals, and women.

In other words, heterosexual and white are default categories. The all-encompassing term to describe all of humanity is “mankind.” Consider the term “straight,” which is the opposed of crooked, which has the negative connotation of deviance. These are taken for granted assumptions typically made by straight, white, men and are often challenged by those who violate one or more of those categories. The reaction from those in the majority is shock and denial of their privileges.

This happens when we take these concepts for granted, and Christians have been doing the same thing with doctrine. From everything from Bible translations to baptism, the modern American Christian has been fattened with privileges that go all-too-often ignored.

Our Christian Founding Fathers were persecuted and murdered for their Faith. The history of the Church is filled with meeting in secret locations under penalty of death from their governments, which still occurs in many countries. What do we, as Americans, do? We use our Christian colleges as an excuse to challenge and “correct” the Bible that our brothers and sisters and the Middle-East are being beheaded over. While we bicker about whether we should wear suits or have drums in a worship setting, Christians around the world are being crucified or burned alive.

We need not fear being used as gladiatorial fodder in the Colosseum of Rome, so we find minor things over which to quibble.

Almost 80% of Americans identify as Christian, but the average weekly church attendance for a believer in this country is 1.7 services per month. Attendance is not low because Uncle Sam is waiting to bust in our doors and imprison those inside, but because to 22% of American churchgoers, watching football has become a priority. Rather than being thrust into the arena to face lions, we can watch others combat live on television. We take our churches for granted, because we have churches to go to.

American Christians have taken church attendance for granted, but have also taken prayer and daily time in Scripture for granted. We can tell you anything you want about what our favorite actors are up to, but nothing about Solomon’s life. We can quote Tom Brady’s QB rating in the 2004 playoffs, but can’t quote a verse other than John 3:16. We have time to text, not call, but text our best friends with every detail of our daily lives, but spend no time having a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

I cannot tell you the number of fellow church members and Church members who gleefully post party pictures on social media with faces distorted by drunken frivolity; forgetting that we are called to be pictures of Christ to our unsaved friends and families. How can a drug addict be helped by someone who is right next to them shooting up? How might an alcoholic have a life change while we sit at the bar sharing shots? With no thought of the repercussions, we indulge in the very same behaviors as those who are lost. How will they ever be found when we throw the map in the garbage?

We do these things because we CAN do these things. We do them because we CHOOSE to do them. We put God’s will behind our own ambitions because we ignore the manifestation of His grace in our lives. We no longer count our blessings, because our insatiable thirst for humanistic pursuits has us spoiled and privileged.

No one is perfect. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The difference is that the heroes of the Bible felt regret when they fell from grace. King David never fully recovered from his tryst with Bathsheba. Peter spent the rest of his life trying to make up for his denial of Christ before the crucifixion. Will we do the same, or will we continue to take our privilege for granted?

Check your privilege. It is there, and we must acknowledge its existence. The only way we will be effective at bringing others to Christ is if we throw away our hedonistic lifestyles and BE LIKE CHRIST. If you sin, it’s okay. Jesus’ blood covers Christians for all eternity. However, we must all try to avoid the temptation to flaunt our sin to everyone in our social networks.

Becoming a Christian is an easy decision for most privileged Americans. LIVING like a Christian is incredibly difficult. The first decision is personal, while the second affects the lives of all those around us. Remember who you represent. You are a child of the King of Kings. You are privileged, whether you want to admit it or not. Time is running out for our loved ones who have yet to accept Christ. Do them a favor and dare to be different. Be a rebel. We are already experiencing a revolution, so be revolutionary. Stop taking God for Granted.

The Privileged Pilgrim’s Progress

The subject of “privilege” for straight, white, Christian males is once again rearing its ugly head. Whenever this topic arises, those who are accused of privilege insist that they are not, while those who are doing the accusing refuse to see their own culpability in the structural problems that face the downtrodden in our American society.

I am one who is accused of privilege, but I implore the reader to focus on the message rather than the messenger. I have tried to be objective, though I admit that I come into this issue with biases.

When you account for education, social class, gender, race, etc. the “gap” is incredibly small. A white boy who grew up in the same social class, went to the same school, and got the same grades as a black boy has an equal chance of social mobility.

Historically, whites have absolutely had a leg up. However, post 1965 Civil Rights America, the argument must change. All things are not equal in 2017 (a mere 50 years, mind you), and there are some inherent challenges that older (say, 25-40) blacks face that whites may not. However, there are fewer and fewer excuses for those who are college age now. This is where you’ll point to the “opportunities” and “systemic” issues, and that is where things get a bit more complex. The statistics are not promising.

Blacks are more likely to live in poor neighborhoods with bad schools, but whites who also live in those neighborhoods have about the same opportunity and often end up with the same level of social mobility.

Furthermore, if you want to talk total raw numbers, there are more whites in poverty, abusing illicit substances, on food stamps, living on the streets, and in prison than blacks. More white people are killed by police than blacks. The difference is that rates are higher for blacks.

That being said, the problem with statistical analysis (and this is coming from a statistician), is that numbers do not give you the “why”. Yes, rates of crime, poverty, etc. are worse for blacks, but why? Is it possible that these issues can be resolved by younger generations?

I would argue (and so would many researchers) that the biggest “privilege” that white people seem to have is in their family structure. This is not about skin pigmentation, but a deeper cultural problem.

Single parent households are the biggest predictor of juvenile delinquency and blacks are disproportionately raised in single parent homes. Over 60% of black families are single-parent. The next highest is white at around 25%. This is a staggering discrepancy.

If you want to know why there is inequality, it’s not some systemic social problem like access to education or jobs, its in the destruction of the African-American nuclear family. If you want to point to the incarceration of black males as a reason why there are so many single parent households, I would argue that it is this systemic issue in the black family that perpetuates this cycle.

There are many theories of deviance that point to most deviant behavior are learned by being passed down by peers and older family members. For instance, when an urban black male begins to academically outperform those around him, he is quickly shamed for it. He is called an “Uncle Tom” and is accused of “acting white” or “sucking up to the man.” Prominent sociologist Elijah Anderson said as much in his seminal work, Code of the Street (1999). This same phenomenon occurs in the corporate workplace as Anderson addresses in The Cosmopolitan Canopy (2011).

He writes of two black men who work for the same company.
One is ethnocentric and “plays the game” of white corporate America. He does enough to be respected for his work, but has not risen past middle management. His white co-workers offered to include him in social activities ranging from going to the bar to dinner at their homes. He always declined, and now they no longer invite him. He is bitter, distrusts white people, and is jealous of his more successful black co-workers.

The second man started in the company five years after the first. However, his full assimilation into the corporate culture allowed for a meteoric rise in the company which he now serves as Vice President. The other black people in the company think of him as a “sellout” or “Uncle Tom.”

This is reminiscent of the street. A very large portion of the urban African American population is ethnocentric. They outright refuse to assimilate into the larger culture. By their own design, they create counter-cultural music and use counter-cultural slang. To conform to “white” society—otherwise known as society—is to no longer remain black. Educated, articulate black men are now “white” in the eyes of the streets.

So there is a problem of assimilation. This is not about skin color, mind you. On the contrary. According to research, black immigrants from Jamaica and Africa have a high rate of assimilation to the broader American culture compared to some other groups. They learn English, they dress appropriately, and speak in a way that better represents the ideal American. Black immigrants detest the African American culture as being lazy and ignorant. These immigrants also find themselves in much better socioeconomic situations than blacks born in America (Foner 1997; Morawska 2014; Waters 1994). If American success was about skin color, these immigrants would be in the same situation as native blacks. They are not, because they understand the value of assimilation.

I believe that the research shows that if young blacks who are coming up right now would fully embrace assimilation into the larger American culture, and work harder to maintain their parental responsibilities and partnerships, their children would flourish.

And when it comes to the “patriarchy” or “male privilege”, binge drinking, alcoholism, substance abuse, suicide, being sexually assaulted as a child, and stress related diseases leading to death are all much higher in males.

Males are more likely to drop dead at a younger age from disease or suicide than females. This has always been a factor since Emile Durkheim’s study of suicide back in the late 1800s, and continues today.

And, of course, the gender pay gap myth has been thoroughly debunked over and over and over again by anyone with half a brain. Not to mention that the majority of college graduates are female, so in a few years that majority of the educated workforce will be female. You could show that most of the Fortune 500 companies are run by men, but those are old jobs that were held in a time when they may have been privilege, but for our generation and those going forward, the rise of female college education should put a pause on the argument of contemporary patriarchy.

Again, when you account for race, social class, gender, education, family unit, etc., the “privilege” gap vanishes.

Thus, this is not an issue of privilege. This is no longer the 1900s when there were certainly advantages to being born a straight, white, Christian male. Going forward, this argument will only become more and more archaic.

Learn more by checking out some of the resources I cited in this article:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=167327

http://dc.etsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3380&context=etd

http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/107-children-in-single-parent-families-by#detailed/1/any/false/573,869,36,868,867/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431

http://therepresentationproject.org/film/the-mask-you-live-in/

Foner, Nancy. 1997. “The Immigrant Family: Cultural Legacies and Cultural Changes.” The International Migration Review. 31(4): 961–974.

Morawska, Ewa. 2014. “Immigrant Transnationalism and Assimilation: A Variety of Combinations and the Analytic Strategy it Suggests.” Toward Assimilation and Citizenship: Immigrants in Liberal Nation-States. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 133-176.

Waters, Mary C. 1994. “Ethnic and Racial Identities of Second-Generation Black Immigrants in New York City.” International Migration Review. 795-820

The Triune Self

My name is Alex Simmons, but what does that really mean? Who am “I”? I am a Christian, a husband, the father of four lovely girls, a sociologist, a drummer, a UNLV graduate student, and a UNLV employee. These are roles and statuses, but is that all I am; the sum of roles and statuses? I was not always a UNLV graduate student, and I hopefully will not always be. As this status changes, will I cease to be me? Of course not. That’s silly.

Perhaps I am what you see. I am the physical body. Then again, what would happen if a part of me was removed? Our soldiers go overseas and wage war for us, but they often sacrifice their limbs. Does that mean that they return home and are no longer themselves? They may be damaged, but they are still them.

Perhaps I am not what you see on the outside, but I exist inside the body. The brain is the computer center of the central nervous system. It operates everything ranging to pain sensation to breathing regulation. However, there are times when the brain is physically damaged. Are football players who receive concussions no longer themselves? There are some of us that suffer from chemical imbalances in the brain. When an anti-depressant is prescribed, the patient becomes “the medicated self.” They need drugs to feel whole, but are they whole if they need a substance to make them that way? Moreover, the brain is made up of cells that are shed and leave the body when we sneeze. Does that mean that whenever I have a runny nose “I” leave the body? Absolutely not.

Rather than my roles and statuses or the physical self, I am the metaphysical mind? Closer, but no. Rene Descartes famously said, “Cogito ergo sum” – I think, therefore I am. Our thoughts manifest as ideas and memories and are expressed through creativity. However, cognitive impairments occur all the time. Mental illness takes part of our mind from us. Dementia also impairs cognitive function. If we are no longer able to recall memories, are we still our “self”?

Furthermore, the mind is not physical, but could “you” exist without a body? Photographs are representations of us, but they are not us. We put our souls on paper when we write. Our images and social media posts become “the digital self,” a term that postmodern researches use to describe a digital representation of the “self.” Yet our photographs, manuscripts, and social media posts can be deleted. If they are destroyed, or even hacked, do we also cease to exist? No.

Rather than roles, statuses, the physical or metaphysical representations of me, I believe that I am the triune self. I am comprised of a body, soul, and spirit – like the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost). These three parts are all one, but I am not all in one. If a piece is cut off, I am still me. The digital self is still me. I can change roles and statuses and still be me. Before I was born into a physical body, I had no “self,” but the triune me exists now and forever. The triune self is eternal. My body dies, but soul and spirit live forever. The Bible shows us that we will get a new body in Heaven, thus reuniting the triune self.

Who am I? I am me. All of me, and I always will be.

A Conundrum

Let’s pretend that there is an ideology that, if practiced according to its fundamental document, would encourage pedophilia, abuse of women, killing homosexuals, and murder of those who disagree with said ideology.

Let’s pretend that for 1500 years, those who follow their fundamental document have engaged in violent conquest leaving behind a trail of corpses and severed heads.

Let’s pretend that this ideology follows a book written by a man who married a six year old and only became more violent as he aged.

Let’s pretend now that the apostates who refuse to follow the violent, pedophilic, minority murdering book were now seen as the “fundamentalists” of the ideology, while those who continue the 1500 year traditions are called “radicals.”

Let’s pretend that the leaders of countries where these “radicals” have been waging a targeted war decide that there should be a safety measure in place to make sure that the locations where violent pedophiles generally form en masse have less access to their targets.

Let’s pretend that a group within a targeted nation is one that would be slaughtered by these “radicals” if they were in these dangerous locations, and these minorities who would be murdered now protest to fight for the very “radicals” who want to kill them to come over to where they are.

Does this make any sense?

Let’s pretend that there are 20 houses on my street. If one house in my neighborhood was full of people who wanted me dead, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t send out invitations for my cookout to them and their friends.

Let’s pretend that not only did I know that those in that house wanted me dead, but I knew that they had already killed some of my neighbors and even burned a house to the ground with a family inside.

Would it make sense for me to not want them on my property?