Parsha post: Miketz and Vayigash

This week we’re looking at this week’s and last week’s parsha.These sections from the life of Joseph are great to read together and would be great to look at on your own or as a family over this holiday break. So we’re looking at Miketz and Vayigash and next week is the last parsha in Genesis. We’re still with Joseph and his brothers and their crazy story. This chunk in Genesis starts in Genesis 41 and ends in 47:27. When this section begins, Joseph is still in prison. He met the cup bearer and the baker in the parsha before, but once they get out of prison they forget about him for a little while. This section starts with Pharaoh retelling his dream and Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams is remembered. When Joseph is pulled out of prison to hear and interpret Pharaoh’s dream, he has bad news to deliver. Pharaoh’s dream says that there will be 7 profitable harvest years followed by 7 years of famine. God gives Joseph the interpretation of these dreams, but also give Joseph advice to transmit to Pharaoh on how the people of the area are to survive the years of famine to come. Pharaoh is so impressed by Joseph that he brings him out of prison permanently and puts Joseph in charge of food storage and rationing. Think about that for a second. You’re Joseph and when you wake up in the morning you are in prison and you’re not guilty of anything. At the end of the day you are out of prison and Pharaoh has given you pretty much the biggest job there is in the whole land of Egypt. And the biggest job puts him in charge of making sure that all of Egypt and the surrounding area survive the famine to come. Woah, that is pretty mind blowing!

The Bible tells us that during the years of plenty, Joseph’s life is also plentiful. He gets married and his wife has two sons named Ephraim and Manasseh and their names have pretty significant meanings. Manasseh means God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s household and Ephraim means God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.

…and then the famine begins. So Genesis 42 brings Jacob and the rest of Joseph’s brothers back into the story. The famine doesn’t just affect Egypt, it affects the surrounding areas as well. This part of the story with Joseph’s brothers in Egypt is pretty weird and also high drama. We have a scene where Joseph and all of his brothers (except for Benjamin) are in the same place at the same time, but the brothers don’t recognize Joseph. Joseph is in the power position in every way in this exchange and it takes awhile and several trips for Joseph to reveal his identity. Over the course of this time Joseph is testing his brothers which might seem kind of messed up until you remember that the last time he was dealing with them they were debating over whether they should kill him or just ruin his life and send him away. The details of how this all works are really interesting, but a little too complicated to go into in a blog post. The short version of it is, Joseph isn’t ready to entrust his identity to his brothers yet. The timing has to be right, but the text lets us know that seeing his brothers and being with them is emotional for Joseph. We see that at its fullest in the beginning of Vayigash. In Genesis 45:1-8 Joseph fills his brothers in and we get to hear in his own words how he feels about the years that have gone by.

Now Joseph could not restrain himself in the presence of all who stood before him, so he called out, “Remove everyone from before me!” Thus no one remained with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He cried in a loud voice. Egypt heard and Pharaoh’s household heard. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him because they were let disconcerted before him. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me, if you please,” and they came close. And he said, “I am Joseph your brother — it is me, whom you sold into Egypt. And now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves for having sold me here, for it was to be a provider that God sent me ahead of you. For this has been two of the hunger years in the midst of the land, and there are yet five years in which there shall be neither plowing nor harvest. Thus God has sent me ahead of you to insure your survival in the land and to sustain you for a momentous deliverance. And now: it was not you who sent me here, but God; He has made me father to Pharaoh, master of his entire household, and ruler throughout the entire land of Egypt.

In this holiday season which is often full of awkward social interactions and tense meet ups with family I am encouraged to know that nothing that happens over my holiday vacation will be this dramatic.  I am also encouraged that Joseph’s read on the situation was positive and spoke of God’s goodness and control in the situation, not the brother’s malice and sin. The brothers did pretty much everything they could to break up their family, but God restores it and in the process enables Joseph to be in a place where he is able to save countless lives.

I think that the Joseph narrative is a great place to be reading in the Bible this time of year as we are celebrating the miracle of the victory at Hanukkah and as we are celebrating the birth of Messiah. When people are in control we choose disobedience and we choose power for ourselves and we choose to hurt others. And God brings restoration, hope, and promise for the future into the messes that we create.

I want to close this week with verses from Isaiah 11:1-4, 9. Some of you might have come across these verses in the Advent season, but I think that they pair really well with the story of Joseph and God’s restoration. These verses are about promise of the Messiah who was to come (Jesus or Yeshua) and how he will change everything.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord– and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea!” What an amazing promise. What hope that gives me and I hope gives you. Joseph saw God’s hand at work even in the midst of his struggles and even in the midst of heartache inflicted on him by his loved ones. Yeshua came into the world to restore all things and during his time on earth was rejected and mistreated. But, we can look forward to a day when the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. I hope these reminders of God’s goodness and sovereignty are an encouragement to you and pray that you would see God’s hand at work in the midst of your current circumstances.

Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas. Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal!

RedSox

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Parshot: Toldot

When I was growing up, there was an older gentleman, Mr. Nate, who attended my congregation. He would greet people when they came in, and help them feel at home. Whenever you asked him how he was doing, he would always reply, with his arms spread out, “Great! I made another day! ” Not a hint of sarcasm. If you knew some of Mr. Nate’s backstory, you would understand why it was so amazing. He had been a Jewish-American POW in Germany in World War II, lost his son in Vietnam, and had numerous other tragedies happen. And then he found Y’shua, and that totally changed things. He knew that it was God who had given him the blessings that were in his life and God had granted him one more day to live.

The Parsha this week is Toldot and means generations. It’s found in Genesis 25:19-28:9. The haftorah is found in Malachi 1-2:9.

It starts out with Isaac praying to God for Rebekah to have children. She becomes pregnant and God tells her she is having twins. There are two nations within her, one will be greater than the other and the older will serve the younger.

They named the older twin Esau and the younger Jacob. Even from the start, they were at odds. As they grew up, Esau was more outdoorsy and Jacob was more indoorsy. Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob. One day, Jacob was cooking and Esau comes in and is starving. Esau demands some of the stew. Jacob says, sure, but give me your birthright.

What’s a birthright? You may ask. A birthright was the first-borns right, simply because he was first-born, so you could say it was given by God. It meant that the firstborn would get a double portion of the inheritance, be the leader of the family, and all around it was a very important thing.
Esau agrees to give Jacob his birthright.

God gave Esau the birthright, but he took it for granted. He decided to sell the blessing that God had given him for a temporary meal.

What has God given you that you’re taking for granted? God has blessed all of us with so much, but it’s easy to get caught up in the everyday, mundane, nonsense. Whenever I start taking things for granted, I think about Mr. Nate and his joy for life.

Take a minute to write down or think of all the things you are thankful for. It might be hard at first, but start with easy stuff. Are you breathing? It’s a good day. Are you in a house or a shelter? God’s awesome. Did you eat today? God’s good. God has granted you a day to be alive, and that is wonderful.

-Strings

Parsha post:Shemot

It’s important baby week!

Not only is it Christmas, which is celebrating the birth of Jesus, but the parsha this week is Shemot, which is all about the birth of Moses, another very important baby.

Shemot means names and is found in Exodus 1-6:1. It begins with the descendants of Jacob still living in Egypt.  They had greatly multiplied and the pharaoh (who did not know about Joseph) was afraid of the Israelites. He made them slaves and told the midwives to kill the newborn boys. The midwives feared God more than Pharaoh and did not follow his instructions.

A woman from the tribe of Levi had a boy and hid him until she couldn’t hide him anymore. She then trusted God and put him in a basket on the Nile River. The daughter of the pharaoh rescues the baby and names him Moses.

Moses grows up and runs away after he kills a man who was mistreating an Israelite. He runs to a place called Midian and gets married, has a couple of kids, and becomes a shepherd. While he is caring for his sheep, he sees something weird on a mountain. It’s a bush that’s on fire, but isn’t burning up. Weird.

Anyways, it turns out that it’s God speaking to Moses through the burning bush. God tells Moses that he wants to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and slavery. God even gives Moses signs to show the Israelites that Moses is the right person for the job. But Moses doesn’t think he is. Moses protests that he isn’t a good leader. He doesn’t talk very well and he stutters. He tells God to send someone else.

Then comes my favorite part of this parsha. God tells Moses to be quiet because God made him and knows exactly He’s doing. He makes it so people can speak, He makes it so people can see, He made Moses. So go. And Moses went, reluctantly, but he went.

This parsha reminds me that God doesn’t call the most qualified or most obvious. He calls the ones who he wants for the job. Even though Moses did not feel like the right person for the job, God chose him from birth to be the one.  God rescued him from death as a baby, put him in a place where he could grow up safely, and then led him to a place where he could have a fruitful adulthood with a family. God led him every step of the way.

-Strings

GGG pics!

So, a little late getting these up, but here are some pics from GGG. 

 

01

 

GGG-or Gilgal Girls Get-together- is a sleepover for Camp Gilgal female campers, alumna, and staff. 

Here are some of the things we did:

dance party 4

We had a dance party

pizza 9

We made pizza. It was amazing.

scavenger hunt 41

 

Went on a scavenger hunt and found the most disgusting food.

scavenger hunt 36

Found our favorite scent at Bath and Bodyworks

scavenger hunt 29

And did our best superhero poses.

02

 

Yeah, it was awesome.

Check out the rest of the photos on our flickr account!

-Strings

 

Hashana Rabbah

Have you ever been really thirsty? Maybe you were hiking and finished all your water. Maybe it was a really hot day and you were just unprepared. Or if you’re like me, maybe you woke up in the middle of the night so thirsty but were just too lazy to get up and then fell back to sleep…

Today is Hoshana Rabbah, which means the great saving. It is the last day of Sukkot, and when something’s the last day, you know it’s probably going to get a little crazy.

During the time of Y’shua, when the Temple was still around, during each day of Sukkot the priests would bring giant golden pitchers of water through Jersusalem and into the Temple. They would recite Isaiah 12:3, which says, “With joy you will drink from the wells of salvation.” The water symbolized salvation. However, on the last day, Hoshana Rabbah, they would bring empty pitchers, because the promise was not fulfilled yet. They did not have salvation (the water of life) yet, and they knew it. But they were hopeful that one day it would come.

In the middle of this ceremony, on Hoshana Rabbah, Y’shua stands up and shouts “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!” (John 8:37-38) You can imagine the chaos this caused. Here, in the middle of a ceremony showing how the Jews have a hope of salvation, but it’s not here yet, is this guy who claims that he is the water of salvation. This guy is claiming that he is salavation, and if you believe in him you will have salvation.

Crazy, right?

Y’shua is our salvation, our savior. He rescues us from living in the wilderness. Imagine what would happen if there all the sudden there was water all over the Sahara Desert. Everything would be blooming and growing. That’s what it is like in our lives when we accept Y’shua as our salvation. Our lives go from being a desert to being a rainforest.

-Strings

Sukkot!

DSCN3783
Twister camping…just like Sukkot

Sukkot is one of my favorite Jewish holidays. Scratch that. It’s one of my favorite holidays. I grew up in the Northeast United States, and autumn in New York is beautiful! Being outside for eight days is my idea of fun.

You can find out about Sukkot in Leviticus 23. The basic information is that God wanted Israel to rejoice and live in booths outside for 7 days. God wanted Israel to live outside in temporary shelters to remind each new generation that He had made them live in shelters and cared for them in the wilderness. He rescued them from Egypt.  God told Israel that this festival would be celebrated for all future generations. And we celebrate Sukkot even today.

Here’s a list of random facts about Sukkot:

-Apparently one of the ways it was celebrated at the time of Y’shua was juggling torches. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel could juggle 8 burning torches with one hand.
-John chapter 7 talks all about Y’shua celebrating Sukkot at the Temple. He says that anyone who is thirsty should drink from Him.
-A big part of the celebration of Sukkot was something called water libation, which means the water was poured about at a pool. Look at the above, it now makes sense.
-A lulav is an unopened palm, a myrtle branch, and a willow branch. An etrog is a kind of citron, related to a lemon or orange.
-Etrog are very expensive, they can be hundreds of dollars.
-It’s traditional to have visitors, called Ushpizin in your sukkah
-There’s a movie called Ushpizin that is about having visitors in a sukkah
-Chanukah was a delayed Sukkot
-Thanksgiving was a Sukkot celebration
-A sukkah should have 3 walls

We read all through the Bible how God takes care of Israel and rescues them time after time. God isn’t just a God of the Bible, He’s also a God of today. We live in a temporary world. Like a sukkah, it’s great, but I don’t think I’d want to live in a sukkah forever. It’s important to remember that things of the world are temporary , and things that we go through are temporary, but what’s of God is permanent.

During this time of Sukkot, even if you can’t go and celebrate in a sukkah (or “booth”) try to find time to go outside and think about how God has been faithful in your life and are you spending more time working on temporary things that aren’t going to last or permanent things that will last forever.

-Strings

 

Worship

From the vault, here’s some vintage Gazette! In this article, 11 year old camper Anonymous writes about how much she loves worship. This year she was able to lead the worship team at camp and did a fantastic job!

Worship

By 11-year-old-camper Anonymous (aaaawwww) (2008)

anonymous and cabin
Tribe of Levi, led by Streetlight and Chickpea, with campers Bologna, Anonymous, Nemo and Violetta. 2008.

This year, the thing that really touched me was the “worship group” even with Streetlight’s sore throat and a new violinist (AKA Chickpea). Sometimes I was in a sour mood, but when I heard the worship team, it made me feel better. It usually made me feel closer to God. Tabernacle is comprised of a few songs and a message. Even though the message is always good, I really connect and enjoy the music most. The worship team consists of Reptar, Streetlight, Chickpea, and Tauros. I love the worship team!

Strings

From the vault, here’s some vintage Gazette! This interview was written by camper Captain (long time camper and ATL in 2008) in Strings’ first year as staff, circa 2003.

Strings

By camper Captain (aaaawwww), 11, Simeon Junior East

Strings first cabin
Tribe of Simeon, 2003. Can you spot Strings, Captain, Jellybean, and Heinz?

Strings is my tribe leader. She got her name because she plays the violin. She’s been playing the violin since she was 9 and has been playing for seven years. She accepted Jesus when she was at VBS (Vacation Bible School). She wanted to become a tribe leader last year, when Speedy asked her, but she had other plans. This year, when Twister asked her, she said “yes.”

She has never been to Israel because she never had the chance to go. Her favorite color is burgundy.  Her favorite animal is a dugong which is like a manatee except it lives in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.  She was on the swim team from ages 8 to 12, but she likes to watch baseball even though she doesn’t really like sports. She went to Junior Camp twice, Teen Camp twice, and Adventure Camp once. Her favorite kind of music is classical and she has about 10 Veggie Tale movies.

The reason I like Strings is because she’s kind, encouraging and holds our tribe together.