TorahScope – Torah Reading – Mishpatim -Rulings – “Faithfully Do” – 4 February, 2018

Mishpatim – Rulings

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Exodus 21:1-24:18
Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26

“Faithfully Do”


by Mark Huey

Last week, our Torah reading Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23[26]) centered on the dramatic events surrounding the appearance of the Almighty Creator God at Mount Sinai, as He conveyed the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel through His servant Moses. The original recipients of these foundational building blocks of faith were primed for embracing them, after they witnessed and participated in their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. So magnificent were the miracles and display of God’s power, that even before Moses went up on the mountain, the Ancient Israelites unanimously proclaimed a desire to faithfully do whatever He would proclaim:

“And all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do!’ And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I shall come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe in you forever.’ Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD” (Exodus 19:8-9).

After given the opportunity to hear the voice of the Lord proclaim His Instruction to the multitude stationed at the base of Mount Sinai, we find that the Israelites were terrified about their physical survival. So, they implored Moses to maintain his role as an intermediary between the Lord and them:

“And all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:18-20).

Moses calmed the fears of the Israelites, by telling them that God’s display of His power was designed to test them, and so that they would fear Him and avoid any sin that would displease Him. However, the Lord did not give His people just the Ten Commandments, without some specific details about how one could make these directions an integral part of their walk and relationship with Him. So without leaving the recipients in the dark, Moses added some more actions, which should be avoided and/or taken, in order to please the Lord:

“So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven. You shall not make other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves. You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it. And you shall not go up by steps to My altar, so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it”’” (Exodus 20:21-26).

Making idols of gold and silver was strictly forbidden, but the requirement to build an altar of uncut stones in order to present sacrifices is also witnessed here. From the giving of the Decalogue, God was very concerned about the Ancient Israelites falling into the pattern of many other people groups, who had a tendency to make physical tokens of gods out of gold and silver. Perhaps this was a forewarning about the infamous “golden calf incident” that was forthcoming (Exodus 32), so that there would be no excuses for deviant behavior. On the other hand, by describing the details of the construction of altars, the Lord was definitely reminding His chosen people from the very onset of their desert sojourn, that He desired to be worshipped at places and in ways that are not profaned.

With these reminders, Mishpatim or “Rulings,” largely deals with a selection of ordinances, which in many respects, adds details to how God wanted the Ancient Israelites to behave appropriately to His calling them into holiness (Exodus 19:6). Our Torah reading details about how people should interact with one another, given the challenges that ensue from the imperfections of our world. Surprisingly, perhaps, Mishpatim ends with a desire by the Ancient Israelites to be faithful to perform all the words that the Lord had spoken:

“Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!’” (Exodus 24:3).

With what appears to be another unanimous declaration that the people of Israel will do all of which the Lord had spoken, let us take a look at some of those very words.

A Covetous Overlay

The Ten Commandments undeniably have formed much of the basis for judicial and legal systems throughout the Judeo-Christian world. It can be argued that following the Sinai theophany of God delivering the Ten Words to Ancient Israel, that many of the instructions and regulations that are witnessed in the Torah thereafter, are somehow based upon the Ten Commandments. After delineating the Ten Words, adding a warning about making idols and describing proper altar worship, we should see how Mishpatim goes into great detail, further defining the rights and responsibilities of individuals when issues of life erupt. Much of this could be said to amplify what was communicated by the Tenth Commandment, the prohibition against coveting:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).

The sin of covetousness in one’s heart is perhaps one of the most insidious offenses detailed in the Holy Scriptures—because it can be one of the most difficult to detect, and can be the seed of deceit that instigates other sins. Surely, sinful acts committed against fellow humans—such as murder, adultery, stealing, and bearing false witness, as forbidden in the Decalogue—are conceived when a person covets something that another has (James 1:13-15), be it life, a spouse, property, or position in the community. Additionally, it might be said that when one covets his or her own self or personhood, by becoming a god unto oneself or by idolizing oneself, one is exposed to be a violator of the immutable Law of the only One God. By acknowledging that there is a Supreme Being who desires worship, this should impose some limits and restraints on people who would be otherwise inclined by their own willful actions. Alas, though, when confronted with God’s Torah, many people know instinctively that they must obey—but they choose to instead reject it. When speaking of the person who struggles with the power of sin, Paul referenced the Tenth Commandment prohibition against covetousness:

“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COVET’ [Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21]. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead” (Romans 7:7-8).

As we turn to Mishpatim this week, its ordinances break down to a discussion of civil and criminal matters in Exodus 21:2-22:6, humanitarian considerations in Exodus 22:17-23:19, and warnings against assimilation into paganism in Exodus 23:20-33. I would ask you to try filtering these instructions through a fuller appreciation of what coveting entails. Even if someone were able to follow each of these ordinances to the presumed letter, there will likely be the nagging problem that people will still inevitably stumble over some covetous thoughts, which will convict us of our need for a Savior and His redeeming work. James the Just, half-brother of Yeshua the Messiah, starkly reminds us,

“For whoever keeps the whole Torah but stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10, TLV).

Slavery Defined

Mishpatim, perhaps ironically to some Bible readers, actually begins with God giving instructions to Ancient Israel on how to handle slavery. What makes this a bit odd—other than slaves being some of the lowliest of human beings on the social ladder—is that these directions were given to a group of people who had just been delivered from slavery themselves. Is this at all a bit strange to you? If you have thought that a group of former slaves being told that this is how they were to regulate their own slaves, appears a bit out of place in a Holy Bible ultimately authored by the God of Freedom—then you are not alone. The best answer, that conservative Jewish and Christian scholars can often provide, is that Hebrew slavery in the Tanakh largely pertained to economic status, and was significantly subversive to other Ancient Near Eastern forms of slavery, where masters or slaveowners were literally able to do whatever they wanted with the people whom they owned. Here, in the opening of Mishpatim, we clearly read that this was not the case in Ancient Israel. Limitations were placed upon the status of an eved:

“Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them: If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently” (Exodus 21:1-6).

As you read this small piece of instruction on slavery in Ancient Israel, note how the Lord was especially concerned about the relationship of the slaveowner and the slave. The slave was someone entirely reliant upon the owner—implying that he was someone destitute, who really had no other place to go for sustenance and basic needs. One of the expectations of the owner was to actually provide the slave with a wife with whom he could have children. While to many moderns, the concept of slavery is something that is rightfully repugnant—what we have to consider is the difference between slavery in Israel versus slavery among Israel’s neighbors. Israelite slavery may be regarded as being decisively “liberal.” The Torah’s instruction regarding slavery was greatly different when compared to many of the other law codes of the era, and it decisively laid the foundation back to the human equality that was lost in Eden, but which has been restored in Messiah Yeshua (cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 2:11).

A Civil Society

The balance of Mishpatim summarizes a variety of mundane circumstances that occur in practically every society. God foresaw a wide degree of challenges, which would plague a civilization, where people lived and interacted in relative proximity to one another. The Lord detailed a list of instructions that specified actions to be taken when various incidents arose. These included, but were not limited to, how to handle capital offenses ranging from murder to kidnapping, striking or cursing parents, physical abuse, controlling livestock, stealing, maintaining proper boundaries, borrowing implements and lending money practices, proper restitution claims, protecting innocent young women, prohibitions about bearing false witness, avoidance of bribes, and not oppressing strangers (Exodus 21:12-36). By assigning punishments that discourage harmful behavior or establishing guidelines that check greedy inclinations, these Torah commands were designed to mold Israel into God’s desired kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6).

Parents Considered

While volumes of commentaries and legal briefs have been written to deal with the different ordinances encounters in Mishpatim, the instruction to apply capital punishment to a person who strikes or curses parents, is something particularly difficult to encounter. Although we later find a repetition of this in Deuteronomy 21:19-21, there is no recorded evidence that it was ever actually practiced in the Holy Scriptures. However, to reflect back on the Decalogue, note how the Fifth Commandment is one of the instructions that offers its adherents a blessing if properly followed:

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12).

The Fifth Commandment was reiterated by the Apostle Paul in his instruction to Believers in Asia Minor, urging children to honor their parents:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH [Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16]” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Obviously, the family unit is a key unit of any ordered society. If families are found to be disintegrating, due to children not respecting their parents, further disrespect for civil and communal authority can devolve into blatant civil disobedience—resulting in societal deterioration.

Faithfully Do

When encountering Mishpatim, it can take a student of the Torah down many paths—as the variety of subjects to study or meditate upon range from Hebrew slavery to not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19). As you can imagine, there are many things one can consider during this week of examination. However, it is beneficial to once again recognize that even after these ordinances were given to the Ancient Israelites in the Thirteenth Century B.C.E., there was a universal acceptance by the people to strive to perform all that the Lord had spoken. Accordingly, Moses wrote down those words, and then at the foot of Mount Sinai after the offering of many sacrifices, he took blood, and sprinkled it on the altar, and then on the people who agreed to obey the words of the Lord:

“Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!’ Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!’ So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words’” (Exodus 24:3-8; cf. Hebrews 9:19-22).

How should we approach Mishpatim? Our Torah reading undeniably demands that God’s people live in a different manner than those of the world at large, offering care and concern for other people. That those who are privileged should offer relief and mercy for the destitute is absolutely imperative to consider. Our Torah reading also forces Messianic readers today to exhibit considerable trust and reliance in our Eternal Creator, as we strive to understand His mind in interacting with ancient people with widely different values than our own—and as Twenty-First Century Messianics seek to adequately evaluate the trajectory of Holy Scripture. The faith to be exhibited in understanding the instructions given in Mishpatim, as I must personally confess (and I am sure I speak for many other Messianics), is significant. (Click to Source)

Weekly Torah Portion – the One New Man Bible – Mishpatim – Exodus 21:1- 24:18 – Feb 8, 2018

Mishpatim – Exodus 21:1- 24:18

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21.1. “Now these are the judgments which you will set before them.

21:2. “If you buy a Hebrew bond servant, he will serve six years, and in the seventh he will go out free for nothing. 3. If he came in by himself, he will go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife will go out with him. 4. If his master has given him a wife and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children will be her master’s and he will go out by himself. 5. And if the servant will plainly say, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I shall not go out free.’ 6.Then his master will bring him to the judges; he will also bring him to the door, or to the door post, and his master will bore his ear through with an awl and he will serve him forever.

Torah Scroll

21:7. “And if a man sells his daughter to be a maidservant, she will not go out as the men servants do. 8. If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he will let her be redeemed. He will have no power to sell her to a foreign people, seeing he has dealt deceitfully with her. 9. And if he has betrothed her to his son, he will deal with her according to the statute of daughters. 10. If he takes another wife for himself, he will not diminish her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage. 11. And if he does not do these three for her, then she will go out free without money.

21:12. “He who strikes a man so that he dies will surely be put to death. 13. But if a man does not lie in wait, but God let it come into his hand, then I shall appoint you a place where he will flee.

21:14. “But if a man comes presumptuously upon his neighbor to slay him with guile, you will take him from My altar to die.

21:15. “And he that strikes his father or his mother will surely be put to death.

21:16. “And he who steals a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, he will surely be put to death.

21:17. “And he that curses his father or his mother will surely be put to death. (Matt. 15:4)

21:18. “And if men strive together and one strikes another with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die, but falls into bed: 19. if he gets up again and walks abroad upon his staff, then the one who struck him is free, only he will pay for the loss of his time and will cause him to be thoroughly healed. 20. And if a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, he will surely be punished.

21. But, if he continues a day or two, he will not be punished for he is his money.

21:22. “If men strive and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit departs from her, but yet no further injury, he will surely be punished, according as the woman’s husband will put upon him, and he will pay as the judges determine. 23.And if any injury or fatality follows, then you will give life for life, 24. eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25. burning for burning, injury for injury, wound for wound.

21:26. “And if a man strikes the eye of his bond servant or the eye of his female bond servant and destroys it, he will let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27. And if he knocks out his man bond servant’s tooth or his maid bond servant’s tooth, he will let him go free for his tooth’s sake.

21:28. “If an ox gores a man or a woman so they die, then the ox will be surely stoned and its flesh will not be eaten, but the owner of the ox will be innocent. 29. But if the ox had injured with his horn in time past and it had been testified to his owner, and he has not kept him in, but that he had killed  a man or a woman; the ox will be stoned and his owner also will be put to death. 30. If a sum of money for atonement is laid on him then he will pay the ransom for his life whatever is laid upon him.

31. Whether he had gored a son or had gored a daughter, according to this judgment will it be done to him. 32. If the ox gores a manservant or a maidservant, he will give to their master thirty shekels of silver and the ox will be stoned.

21:33. “And if a man opens a pit or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or an donkey falls in, 34. the owner of the pit will make it good and give money to their owner, and the dead beast will be his.

21:35. “And if one man’s ox hurts another’s and it dies, then they will sell the live ox and divide the money, and they will also divide the dead ox. 36. Or if it is known that the ox had gored in time past and his owner has not kept him in, he will surely pay ox for ox, and the dead will be his own.

21:37. “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he will restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.”

22.1. “If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so he dies, there will no blood be shed for him. 2. If the sun rises upon him, there will be blood shed for him, he should make full restitution. If he has nothing, then he will be sold for his theft.3. If the theft is certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or donkey, or sheep; he will restore double.

22:4. “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be eaten and puts in his beast and it feeds in another man’s field, of the best of his own field and of the best of his own vineyard he will make restitution.

22:5. “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacks of grain or the standing grain or the field are consumed, he that kindled the fire will surely make restitution.

22:6. “If a man delivers to his neighbor money or stuff to keep and it is stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief is found, let him pay double. 7. If the thief is not found, then the master of the house will be brought to the judges, to see whether he put his hand to his neighbor’s goods. 8. For all manner of trespass, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, for any manner of lost thing, which another challenges to be his, the cause of both parties will come before the judges, and whom the judges will condemn, he will pay double to his neighbor.

22:9. “If a man delivers a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to his neighbor to keep and it dies, or is hurt, or driven away, but nobody saw, 10. then will an oath of the LORD* be between them both, that he has not put his hand to his neighbor’s goods, and the owner of it will accept itand he will not make it good. 11. And if it is stolen from him, he will make restitution to its owner. 12. If it is torn in pieces, let him bring it for witness, and he will not make good that which was torn.

22:13. “And if a man borrows anything from his neighbor and it is hurt or dies, the owner of it not being with it, he will surely make it good. 14. But if the owner is with it, he will not make it good. If it is a hired thing, it came for his hire.

22:15. “And if a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he will surely endow her to be his wife. 16. If herfather utterly refuses to give her to him, he will pay money according to the dowry of virgins.

22:17. “You will not allow a witch to live.

22:18. “Whoever lies with a beast will surely be put to death. 19. Hewho sacrifices to any god, except to the LORD* only, he will be utterly destroyed. 20. You will neither taunt nor oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

22:21. “You will not afflict any widow or fatherless child. 22. If you afflict them in any way and they cry at all to Me, I shall surely hear their cry. 23. And My wrath will wax hot and I shall kill you with the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children fatherless.

22:24. “Ifyou lend money to any of My people with you who are poor, you will not be to him as a usurer, neither will you charge him interest.

22:25. “If you ever take your neighbor’s garment for a pledge, you will deliver it to him by the time the sun goes down. 26.For that is his only covering, it is his clothing for his skin: in what will he sleep? And it will be, when he cries to Me, that I shall hear, for I AM gracious.

22:27. “You will not revile God or curse the leader of your people. (Acts 23:5) 28. You will not delay to offer your first ripe fruits and your wine and oil tithes: the firstborn of your sons you will give to Me. 29. You will do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep; seven days it will be with its mother, on the eighth day you will give it to Me.

22:30. “And you will be holy people to Me: neither will you eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field, you will cast it to the dogs.”

23.1. “You will not heed a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness! 2. You will not follow a multitude to do evil. Neither will you agree with a majority to pervert justice. 3. Neither will you consider a man’s poverty in his cause.

23:4. “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you will surely bring it back to him again.

23:5. “If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under his burden, and you would not want to help him, you will surely help with him.

23:6. “You will not pervert the judgment of your poor in his cause. 7. Keep far from a false matter and the innocent, and do not slay a righteous person, for I will not justify the wicked. 8. And you will not take a gift, for the gift blinds the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.

23:9. “Also you will not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, seeing you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

23:10. “And you will sow your land six years and will gather in its fruits. 11. But the seventh year you will let it rest and lie still, so the poor of your people can eat, and what they leave the beasts of the field will eat. In like manner you will deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove.

23:12. “Six days you will do your work and on the seventh day you will rest, so your ox and your donkey can rest, and the son of your hand maid and the stranger may be refreshed.

23:13. “And in all things that I have said to you be circumspect and you will not make mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard out of your mouth.

23:14. “Three times in the year you will keep a feast to Me. 15. You will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread: you will eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, in the time appointed of the month Aviv, for in Aviv you came out from Egypt: and no one will appear before Me empty. 16. And the Feast of Harvest (Shavuot), the First Fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the Feast of Ingathering (Sukkot), at the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field. 17. Three times in the year all your males will appear before the LORD* God.

23:18. “You will not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, neither will the fat of My sacrifice remain until the morning. 19. The first of the First Fruits of your land you will bring into the House of the LORD* your God. You will not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

23:20. “Behold, I AM sending an angel before you, to keep you in the Way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21. Beware of him and obey his voice. Do not provoke him! For he will not pardon your transgressions, for My name is in him. 22. But if you will indeed obey his voice and do all that I speak, then I shall be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23. For My angel will go before you, and bring you in to the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, and I will cut them off. 24. You will not bow down to their gods, serve them, or do after their works, but you will utterly overthrow them and absolutely destroy their images.

23:25. “And you will serve the LORD* your God and He will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from your midst. 26. No one in your land will miscarry or be barren. I will fulfill the number of your days. 27. I shall send fear of Me before you and will destroy all the people to whom you will come and I shall make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28. And I shall send hornets before you, which will drive out the Hivite, the Canaanites, and the Hittite from before you. 29. I shall not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field multiply against you. 30. Little by little I shall drive them out from before you, until you increase and inherit the land.31. And I shall set your borders from the Reed Sea even to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the river, for I shall deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand and you will drive them out before you. 32. You will make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33. They will not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

24.1. And He said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD*, you, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel and worship from afar off. 2. And Moses alone will come near the LORD*, but they will not come near. Neither will the people go up with him.”

24:3. And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD* and all the judgments, and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD* has spoken we will do.” 4. And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD* and rose up early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD*. 6. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7. Then he took the scroll of the covenant and read in the hearing of the people, and they said, “All that the LORD* has said we will do and we will listen.” 8. And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, (Heb. 9:20) which the LORD* has cut with you concerning all these words.” 9.Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up. 10. And they saw the God of Israel and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of brilliant sapphire and as it were the body of heaven in its clearness. 11. And He did not lay His hand upon the nobles of the children of Israel: they also saw God, then they ate and drank.

24:12. And the LORD* said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there, and I shall give you the tablets of stone, the Torah (Teaching), and the commandments which I have written so you can teach them.” 13. And Moses and his minister Joshua rose up, and Moses went up on the Mountain of God. 14. And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you, if any man has any matters to do, let him come to them.”

15. And Moses went up on the mountain and a cloud covered the mountain. 16. And the glory of the LORD* stayed on Mount Sinai and the cloud covered it six days, and the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17.And the sight of the glory of the LORD* was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up on the mountain: and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Click to Source)

They Saw God – Torah Commentary – Mishpatim – “Judgments” – January 24, 2014

Torah Commentary

Mishpatim “Judgments”

Exodus 21:1-24:18

Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26

Matthew 5:38-42;Acts 23:1-11
Hebrews 9:15-22; 10:28-39

They Saw God

Waters parting, pillars of fire, water from rocks and food from the heavens.  It doesn’t seem that it could get any better than this!  Try to imagine just one more time what it must have been like to be one of the Hebrews.  Imagine the excitement in your spirit and the conversations around the campfires at night as folks recall all they have experienced over the past year or so.  I am sure that at times it all seemed like a dream to them, one they could not believe they were honored to live out.

As the Hebrews continue their journey a mountain comes to view in the distance.  Though it may look like all the other mountains around, there is something special about this one.  Little did they know just how special it would be and how the experiences of the next stop of the journey would define their lives, not only in their generation, but also for centuries to come.  It would be on this mountain that their lives and the lives of all who would come into the family of the Hebrews would be defined as different from all other peoples.  They never imagined the events of this mountain would cause them to be hated, shunned and even put to death in generations to come.

Mount Sinai would become a mountain of covenant, a mountain of marriage for the Hebrews.  It would be on this mountain that the God of their forefathers would take them to be His for all eternity.

The ceremony would begin with the killing of an animal.  Its blood would be poured upon the altar of marriage.  This blood would look back to the sin of their father Adam and forward to their full redemption in Messiah.  The terms of the marriage, the Torah, would be read to the people as an invitation to individually and as a community accept the wonders of this event.  We read the words of the Hebrews as they accept by saying, “We will do and obey.”  I wonder just how many boxes of Kleenex it took to get through that wedding?

With the setting painted before you; read slowly and carefully the words of Exodus 24:9-11.  No, that was too fast.  Read it again.  Moses, the elders and the leaders were invited to the reception which followed the ceremony.  We are not told why all the people were not invited.  That is a mystery I have yet to discover.  The scripture states that these men were called to go up the mountain and there they saw God.  Try for a moment to wrap your mind around the last three words of the last sentence, “they saw God.”  They saw through the floor of the throne room of heaven, and there they saw their Creator.

In the Renewed Covenant it states that no man has seen God and lived.  Is there a contradiction between the words of Torah and the words of the Renewed Covenant?  I think not.  These men on Mount Sinai did not see the fullness of YHVH on that day, but rather they saw the person of Yeshua, the Manifested One.  They saw the same Yeshua the disciples would see centuries in the future.  They saw the same One you and I call upon today, the same One we long to see return.

I am asked often just how these men and women of old were “saved” in the “Old Testament.”  The words of this Torah portion explain it very well.  They were redeemed on that day the same as you and I are today.  They, as we, are called out of our lives of bondage and slavery.  They, as we, are brought to a place of the blood sacrifice.  They, as we, are brought to a place of covenant, of Ketuba, of a wedding invitation.  They, as we, are then given the choice to say we do and we will obey.  They, as we, are invited to a reception, a feast where we will see Him face to face, and have a meal at a marriage supper to celebrate the event.  They, as we, long for the day when the house is ready, the bride complete and an eternity with Him begins.

For hundreds of years Christianity has taught that the Hebrews in the wilderness just did not have the fullness that we have today.  Did you notice in the readings that the elders were invited to a pre marriage supper of the lamb?  Did you notice that they have already seen Him, talked with Him and have eaten the covenant meal with Him?  Did you notice that these are events you and I are still longing to experience?

Maybe the Hebrews did not miss out.  Maybe in their history, which is recorded in Torah for all to read, we see the wonders of this unspeakable relationship between a people and their God.  We, through them, can begin to understand more clearly the love that burns deep within us for One we know, but have never seen.

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