Moses’s father-in-law, Yitro, brings Moses’s wife and two sons to him now that he has taken the people close enough to their home on the way to Sinai. And after staying the night, Jethro (who apparently has converted from paganism after hearing about all that God did) sees Moses all day long judging for the people and advises him to learn to delegate. Moses takes that advice and sets up what is (in today’s world) a system of circuit courts, with himself being the final court of appeal.
The people come to Sinai and God, in a thunderous cloud of smoke and fire, gives them (and us) the 10 Commandments, first identifying and charging the people to be a nation of priests unto the world. After seeing the majesty and fearsomeness of God, the people tell Moses that they will do as Moses says if only Moses, alone, will speak to God and then tell them what God said. They are too afraid of God to be in His direct, physical presence.
This parashah ends with God instructing Moses the way any altar to God is to be constructed.
The Decalogue is designed to make the people holy, i.e., separated from the rest of the world. Our Priests, Rabbis, Pastors, Ministers- whatever title we give to our religious leaders- are supposed to be above-board in everything they do. We are told in the Torah what kind of people they are to be and how they are to manage their household, and this is repeated in the New Covenant, as well. So, too, those who worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are to be above-board. They are to be holier-than-thou, but not in the usual sense or meaning of that phrase. The world thinks holier-than-thou means to be self-absorbed, overbearing and conceited. When God (and Yeshua says this too, and often) tells us to be holy He means the opposite of what the world means: God’s holiness is shown by meekness, humility and honoring God above all things. Being holy unto God means never honoring ourselves. We are to be a holy people, priests to the world, and as such we are to be an example of Godliness. We are to be holier in order to demonstrate to everyone else how they are to be; we are to be holier by being humble, meek, unassuming and self-effacing.
Those who worship God are to be an example of how God wants everyone to act. Yeshua told His Talmudim that the people will know they are His Talmudim by how they act (John 13:35).
The Jewish people were chosen to represent God’s system of worship and society. The Jewish people are the Chosen people not because they deserve it or are the greatest. We have proven our unworthiness over and over. It has resulted in the destruction of Shomron and Yehudah, and the disbursing of the Jewish people all over the world. Over the millennia we have proven we are obstinate, stiff-necked and ungrateful. We have proven that the Jewish people are just like everyone else. The one and unique difference why we were chosen is because of the righteousness of Abraham, and that righteousness was also shown by King David. Despite our the sinful and obstinate nature, shown throughout the history of the Jewish people, we are still a nation of priests. Subsequently, any and all who accept that God is God and, now that Yeshua has come into the world, accept that Yeshua is God’s Messiah and accept the grace we have available to us through His sacrificial death, are then inducted into the nation of priests.
And, as a member, you are expected to abide with all the laws that govern that group. Unfortunately, although every “Born Again Believer” is a member of the nation of priests, most Christian teachings have ignored the Torah (at least, most of it) and preached obedience only to the 10 Commandments. They use Yeshua (Jesus) as their excuse for not even trying to obey any of the other 603 commandments.
The bottom line is this: God has no religion. God has rules, regulations, ordinances, and laws. The main ones are here, in this parashah, and the rest are given throughout the Torah. As far as God is concerned, if you violate even a stroke of the Torah, you have violated the entire Torah. It’s that simple, it’s that plain, it’s that awesome. A nation of priests means to be holier than the other people in the world: not ‘above’ them, not ‘better than’ them, just separate from them. We are to be living in the world as a light in the darkness, and we are to be an example of what God wants from everyone.
And because we represent Godliness in a satanic world, we are going to be hated, derided, insulted and persecuted. So, well…it sucks, but it’s the way we must be. The world has only themselves to look to for hope, which means the world has no hope. We have God as our hope, we have Yeshua as the means of our salvation, and we have the Ruach HaKodesh as our Comforter. The job is hard, the workplace is a horrible place to be, and our clients are mean, ungrateful and uncooperative.
If you want to be a member of the nation of priests, there’s no question about it: the job is tough! The Boss expects a lot from us, there are no vacations or personal days, and the people you are required to deal with will treat you somewhere between ignoring and abusing you to killing you. You really have to ask yourself if it is all worth it.
The answer is: YES!! Absolutely!! True, the job is hard and thankless, but the retirement plan is heavenly!