Big stuff in here: the sin of the Golden Calf and the 13 Divine Attributes of God (announced when He passes by Moshe), which make up the major restrains of almost every Jewish prayer of repentance. Also we are told what spices to use for anointing oil and incense before the Lord, and it ends with Moses coming down (the second time) from the mountain with the Ten Words, his face beaming so much that from then on he wears a veil, except when he goes in the Tabernacle to talk to the Lord.
I asked myself why this time? Why didn’t his face beam after being 40 days on the mountain the first time? My answer to myself was that there was one major difference between the first meeting with God and the second one: the second time Moses saw the Glory of God. In Exodus 34:5-7 God walks by Moses, covering Moses’ face as He passes so Moses can only see His back. God actually, physically was there, close enough to cover the face of Moses. I believe that Moses’ face shone from that day on because he was so close to the Glory of the Lord that the Shekinah glory infused his body. That’s why his face shone, and from what I read it sounds like his face shone for the rest of his life.
What I find of interest is not the great story of the Golden Calf- there is so much for us to learn there. What I want to talk about today is much simpler, much “smaller”, but no less important.
The parashah starts out with God telling Moses that everyone who is called up to fight in a war must pay a ransom for their soul of a 1/2 Shekel. Now the word of God is very clear that there shall be no ransom for a murderer, that is, someone who has committed murder purposefully. But this ransom is for those who have murdered during a war. Even though the wars the people of Israel performed were not just sanctioned by God, but actually commanded by Him in many cases, they were still guilty of murder.
This shows us that God is true to His word, that His laws are always laws, that forgiveness is possible but only with real repentance. Those who go to a “holy” war for God and kill those God says should die (effectively being the executioner of the Lord) are still murderers. They have killed, and God said we shall not kill, but unlike the murderer who kills for passion or gain, and does so on purpose, this “murder” is different, so a ransom is acceptable. Again, even though this form of murder is commanded by God, we must ransom our soul to the Lord. The monies were to be used exclusively for the maintenance of the Tabernacle, so that this ransom did go, wholly, to the Lord.
God is always willing to forgive a repentant sinner, but He is also more than willing, and frighteningly able, to punish those who are unrepentant. And God must punish the wrongdoer. If God doesn’t punish those who do wrong and do not repent, then His promise of salvation is empty. God said that the guilty will be punished- He says it over and over throughout the Tanakh; He has the Prophets tell us over and over that we shall suffer if we do not obey the Lord (and we did, too!), and Yeshua also tells us this. At the end of the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:14, Yeshua tells us that if we do not forgive on Earth, then we will not be forgiven by God in heaven.
Torah is valid: it was valid when God gave it to us, it was valid when David was king, it was valid when Herod ruled, it was valid during and after Yeshua’s ministry, and it is valid, today. Not just to Jews, but to everyone. Just because we can be forgiven doesn’t mean we can ignore God’s word: God told us to ransom our soul even though we were doing what He commanded, so even when we obey Him we can still be guilty! His laws are absolute.
Christianity has been teaching for centuries that the Jews have Torah and Christians have the blood of Christ. That is totally wrong- everyone has Torah, and everyone has the blood of Christ! The Torah was given to the Jewish people so they could live it as an example for everyone else to learn from, and follow. The blood of Messiah was shed so that everyone could have salvation because no one can live perfectly in accordance to Torah. How absolutely inane to say that Christians have the blood of Christ, as if they were the only ones He died for! He died for Jews, He died for Buddhists, He died for Muslims, He died for Devil worshipers, He died for E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E!!!
And Torah was given to the Jews, but Torah is also for everyone. Torah tells us how God wants us to worship Him and treat each other, Yeshua told us the deeper meanings of the Torah and that we shouldn’t try to just follow it legalistically (i.e., just obey the letter of the law), but that we need to follow it spiritually. Jeremiah 31:31 tells us that the New Covenant will be that God will write His Torah on our hearts, which is exactly what Yeshua was telling us to do! It will be more than words to follow, it will be the very thing we are!
The Torah was given to guide us, Yeshua died for us because we can’t follow Torah perfectly (but NOT in place of the Torah) and the blood of Christ is for everyone to be able to have their sins washed away and be reconciled to God. God isn’t stupid- if you call upon His name and hold up the blood of Christ as your means of forgiveness, but you are unrepentant, you will not be accepted. And the proof that you are repentant, or that you are not repentant, will be by your fruits, by how you act towards others and towards God.
The Torah tells us how to show our repentance, so to refuse to follow Torah is to refuse to be repentant.
Look…no one can obey Torah completely, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to try.