In this parashah, we are told that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, meets him in the desert after they have been three months out of Egypt. Jethro has with him Zipporah and the two sons of Moses, who were sent to Jethro before Moses even got to Egypt (according to the Chumash, this was done back in Exodus 4:24-26).
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Jethro sees Moses handling every single complaint and problem that the people have, and recommends Moses assign people under him who will handle the everyday issues, bringing to him only those issues that need to be taken to a higher court (thus, the Torah established the court system we still use today, with lower courts and higher courts of appeal).
The people draw near to Mount Sinai (also called Mount Horeb) and God has Moses tell the people to prepare for three days in order to be ready, because God is going to show himself to all the people, to completely remove all doubts about Moses’s authority.
On the third day, God descends in a cloud of fire and smoke on the mountain, announced by a loud and long shofar blast. He then proclaims, so that all could hear, the Decalogue- the Ten Commandments.
The final command God gives to Moses in this parashah is that any altar to God is to be made of earth or uncut stone- no tool is ever to touch the materials any altar to God is made from.
Wow! The 10 Commandments! This parashah gives me enough spiritual fodder to talk for a long time, but don’t be scared- I am not even going to discuss the Big 10 today.
Neither will I discuss the Haftorah portion, which includes Isaiah 4:5-6, where we are told a child will be born to us. You see, the Chumash- being a Jewish book for Jews- identifies this messianic passage as anything BUT messianic, ascribing it to the birth of King Hezekiah. And that is probably true, in that Hezekiah did bring the kingdom together for the first time since Solomon, and he did rule justly, but within Judaism, we do not accept the messianic aspect of this passage.
Of course, I do. But, if you ask any non-Believing Jew, because I accept Yeshua as my Messiah, I am no longer a Jew. But, this topic and discussion are for a different time.
What I do want to talk about is something I have mentioned many times, and will undoubtedly mention many times again, which is Exodus 19:5-7 (CJB). This is what God says to Moses in that passage:
Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant,
then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the
earth is mine; and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for me, a nation set
apart. These are the words you are to speak to the people of Israel.
This statement should be of paramount importance to anyone who claims to be a Christian. Why? I’ll tell you why: it means that the Torah is not just for Jews, but for everyone in the world.
You may be thinking “How can he say that?” when traditional Christian teaching has always been that the Jews have their Torah, and Christians have Grace through Jesus.
True, those who accept Yeshua as their Messiah can receive God’s grace, but so can Jews, who were, frankly, receiving God’s grace long before there were any Christians.
This commission from God to the Jewish people, which was for them to be God’s own nation of priests, means that the Torah was to be taught to the Jewish people first, then to the Gentiles (does that sound familiar? Maybe because it is what Shaul said about salvation in Romans 1:16).
Salvation is not just from faith, but from faith that motivates us to be obedient to God (just ask Jimmy- he said that in his letter to the Jews in the Diaspora.)
When God commissioned the Jews to be his nation of Cohanim (priests) he was indicating, beyond question, that the Torah was for all people. After all, what does a priest do? The priest serves God, in both leading the people in proper worship and teaching them what God requires of them.
So, if the Jewish people are to be God’s nation of priests, and God gives them the Torah, the only conclusion we can draw is that the Jews were to learn the requirements of God (from the Torah) and teach them to the Gentiles.
God promises Abraham that his descendants will be a blessing to the world (Genesis 22:18), so how are people blessed by Abraham’s descendants? They have to obey God, for God promises he will bless all who obey him (Deuteronomy 28): the missing part of this is what does God want us to do to receive those blessings?
THAT is why the Jews are God’s Chosen people- chosen right here in Exodus 19 to be his priests to the world in order to teach the people what they must do to receive those blessings.
God first gives the Jews the Torah, which tells them how to live and worship so that they will receive blessings and attain salvation (although we do need Yeshua to make salvation possible), then God commissions the Jews to be his priests to bring the Torah to the Gentiles, who (through the Jewish people) will also be able to receive blessings and salvation, completing God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants will be a blessing to the world.
See how it all comes together?
So, if you are Christian and have been told that the Torah is not valid anymore, or that it is only for Jews, sorry to burst your bubble, but as the song goes, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
The biblical truth is obvious- the Torah was never meant just for the Jews, only that they would receive it first so that they could learn it to be God’s priests to bring it to the Gentiles. And later, through his nation of cohanim, God also sent his Cohen haGadol (High Priest), Yeshua.
Yeshua did not replace the Torah, he replaced the need to bring an animal sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem, and through that replacement made forgiveness of sin possible after the temple was destroyed.
The Torah and Messiah Yeshua are not exclusive of each other- they are both sides of the one coin, which is salvation: you cannot be saved without both.
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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!