Parashah Yitro (Jethro) Exodus 18-20

This parashah starts with the reunion of Moses to his wife and children, whom he had sent away while still in Egypt to be with her father, Jethro, the Priest of Midian. Now in the desert and with Egypt no longer a threat of any kind, Jethro brings Moses’ family back to him.

The next day, while watching Moses dispense justice all day long, Jethro suggests that Moses delegate his authority so that he, alone, doesn’t have to hear every single case. Moses accepts this advice and does as Jethro suggested.

Proverbs 12:1– “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.”

The rest of this section of Torah takes us to the mountain of God, Sinai (also known as Horeb) and the people are told to prepare to meet the Lord, who came down to the mountain in fire and smoke and gave us the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments.

Before reading the Torah, we recite this prayer:

Blessed art thou, oh Lord, our God, king of the Universe, who has chosen us from all peoples and given to us his Torah. Blessed art thou, oh Lord, giver of the Torah. 

And after we read from the Torah, we recite this prayer:

Blessed are thou, oh Lord our God, king of the universe, who has given us the Torah of truth, and placed everlasting life in our midst. Blessed art thou, oh Lord, giver of the Torah.

Why were the Jewish people granted this wonderful election- to be given the Torah, which provides everlasting life? The answer is simple: God loved Abraham, who was a righteous and faithful servant, and since one of the 13 Attributes of God is to bless those who love him to the thousandth generation (Exodus 20:6): that is why the descendants of Abraham were chosen, and blessed with receiving and being the guardians of the Torah.

Notice I said “descendants of Abraham” and not “the Jewish people”: I did that because once someone accepts the God of Abraham as their God, that person is considered by God’s commandment to be an adopted child of Abraham (Romans 9:8 and Galatians 3:29), and as such is afforded all the rights and privileges under the Torah (as well as the obligation to obey the Torah) as any “natural born” descendant.

The Torah was given to those who are descendants of Abraham: the purpose not being for their use only, but to show the world how God wants us to worship Him and treat each other (Exodus 19:6.)

Christians are descendants of Abraham because they accept Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah, and so through that relationship are worshiping the same God who sent Yeshua. That means they are adopted sons and daughters of Abraham, and as such, have also been given the Torah to provide them everlasting life.

Why then do so many Christian organizations teach that the Torah is (essentially) dead, and the laws and commandments in the Torah (which God said to obey) are not binding on Christians?  It’s like they want to have their cake and eat it, too- give us the everlasting life that Torah provides, but don’t expect us to obey the Torah.

Huh? Really?

I use this analogy when teaching about the split between Christianity and Judaism:

Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Elmer chases Bugs into a tree? Bugs is sitting on a branch, and Elmer is on the tree sawing the branch, laughing derisively as he knows Bugs will fall to the ground. But when the branch is cut through, it is the tree that falls to the ground while the branch remains suspended in air. That’s what Christianity thinks is possible when they teach that they can ignore the Torah.

The Torah is what God gave to the world– the Jews are nothing more than the first ones to learn the lessons. God’s commandment to the Jewish people is to follow, then teach others to follow. That is how the descendants of Abraham are to be a blessing to the world (Genesis 22:18), and why it is so important to realize that accepting Yeshua means becoming a descendant of Abraham, which carries the obligation (even the commandment) to teach the nations and the peoples of the world about the Torah, which was, and is, part of God’s plan of salvation.

To put it more succinctly: if you teach that the Torah is not necessary, you are working against God’s plan of salvation. If you think faith is all you need to be saved, you are right, but without obedience then your faith is empty; everything (EVERYTHING) Yeshua taught us to do is directly from the Torah. Everything His Talmudim (Disciples) taught the newly grafted branches onto the Tree of Life to do was directly from the Torah.

I am not saying to be a Christian you have to convert to Judaism, and because I am Born Again that doesn’t make me a Christian- I am a Jew. But everyone who accepts Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah and Savior becomes a descendant of Abraham and, as such, is required to obey the commandments God gave to the descendants of Abraham- the same ones we read in the Torah, starting with this parashah and the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments is the “Reader’s Digest” version of the entire Tanakh, the first 5 dealing with our duties to God and the next 5 with our duties to each other. As Yeshua said, the most important commandments are to love God and love each other, and on those two commandments pivot all the writings and the Prophets (Matthew 22:36-40.) These 10 commandments teach us how to love God and each other, but neither God nor Yeshua ever meant that we should exclude all the other commandments found in the Torah. That is what Yeshua meant when He said that the writings and the Prophets pivot on, or are contained, in these two things. He wasn’t saying we can ignore the rest, He was saying that the rest will come more naturally from doing these two things.

We need to get back on line, back in the proper groove, which is to honor the Torah, which honors God, and try to obey all that God said we should do. There shouldn’t be differences in religions, in fact, there shouldn’t be different religions, at all! There should only be God and each other- that is the game plan He gave us to follow. Apparently, we didn’t like a lot of God’s rules, so we’ve made up a bunch of our own, from Talmudic laws of Halakha (Way to Walk) to Christian Canons and rites. And whom do these rules honor?  Not God, because they are man-made and their main purpose is to provide a few with power over the others.

Anything different from what God told us to do is not from God- think about that.

Salvation comes from faith, but faith without works is dead, so prove your faithfulness by your works: the works God, Himself, gave us in His Torah.

Parashah Yitro (Jethro) Exodus 18 – 20

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!