This parashah deals with the laws regarding civil and capital punishment, witchcraft, sexually perverse activities, financial dealings, perjury, Kashrut (kosher), humane treatment of prisoners and enemies, about the Holy Days and the Shabbat. There is a sacrifice and Moses sprinkles the people with the blood of that sacrifice to establish the covenant between them and God regarding all these laws, regulations, and ordinances.
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The parashah ends with Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 of Elders of the people approaching God, with Moses being called to the mountain top to receive the tablets.
According to Wikipedia, Thomas Aquinas pretty much summed up what has become the typical Christian viewpoint of the three different types of laws that are in the Torah, many of which are found in this parashah. He identified them as moral, ceremonial, and judicial. He taught, and this is pretty much still taught today, that the moral laws are and always have been binding because they are natural laws, existing even before the Torah. The ceremonial and judicial laws were supposed to be temporary and binding only until the coming of Yeshua; after his arrival, they were no longer valid, and (in fact) to obey them would be tantamount to rejecting that Messiah came and a mortal sin. However, in the case of the judicial laws, to enforce them would not be a sin.
Jewish thought is also that there are three types of laws, generally referred to as Mitzvot, which we call Edot, Mishpatim, and Chukim.
The Mishpatim, which are outlined in this parashah, are laws that are easy to understand. The Edot laws deal with ceremonies and rituals and we are told the reason for observing them.
The Chukim are laws that just don’t seem to make sense, and we aren’t even told why we should obey them.
For example, the laws against murder, rape, and perjury are Mishpatim. The Holy Day festival laws and regulations are Edot. An example of Chukim would be the requirement for the 12 loaves of showbread that are made weekly and placed by the altar.
The real question is: which laws are still valid for us, today?
Let’s look at the laws regarding Kashrut: back then, even though the people didn’t know about germs or bacteria, they knew that eating certain raw foods could make you sick. Of course, God knew all about these things and many people, even Jews, explain the laws regarding food in terms of being designed to keep us healthy. That being the case, many today (again, both Gentile and Jewish) feel that with the USDA and being able to properly cook foods we don’t have to worry about these diseases and can eat whatever we want to eat.
I guess they haven’t talked to someone who went to a good restaurant, ordered scallops but got a bad one in the batch and was sick as a dog for two days. Or maybe they never heard of SARS? Or they aren’t aware of the current health epidemic with the Coronavirus? If you know anyone in the restaurant business I can guarantee they will tell you that you should never watch the chef prepare the food you eat.
People accept readily the judicial laws because they make sense and they protect our rights and our welfare, but as far as many of the other laws God gave, they seem to have no problem questioning. My question is this: Why do people believe they can question any of God’s laws?
Does God need to explain himself to us? When I was a Company XO in the Marine Corps and told someone to do something, they never asked me why. And the reason for that was that they recognized my authority. I was just a human being, someone who had the legal authority to order them to perform a certain activity. However, with God, who has ultimate authority over the universe, people don’t think twice to question whether or not they have to do what he says.
And why do they feel they can ignore God’s laws? It’s because some human beings told them it was alright to do that! God said to not eat pork, but some human being said it was OK. I don’t know about you, but I remember in Matthew 10:28 Yeshua told his Talmudim (students) not to worry about what humans do to them because they can only take their life, but to be concerned about what God can do to because he can send your soul to hell forever.
In other words, when we come before God in the Acharit haYamim (End Days) and he asks us why we lived our lives as we did and we say that we only did what our Rabbi (or Priest or Minister or Pastor) told us to do, he might say something like this:
“My child, I understand that you only did what they told you to do, but it is what I say that counts.”
In the Torah, God says many times that his instructions (which include mishpatim, edot, and chukim) are to be observed: “throughout your generations.” He doesn’t say they are to be observed for a while, or only until the Messiah comes, or only if you want to. And he never said that someone else can overrule his commandments.
So, nu? How can anyone believe that God has no problem with some human being saying his laws were not really permanent?
I believe we should obey all the laws God gave through Moses, whether we understand them or not, whether they seem to make sense in the modern world or not, or whether someone else says I still need to or not. And the reason I believe we should obey them is simply that God said we should!
And if that isn’t good enough for you, then you will be very disappointed when you meet God and say, “It’s OK- I belong to Yeshua!” because if you ignore God’s word then Yeshua will say, “I know you not!”
Remember that Yeshua said in John 14:21 if we love him, we will obey his commandments; his commandments were to do as his Father in heaven said to do.
If you obey God you will belong to the flock of Yeshua and blessed in this life and forevermore; but, if you choose to obey what people tell you, you will be on your own.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom.