Our par’sha this week is named after Mosheh’s father-in-law, although there is some debate as to whether Yithro was his name or one of his titles. Par’sha Yithro spans Sh’mot 18.1 through 20.26 and contains the Ten Declarations Y’H’V’H our Elohim spoke to the Hebrews and the mixed multitude that had gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai after the Exodus. These Ten Declarations are commonly referred to as the Ten Commandments.
This occurred in the third month following their departure from Mitsrayim. The commandments He spoke to the people that day are the terms of His covenant that He continues to offer to His people today. The covenant itself is spelled out in Sh’mot 19.5-6, but is preceded by Y’H’V’H’s declaration of what He had already done for them. Before offering His covenant He told the people, You have seen what I did to the Mitsrites, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.19.4 Unfortunately, many people miss the significance of this verse.
In Sh’mot 13.8 Y’H’V’H established an eternal law for future generations who kept the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. We are to inform our sons that the reason we are keeping these feasts is because of what Y’H’V’H did for me when I came up from Mitsrayim. We are not to consider the Passover as something that happened generations ago, but as something that we ourselves experienced. We are among those He bore on eagles’ wings and brought to Himself. We are part of His people and understanding this helps us better grasp the importance of the covenant He offers.
In Sh’mot 19:5-6 Y’H’V’H sent a message to all the people gathered at the mountain before Him. This included the mixed-multitude that had made the Exodus, crossed through the Sea of Reeds and were now standing with the Hebrews before Mount Sinai. Here is the covenant Y’H’V’H continues to offer to those He has delivered. And now (today) IF you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, THEN you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples - for all the earth is Mine - and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation.19.5-6 Since the Torah is a book to be studied, one should make note of the conditions Y’H’V’H set for those wishing to become part of His people. You cannot become a part of His treasured possession unless you
diligently obey His Voice and
guard His covenant.
Only then can you become His treasured possession above all the other people, a reign of priests and His set-apart nation.
The people realized that the One offering them this covenant was the same Elohim Who had sent the powerful plagues against Mitsrayim and had divided the Sea of Reeds to deliver them from Pharaoh and his army. Realizing all Y’H’V’H had done for them in delivering them with an outstretched arm and great judgmentsSh’mot 6.6, They quickly and freely declared, All that Y’H’V’H has spoken we shall do.vs.8 They quickly realized the value and blessings of walking in covenant with Y’H’V’H.
When Mosheh reported back to Y’H’V’H and told Him the people, even the mixed multitude1, had accepted His covenant, Y’H’V’H told Mosheh to return to the people and set them apart. He instructed Mosheh to set them apart today and tomorrow. And they shall wash their garments, and shall be prepared by the third day. For on the third day Y’H’V’H shall come down upon Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people. The people were to set themselves apart for two days because Y’H’V’H was coming before them on the third day. One has to wonder if this was a foreshadowing of the nevuah given by Hoshea. Come, and let us turn back to Y’H’V’H. For He has torn, but does heal us, He has stricken, but He binds us up. After two days He shall revive us, and on the third day He shall raise us up, so that we live before Him.6.1-2
On the third day, just as He promised, Y’H’V’H appeared in the midst of the thunders, lightnings, the thick cloud and the sound of the shofar. When He did, Elohim spoke all these words20.1 to the people gathered before Him.
I am Y’H’V’H your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, out of the house of slavery. Unless you believe and accept this first commandment, then the rest of what He had to say will not mean as much to you as it should.20.2
You have no other mighty ones (elohim, gods) against My face.20.3 You do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of that which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth, you do not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, יהוה your Elohim am a jealous Ěl, visiting the crookedness of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and guard My commands.20.4-6 We are not to bow our knee to anyone or anything else - only Y’H’V’H our Elohim. He is a jealous El. He has told us many times in His Word that He will not share His place in our lives with any other gods we have created.D’varim 4.24 In fact, we are forbidden to even learn the ways of the gentiles and use their ways to worship Him.D’varim 12.30
You do not bring a the Name of יהוה your Elohim to naught, for יהוה does not leave the one unpunished who brings His Name to naught.20.7 This verse contains a commandment and a warning. We are not to bring His Name to naught, but what does that mean? Naught if from לַשָּׁ֑וְא and means to lack value or content. One way, perhaps the worst way, we bring His Name to naught is to profess to believe in Him, but not obey Him. He promises to punish those who bring His Name to naught. Sh’mot 19.5-6 teaches us that this punishment can result in being placed outside of His covenant.
We are to Remember the Sabbath day, to set it apart. This is probably the most repeated commandment in the entire Bible, making it the one most broken as well. In verses 8-11, our Father gives us some examples of how we are to set the Sabbath day apart and which day the Sabbath is.
We are to remember the Sabbath and set it apart from the other six days of the week.
We are to do all our work on the other six days of the week and rest on the Sabbath
The seventh day of the week is the Sabbath
We are not to allow ourselves, our sons, daughters, servants, cattle, or gerim within our gates to do any work on the Sabbath day.
In V’yikra chapter twenty-three Y’H’V’H declares the Sabbath is one of His appointed times that we are to declare as set-apart gatherings.23.2-3 Gatherings is from מִקְרָאֵ֣י, which means meeting, coming together.
Respect your father and your mother, so that your days are prolonged upon the soil which יהוה your Elohim is giving you.vs.12 Respecting our parents comes with a promise; our days will be prolonged. As we will learn in next week’s par’sha, not respecting our parents can incur severe punishments.
Do not murder. This refers to pre-meditated murder.
Do not commit adultery. Adultery is from תִּֿנְאָֽ֑ף, which means to turn from one to another. In context this means to turn to someone besides your spouse and, as the Messiah, does not require a physical consummation.
Do not steal. Steal is from תִּֿגְנֹֽ֔ב, which can mean steal or kidnap (which kidnapping is a form of stealing.)
Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Do not covet that which belongs to your neighbor.
That day, as the people heard the Voices and the sound of the shofar and saw the lightnings and the mountain smoking, they trembled and stood at a distance. They told Mosheh to go and speak with Elohim. They were afraid that if they continued listening to Elohim they would die. Mosheh tried to reassure them. He told them, Do not fear, for Elohim has come to prove you, and in order that His fear be before you, so that you do not sin. Elohim came to prove us so that we learn not to sin.
Prove is from נַסּ֣וֹת and is the same as test. In D’varim 8.2 Mosheh told Yisra’el, And you shall remember that Y’H’V’H your Elohim led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, (1) to humble you, (2) prove you, (3) to know what is in your heart, (4) whether you guard His commands or not. Then again in D’varim 13 Y’H’V’H tells us not to listen to the words of a prophet or dreamer who leads us away to other mighty ones, for Y’H’V’H your Elohim is trying - מְנַסֶּ֞ה - you to know whether or not you love Y’H’V’H your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being.13.1-3 Our Father sometimes proves us, tests us, to see if we love Him enough to guard His commandments. This shouldn’t surprise a follower of Messiah Y’hoshua seeing that He said the same thing; If you love Me you will guard My commandmentsYn.14.15 and we know from His teachings that His commandments were His Father’s commandmentsYn.14.24.
Sadly, this week’s haftarah portion from the writings of Yeshayahu reveals that Yisra’el failed to heed Y’H’V’H’s warnings. In Yeshayahu 6.5, after he had looked up and saw Y’H’V’H sitting on His throne, Yeshayahu declared, Woe to me, for I am undone. Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips - for my eyes have seen the Sovereign, Y’H’V’H of Hosts.
When Yeshayahu asked Y’H’V’H to send him to the people, Y’H’V’H told him to tell the people, Hearing, you hear, but do not understand; and seeing, you see, but do not know.vs.9 As a result the cities of Yisra’el were laid to waste, houses were without a man, and the land was in ruin. There were many forsaken places in the land, but still, there was a tenth part in it, and it shall again be for a burning, like a terebinth tree and like an oak, whose stump remains when it is cut down. The set-apart seed is its stump.6.11-13 There has always been a remnant who had remained faithful to Y’H’V’H and His Word.
Our Father tells of a time when nations will decide to come up against Yehudah and tear it apart, and break it open for themselves, and set a sovereign over them, the son of Tabe’el.7.6 Despite the sins of Yisra’el, however, Y’H’V’H declared that their plan is not going to stand, nor shall it take place.7.7 - and the conclusion of the Haftarah portion tells us why.
In Yeshayahu 9.6-7 Y’H’V’H promises, For a Child shall be born unto us, a Son shall be given unto us, and the rule is on His shoulder. And His Name is called Wonder, Counsellor, Strong Ěl, Father of Continuity, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His rule and peace there is no end, upon the throne of Daviḏ and over His reign, to establish it and sustain it with right-ruling and with righteousness from now on, even forever. The ardor of יהוה of hosts does this.
Yisra’el has already witnessed the first coming of Messiah Y’hoshua, the Child promised in this passage. Soon we, and the rest of the world, will see His return. Before then, the words of the prophets will once again come to pass. All the nations will turn against Yerushalayim and those living in the land as well as the majority of Yisra’el who remains in exile. Nations will make their plans, but none of them will stand.
The Messiah will return as plague after plague ravages the earth. He will gather in His people from the four corners of the earth, defeat those marching against His set-apart city and establish His reign forever. He will reign with right-ruling and righteousness forever. The right-ruling and righteousness of the Messiah is established in His Torah.
Two thousand years ago we witnessed the Messiah’s deliverance of His people through His outstretched arms and great judgments. We have the letters of some of those who accepted Him and devoted their lives to guarding Elohim’s commandments. And now today, having such a great cloud of witnesses around us, we must decide for ourselves whether or not to enter into covenant with Him. It is the same covenant He offered our forefathers at Mount Sinai and if you are to be a part of this covenant, you must have the testimony that Y’hoshua is the Messiah and you must guard the commandments as they were given at Mount Sinai. His commandments are the terms of His covenant.
Time and again our forefathers were tested to see if they loved Him enough to guard His commandments. We know they failed many times.
What will be the outcome of our generation? Will we fail to pass the test or will prove our love for Him by guarding His Word? What legacy will we pass on to our children and our children’s children - or will we see the return of our Messiah?
Now is not the time to be tossed between winds of doctrines or the wisdom of men. Now is the time to enter into covenant through the Messiah’s sacrifice. Don’t miss the boat, as so many did in Noach’s day.
Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazeik!
20 Sh’vat 5776
30 January 2016
1 see Sh’mot 19.8 - and all the people (not just the Hebrews)