In this parashah, we see the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments! But first, we are told that Moshe's father-in-law, Yitro (whose wise counsel Moshe cherished) brought an offering (Exodus 18:12) - which once again shows that Torah has always existed, and that it existed before Moshe received the "Ten Commandments" and before the giving of those "613" Levitical commands found scattered throughout the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Note that Moshe was not a "Jew". (He was from the Tribe of Levi, not of Judah.) But the fact remains, he was Torah observant! All believers since the beginning of time obeyed YHWH's Torah; not just "the Jews" as many people suggest.
There were no "Jews" until Jacob had fathered one of his 12 sons, Yehudah (Judah) who became one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Note that ALL believers up until then - including the Egyptian Gentiles who had followed Moshe out of Egypt - obeyed YHWH's Torah.
Remember, even Cain and Abel knew to present animal sacrifices (Genesis 4) and Noah knew the difference between "clean and unclean" animals (Gen. 7:1-3); and at the end of Genesis 4 we see that people had begun to "call on the Name of YHWH". The Tribe of Judah was chosen to teach the world about Torah (Genesis 49:10, Micah 4:2) and: YHWH caused Yeshua to be born into the Tribe of Yehudah/Judah....
When you read the Torah portion for this week, did you happen to notice in the opening verses of Exodus 18, that Yitro took Moshe's wife and sons to Moshe in the desert? Did this "come out of the blue?" Let's take a look:
Exodus 18: 1 Now Yitro the priest of Midyan, Moshe's father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moshe and for Isra'el his people, how ADONAI had brought Isra'el out of Egypt. 2 After Moshe had sent away his wife Tzipporah and her two sons, Yitro Moshe's father-in-law had taken them back. 3 The name of the one son was Gershom [a foreigner there], for Moshe had said, "I have been a foreigner in a foreign land."
4 The name of the other was Eli'ezer [my God helps], "because the God of my father helped me by rescuing me from Pharaoh's sword." 5 Yitro Moshe's father-in-law brought Moshe's sons and wife to him in the desert where he was encamped, at the mountain of God. 6 He sent word to Moshe, "I, your father-in-law Yitro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons." 7 Moshe went out to meet his father-in-law, prostrated himself and kissed him. Then, after inquiring of each other's welfare, they entered the tent.
8 Moshe told his father-in-law all that ADONAI had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Isra'el's sake, all the hardships they had suffered while traveling and how ADONAI had rescued them. 9 Yitro rejoiced over all the good that ADONAI had done for Isra'el by rescuing them from the Egyptians. 10 Yitro said, "Blessed be ADONAI, who has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, who has rescued the people from the harsh hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that ADONAI is greater than all other gods, because he rescued those who were treated so arrogantly."
In order to understand the above, we must look back at Exodus 2 which tells us Moshe had to flee for killing an Egyptian (Exodus 2:15), and before YHWH "called" Moshe to be the leader, we find Moshe tending Yitro's sheep (Exodus 3:1). Then Moshe is told that he will lead the people out of Egypt, and that he (Moshe) must go back (Exodus 3:3-10)! So in Exodus 4:18, Moshe tells Yitro that he must go back to Egypt. Then in Exodus 4:20, we see Moshe putting his wife and sons on a donkey, and he heads for Egypt! We don't really learn till later, in the beginning of Exodus 18, that Moshe's wife and sons did not go with him - but it stands to reason since all the following activity till Exodus 18 never mentions Moshe's family again!
Also notice Yitro's acts of repentance in Exodus 18:9 - "Yitro rejoiced over all the good that YHWH had done for Isra'el by rescuing them from the Egyptians. 10 Yitro said,"Blessed be YHWH, who has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, who has rescued the people from the harsh hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that YHWH is greater than all other gods, because He rescued those who were treated so arrogantly."
Beginning in Exodus 18: 13-26, we see the origin of our court system (which today, of course, has been perverted into man's laws).
Exodus 18: 13 The following day Moshe sat to settle disputes for the people, while the people stood around Moshe from morning till evening. 14 When Moshe's father-in-law saw all that he was doing to the people, he said, "What is this that you are doing to the people? Why do you sit there alone, with all the people standing around you from morning till evening?" 15 Moshe answered his father-in-law, "It's because the people come to me seeking God's guidance. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me; I judge between one person and another, and I explain to them God's laws and teachings."
17 Moshe's father-in-law said to him, "What you are doing isn't good. 18 You will certainly wear yourself out - and not only yourself, but these people here with you as well. It's too much for you - you can't do it alone, by yourself. 19 So listen now to what I have to say. I will give you some advice, and God will be with you. You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases to God. 20 You should also teach them the laws and the teachings, and show them how to live their lives and what work they should do.
21 But you should choose from among all the people competent men who are God-fearing, honest and incorruptible to be their leaders, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Normally, they will settle the people's disputes. They should bring you the difficult cases; but ordinary matters they should decide themselves. In this way, they will make it easier for you and share the load with you.
23 If you do this - and God is directing you to do it - you will be able to endure; and all these people too will arrive at their destination peacefully." 24 Moshe paid attention to his father-in-law's counsel and did everything he said. 25 Moshe chose competent men from all Isra'el and made them heads over the people, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 As a general rule, they settled the people's disputes - the difficult cases they brought to Moshe, but every simple matter they decided themselves.
Remember, ALL who accept the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are "His" people! They are "Hebrews" and can consider themselves spiritually a part of "Israel." And what did God tell Israel? "Do not forsake my Torah!" (Proverbs 1:8, 3: 1-2, Stone Edition of the Tanach) YHWH constantly reiterated obedience!
Exodus 19: 1 In the third month after the people of Isra'el had left the land of Egypt, the same day they came to the Sinai Desert. 2 After setting out from Refidim and arriving at the Sinai Desert, they set up camp in the desert; there in front of the mountain, Isra'el set up camp. 3 Moshe went up to God, and ADONAI called to him from the mountain: "Here is what you are to say to the household of Ya'akov, to tell the people of Isra'el: 4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 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; 6 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 Isra'el."
Christianity's mantra is: We're not under the law; we're under grace! But, unless you are "paying careful attention" to what YHWH says, and keeping His covenant, as indicated in the highlighted verse above, how can you be considered cohanim (priests) for Him? Whom are you really worshipping if you believe you don't have to obey His "forever" commands, such as the Seventh Day Sabbath and the feasts? Mankind has ALWAYS been "under grace"! If we hadn't been under grace, Adam and Eve would have been killed on the spot, instead of being allowed to continue living outside the Garden....
Moving on, in Exodus 20, YHWH gave Moshe the Ten Mitzvot (Words)/Commandments for His people to follow. Please understand that these Ten Commandments DID NOT abolish the REST of YHWH's Torah! They are PART of His Torah. Many Christian denominations today insist that we don't even need to keep the TEN; that all we need to do is keep TWO...But, check this out:
Matthew 22: 36. "Teacher, which Commandment in Torah is the greatest?" 37. And Y'shua said to him, that "You should love Master YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and with all your mind." 38. This is the first and the greatest Commandment. 39. And the second is like it. That "You should love your neighbor as yourself." 40. On these two commandments hang Torah and the prophets. (Aramaic English New Testament)
We would ask those who insist they only need to keep two commandments to please re-read Matthew 22 verse 40 with the help of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit). Does verse 40 imply that all of God's original instructions have been done away with? NO! The Torah and the Prophets HANG/ARE DEPENDENT ON those two commands! There's more to it than just "loving God and loving your neighbor!
Returning to Exodus 20, note that the Ten Commandments were spoken to all people! This is the first time YHWH allowed all to hear him. It frightened the people so much that in Exodus 20:19, the people begged Moshe to put things back the way they were that only Moshe would talk directly to YHWH. This was important because YHWH chose this moment to "solidify" the fact that He is the only God, and that the people should trust in His chosen - Moshe.
In Exodus 19:3-8, we have YHWH telling Moshe to inform the people via the leadership that He (YHWH) had led them out of Egypt, and that the people were to obey Him and keep His covenant. Then in Exodus 19:9, YHWH says that He is going to allow ALL to hear Him so they can believe Him and trust in Moshe.
So this is a foundational moment, Exodus 20, when YHWH allows Himself to be heard by all! Even in the desert, before the manna started, the people were permitted only to see the Glory of YHWH - one time (Exodus 16:10)!
P R E S E N T I N G:
The Ten Commandments!
FIRST COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 1 Then God said all these words: "I am YHWH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery."
WHO brought the Israelites out of Egypt and out of the slavery to foreign/pagan gods? No one but YHWH! It is imperative to understand that Moshe was not the first one to receive the Name of YHWH (as presented in Exodus 3:13-15), but that Avram (Abram) in Genesis 13:4 "called on the name of YHWH!"
It is interesting to note that Y'shua (other transliterations of the Hebrew include Yeshua, YaHaShua, Yehoshuah, etc) is the ONLY "divine entity" whose name contains the Name of YHWH within his own name. Unlike the angels whose names contain only YHWH's title of "ELOHIM" (MichaEL, Rapha-EL and GabriEL), Y'shua has His Father's Name within his own Name.
That, in itself, sets Him way above humans or angels. The Greek form, "Jesus", on the other hand, means absolutely nothing and consequently detracts from who He was. It is fruitless to argue that His Name was changed because of the different languages on the earth. "Yeshua" was His given, Hebrew name and it is not that hard to pronounce.
Jehovah's Witnesses and others have totally botched the Name of the Father by pronouncing יהוה, yod-hey-vav-heh, the Tetragrammaton as "Jehovah". There actually is no such word as "Jehovah". MAN made up that word as a Latinization of the Hebrew יהוה. If you dissect "Jehovah" in Hebrew, fist, there's no "J" in Hebrew, but the "Je" would actually be "Yah" from the Hebrew letter "yod", second, the pronunciation "Jehovah", no doubt, originated from a misunderstanding of the vowel pointing added to the Tetragrammaton by the Mazorites in the 7th century CE. The Name, which is forbidden in Judaism to be spoken, nevertheless appears in the Tanakh nearly 7000 times and to prevent the reader from inadvertently vocalizing the proper pronunciation of יהוה, the Mazorites added the vowels of "Adonai" (or in some cases "Elohim") to the Tetragrammaton. Thus, the reader, when encountering יהוה would speak "Adonai" and not accidentally pronounce The Name, again, which is forbidden in Judaism. Unfortunately, if one is not aware of the intent of the added vowels rendering the Tetragrammaton as יְהֹוָה to be vocalized as "Adonai", it does look like it should be pronounced "Yehovah", but that pronunciation is decidedly wrong.
SECOND COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 3 "You are to have no other gods before me. 4 You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. 5 You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot."
You are to have no other gods... Wow! How far has mankind, as a whole, come from that command? How many "other gods" can you name that in no way resemble YHWH? Even "money" has become a "god" to many, as they covet and/or spend it unwisely, which constantly leaves them thirsting for more. What do Catholics do when entering their sanctuaries? They make the sign of the cross and bow statues of Jesus or Mary....
And think about this: What is on your credit card but a "carved image" that you "worship" because they offer you money? And what must you do once you've used their "credit"? You must serve them (by paying often huge interest rates that can keep you indebited for many years)! And when you incur huge debt because you "bowed" to them and used their "credit", aren't you and your children now punished for generations because you squandered any chance of leaving your descendants an inheritance? "A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren, but the wealth of a sinner is stored up for the righteous" (Proverbs 13:22).
You are not to make a carved image or any kind of representation ... No one has ever seen YHWH. Yes, they saw Yeshua, but WHO saw Him? Only those with whom He came into contact 2,000 years ago when there were no cameras or voice recorders. Therefore, every picture of "Jesus" is a lie! There is one Christian woman, "Apostle" Char Tierney, who sends pictures of Jesus to the world for free, claiming those pictures have special powers and have worked miracles. What utter nonsense! What she is doing goes directly against Exodus 20:3-6! If something does not perfectly line up with Scripture, it isn't of God - period!
THIRD COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 7 "You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly."
Using His Name lightly (in vain) refers to falsely "prophesying in His Name" or trying to tell someone, "God told me to tell you..." etc. There are so many who dare to "use His Name lightly" and veer from Scripture by inserting their own interpretation or opinion, or coming up with "conspiracy theories" etc. "Using His Name lightly" also refers to the use of His name as a cussword (how many times have you heard someone say, "Jesus Christ!" - using it as a cussword? Thank God our Savior's Name is YESHUA which has never been mistaken for a cussword!).
FOURTH COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 8 "Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. 9 You have six days to labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work -not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. 11 For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself."
Please read Sabbath Day and also notice YHWH said we have have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for YHWH your God. Some insist that the Seventh Day Shabbat is according to the moon cycles, but nothing could be further from the Truth.
FIFTH COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 12 "Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which ADONAI your God is giving you."
This command is self-explanatory, but here is a word for those who were abused by their parents, and find it hard to "honor" them: The commandment is to honor your mother and father; it does not say you have to "love" them or even "like" them! It means, "honor" them, for they gave birth to you and provided for you while you were growing up. (For more on this issue, please check out our blog post.)
SIXTH COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 13 "Do not murder."
We have no right to take another's life intentionally, regardless as to the reason. This includes the life of an unborn baby! Yes, in "Old Testament" times, YHWH ordered the killing of pagans and entire cities - but this was because He did not want HIS people infected with pagan customs and ideals. Since the death of Yeshua He no longer asks us to kill unbelievers, but He still expects us to keep ourselves holy/set apart from "the world!"
SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 14 "Do not commit adultery."
In Matthew 5:27-28 Yeshua says, You have heard that it has been said that you should not commit adultery (see Exodus 20:13, 14; Deuteronomy 5:18) 28. But I say to you that all who that looks at a woman as lustfully at once has committed adultery in his heart.
In other words, thinking can lead to doing, and doing the act moves the sin to a new level that hurts not only the perpetrators but also their families. Not to mention, it results in intentional sin, for which there is no sacrifice!
EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 15 "Do not steal."
In our society, many have justified the ideal of "stealing from the rich and giving to the poor", or just taking what they want, even if it means murdering those from whom they are stealing.
NINTH COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 16 "Do not give false evidence against your neighbor."
In other words, don't lie; period. Our court systems still include raising our right hands and swearing to "Tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me, God" although there are some major battles by atheists to have "so help me God" removed....
TENTH COMMANDMENT: Exodus 20: 17 "Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Nearly every advertisement we see today, whether in print or electronic media, suggests we "keep up with the Joneses." Buy, buy, buy! If your neighbors drive a Lexus, get out your credit card and buy yourself a Lamborghini - or at the very least, a Rolls Royce. If your neighbor's wife had a face-lift and looks 20 years younger, perhaps it's time to look for a woman who actually is 20 years younger....Our society is built on credit and greed and instant gratification, and that is why we are on the verge of collapse.
Most have simply not put YHWH first in their lives and that is why they constantly strive to fill that "little hole in their soul"....
YHWH's final Word to Moshe in this particular parashah is a warning about "other gods."
Exodus 20: 22 ADONAI said to Moshe, "Here is what you are to say to the people of Isra'el: 'You yourselves have seen that I spoke with you from heaven. 23 You are not to make with me gods of silver, nor are you to make gods of gold for yourselves. 24 For me you need make only an altar of earth; on it you will sacrifice your burnt offerings, peace offerings, sheep, goats and cattle. In every place where I cause my name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you do make me an altar of stone, you are not to build it of cut stones; for if you use a tool on it, you profane it. 26 Likewise, you are not to use steps to go up to my altar; so that you won't be indecently uncovered.'"
If you've ever been in Catholic or Greek Orthodox churches, etc., you've seen the expensive decor and the gold chandeliers, etc. YHWH clearly abhors man-made things in the worship of Him! He even said not to CUT the stones if you build an altar. Why? Because then you can't stand around and draw attention to yourself by bragging, "Hey, I cut those stones!" Worship of YHWH is not about YOU; it's about HIM!
He even told us not to use steps to go up to His altar. Where do most pastors stand while presenting their sermons? Several steps up, on a stage where they can be seen by all....The good news is, today pastors wear trousers, which means we cannot see up their tunics where they would be "indecently uncovered."
YHWH, right from the beginning, told mankind how to live a righteous, holy life via His Torah commands. This tells us that those who make up excuses not to obey Torah, will not be allowed to see the Kingdom of Heaven because their rebellion suggests they were guilty of worshipping "other gods." For Christians to insist believers don't have to obey Torah is just as bad as traditional Jews insisting that Yeshua is not THE Messiah. The Scriptures are clear that we must "believe" in both in order to be considered "clean" and holy.
Before we wrap up today's Torah portion, let's take a quick look at both the Haftara and the B'rit Chadasha portions where we see YHWH and His Divine Messiah reiterating that Torah (God's Divine Instructions in Righteousness) was never abolished and that His Set Apart ones MUST unplug their ears and open their eyes to His Truth:
Isaiah 6: 1 In the year of King 'Uziyahu's death I saw Adonai sitting on a high, lofty throne! The hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 S'rafim stood over him, each with six wings - two for covering his face, two for covering his feet and two for flying. 3 They were crying out to each other, "More holy than the holiest holiness is ADONAI-Tzva'ot! The whole earth is filled with his glory!" 4 The doorposts shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then I said, "Woe to me! I [too] am doomed! because I, a man with unclean lips, living among a people with unclean lips, have seen with my own eyes the King, ADONAI-Tzva'ot!" 6 One of the s'rafim flew to me with a glowing coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Here! This has touched your lips. Your iniquity is gone, your sin is atoned for." 8 Then I heard the voice of Adonai saying, "Whom should I send? Who will go for us?" I answered, "I'm here, send me!" 9 He said, "Go and tell this people: 'Yes, you hear, but you don't understand. You certainly see, but you don't get the point!'
10 "Make the heart of this people [sluggish with] fat, stop up their ears, and shut their eyes. Otherwise, seeing with their eyes, and hearing with their ears, then understanding with their hearts, they might repent and be healed!" 11 I asked, "Adonai, how long?" and he answered, "Until cities become uninhabited ruins, houses without human presence, the land utterly wasted; 12 until ADONAI drives the people far away, and the land is one vast desolation. 13 If even a tenth [of the people] remain, it will again be devoured. "But like a pistachio tree or an oak, whose trunk remains alive after its leaves fall off, the holy seed will be its trunk."
B'rit Chadasha reading:
Luke 18: 18. And one of the leaders asked him and said to him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit to life that is eternal. 19. Y'shua said to him, Why do you call me good? There is no one good except one Elohim. 20. Know the Commandments, you do not kill and do not commit adultery and do not steal and do not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother. 21. He said to him, "All these things I have kept them from my youth." 22. But when Y'shua heard these things, he said to him, One thing is lacking in you. Go sell everything that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come after me. 23. But when he heard these things he was sad, for he was very wealthy.
24. And when Y'shua saw that he felt sad, he said, How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter into the Kingdom of Elohim! 25. Because it is easier for a rope that it enter through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter into the Kingdom of Elohim. 26. Those who heard said to him, "And who is able to live?" 27. And Y'shua said, Those things with which the sons of men are not able to be, are able to be with Elohim. 28. Shimon Keefa said to him, "Behold we have left everything and have come after you. 29. Y'shua said to him, I say truly to you, that there is no man who has left houses or parents or brothers or wife or children because of the Kingdom of Elohim, 30. And will not receive many times more in this time and in the world to come, that is eternal life.
Yeshua was not trying to tell the guy to physically give up everything; He was trying to get across that we must be willing to let go of "worldly" things in order to gain eternal life. Of course, if, in the process something were to happen that we would have to sell our possessions in order to do His will, then we should not hesitate to do so. That's what He is after: Total obedience, with all our heart, to the best of our ability! Those are the people who will end up in heaven; the lukewarm will be spit out of Yeshua's mouth (Revelation 3: 16)! Take a look at what Yeshua said in John 17:
John 17: 1. Y'shua spoke these things and he lifted up his eyes to Heaven and said My Father the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that your Son might glorify you. 2. Just as you have given him authority over all flesh that whomever You have given him, he will give to him life that is eternal. 3. Now this is life that is eternal, that they might know You, that You are the Elohim of Truth, and he alone whom You have sent, the Mashiyach Y'shua.
Yeshua was the "arm of YHWH" (Isaiah 53:1). He came to proclaim the Kingdom of YHWH, not abolish Torah somehow or bring new "religions" called Catholicism or Christianity! Nor did He come to make "the Jews" angry and rebellious about being THE MESSIAH. He has already fulfilled nearly 400 Tanach prophecies (http://therefinersfire.org/accurate_messiah_prophecies.htm); what about that is causing traditional Jews to reject Him? No one else has ever fit the bill!
Luke 4: 43 "But he (Yeshua) said, "I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
Luke 8: 1. And it happened after these things that Y'shua was going around in the cities and in the villages and was preaching and declaring the Kingdom of Elohim.
Acts 28: 23 "From morning till evening the Apostle Paul explained and declared the Kingdom of God and tried to convince people about Yeshua from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets."
Acts 24: 14. But this indeed I (Paul) acknowledge, that in that same doctrine of which they speak, I do serve the Elohim of my fathers, believing all the things written in Torah and in the prophets.
So, while His death, burial, and resurrection are an important part of the Good News, it's not the whole story! God isn't just in the business of "saving" people; as Creator and law giver, He is in the business of teaching us how to be good subjects in His Kingdom to come! If "Jesus abolished Torah at the cross" then why was EVERY believer completely Torah observant for one hundred years after Yeshua's death, including the Apostle Paul who was "caught" being Torah observant 29 years after Yeshua's death (Acts 21:23-24)! Was Paul a hypocrite, saying one thing and doing another; or were his teachings, perhaps, misunderstood?