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Teachings

Yitro (Jethro) Sh’mot (Exodus) 18-20

Torah Portion Yitro (Jethro) Sh’mot (Exodus) 18-20

Haftorah Reading Isaiah 6:1-13

Tonight we read one of the most moving sections in all of Torah. In this portion we read of the covenant between G-d and the people of Israel. This covenantal relationship set out here should also give each of us a good picture of who G-d is and what He requires of us in our lives as His people.

This covenant was entirely at His initiation. All He asked was that His people agree to its terms. I expect we all have had this experience with the Father. We come to understand how much He cares for us and how He has carried us up on eagles wing, called us to Himself and gave us a frame work to live by each day.

In this portion we read of G-d sharing directly with His people what we call the Ten Commandments. In Hebrew the words are Aserit Dibarot or the Ten Utterances. I think this translation more closely reflects the personal involvement G-d had in the events that took place on the mountain here in our Torah portion. In our lives as well G-d is personally involved. His covenant is deeply personal with each of us as we relate to Him.

I want us to spend a bit of time on these Ten Utterances and maybe explore a different way of looking at them. These may be the most widely known and recognized words in the world.

Mostly they are looked at as a list of do’s and don’ts that, from a limited view, might be an understandable way to see them. I would like us to go a little deeper than that. Think for a minute what these words tell us about the speaker. Each of these words shows us something about the Father. Each word communicates a revelation of the Father, a piece of His heart for us. Each one gives us a clearer view of our Maker and in the process what He expects from each of us as we are conformed to His image.

There are spiritual reasons for each. There are spiritual consequences to living a life with no regard to the spiritual lessons they teach us. In Exodus chapter 20 we read the words spoken by G-d, later in chapter 31 we read where G-d Himself wrote them on the first set of tablets. These ten words are not the only utterances by G-d but they are the ones most well known. However, they are related to all the other commandments of scripture.

Let’s look at some of these and see what we can discern from the word for our lives. To start, let’s look at number six. What is it? We often read it as “Thou shall not kill.” But that is a bad translation. It actually says, “Thou shall not murder.” Pretty clear in Hebrew since it is only 2 words. We are familiar with the legal, social consequences of murder. However, what do these two words tell us about G-d? Why must we not murder spiritually and if we do how does it affect us spiritually?

Each of us contains a spark of G-d, the soul, spirit in each of us compare to Genesis 2:7 where it says, “G-d breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living being.” Each of us contains that breath of G-d. Each of us carries with us this mark of the Creator. To murder a person does what? It extinguishes that spark of G-d and it harms us spiritual as well. When this act is committed it harms our spirit as well. It cuts off our soul from the breath of G-d inside us. It shows that we had no regard for the image of G-d in that person and therefore we suffer from the act. We find ourselves cut off as well and if not remedied by repentance we die spiritually for that act.

When we look at each of these words we must look at them spiritually. To limit them to just having natural or worldly consequences is to miss the whole point of each one. I would like to ask each of you to look at these commandments in chapter 20:1-17 and see what you can find as to what quality of G-d do they reflect and also how the breaking of that commandment affects us spiritually.

Let’s look at another one to see what the spiritual impact in our own life would be. How about number 10, do not covet. What does it mean? If we find ourselves coveting what does it show us about our own spiritual state? If I covet what another has it is a good indication that I am not satisfied with what G-d has provided me. My own desires take precedents over what G-d’s will, G-d’s provision is for me. The result can be that we lose our focus on what is important spiritually and begin to look at life through the world’s eyes of money, power, status, etc. and lose sight of the truly important things of life.

Please take the time to consider this topic in your own life. I think you will find peace and rest as you live these verses out each day.