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Jethro(Yitro)Exodus/Sh’mot 18:1-20:23

Jethro(Yitro)Exodus/Sh’mot 18:1-20:23

Today I want us to look at several topics in this Torah portion with the last one being connected to my question this week. I also want to thank everyone for your responses to my question. There were some really good answers.

Before we get to my question I want to mention the visit of Moshe’s father-in-law Jethro. In our verses today we read where Jethro came to visit Moshe. He also brought Moshe’s wife, Zipporah and his two children with him to reunite the family. While he was there he observed Moshe as he met with people who were seeking his wisdom and advice on many different issues.

After watching Moshe spend so much time and energy settling disputes or giving advice, we read in Exodus 18:17 what he said to his son-in-law. “And Moshe’s father-in-law said to him, the thing that you do is not good,” Jethro used two Hebrew words for the phrase, “not good.” These words are lo tov. What is interesting is that those two words are only used one other time in Torah.  The same expression is found in Genesis 2:18 when G-d said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” It seems Torah is saying that it is not good for one to carry the burden of leadership alone or to live alone.

We all have the need for someone to share our lives with. We need others to help us carry the burdens of life with us as well. We see this in the Messianic scriptures where Yeshua chose the twelve disciples/talmidim to help and walk along side of Him.

In this Torah portion, in Exodus 20, we also read of the giving of what we call the Ten Commandments. We speak of them every year. They have had a great impact on our world, an impact that reaches far outside of Judaism.  This is apparent in our own legal and moral codes. They are also the basis for one of the major holidays of both Jews and in some ways, Christians too. What is this holiday? Its name in Hebrew is Shavuot or Weeks and it is when the commandments were given by G-d to the people. It occurs every year on the 50thday after Passover. The Talmud says that at Mt. Sinai, when G-d came down on the mountain and spoke to the people, flames of fire, representing the words of G-d settled on the people.

In the Messianic scriptures, in Acts 2:1-4, we also read when the apostles spoke the same thing happened, tongues of fire settled upon them. Today we have a denomination, Pentecostals, taking their name from this miracle in Jerusalem.  We call this event in Acts, Pentecost, which happens to be the Greek word for fifty.

Now to my question for this week, what difference is there in saying, “I believe in G-d” and saying, “I know G-d?” In our Torah portion the Ten Commandments begin in Exodus 20:2. There we read, “I am the L-rd your G-d, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” 

To help us in our quest it is important for us to define two terms. The first is the Hebrew word for believe. The word for believe is emuna. The other word is, know or knowledge. The Hebrew word for knowledge is da’at. We see this word da’at again in Genesis 4:1 where it says, “Now man knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” This expresses knowledge in the sense of intimate personal knowledge or connection with the heart. The word believe can be looked at as a matter of the head. The dictionary said believe is to have faith or confidence in the existence of something or to accept something as true. We believe the earth is round based on the facts. We believe in G-d but even the devil believed in G-d and trembled James 2:19. If a person simply believes that there is a G-d in heaven, and that is the extent of his faith, then that is not saving faith. 

These two words while seeming similar carry a large difference in actual meaning. Think of a person who smokes. This person believes that smoking is bad for him but that does not change his behavior. He continues to smoke. The facts about smoking are in his head –but never made it to his heart. To know smoking is bad, to internalize that fact, will take that belief and transfer it from their head to their heart. This is where changes in behavior will take place.

Sometimes the short distance between the head and the heart can seem like the distance between the earth and the moon. This first commandment is to believe that G-d truly exists and that He desires, He wants, to change our lives from our head to our heart. He wants what we believe to make its way to our heart where it changes who we are and how we live our life every day. He wants to be a dynamic part of our daily existence. Believing G-d exists is not the end of faith. It is only the beginning. G-d’s desire is that we become who He desires us to be. When we know Him that knowledge changes how we live our life.  

Matthew 7:21 sets it out very clearly. “Not everyone that saith unto me, L-rd, L-rd shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Our faith should change how we live our days. We are to do the will of the Father, not just go on as we were, believing in G-d but not allowing it to change us.

I challenge you to live your life with the reality of G-d’s existence and build a passionate, intimate, relationship with Him. This is a challenge for every person who believes in G-d. I pray G-d blesses each of you with wisdom and understanding as your knowledge of Him grows each day.