Torah Portion: Mishpatim(Rulings)Ex./Sh’mot 21:1-24:18
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 34:8-22
In our time together tonight we will be looking at the Torah portion that follows Yitro. In Yitro we read the 10 Words or Commandments. This week’s portion is often looked at as rather anti-climactic after the fire and smoke coming down on Mt. Sinai in last week’s portion.
In the opening verse of our Torah portion tonight we read the Hebrew words “vaeli.” This was translated into English as, “and these.” Having this at the beginning of the Torah portion makes what follows a continuation of the Ten Commandments. It puts these laws on the same level as the Ten Commandments. In fact we could look at the words of our portion as the fleshing out of last week’s commandments.
Our portion tonight goes into the entire revelation of G-d to Moshe and the people on how they were to live from day to day, how they were to be the holy people of G-d. Here we read how we too are to relate to the world around us. Remember, these people had been slaves for hundreds of years. G-d laid out how they were to live as free people. This portion has much to say to us also. How are we to live out our faith in the modern world? Have the words spoken here to Moshe and the people become obsolete today?
To help us on our search let us look at Exodus 23:7. This commandment is the only one that does not begin with the words, “thou shall not.” In this verse we read the words about lying. It says, “Flee from lying.” This means, don’t lie. This commandment tells us we are to be truthful people. We are not to say one thing and then in private do another. We read in Acts 5:1-11 about Ananias and Sapphira. These two people lied about how much money they received for property they had sold. What happened to them? We can find many other verses on this subject such as Proverbs 14:5, Colossians 3:9-10, and Ezekiel 13:8.
So we might ask what is the big deal about lying? Why does scripture tell us to flee from a lie? In some circumstances a lie would be easier for us than telling the truth. Many times we are prone to bend the truth, to stretch it, or leave part of the truth out of what we are saying so we won’t hurt someone’s feelings. Where can this lead? We must be honest and truthful with every word that comes out of our mouth. G-d knows exactly what we are saying. With this commandment He is warning us against being drawn into a cycle that is hard to break. He tells us to flee from this temptation. Lying draws more lies in its wake. It can become second nature to us. We can tell ourselves we didn’t want to hurt their feelings. What fleshly desires lends itself to this temptation? Maybe we want to fit in. Maybe exaggerating the truth will make us look good in the eyes of others, more powerful, knowing more than they do. We are to be truthful people. We are to be faithful representatives of our G-d and our faith.
This brings me to my other point for us to ponder. In Exodus 22:31 we read, “You shall be holy men to Me.” We see this idea of holiness expressed throughout scripture in verses such as: I Peter 1:15-16, Leviticus 19:2, Leviticus 21:8 to name a few. Verses like these raises the question what does it mean to us? How are we to reflect the holiness of G-d? How are we to live our lives daily?
I believe holiness should be reflected in our daily walk. It should be evident in our thoughts and our actions. It means we are to be representatives of the Father in everything we do. In scripture holiness means a person or a people who have been set apart. As I considered this this week I thought about the time when I came to the L-rd when I was 12 years old. In reality that was the moment I was set apart. However, no one really explained that concept to me. I did not grasp what it really meant when I made that decision and as I grew older I was ill equipped to meet the challenges of life as a believer.
As a child of G-d, as a separated out one, we have become part of a holy journey. We are to be different from the world. Our actions and thoughts should reflect our faith in G-d. For He is holy and because we are His children we are also holy.
Holiness requires us to spend time with our Father. It requires us to strengthen our spiritual muscles by learning from the Father just was is holy and what is unholy. What does it mean to be holy? Being holy means to be sensitive. We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and recognize when we bump up against things of this world that masquerades as holy. In our effort to reach the world for G-d we must guard against becoming like the world.
We don’t get time off. We were bought with a precious price. We are not to follow our own worldly desires but to live each day as a child of the King. We are different. We have a higher calling that affects every part of our life. Ponder this in your days ahead. What does this mean in your life? I encourage you to live each day as a child of the King, representing Him in all your thoughts and deeds.