Yitro (Jethro) Shemot (Exodus) 18:1-20:26 HafTorah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6

1.G-d was preparing to speak to the Israelites but in Exodus 20:15-16 the children of Israel became  afraid when they heard the thunder and sound of the shofar. They backed away and distanced themselves from G-d. They asked Moses to hear G-d for them and relate His messages to them. What might they have lost in making this request?  Do you think there are times we prefer others to hear G-d for us? If so what is the danger here?

Jewish scholars look at this as a lost opportunity. In fact Moses exhorts them to not be afraid but to press on.  In Exodus 20:17-18 Moses told them G-d had come to test them, that the fear of G-d be upon them so they would not sin. Had they pressed on and submitted to G-d’s voice, stood in His presence, they might not have committed the sin of the golden calf a few days later. But they stood afar off. As far as I know, G-d never again tried to speak directly to the Israelites as a nation.

Even today there are people that rely on church leadership to hear from G-d for them. In doing so they try to live off of someone else’s faith not their own. When difficulties come it is hard for them to hear from G-d personally. 

Do we sometimes stand far off from G-d when He speaks to us?  Do we prefer for someone else to tell us what G-d is saying?  Do we take the time to dig for spiritual truth? Do we believe we are unable to do what He is asking so we stand afar off? 

Some of us, like Moshe, are seeking G-d’s presence, pressing forward to engage with Him; others of us, like the Israelites, are holding back, afraid of what He might do to us or what He might require of us. The Father longs for a relationship with each of us, as His children. We were bought with a price, redeemed and paid for by Yeshua. Yeshua, our Messiah, is the path for us to come into the presence of G-d. Don’t miss opportunities to press forward into Him.

2.In Exodus/Shemot 19:6 G-d was speaking to the people telling them that they all were to be a nation of priests. What does it mean to be a nation of priest? Are we to be the same? Is the meaning different in our day?

Read Shemot 19:5-6, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. ”

In I Peter 2:9 we read the phrase again. Peter gives us our answer, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. What is the meaning in each case?

We can show others the goodness of G-d. We can and should be able to share the goodness of G-d based on what He has done for us. The Israelites here were to be able to also share with the world what G-d had done for them. 

We, should live our lives each day governed by His word and compassion. Israel lived in a tough neighborhood but they were called to be different, to live each day each moment as   G-d’s people. They were to live differently, live by G-d’s direction and not their own. This was a task that could sometimes be difficult. Sometimes they failed and sometimes we do too but our failure should not be allowed to defeat us. We learn from it. We repent and go on stronger 

3.The L-RD commands Israel to remember the Sabbath. What does it mean to “remember” the Sabbath?

What does it mean to “remember” the Sabbath? Was there ever a danger of forgetting to keep the Sabbath? In Semitic culture, the word “remember” has clear covenant connotations. To remember means to act in faithfulness to the covenant.             

G-d remembered Noah in the Ark in Gen. 9:14-17,  G-d remembered Hannah in I Sam 1:19,  G-d remembered Rachel in Gen 30:22. G-d was faithful to His people.  G-d was telling Israel to show faithfulness to His covenant by keeping the Sabbath.

If the covenant ceremony at Mount Sinai can be compared to a wedding, then the Sabbath can be compared to a wonderful wedding gift. Wrapped up in blessing and holiness, it is a gift that continues to radiate the love of G-d every week.

4.What is the importance of Shavuot in G-d’s time line for us as believers? 

Some Christians recognize the holiday of Pentecost and only celebrate that one Biblical holiday. In Hebrew Pentecost is Shavuot. When Shavuot is not connected to the other holidays such as Passover, Succot and the other Biblical holidays, you lose the picture of how G-d has ordered the calendar of our spiritual life. 

Shavuot is the second major holiday or appointment with G-d that we encounter on our spiritual journey each year. Passover is our time of redemption, where we are freed from our own spiritual Egypt. Shavuot is the time, when after redemption and becoming part of the bride, we are given the Handbook or what G-d expects from us on this journey. It falls in perfect order when we see it in context.

5.As we study Torah it is always good to see how it connects to the Messianic scripture. Try taking the commandments in our Torah portion and see if you can find verses in the Messianic scripture that relates to any of the commandments. 

More than just rules for governing human behavior, the laws of the Torah reflect the Lawgiver. Each law and commandment, no matter how small or seemingly irrelevant, communicates a piece of revelation from God, an overflowing of His heart.

1.Shemot 20:2 I am the L-rd your G-d who brought you out of Egypt. Out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other G-ds before me.

I Corinthians 8:5-6, “For even if there are so called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and “lords”) yet for us there is but one G-d, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one L-rd Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 

G-d and He alone controls the events of our lives. Nothing, government, bosses, spouse can benefit or harm us unless G-d has allowed it. Each of us has a special relationship with G-d through Messiah. Nothing can interfere with that unless we put it before G-d. Matthew 4:10 says to Satan, “you shall worship the L-rd your G-d and serve Him only.”

2.Shemot 20:4-5 You shall not make for yourself any engraved image. G-d is a jealous G-d.                                                                                                        Romans 1:21-23, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.                             

I John 5:21, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”   The second commandment banned any image that would be used as an object of worship. The Hebrew word for idol (“pesel”) refers to something made of wood or stone fashioned to represent something to be worshipped (Isaiah 44:9-18). G-d is making it clear that Israel cannot serve the deities of the surrounding nations and still serve Him. 

3.Shemot 20:7 Do not take the name of the L-rd in vain. Matthew 6:9 says, “Hallowed be Your name.”                                                                        Our relationship with G-d should never be allowed to cause us to lose perspective. He is your creator, not a little old gray haired man who will give us a pass when we sin.  Never forget He is the King of Kings.                                                                              

4.Shemot 20:8-11 The Sabbath.  Luke 4:16, “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,

Yeshua patterned His life around the Sabbath. Why should we be different.  To maintain our relationship with G-d requires effort on our part. Sabbath is a framework to do that. It is a time when we can focus on what is truly important, to draw inspiration for the week to come, to get our priorities in order. 

5.Shemot 20:12 Honor Father and Mother.  The New Testament is full of verses that speak of this commandment.   Mark 7:10-13 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother, and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—He honored His earthly parents. then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”   John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

6.Shemot 20:13 Thou shalt not murder.  Matthew 5:21-22. You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sisterwill be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca, is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Murder is when we deem another person as of no value. We are created in the image of G-d. Raca is a Hebrew word meaning empty or empty headed. It was a derogatory expression that would indicate someone with hatred for his brother in his heart, exposing that hatred by using this word – raca. 

7.Shemot 20:13 You shall not commit adultery. Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Matthew 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what G-d has joined together, let no one separate.”  Adultery is somewhat like murder. It begins with an idea or emotion that gets out of control. It is our challenge each day to guard our relationship with our spouse from all imaginations.

8.Shemot 20:13 Do not steal.  Luke 18:20 “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’Mark 10:19 “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’Matt. 19:18 Yeshua replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, taking someone else’s property for your own gain, only thinking about your own needs.”

9.Shemot 20:13 You shall not bear false witness.  John 18:37, “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Yeshua answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  Yeshua is the essence of truth. We are told not to judge, not to slander by passing our own verdict.

10.Shemot 20:14 You shall not covet your neighbors possessions.  Luke 12:15, “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  What causes us to do this? Greed. We should be able to rejoice with people when they prosper. There is so much more to life than things. So as we pass through the waters of redemption we now have the handbook to live by.