Torah Portion: Yitro(Jethro)Ex./Sh’mot 18:1-20:23

Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6

Tonight we cover a Torah portion that is named for a non-Jew. This person is the father-in-law of Moshe. Also in this portion we have the giving of the Ten Commandments or the Ten Utterances. Both of these topics are extremely important to us to know how we should live and who we are in the world as followers of Yeshua.

In Exodus 20:2-17 we read of the giving of the Ten Commandments. In Hebrew the Ten Commandments are referred to as Aserit Debrote or Ten Words.  I would like us to look at these one by one.  But first I would like to talk a minute about the holiday connected to the giving of the Ten Commandments. 

What is the holiday that we celebrate each year connected to the giving of the commandments? It is Shavuot or “Weeks.” It comes 50 days after Passover. This holiday celebrates the giving of the commandments in the desert. Some know it as Pentecost. Pentecost is widely known and celebrated in the church. The apostles were in Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot along with Jews from around the world when the Holy Spirit fell. We have denominations built around this holiday. However, the church, over time, lost its connection to G-d’s calendar. Why do you think this happened and what has been the lasting outcome of this over time? I leave you to ponder those questions.

On to the commandments. As we look at these commandments we will also look at references to them in the Messianic Scripture. In Sh’mot 20:2 we read, “I Am the L-rd your G-d who brought you out of Egypt. We see G-d’s faithfulness in the life of His people. He is with us. All He requires is that we put our faith in Him. John 14:6-7 says, “To know Yeshua is to know the Father.”

In Sh’mot 20:3-6 we read, “You shall have no other gods before Me. G-d alone controls the events of our lives. Each of us has a special relationship with the Father through Yeshua. Nothing can interfere with that unless we put it before the Father. In Matthew 4:10 we find Yeshua’s response to satan. He said, “Away from me Satan! For it is written, ‘worship the L-rd your G-d, and serve Him only.”

In Sh’mot 20:7 we read the third commandment, “Do not take the Name of the L-rd in vain.” We should never lose our perspective. He is our creator, not our buddy, not some old man with a beard that will give us our every desire and a pass when we sin. He is the King of Kings, G-d Almighty.  In Matthew 6:9 we read, “Hallowed be Your Name.”

In Sh’mot 20:8-11 we read the verses concerning the Sabbath. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work; But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the L-rd your G-d; in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor you cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; For in six days the L-rd made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the L-rd blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” This tells us we have to put forth an effort to know Him. We read in Luke 4:16 that Yeshua patterned His life around the Sabbath.

In Sh’mot 20:12 we read, “Honor your father and your mother; that your days may be long upon the land which the L-rd your G-d gives you.” We can find this in several places in the Messianic scriptures. In Mark 7:10-11 and Luke 2:51 Yeshua honored His earthly parents. In John 19:26-27 we see even in His death He honored his mother.

In Sh’mot 20:13 we read, “You shall not murder.” To murder is when we deem another person’s life is of no value. Murder can be physically ending a life or murdering through gossip or slander. Each of us is created in the image of G-d. Matthew 5:21-22 broadens the concept of murder to more than just killing a person.

In Sh’mot 20:14 we read “You shall not commit adultery.” Again in Matthew 5:27-28 the Messianic scripture enlarges the view of what adultery truly is. Adultery can begin with an idea or emotion that gets out of control. It is our challenge to guard our relationship with our spouse.

In Sh’mot 20:15 we read the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal.” We see this mentioned in several places in the Messianic scripture such as Luke 18:20, Mark 10:19 and Matthew 19:18. This sin happens when we let our desire for someone else’s property over rule our faith that G-d will supply our needs.

In Sh’mot 20:16 we read, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  What does this mean to you? In John 18:37 we read the words of Pilate to Yeshua, “Are you a King then?” and Yeshua’s answer to him was, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

In Exodus 20:17 we read the last of the Ten Commandments. This commandment talks about coveting your neighbor’s possessions or greed. This commandment lies at the root of many of the other commandments that we have talked about today. Luke 12:15 says, “And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”  There is so much more to life than possessions. Greed never leads us to happiness. True life is about living our lives according to what G-d has entrusted to each of us.

Now, to end the night I asked who you might find in scripture who attached themselves to G-d’s people and might be considered righteous gentiles. Tonight we read of one such person, Jethro, Moshe’s father-in-law. In Exodus 18:8-12 Jethro recognized and stated that the G-d of Israel was greater than all other gods. We will see him sever other times in scripture and under other names as well.

Rahab, in Joshua chapter 2 helped the spies and her life and the life of her family was spared because of her actions.

Yael, Herber’s wife of the Kenite people in Judges 4:11 helped Israel during their war with the Canaanites.  Sissra, the leader of the Canaanites, fled from the battlefield and in Judges 4:21-22 Yael killed him  by driving a stake through his skull as he slept.

The story of Ruth is a well known story of a righteous gentile. She devoted her life to the Jewish people when she returned to Israel with Naomi. 

Lastly,  in the book of Samuel, we find that this same family, the Kenites, lived near the Amalekites, and Saul was careful not to harm them while fighting the enemy Amalek. (I Samuel 15:6)

May you be blessed this week. David