As always, the first few words in the first sentence of this week’s assigned Torah portion dictates the title of the Torah portion. ‘Mishpatim’ is a Hebrew word found within the first sentence of Exodus 21:1 meaning ‘judgments’. To understand a basic overview of the history of the Torah as well as Haftarah Bible portions, click here.
In this particular Torah portion in Exodus 21:1-24:18 , we find a set of laws, judgments, rulings, or instructions, however you want to phrase it, with a central theme of being responsible in how you handle many areas of your life such as:
*how you handle your servants/employees/subcontractors (if you will) (see Exodus 21:1-11)
* how you handle your emotions or actions (see Exodus 21:12-27)
* how you handle your animals (see Exodus 21:28-36)
*how you handle what’s in your possession (see Exodus 22:1-15)
*as well as miscellaneous instructions on your lifestyle including heeding God’s voice found in these commandments as well as honoring the Sabbath and certain holy holidays (see Exodus 22:16-23:19)
All of these judgments or rulings of the LORD coincide with what Jesus/Yeshua expanded upon in Matthew 5:38-42 as well as Luke 6:31. In fact, Jesus even quoted from Exodus 21:24 in Matthew 5:38.
Back to the Torah portion…After the LORD thoroughly explains such concepts to Moses so he can in turn teach the people these said instructions, Abba Father (the LORD) informs Moses He will send an angel to protect the Israelites as they slowly sojourn to the promised land. God strongly advises to Moses and subsequently, His chosen people, that it is mission critical they obey these instructions in order for them to conquer precarious pagans along their path and to safely reach their destination (Exodus 23:20-23). God carefully reminds them to not adopt the practices and lifestyles of worship of the pagan peoples, but rather, His people should utterly uproot and destroy any hint of worship God has not prescribed (Exodus 23:24-25). In doing so, they will be healed of various sickness among them, including no woman will miscarry her child nor be unable to have children (Exodus 23:25-26). Similar expressions of faith are declared by God when He defines the health and safety benefits as well as curses to heeding or rejecting His documented voice in Deuteronomy 28.
Interestingly enough, starting in Exodus 23:29, God explains He will drive out the pagans “little by little” rather than all at once so that the land, and therefore, the fruits of the land (their food), could still be properly worked, and the wild animals not take over the land and consume the crops. Smart God! He further reminds them to not make any covenant or commitment…no deals with the enemy, no mingling of faiths, no believers with unbelievers, lest they entice His people to sin against God’s instructions or commands (Exodus 23:32-33). Where can we find similar sentiments in Scripture? Read my article ‘Walk Like An Egyptian?’ to discover numerous similar passages.
In the last chapter of this week’s Torah parashah, we see the people of God once again renew their commitment to serving Him and His way when they reply like wedding vows, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” (Exodus 24:3). Then like in a marriage, they consummated the covenant a few verses later in Exodus 24:5-8, all of which is similar to what the Israelites vowed a few chapters back in last week’s Torah portion when they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:5-8).
In the final verses of this ‘Mishpatim’ Torah portion, I noticed when Moses, Aaron, his brother, and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, along with seventy of the elders, saw God in person, they documented under His feet was a foundation of sapphires like they had never seen before. I recalled similar statements can be found in Isaiah 54:11 as well as Revelation 21:19. According to the world, sapphire is the birthstone of September, which tends to align with the busy Hebrew month of Tishri, the seventh month. During Tishri, several of the LORD’s holy holidays manifest such as the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), some of which were mentioned earlier in this Torah portion (Exodus 23:16). Notice the correlation of the seventh day, the seventh month, and seventh year ordaining various days or years of rest. To learn how the number 7 is hugely crucial in understanding prophecy and the upcoming Messianic Era, please read this article I recently penned, ‘There’s Your Sign’ as it is all related and important to any believer’s faith journey.
Overall, the general theme of this week’s Torah portion seems to be defining and outlining how God wants His people to demonstrate self-control, love, and commitment as they lead set-apart, peculiar lifestyles of worship different than those around them.
I pray this teaching enriched, encouraged, and exhorted you as you sojourn a faith journey of your own.