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).
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.
This week’s Torah portion introduces us to not only the wisdom of Jethro, or ‘Yitro’ in Hebrew, Moses’ Father-In-Law, but also much wisdom in the prophetic patterns of The One True Living God, whom I call ‘Abba’, which means ‘Father’ in Hebrew.
Beginning in Exodus 18, we are introduced to the Midian priest, Jethro, who also is Moses’ Father-In-Law. Jethro brings with him Zipporah, Moses’ wife, as well as two of her (and presumably Moses’) sons, Gershom and Eliezer, to meet Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai where the Israelites are camped at this point in the story. After learning of all the miracles of the LORD and how the Israelites were redeemed, Jethro glorifies YHWH and offers a sacrifice of praise (Exodus 18:7-12). The next day, when Jethro sees the numerous issues or cases Moses’ presides over providing a judgment for each of the people’s cases, Jethro wisely recognizes it is impossible for Moses and the people to continue conducting business in this manner for they will exhaust themselves and especially Moses. Consequently, Jethro exhorts Moses to create a hierarchy of government or judges to rule over the people and judge accordingly. Any matter too difficult can be moved up the chain of command for Moses to come to a decision – perhaps similar to how cases can be escalated to our Supreme Court here in America. I especially love and have highlighted Jethro’s wise words when he said,
“And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.” Exodus 18:20 (NKJV)
Jethro’s wisdom foreshadows the hierarchy of the eventual Messianic Era where Jesus prophecized the twelve disciples will sit on twelve thrones to rule and reign over the future twelve tribes of Israel one fine day (Matthew 19:28-30). We also can see just as Moses and his appointed leaders will be instructing God’s laws to the current Israelites, so too will Jesus and His appointed priests be teaching the miraculously gathered Israel as well as all the remaining world God’s laws, God’s Torah (Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 51; Ezekiel 44:23-24; Micah 4:1-8). To learn more about the “Second Exodus”, be sure to come back to this article (click here).
As we further examine this Biblical account of Moses and the Israelites, we see other elements foreshadowing the soon coming Messianic Era. Moses, along with the twelve tribes of Israel, and the mixed multitudes of people who aligned themselves with Israel upon the exodus of Egypt (see Exodus 12:37-38), are at Mount Sinai at this point in their faith journey when the Torah, or God’s instructions, God’s laws are given to them as part of the holy covenant. God, their redeemer, uses Moses, the mediator, to invite them to come into relationship with Him as His “special treasure” above all others not in covenant with Him for those in holy covenant shall be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). In the Brit Chadashah, or New Testament writings, The Apostle Peter uses the same terminology when he writes to believers in Messiah, whom he identifies as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people..who once were not a people but are now the people of God..” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Likewise, the Apostle John scribes in Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Do you see this correlation of those, being Israel, at Mount Sinai were given the Torah and Moses was essentially their king compared to how one day, in the Messianic Era, when Christ, our Messiah, returns to rule and reign, He will do so at Mount Zion according to numerous prophecies, He will be our King, and He will teach us His Torah and all that it means and is intended for (much like before during His first coming) to whom He deems is “Israel”, consisting of genetic Israel as well as those grafted-in or adopted or spiritual Israel being believers in Messiah (see Romans 11)? How amazing is that?!
But wait, there’s more! Not to sound like a TV commercial, but in God, there’s always more! You see so many are deceived in our modern religious thinking to believe that once you are “saved”, you are good to go, there is no need to go any further in one’s faith journey. But as we see from this wise Biblical account in Exodus, one’s redemption is just the beginning! Or as some have said, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” Once redeemed (Exodus 19:4), God invited the people He redeemed into relationship defining to them who they were in His eyes should they accept the terms of His covenant (Exodus 19:5-6), and then once relationship was established or like a marriage was established, He continued to reveal more and more of His eternal truth (Psalm 119:160), being His Torah, His instructions and His intentions in it all (Exodus 20+). Relationship is the only way for one’s nature, one’s character, one’s truth to be revealed.
Where are you at in your faith journey? Have you been redeemed yet by believing Jesus is the Messiah who paid the debt for your lawlessness, who overcame the consequence of sin in death through His resurrection? Are you in covenant or relationship with God through Jesus? Has His Spirit of Holiness revealed to you what is holy, what His Torah reveals, what His instructions for living are, what it means to love God and love others, as well as more and more spiritual truths? Are you being consistently transformed in this “horribly-amazing-purification-process”? Are you being consecrated as you wash your clothes in the word making your garments clean like the Israelites were instructed (Exodus 19:10-11; John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26-27; Revelation 19:8,14)? Will you be apart of the Second Exodus one day?
Lastly, just as God consummated the covenant to His selected people at Mount Sinai, on that fine day when Jesus, or Yeshua in His Hebrew name, returns to rule and reign from Mount Zion, He will gather whom He deems ‘Israel’ and consummate the ‘New Covenant’ at that time. Furthermore, He will fully dispense His Holy Spirit, whose sole job is to scribe the Torah in Israel’s hearts causing ‘Israel’ to want to obey revealing to us Torah as it was intended (Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:27; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-13, 10:14-18) .
Indeed, this week’s Torah portion provides much wisdom into past, present, and future redemption, relationship, and revelation.
Have you ever asked God for a sign to know if you should do something or as a means to communicate a distinct direction in your life? I sure have! If you are familiar with my story, then you know in 2016, my husband and I believe the Lord called us to sell our home in Pennsylvania to follow Him wherever He says to go, to do whatever it is He says to do, and evidently, to learn and be transformed in the process. If you are like me, often times if I suspect God is calling me to do something, I will ask for a sign or Scripture to confirm I am hearing Him or interpreting what I think He may be saying correctly. Sure enough we got our sign, if not multiple signs, leading us on this peculiar, set-apart path.
It’s been nearly 4 years now since we’ve said our goodbyes to our historic, charming home. Since then we have lived in South Carolina in a tiny studio on the beach and now a tiny sailboat in Texas (Galveston Bay/ Houston area). Similar to how God’s Spirit led the Israelites to various places along their wilderness, He seems to be doing the same for us. While reading their story recently, I reflected on the similarities between their experiences with ours for we too had to learn to depend completely on God to provide and we had to listen closely while trusting and obeying Him as He told us what to do for income, where to go, and what to do, much like He did for the Israelites. Thankfully, it all has worked out marvelously, but it certainly has tested our faith in Him numerous times.
While reading about the Israelites journey through the wilderness, I couldn’t help but notice early on in their faith journey, God provided them His Spirit to guide them. Upon doing so, the first tangible lesson He revealed to them was the importance of resting on the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath, as He called it, for that is the day HE rests and He would not be working that day (Exodus 16). How funny to think perhaps God needs some PTO too (Personal Time Off)! According to that fascinating account in Exodus 16, God informed the Israelites to collect double the manna the day before Sabbath so they would have enough to get by on Sabbath (our Saturday) because He was not providing that day as He had all the other days. Likewise, since we moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Lord opened my eyes to His Sabbath. For some reason in 2017, I decided to look up in my Bible every time it mentioned Sabbath to see what it was really about, when it was, and if it was important. I can only assume this was the Holy Spirit prompting me to do so because I do not recall any other factors to spark my curiosity.
It was when I read Isaiah 65-66 though that it hit me, like a “There’s Your Sign…Can You Hear Me Now?” kind of moment for it occurred to me if the Sabbath matters to Jesus AFTER He returns as those passages clearly state (in the Messianic Era), then that must mean it matters to Him now, before He returns as well (see Isaiah 66:22-24). Consequently, I continued to discover verses even in the New Testament revealing Jesus honored the Sabbath (Mark 1:21, 6:2; Luke 4:16-39, 13:10), it is a gift from God to mankind (Mark 2:27), and the Apostles as well as early believers all honored the 7th day Sabbath (Acts 13:14-15, 42-44; 15:21; 17:2-3; 18:4; Hebrews 4:9). Many will say the Sabbath is just for the Jews, but I discovered in the Book of Acts, believing Gentiles or foreigners also kept the 7th day Sabbath upon aligning themselves with Messiah and the One True God, not to mention Isaiah 56 praises the foreigner who honors God by keeping Sabbath even more so than God’s natural kids being the Jews (see Isaiah 56:5). Still, I researched why the modern church thinks the Sabbath is on a Sunday and discovered the horrifying reasons why some changed it to Sunday. All of which convicted me to start honoring God’s Sabbath on the 7th day as He instructed versus what man deemed the Sabbath and their anti-semitic motives in doing so.
Even prior to selling our Pennsylvanian home, the Lord led me to study the Book of Revelation and to compare it to the Book of Exodus. I studied these books and the similar patterns for months gleaning so much more than I anticipated. I could not help but notice how the Israelites were spared from all the plagues of Exodus and how the sealed saints in Revelation, presumably those who both believe in Jesus AND keep God’s commands (Rev.12:17, 14:12, 20:4), are spared from the plagues to come (Rev 7:3-4, 9:4). I realized during those months of intense studying that just as there is the “mark of the beast” (Rev.13; Daniel 8:23-26; 11:28,30-32), there is a mark of God, or a seal of God as it is said in Revelation 7:2-4. I also somehow came across an identical sentiment in Ezekiel 9 where God had the angel seal the forehead of those who kept His commands and were grieved over those who did not. Notice the saints who keep God’s commands are grieving for those who claim to believe and yet refuse to obey God and the judgment begins in the sanctuary of God, which corresponds with what the Apostle Peter warned (Ezekiel 9:4-10; 1 Peter 4:17). Similarly, the sign the LORD was looking for in the ultimate Exodus plague just prior to the Israelites’ redemption was the sign of the blood of the lamb being on the doorpost of the homes (Exodus 11:7, 12:12-13,23,28). Consequently, the angel (presumably, it was an angel acting out this judgment per God’s command like in Ezekiel and Revelation) knew not to inflict death on that home. Clearly, there are some interesting patterns and similarities transpiring amongst various passages in Scripture. Still, at that time, I had not been taught by the Lord the importance of Sabbath, but He certainly was setting the stage for His big reveal.
As mentioned earlier, after trusting and obeying Him, after being set free from a Pharaoh or culture of bondage or debt, being a mortgage and all the typical bills that come along with homeownership and needing to work around the clock to pay for such things, God’s Spirit revealed to us His provision and His rest, being Sabbath. Even so, after grasping this truth and wanting to cheerfully comply, actually practicing such things required me to take some seemingly scary risks like let go a few clients of mine (because at the time I cleaned beach condos in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina every Saturday in between vacationing guests). Talk about having faith..those Saturday clients were my biggest money-making days! True to who He is though, God provided other cleaning clients that made a way for where we are and what we clean today (mostly yacht clients and move-out turnover clients here in Texas). First, He exposed me to other realms of cleaning and then had us move all together to really embrace that set-apart, “clean” lifestyle of honoring Sabbath. The cleaning I do now for my cleaning business is intentionally on Monday through Friday to ensure I honor the Sabbath. The number 1 reason He had us move to Texas was to position us to still clean, still have plenty of free time to be in His Word and to serve others, but most importantly to ensure we could honor His Sabbath. After keeping Sabbath now for a few years, I still am learning more and more about such a critical day, but oh so blessed and glad I keep Sabbath for indeed it is a delightful gift from God!
During this most recent Sabbath, while randomly reading Isaiah 56, verses 7 to 8 jumped off the page to me with a deeper revelation that I never noticed before upon reading the same words. In a previous article, I penned about how contrary to what most of us Christians were taught, we aren’t actually “raptured” to heaven when Jesus returns, but rather Scripture reveals over and over again we are gathered more like a Second Exodus to Jerusalem also known as Mount Zion. You can read in great detail all the verses supporting that discovery here. So upon reading Isaiah 56:7-8, which says,
I realized the Sabbath is the sign or seal God looks for when He directs His angels to uproot the tares (the weeds) and simultaneously transplants the proverbial wheat to Jerusalem/Mount Zion to inherit the earth (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; Psalm 37:7-31; Matthew 5:5; Revelation 5:10, 14:14-20). Notice, when Jesus goes on to decode the parable of the wheat and tares, He reveals both the tares and wheat are gathered, but what determines if they are a tare versus a wheat is if they fail to obey God’s law, His instructions, His Torah.
“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire..” (Matthew 13:41).
We also know, per 1 John 3:4, sin is defined as breaking God’s laws or being law-less or without God’s laws. Suddenly, all my studies came together. Oh, I get it, this is why Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit is a seal guaranteeing our redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14), and why it also says, the Spirit of Holiness aka Holy Spirit’s entire job is to cause us to obey God’s commands (Ezekiel 11:19-21, 36:27), and to do that which is holy (Romans 3:31, 7:12) such as the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8, 31:14; Colossians 2:16; Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 1:10), why Revelation defines “saints” as those who both believe in Jesus AND keep God’s commands (Rev 12:17, 14:12, 20:4), why the Apostle Peter warns to not be deceived by people who twist the Apostle Paul’s words leading them to break Torah/God’s laws (2 Peter 3:14-18) and why the prophet Isaiah says the law will be sealed among God’s disciples (Isaiah 8:16), why Jesus said anyone who teaches God’s laws are considered great in His kingdom versus anyone who teaches God’s laws are done away with are least (Matthew 5:14-21), and why Jesus also says many will believe in Him, but few will keep His Father’s laws, His will for us, such as Sabbath (Matthew 7). Lastly, it is why various Scriptures says the Sabbath is the eternal sign of those who keep covenant which matches what Isaiah says in 56:7-8! There’s your sign!!
Moreover, it occured to me, if a day is a thousand years, according to 2 Peter 3:8, and there are 7 days of the week per God’s design (Genesis 1-2), and if the Jews understand we are presently in the 6th day on God’s prophetic timeline, then it is logical to believe the 7th day is the 1,000 Millennial Reign of Messiah, of Christ – it is His Day of Rest. In other words, if you fail to enter His rest now, by keeping Sabbath as a rehearsal to His ultimate Sabbath day rest, you can forget about entering in His Rest to come in the Millennium upon His return to rule and reign (Messianic Era)!
May His Spirit of Holiness guide you into such epic truth as He did for the prophets, myself, and so many others! God’s Spirit is opening eyes and circumcising hearts like never before causing a pandemic of infectious transforming truth to globally spread all over for His glory!
May we not be like the rebellious, who stiffen our necks and harden our hearts to the ways of God for our heart’s response to His documented voice reveals if we indeed are circumcised of the heart and led by His Spirit of Holiness causing us to want to obey and consequently, enter His rest.
For further reflection, please meditate on Ezekiel 20, Exodus 16, Psalm 95, and Hebrews 3-4. I also invite you to read this post connecting these passages. Have a great week and a delightful Sabbath as you rest in His truth!
Read what Jesus/Yeshua said about those who don’t do and teach God’s laws. Now, compare what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19 to this passage in Ezekiel 44:10-15 describing priests in the Messianic Era/Millennial Reign of Christ. Notice the priests who didn’t teach the people to obey God’s laws ended up being “least in the kingdom” tasked with maintaining the temple; whereas the priests who did teach the people to obey God’s laws are tasked with directly ministering to God Himself and being in His presence. Lastly, read Ezekiel 44:23-24 and 1 Peter 2:9-10. What kind of priest are you? #doesandteaches
* Jesus/Yeshua will be teaching us Torah, God’s laws or instructions for life, upon returning to rule and reign from Jerusalem/Mt Zion(Isaiah 2, 51; Micah 4);
*He also leads in performing sacrifices-except the trespass offering (Ezekiel 45:16-17)
* He requires His feast days to be celebrated like Feast of Tabernacles by the entire globe or else that nation’s economy is shot (Ezekiel 45:18-25; Zechariah 14:16+)
*He enforces ‘The Yeshua Diet’ of eating clean…sorry, no bacon (Isaiah 65:4-5, 66:3; Rev 18:2)
* He will be worshipped on His 7th day Sabbath (Isaiah 56, 66:22-23; Eze 44:24),
*and He implements priests to help teach everyone God’s Torah/instructions (Eze 44:23-24; Isaiah 66:21-24; Matt 5:19-21)
you realize we totally misunderstood the definition of sin (1John 3:4); grace is the forgiveness or paying off the requirement of breaking Torah (Colossians 2:13-14) and not a license to willfully break Torah (Hebrews 10); repentance, which is returning to God and His way; what it means to be Spirit-Led (Eze 11:19-21, 36:25-27; Romans 8); what is holy (Romans 7:12); living a lifestyle of holiness(1 Peter 1:13-16); and how He defines love (1 John 2:3-4).
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, WHICH ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossains 2:16-17)
If you believe Yeshua/Jesus is Messiah and are dwelling in His world-wide government in the Messianic Era/Millennium, Torah is your future. #NotMyWayButYahweh