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Torah Portions – Mishpatim – Exodus 21:1-24:18 – Take 2

March 6, 2012

Last weeks Torah Portion is named Mishpatim which is the English transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “rulings” or “ordnances.”

Portions like this are very important because they give us the rules that God wants us to abide by. Unfortunately, because it is mostly a list of rules, statutes and commandments, it isn’t easy to write about.  In fact, this post is called “Take 2” because the first time I started writing it I began with a very lengthy bit about slavery vs. servitude vs. bondservents vs. apostles and the differences.  I started hitting a good bit of writers block and I’m going to make that into its own post, eventually.

While portions like these aren’t easy to write about, it is easy to do. Yeshua promises us that his yoke is easy and his burden light.  But, as I was reminded recently in church, there is still a burden and there is still a yoke.  If everyone around us were obeying in the way that we are trying to, it would be very light and easy.  This portion contained many rules that seem like common sense, many rules about human rights, and many rules about property rights.

When there is a portion like this I’m going to try to hit the highlights; things I find interesting, commandments which have been “changed” by doctrines of men, and make commentary on any narrative that is in the portion.

Our teacher gave us great instruction for understanding YHVH’s instructions to us. When we read an instruction we should ask ourselves and the scriptures:

What does YHVH want?

What does this say about His personality?

How can I apply this in my life?

How can I apply this to Yeshua?

The instructions can be divided into three basic categories: Ceremonial – How do I interact with Yahweh?  Moral – or as our teacher calls them the “don’t be a jerk” laws.  Civil or judicial rules.  Generally, we should be able to categorize any of the instructions in Torah into one of these three categories. 

There are many other ways to divide the various instructions. As an example, every one of the laws can be related back to one or more of the Ten Commandments.

This weeks portion begins with rules about human rights; slaves rights, womens rights. One thing to be remembered is that The Bible wasn’t written in English using contemporary American thought processes.   God’s ways aren’t necessarily the ways of our society.  I shouldn’t even need to tell you that he is right and we are wrong! Our society has influenced our thinking to the point that many people question Yahweh’s instructions. Instead of questioning God based on our limited understanding of how things work, maybe we should listen to him.

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

He wants us to listen to him; not to our society, not to the teachers of the doctrines of men. Come out of her, my people: Are you one of his people? Then come out of Babylon, come out of Egypt. Come out of the world’s system and into His arms. It is going to happen; the only question is who stands with us?

Ezekiel 11:17 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.

In God’s law there are still harsh punishments for extreme wrongdoing; God’s law is about appropriate, proportionate punishment.  An eye for an eye does not literally mean gouge out someone’s eye – it means that punishments are to be proportionate. If you go back to the Hebrew it actually means, an eye under an eye. It speaks of proportionate payment for damages done.

All of this law is about personal responsibility and restitution. God’s law favors restitution over retribution because restitution expresses repentance for wrongdoing.

I have a lot of notes about the various laws that are recorded here; too many to write down in this format. I’m going to jump over them, for now, in favor of some narrative and prophecy that is found in the portion:

Exodus 23:20Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.  21Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.  22But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.  23For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.

Let’s examine who or what this angel is. He is going to:

  • Bring us into the place prepared for us.
  • He has the power to pardon our transgressions.
  • Yahweh’s name is in him.

John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also 

John 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son

Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee

(1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.)

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

The word angel as used here means messenger. We are told to obey the voice of the messenger. We are told that if we obey him and don’t tick him off, he can pardon our transgressions, We are told that the Name of God is in him. Soon I’m going to do a post on the hebrew name of Jesus, but to cut to the chase it was Yeshua which means Yah’s Salvation.  A very strong case can be made that this angel was actually the Messiah before the word was made flesh.  After all, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  If Messiah is the Word then he has been since the beginning, I doubt that he spent those thousands of years before becoming flesh bumming around his father’s house munching on Cheetos and having no interaction with humanity. 

The portion continues in Exodus 24 with Moses telling the Children of Israel all the words that The Lord spoke (as you remember from Yitro, the Children of Israel asked Moses to speak with The Lord because the power of God’s voice frightened them.)  The Children of Israel accepted God’s covenant again, Moses offered sacrifices to The Lord, after which Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the 70 elders went up the mountain and ate a feast with The Lord.

Exodus 24:10And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 11And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

Wait, they saw God? what about Exodus 33:20?

And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

There is a form of God we can see – Yeshua; as we discussed above he was around back then.

Let’s talk about the pavement of sapphire stone. In Ezekiel 10, Ezekiel has a vision of the throne room of Heaven.

Ezekiel 10:1Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.

This sapphire stone is the floor of the throne room of heaven, our God is so holy that he can’t walk on a cursed, sinful earth – the floor of heaven literally travels with him. Pretty neat, I think. Once they finish the feast, Yahweh commands Moses to come up the mountain while Aaron and the Elders stay behind. Moses went up onto the Mountain for 40 Days and 40 nights and the Glory of The Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain.

 

To this day the top of the real Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia is scorched black.

 

I think this is all for this portion; I’ll be back again soon with the next two portions (Man I hate falling behind!)

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