Parasha #17

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 Parashah #17: Yitro (Jethro)

(Exodus 18:1 – 20:23(26))

Additional Readings:
Isa. 6:1-7:6; 9:5(6)-6(7); Mat. 5:21-30; 15:1-11; 19:16-30; Mar. 7:5-15; 10:17-31; Luk. 18:18-30; Act. 6:1-7; Rom. 2:17-29; 7:7-12; 13:8-10; Eph. 6:1-3; 1 Tim. 3:1-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; Tit. 1:5-9; Heb. 12:18-29; Jam. 2:8-13; 1 Pet. 2:9-10

Previous parashah recap – In last week’s parasha God brought Israel out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea to save them from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He provided for the needs of His people in the wilderness by raining down manna from heaven and bringing forth water from a rock.

  • Today’s Parashah is named Jethro (Ytro), after Moses’ father-in-law, for the lesson coming from him is of great importance, if not vital, to our walk in victory. Remember what we said in previous parashas about Jethro, that is that his name was Reuel and Jethro was a title meaning His abundance or His excellence (Exo. 2:18).

  • Yitro (Jethro), comes from Midian along with Moses’ wife and two sons to meet him at the Israelites’ camp after hearing of all the great miracles that God had performed to deliver His people. After hearing what God had done, Jethro suddenly realised that the God he worshipped and served (our Lord) is higher and greater than everything. This was in part why God did what He did with the Egyptians: so everyone could know that He is (Yahweh) and that there is none beside Him.

  • Exo. 18:11 – In this verse we learn an interesting fact: the Egyptians, Pharaoh and the gods attacked the Hebrews, it was a full demonic coalition to use the people of Egypt to destroy them! And God vanquished them all.

  • We learn that from then on Moses was reunited with his family, so his walk from henceforth would be with them and also with his Ethiopian wife at his side.

  • Jethro rejoiced with Moses over all that God had done for them; but the next day, when he saw Moses spending long hours judging the people, he was concerned about the strain on Moses and wisely advised him to appoint other men to occupy positions of leadership to help carry the burden, lest Moses wear himself out.

  • No matter how demanding our work may be, we must also be careful to not allow our work to occupy so much of our time that our well-being and relationships suffer as a result. We must find others to whom we can delegate some of our duties in order to give more balance to our life. Putting in parallel to Jesus’ life we can see that He was taking time away from everyone to rest and pray too. His disciples were the ones baptising, and each time someone came to Him for help he was first checking their real motive/desire/faith.

  • Exo. 18:19-20 – In these 2 verses, Jethro gives us the keys of the duties for those who are placed as leaders of God’s congregation:

    1. Let’s keep in mind that Jethro was a priest of the Most High, therefore one set in leadership, and so we should follow his example which was not to force anything upon others but to give advice. That’s the first characteristic that one of God’s appointed leader needs to have: not to lord it over others and be ministered onto, but to give advice and minister onto others (Mar. 10:42-45);

    2. These people are to be teachable; they are to be able to listen to someone’s advice;

    3. They are to represent the people before God; to bring their cases to Him. Not because the people can’t, for they should, but as an added weight; not due to rank but due to righteousness and holiness. For the leader is to teach the people God’s laws and teachings (Torah) and show them how to live their lives. Not to tell them, but show them, by example. That is why they should be more holy and righteous, for they should have put the laws in application in their own lives and started to master God’s precepts themselves (put their flesh and imaginations into subjection). A leader is just someone who is ahead in the walk of being Christ like;

    4. The leader is also someone who is chosen to teach God’s precepts (laws and teachings of God) and how to pray (which is the start of the walk for everyone);

    5. Leaders are to show the people how to live their lives (not tell them, show them);

    6. They need to show (again, by example) what work the people should be doing: “do what I do” (1 Cor. 11:1). If leaders put all these advice into practice, the Lord will be with them.

  • When the New Testament tells us of the characteristics for a leader, they are based, in part, on the precedent scriptures, for the other part on these NT scriptures: 1 Tim 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9. The guidelines for leaders are as follows:

    They must be teachable, above reproach, faithful to their spouse (married partner of the other sex), temperate, self-controlled, orderly, kind, gentle, hospitable, able to teach, and of good report from outsiders, with a clean record (from the people they work for or alongside to in the world, not brethren, cf. Luk. 16:1-13: who/how you were in the world is who/how you’ll be with the Lord). Leaders must manage their own household well, having believing children who obey them with all proper respect and who do not have a reputation for being wild or rebellious. Leaders are to represent the people before God, to bring their cases to Him, not to pray instead of the people but alongside the people (so the leader is to have a close relationship with God and be strong in the Holy Spirit with an active prayer life), they are to teach the people the laws and the teachings (therefore the leader needs to know the Word very well), and show them how to live their lives and what work they should do. A leader must be able to delegate and to recognise who to delegate to. A leader must be able to judge in human matters and to make decisions for the good of the congregation. He is to judge, as in discern, without judging as in condemning, for by condemning a person exposes themselves to suffer what has been done to others since we all partake in like sins, so let God bring justice. Just remove from the congregation the sinners who want to stay in their sins and by doing so cause others to stumble (Joh. 7:24; 1 Cor. 2:15; 1 Cor. 5:3, 9-13; 1 Cor. 6:4-5; Mat. 7:1-2; Luk. 6:37; Jam. 4:12; Rom. 2:1-3; Rom. 14:13; Joh. 12:47-48). A leader must hold firmly to the trustworthy Message that agrees with the doctrine (as to be grounded in the truth and be uncompromising and intolerant with sin; which then is against church hopping for the believer would open themselves to multiple doctrines especially if the church or the ministry willingly teaches lies); so that by sound teaching the leader will be able to exhort and encourage, and also to refute those who speak against it (role of safeguard).

    A leader must not be self-willed, quick-tempered, a drunkard (even tipsy is wrong), get into fights/arguments, be a lover of money, or be a new believer.

  • Exo. 18:21-22 – Through these scriptures with the added New Testament ones (Act. 6:1-7; 1 Tim 3:8-13) we have the characteristics set out for the leader’s helpers, and those set into ministry:

    They are to be God fearing, competent, honest (transparent), incorruptible, haters of pride (LXX), of good character (cheerful and will go beyond what’s expected of them), people whose word can be trusted, they must possess the formerly hidden truth of the faith with a clean conscience (means knowing the NT, on top of the OT, with all added knowledge on how to fight the enemy, on how to be set free, all this without haughtiness or pride), they must be temperate, blameless, faithful in everything, without doubt, faithful to their spouse, managing their children and household well. They must have been tested. Finally, as they grow they must gain good standing for themselves (that’s from within the congregation) and much boldness (not be timid or fearful anymore, like for the sifting of Gideon’s army) in the trust that comes through Yeshua the Messiah. They have to be full in the Holy Spirit and have wisdom to be able to settle disputes and judge in ordinary matters. They must not give themselves to excessive drinking or be greedy for dishonest gain (we can be greedy for honest gains, that is spiritual gifts for example, or for the character of Christ, etc…). If this is put into practice then, God willing, the person will be set apart by the Holy Spirit to be prayed for and be ordained a leader; as it happened with Paul and Barnabas in the church of Antioch, before that they were deacons, ministers, but not fully fledged leaders. After that they could be sent, they were apostles (Act. 13:1-3; 14:14).

  • Exo. 18:23 – If as leaders we are able to do this, then we will be able to endure to the end, as well as the people entrusted to us. For life is not designed to be a “quick sprint;” it is a marathon. If we are to endure to the end (just as Jethro advised Moses), we must not overwork ourselves (if for any reason the leaders find themselves to be overworked, then priorities need to be established and areas left untouched till the leaders are rested enough or supported, helped enough to do them). Thankfully, Moses listened to his father-in-law, which revealed Moses’ beautiful character trait of humility. We should be grateful, and not defensive, when God sends someone into our lives to give us necessary correction for our own good and the good of others.

  • We are told that Israel arrived to their destination in the 3rd month after departing from Egypt. According to God, that was done by carrying the people of Israel on eagle’s wings. That was not literal but rather meant it was done swiftly and with great strength and care. That is the understanding we need to have whenever we see this expression or saying being used in the bible; it means that the Lord will make a show of strength and power to take His people away from danger and with great care. But the people in question will still have to decide to follow the Lord and walk… It doesn’t happen by itself, it takes us to trust in Him, obey Him and move, just as the Hebrews did to leave Egypt.

  • The following day is known as the ‘designation day’. On the mountain, the Lord instructed Moses to tell the “House of Jacob” and the “Children of Israel” that He was making a special promise to the people: that they are to be His own special nation — a kingdom of priests (mamlechet cohanim) and a holy nation (v’goy kadosh).

  • If the people of Israel listen to God’s voice and keep covenant with Him, then God will embrace them as His special treasure. In Hebrew, the word used is ‘segulah’, which comes from the word ‘sagol’, meaning purple — the colour of royalty, so not “special treasure” but royal treasure, which links to the parable of the pearl in the NT (Mat. 13:45-46), for scripture interpret or confirm scripture all the time. In the New Covenant, all Believers in Yeshua (Jesus) are sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; therefore, we are all royalty — kings and priests unto the Lord.

  • Exo. 19:3 uses two terms; the “House of Jacob” and the “Children of Israel,” – Jewish sages believe that the first term refers to the women of Israel and the second term to the men. It is believed that when God gave Israel the Torah, He told Moses to approach the women first. The Midrash (Interpretations and commentaries of both Written and Oral Torah) states that that Messianic redemption will come through the merit of righteous women of Israel: “All generations are redeemed by virtue of the pious women of their generation” (Yalkut Shimoni, Ruth: 606). Perhaps, this points to Mary’s role as mother of Yeshua (Jesus), which is prophesied by Isaiah (Isa. 7:14). Jewish sages also believed that women would first receive the teachings of the Messiah. While Yeshua taught many women, we know from Scripture that another Mary became the first eye-witness to Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead — the absolute sign of Yeshua’s Messiahship and victory over sin. In a culture where women witnesses were not thought to possess credibility, this is an extraordinary event that the Holy Spirit wanted us all to know.

  • Exo. 19:12-13, 23 – The following day, Israel fences Mount Sinai to stop animals and men to go on it and follows 2 days of purification where Moses consecrates the people of Israel and prepares them to meet with God to receive the written, codified law at Mount Sinai. This was the whole purpose of the exodus from Egypt — for Israel to receive God’s written Torah (instructions) as opposed to the previous oral knowledge (since we read in Gen. 26:5 that the Law was there at least 430 years before Moses).

  • Exo. 24:1-8 – On the 6th day after arrival Moses builds an altar to God (it’s out of the normal chronological order there). It’s only after all this is done, after the sprinkling of the blood, that the Lord comes down.

  • Standing at the foot of the mountain on the third day, the seventh day after arrival on Mount Sinai, the people of Israel met with God as He descended with thunder, lightening, thick clouds, and the loud sound of the shofar (ram’s horn). The whole mountain was covered with smoke, since God came with fire, as it is written, “The Lord is a consuming fire.” (Deu. 4:24). It was such a fearsome sight that the people trembled.

    [Note: the voice of the Lord came within the thunder, it wasn’t the thunder].

    Thankfully, we have not come to such a mountain of darkness and fire and deafening, fearful noise, but to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and the angels — to Yeshua (Heb. 12:22-24). Even though we are under the grace of the New Covenant, in which the laws of God are being written on our hearts, the commands of God, written with His very own finger on tablets of stone, are eternal and true for all people in all covenants.

  • Keeping His commandments is how we show our love for God. His commandments provide a guide for a healthy, happy, productive, and harmonious life in relationship with God and with other people (Joh. 14:15-31; 1 Joh. 5:3).

  • Yeshua has not set us free from sin so that we can live lawless lives. The Word of God even warns that our prayers may not be heard if we are walking in blatant disobedience to God’s laws (Pro. 28:9).

  • The law of God guards our relationships – On that day we have the giving of the Law which will be written after on tablets of stones. This is what the feast of Weeks (Pentecost), is a reminder of. From the feast of unleavened bread, counting 50 days, we arrive at the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.

    Concerning the tablets of stones: the first tablet contains the first five of the Ten Commandments, and deals with our relationship to God. The second set of five commandments deals with our relationship with our neighbour. That is why Yeshua said that loving God and loving our neighbour sums up the commandments (Mat. 22:37–40), it reduces it to its simplest expression.

  • The God of Israel is not an impersonal force, but a God of love who becomes intimately involved with the affairs of mankind to save, rescue, redeem and deliver. This is the God who is worthy of our love and devotion, and no one else.

  • Follows the first set of 10 commandments (Decalogue), let’s look at it from a Jewish perspective instead of a Christian one:

  • Exo. 20:2 – this is the first commandment, to recognise that there is a God who separated us unto Himself from Egypt, that is from the world to be an example to the world (2 Cor. 5:18-21; Tit. 2:14);

  • Exo. 20:3-6 – We see from the second commandment, not to be divided, that anything we place first in our lives other than God is idolatry. God is, by His own admission, a jealous God. The Hebrew root of kanna (jealous) means the just indignation of one injured. When we choose another over God, He is injured, as a husband or wife is injured by an unfaithful spouse. Today the world is filled with idols: wealth, fame, power, position, money, work, sex, celebrities, sports, TV, games, even relationships, etc. We so often make these desires our priority, tending to put our trust and confidence in other things or people to help us meet those desires; however, only God is absolutely trustworthy, and His desires for us are pure and holy.

  • God’s prophetic word promises that one day His people will no longer tolerate any idolatry in their lives, but the day will come when we shall say, ‘What have I to do any more with idols?’ and the Lord will say: “I answer and affirm him…”  (Hos. 14:9).

  • Note – the Lord is not showing grace to the thousandth generation of those who love Him and obey His commandments, but to thousands (as in people).

    Exo. 20:6 LXX
    “but displaying grace to the thousands of those who love me and obey my [mitzvot]”.
    “and bestowing mercy on them that love me to thousands of them, and on them that keep my commandments”.
    If the meaning was different then the book of Judges would never have happened, neither God divorcing Israel, etc…

  • Exo. 20:7 – Due to this commandment pushed to the extreme we find now the word Jehovah in our bibles. The Jews were so scared of pronouncing His name in vain or lightly (that is in frivolous ways) that they introduced vowel pointers to pronounce the name of the Lord differently, to replace His name by another one whilst reading aloud: Jehovah reminded them to say Adonai when reading aloud the name Yahweh, Jehoveeh reminded them to say Elohim when reading His name and that the word Adonai was already present in the sentence.

  • Exo. 20:8-11 – Sabbath is to focus your whole on God, nothing else. As per the family members, if they are in the age to be able to choose, it’s up to them, we can’t force them. This said we should keep them out of the house on that day.

    As presented last week, keeping it holy means no trade at all (Amo. 8:5).

  • Exo. 20:12 – This is done by being respectful to them, obeying them when they are right, letting them know when they are wrong, and according to the New Testament, it’s also giving them what they need when they need help (Mar. 7:10-13). Part of honouring our parents is the duty of the children to take care of them when they need help (not only due to old age). This is teaching us early in life to learn how to interact with God.

  • Exo. 20:13-14 – Do not give false evidence is translated and explained in the NT as do not lie, for there is a place in hell reserved for all liars (and a lie is not only to tell one but also to follow a lie when you know the truth). This said as we have already seen in the preceding Parasha God Himself will lie: if someone is bent on refusing the truth, so that destruction can come over a person, giving them a chance to repent. Or if through this mean people can be saved/protected. What we need to keep in mind is to be a true witness to the people of Who God is.

    We are allowed to covet what belongs to us, including our spouse. That means in that case to protect, to guard, and we are allowed to covet the things of the Lord.

  • Exo. 20:20-23 – We don’t need any representation for God, no cross or anything else. He is the creator of everything, our lives are meant to be sacrifices for Him, dying to ourselves and letting go of the flesh to live in the Spirit. And since He is the creator, the altar on which we sacrifice our lives is the earth itself, untouched by tools. The last part is a show of God’s love for us and also a warning by protecting us from showing ourselves indecently, the Lord warns us against doing it.

  • May this be the generation that seeks the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and may we become united in the love of Messiah, worshipping the One True God in Spirit and Truth.

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