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Commentary on Parashat Yitro (Jethro)

Shemot (Exodus) 18:1–20:23

In our Scripture portion this week, we see God giving Moses specific instruction to impart to the Children of Israel:

Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles” wings, and brought you to Myself. “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.
—Shemot (Exodus) 19:3b–6

In other words, God imparts his vision for the Sons of Israel, and the reason He called them to be a people of “[His] own possession among all the peoples.” He did all this to be in relationship with Israel. In fact, this is the reason He created man in the first place! And Yeshua brings us back into a right relationship with the Almighty by cleansing us of our sin; sin entangles us and separates us from God, but Yeshua’s atonement sets us free from sin, bringing us back into relationship with the Almighty.

In verse 5 of the above Scripture portion, it is important to note what God said about obedience: “…if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant…” Yeshua also spoke in a similar language when He told His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The Father and Son both made it clear how important obedience is to His word. We have not received the gift of salvation and atonement for our own good! We have not been redeemed for ourselves, but for Him, His purpose, and for His glory to be manifest through our lives. Therefore, obedience is crucial in the life of the believer!

As we continue on in Chapter 19, we find another amazing connection between the text and our Messiah in verse 9, “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I shall come to you in a thick cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe in you forever.’ Then Moses told the words of the people to the LORD.”  As we learn from the text, Moses was a type of an earthly Messiah, and in our text we can see that God was speaking (testifying) about Moses in order that the people would believe the messenger that He sent them.

This is also true of Messiah Yeshua. Matthew 3:17 describes an event that took place during the time of Yeshua’s immersion: “…and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased’.” Here God testified to the people that Yeshua is indeed His Son. And in Matthew 17:3–5, we find an account that connects to Exodus 19:9. In this account, however, it is clear that Yeshua has authority over Moses: “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. And Peter answered and said to Yeshua, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’”

I want to return to the condition that God gave the Children of Israel that, if they obeyed Him and kept His covenant, then they would be for Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This was something that Israel did not and could not do. However, God did not abandon Israel on account of their disobedience. In fact, the Scriptures tell us of a different covenant that God would make with the house of Israel and the house of Judah:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My Torah (Teachings) within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
—Jeremiah 31:31–34

God knew that Israel would not be able to keep the “first” covenant, and therefore, He planned a different one — a new one — that would be accomplished only through His Son, Yeshua our Messiah. He is the Mediator of the “new covenant” as the writer to the Hebrews wrote (Hebrews 9:15; 12:24); Yeshua is the One about whom the Father testified, the One who is greater than Moses, and through whom each of us can enter into a personal relationship with, by faith. He is the One who will wipe away all of our iniquities and make us clean.

Do you know Him? If yes, do you live your life in a way that reflects your love for Him?

This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, January 31, 2018, and reposted with permission.

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Moran Rosenblit
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.

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