Updated: Oct 11
[4-10 Feb 2024]
Theme of the Book of Exodus:
About pursuing the instructions in order that we can build a dwelling place for Yeshua.
Meaning of "mishpatim" = "instructions/ law (poor translation) / judgements"
This week's Torah portions:
Sunday: Exodus 21:1-19
Monday: Exodus 21:20-22:3
Tuesday: Exodus 22:4-26
Wednesday: Exodus 22:27-23:5
Thursday: Exodus 26:6-19
Friday: Exodus 23:20-25
Shabbat: Exodus 23:26-24:18 & Jeremiah 33:25-26 & Jeremiah 34:8-22
Daily Bread for Busy Moms portions:
2 Kings 7-13
1 Timothy 5-6
2 Timothy 1-4
In this portion we read about instruction after instruction after instruction. It seems like a never-ending list! But getting overwhelmed / caught up with the what seems like a never-ending list - we often miss the value of this portion!
This portion starts off with the instruction that slaves / servants had to be released after 6 years of service. In the time which the Bible was written, it was custom for the Israelites to observe shmittah years. A shmittah is a 7 year cycle. During the first 6 years of the cycle, they would work the land and the seventh year, they would let the land rest. It's a Biblical principle of working for six days and resting on the seventh day - applied to years. So if a slave worked for a master for 6 years, in the seventh year, the master had to set the slave free. UNLESS the servant expresses his desire to remain in the master's service. The servant then becomes a bond slave. And it is by free choice that he became such. This is a crucial part to grasp! At first the servant didn't have a choice, he had to sell himself as a slave. But to become a bond slave (after being a slave for 6 years) - is a choice. In the beginning he was forced to be under the authority - we can almost say "by the order of Yitro" - as it was Yitro's suggestion which got the structures and councils in place. But after the sixth year - it becomes by the order of God. Because then it's a choice.
After the instruction about the slaves which had to be set free after six years, this Torah portion continues with several other laws / instructions which the Israelites had to obey. And the portion ends off with Moses who went up unto the mountain to meet with God about the Torah. But Moses goes with a certain mandate. Remember that in the previous portion we read that the Israelites asked Moses to intercede on their behalf with God as they were overwhelmed by His Greatness after He spoke to them on the mountain. So before Moses went up onto Mount Sinai, the Israelites said to him that whatever God tells Moses which they have to do, they will do it. Thus we see that the Israelites willingly submitted themselves as bond servants! They willingly submitted themselves to the authority of the Torah. Their heart's intention was to obey the Torah, it was a deliberate choice. Whether they obeyed the Torah later on or not, is a topic for another day - or shall we say another parashat. But for this portion what is important to notice is the concept of choosing to submit to authority. Choosing to submit to God's divine order. The Israelites were not forced to follow God, but they had the desire to do so - which made them bond servants instead of slaves.
From this portion we can once again see that God has created us with a free will. We have the option to choose. And we have to ask ourselves what we are choosing? The book of Deuteronomy is pretty clear that we have a choice between life and death. Not a choice of life with a little bit of death or the other way around. It's one or the other. This concept is confirmed in the New Testament in Matthew 6:24-26 - where it says that you cannot serve two masters at the same time. Therefore we cannot say that we choose God but our lives does not reflect that.
When Moses went up unto the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights - to spend with God and to receive His instructions... Moses left Aaron and Hur in charge of the Israelites.
The Kol Kallah teaching sums up this portion's theme that it's not about every little law or instruction that we read about. But it's about the choice of committing to submit ourselves to the instructions and order of God. And about willingly submitting to His rhythm and order of time. By now we know that His rhythm is set in place to produce a harvest. When we abide in His order / by His instructions, we will have a harvest - and that is Abba's heart for us!
When a slave becomes a bond servant, he submits himself under the authority of the master - knowing that there will be provision for him. The exact same applies to us! When we submit ourselves and our lives to God, He WILL provide for us!
When you are forced to submit to instructions - it's nothing but fruitless mere religion. But when you submit by choice / free will - it's from a place of relationship.
Are you following Yeshua because you grew up in a Christian home? Or are you following Him because you willingly submit yourself to His instructions?
The former is religious. The latter is relationship.
Religion has no eternal value. Relationship has! Relationship is written on your heart and it will produce a harvest for now as well as for eternity!
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Portion 18: Mishpatim (This blog you are reading now)