Mishpatim – “Judgments”

In Exodus 21, Adonai gave Israel laws regarding the humane treatment of Hebrew slaves.  Now, Hebrew slavery consisted of two types: one was if you committed a crime against another and could not pay restitution, in which case you would be sold as a slave.  The other type was if you owed money and were unable to repay it, you could sell yourself into slavery in order to work off the debt; but in this case your servant status could last no longer than six years.  On the seventh year, you were to be freed.

Here we also find the commandment that premeditated murder was to be punishable by death God also tells us that if a man injures a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely, but both mother and baby are fine, the offender must make financial restitution to the husband.  Now, brothers and sisters, I want you to listen carefully to what Adonai says next: “if there is any further injury… (and no distinction is made – this means injury to either mother or baby), then you shall apply as a penalty life for life” or, as we sometimes say it, “an eye for an eye”.  When I read this, it reminds me that God considers that unborn child a person – a human being.  This is a clear and authoritative statement against taking the life of an unborn child (abortion).

Now, when we speak about a life for a life and an eye for an eye, which does not mean that if somebody hurts me, I am allowed to hurt the one who caused me hard – this is for the legal courts to decide.  In Matthew 5:38-42, our Lord Yeshua clarified the statement when he said, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, give him the other or if someone takes your tunic, give him your cloak as well”.  This reminds us that vengeance is not ours to give.

The Lord also tells us to let the land have its own Sabbath every seventh year, and reminds us to keep the Sabbath Day Holy.  The Three-in-One God also established three annual mandatory feasts.  The first is the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which also includes Passover, or Pesach).  The second is the Feast of First Fruits, or Shavuot, and the third is the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths or as we call it in Hebrew, Sukkot.

Adonai also reminds us that His angel will go before us into the Promised Land.  That we must obey Him because the great I AM is in that angel.  God will protect his people from Sinai to the Promised Land and bring us safely to our intended destination.  His presence was assured by His promise, and our people needed to learn to think in terms of His presence among us all the time. There was a warning not to be rebellious, because He would not pardon our transgressions.  For the Lord to stay with Israel, they must be obedient.  I believe clearly that the Angel is El Gibbor, Mighty God.  We will see more instances of this in future parasha’s.

There is also a reminder to stay away from other people’s gods and to worship Adonai alone.  1 Timothy 6:15-16 gives us that example “ God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,   who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen”.

In chapter 24, Moses, Aaron, and 70 of the elders of Israel were summoned up the mountain to worship God at an appointed time, to bring sacrifices to Him.  Moses would then come down and give to Israel all the words of Adonai as instructed.  Later we read that the nation responded with these words: “All the words the Lord has spoken, we will do.”  The Lord commanded Moses to ascend the mountain where he will receive the stone tablets containing the 10 Commandments.  God tells Moses that he will be up on the mountain for some time.  Later we learn that it would be 40 days.

Moses instructs Aaron and Hur to be temporary Judges and handle any disputes among the newly-freed nation.  The cloud that appeared over the mountain represented God’s glory and was promised to be manifested day by day as Israel wandered for the next 40 years.  When Moses reached the top six days later, the cloud disappeared, and a burning fire could be seen down below by the Israelis.  Only Moses went before the great I AM in his glory.  This reminds me of Matthew 17:5 when Yeshua went through Transfiguration.  Moses was God’s instrument and had authority over the Jewish nation.

Yeshua had a much greater authority, bringing salvation through His power and deity.

This is from a Ray Steadman sermon:

“A son has greater liberty than a servant.  Moses was just a servant, but Jesus was the master.  Moses led the people of God out of Egypt towards the land of Canaan, which was the symbol of the rest of God – the rest which God wants people to learn to live on inside their hearts.  Moses was but a servant in the symbol of the house of God.  Jesus is the Son in the very house itself.  Moses led toward a symbol of the rest of God, but Jesus leads into the actual place of rest”.

Matthew 17 further demonstrates how Yeshua was greater than Moses (who, by the way, finally did make it into the Promised Land when he and Elijah met with Yeshua).

Moses gave the Torah from Mount Sinai as a mediator between the people and the Lord, but Yeshua stood upon the Mount of Transfiguration as Lord with both Moses and Elijah the prophet at His side.  When Peter desired to honor all three, the voice of God was heard from the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

When Peter and the other two apostles heard the voice of God, they fell to their knees terrified.  Yeshua then touched them saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”  And when the lifted up their eyes, they only saw Yeshua.

So, let’s see what applications we can apply here from this Parasha.  A little more than 10% of the 613 laws are given in these chapters.  We see the importance of the law and order for the protections of all of us. We can see that Adonai cherishes all human life, whether born or unborn.  We are reminded not to take advantage of our brothers and sisters and to partake in the feasts that God has given us.  He reminds them to obey his will and it would do us well if we did the same.

Brothers and Sisters, will you turn from whatever sin is holding you back, repent from it and make a new commitment to follow the Lord’s will for your life?  Remember, you are always a witness to the world.  The question is, are you a good witness or a poor witness.

Choose wisely.