Parashat Mishpatim (Judgments) Exodus 21:124:18
Haftarah: Jeremiah 34:8-22, 33:25-26
There is a general principle in the Bible which says, “…no man may see Me (G-d) and live” Exodus 33:20. Yet G-d is gracious and there are a few exceptions to this rule. One such exception occurs in this week’s Torah portion. In chapter 24, Moses ratifies the Sinai Covenant with blood and then Moses, Aaron, Nadav, and Avihu with the seventy elders ascend the mountain. The next two verses read,
“And they saw the G-d of Israel and under His feet (was) like a sapphire brick and it was as the essence of the purity of Heaven. And against the noblemen of the Children of Israel, He did not set forth His hand, and they gazed at G-d and they ate and drank.” Exodus 24:10-11
The question which I would like for us to consider in this short article is why? Why did HaShem allow Moses, Aaron and his sons, along with the elders, to see Him at this time? The answer is found in why HaShem enters into a covenant relationship with man. It is most important that one remembers that this event occurred with the ratifying of the covenant. A Biblical covenant is not just an agreement, but has an overriding purpose. This purpose is to maintain a relationship between the parties. It is not enough that a covenant was established, but this covenant focused on the word of G-d. It is through Scripture that the identity and character of G-d is made known to man. It is also very important to remember that HaShem can make known to man by means of direct revelation His truth. When is the most likely time that one would receive revelation of this type? The answer is in the midst of obedience. Hence, in this portion of Scripture, HaShem is teaching the reader that Scriptural obedience brings one into intimacy with G-d and often revelation occurs.
In the New Covenant when Paul speaks about spiritual gifts he mentions knowledge. This is not a reference to academic knowledge, but rather this refers to words of knowledge that HaShem gives to believers by means of the Holy Spirit. In a similar way as the group which ascended Mt. Sinai and received revelation of G-d, the obedient believer can be given revelation in a variety of matters related to the truth of G-d. Obviously this revelation will always agree with Scripture. The point that one needs to remember is that HaShem still wants to teach / reveal spiritual insight today. The leaders received a greater portion of revelation due to their role to govern the people. It is an important principle to remember that to whom the Holy Spirit equips, He expects the recipient to be a good steward of what he received and to utilize it for the good of the greater community.
In parashat Mishpatim the Children of Israel received a list of laws in order to regulate society. It is when divinely inspired leaders, lead the people having been influenced by the revelation of G-d, then the society will reflect the character of G-d and people will be drawn closer to Yeshua. Verse 11 ended with the statement that the leaders “ate and drank”. Eating and drinking in the Bible is often times a reference to fellowship. This is the desire of Messiah, that His followers are drawn into a greater fellowship with the living G-d.
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