Parashat Yitro (Jethro) Exodus 18:1-20:23
Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6
In this week’s Torah portion the Ten Commandments are read. The first commandment is introduced with the words,
“I am HaShem your G-d Who brought you forth out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.” Exodus 20:2
In some ways the statement, “I am HaShem your G-d” sounds like an introduction, that is, the L-rd is making Himself known to Israel. Did not the Children of Israel know Whom HaShem was before Mount Sinai? There is a significant difference between knowing that G-d exists and the type of relationship that Israel was being called to experience at Sinai. Why does the verse state, “I am HaShem your G-d“, instead of simply, “I am G-d“? The answer is that the sacred name of G-d appears in this sentence י-ה-ו-ה. This name relates to G-d in a way that transcends human experience. The name refers to knowing the L-rd in a way that is solely dependent upon divine revelation. It is very important that the Exodus is mentioned in the second half of this verse. As I have stated many times previously, there is an inherent relationship between HaShem bringing the Children of Israel out of Egypt and Redemption.
The point here is that it is only by means of the experience of redemption that an individually can know G-d in a personal manner. HaShem had not stated before, “I am HaShem your G-d” until He had brought the Congregation of Israel out of Egypt and to Mount Sinai. HaShem had led the people to Mount Sinai in order that they should worship Him. Redemption is not the purpose, but rather an initial event that is foundational for the primary objective to be fulfilled which is worship. Israel did not worship in Egypt, as those in bondage are not free to worship. Worship demands certain things to be in place for it to be a reality for an individual. Bondage to sin renders one unable to worship as does being in a wrong environment. In short, because G-d wanted His people to worship Him, He moved in a manner that brought about changes in their lives so they were in the right location and in the right condition to worship Him.
Are there changes that must be made in your life so that you can truly worship Yeshua? Your first response might be no; however remember that the Hebrews did not immediately cry out to HaShem to depart from Egypt. It was only after they began to suffer, that they asked HaShem to deliver them from their slavery. Do not wait until the troubles of sin in your life begin to afflict you before you examine your life.
Every synagogue in the world will read the Ten Commandments this Shabbat morning. May I suggest that you also read with special attention the Ten Commandments and then Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7). I am sure after prayerfully reflecting on these two passages that you and I will find the need for more changes in our lives than we initially thought.
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