Redeemed for His Purpose

Parashat Yitro (Jethro)
Shemot (Exodus) 18:1-20:23
Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6 (6-7)

Exodus 19 opens with a description that looks like a scene from a movie as it describes a supernatural event that we humans cannot really comprehend. The moment that the people of Israel stood in front of Mt. Sinai when the LORD came down is a moment that one cannot describe. It was a moment full of holiness, majesty, and reverence as we read in Exodus 19:16-20:

So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the entire mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder. Then the LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

That encounter was so amazing that it creates such a deep reverence and holy fear of God within the people. We know this because they asked Moses to be a mediator between them and God:

And all the people were watching and hearing the thunder and the lightning flashes, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it all, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but do not have God speak to us, or we will die!”
Exodus 20:18-19

I love Moses’s response to them because it makes me think about our relationship with God:

However, Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you will not sin.”
Exodus 20:20

At times, I feel like we take God for granted; we take for granted the fact that the Father sent His Son to be our mediator, so that we can draw close to Him despite being fallen, sinful beings. I fear that we have lost true reverence for God and forget that the Father sent His Son, not as a license to sin, but to reconcile us to Himself, empowering us to walk in His holiness and not being slaves to sin.

In our Haftarah reading from the book of Isaiah, we read of yet another majestic moment:

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him, each having six wings: with two each covered his face, and with two each covered his feet, and with two each flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of armies. The whole earth is full of His glory.” And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
Isaiah 6:1-4

What an incredible vision! It is no small wonder that Isaiah felt he was unworthy to stand within that amazing scene! He realized how great God is, and how small he is:

Then I said, “Woe to me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of armies.”
Isaiah 6:5

What happens next is both humbling and convicting:

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away and atonement is made for your sin.”
Isaiah 6:6-7

God’s act of cleansing Isaiah from his sin was not for Isaiah’s sake, but rather for him do the will of the Lord in his life. We see this in the following verses where Isaiah receives a clear call:

Then I heard the voice of the LORD, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not understand; and keep on looking, but do not gain knowledge.’ Make the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes blind, so that they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.”
Isaiah 6:8-10

It is important for us to be reminded that the God of Israel reconciled us back to Himself through His Son who became flesh, died, and rose from the dead so that through us, He can bring the message of reconciliation into this world.

In closing, let’s recall the great privilege and honor that we have to partake in His plan:

And the disciples came up and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” And Yeshua answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You shall keep on listening, but shall not understand; And you shall keep on looking, but shall not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and return, And I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
Matthew 13:10-17

May we not take for granted the great honor that we have in Him and may we seek to do His will in joy.

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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One Comment on “Redeemed for His Purpose”

  1. Thank you. Very well-said, thought-provoking, and a good reminder of the vast difference between us and the God who created us.

    “I fear that we have lost true reverence for God and forget that the Father sent His Son, not as a license to sin, but to reconcile us to Himself, empowering us to walk in His holiness and not being slaves to sin.”

    Here is a quote I came up with quite a few years ago:

    “True liberty is the freedom to do what is right,
    not the right to do what is wrong.”

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