February 18, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Mishpatim
This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Mishpatim is taken from Exodus 21:1-24:18. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he clarifies the common misconceptions regarding the observance of the Torah, for us as Believers, today!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Mishpatim - Exodus 21:1-24:18
Let me begin this teaching by saying that things get turned around if we start to believe that we must keep Elohim’s law in order to be saved. Instead, we should keep Elohim’s law because we are saved! For some reason we have been taught to view the Torah as if the laws were a bad thing…that it is the opposite of grace. We spew “We are no longer under the law; we are under grace.” However, the implications are since we received the Messiah (Torah observant I might add) we need not concern ourselves with the laws of Torah. It now becomes the battle between the Law versus Grace. The Scriptures used for this argument are Galatians 3:23, and Galatians 5:18 which says, “Now before the time for this trusting faithfulness came, we were imprisoned in subjection to the system which results from perverting the Torah into legalism, kept under guard until this yet-to-come trusting faithfulness would be revealed”; “But if you are led by the Spirit, then you are not in subjection to the system that results from perverting the Torah into legalism.” Paul realized some would misunderstand his teaching, especially today, which is why he said, “Shall we keep on sinning, so that there can be more grace, Elohim forbid…” (Romans 6:1-2). Romans 3:31, says, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid; yea, we establish the law.” Paul was basically saying that the belief in those days was that a gentile had to become Jewish to be saved was what Paul called “being under the law.” Paul believed you became part of Abraham and Elohim’s people through faith in Messiah. You did not need to first come “under the law” in order to enter His Kingdom.
The Bible does not teach the idea of Grace versus Law. Grace is Elohim’s free gift of salvation for those who believe in His Son. The Law is His loving instructions for how we should live out that free gift in faith. They are not opposed to each other! They work hand-in-hand.
The laws of Torah express standards of godliness. They conceal attributes of the infinite Elohim. Elohim’s law is the very definition of right and wrong, sin and righteousness. No matter how irrelevant or remote you might think they are –always remember that these are the true words of the Living Elohim! They are the standards of righteousness!
How do they relate to Messiah? The Apostolic Scriptures refer to Messiah as “the Righteous One” (HaTzadik). Yeshua was not merely righteous, He was the “RIGHTEOUS ONE.” He was without sin and completely submitted to the Father and His will. This means His life was totally consistent with the rules of the Torah. If He transgressed any law, it would make Him sinful. He either kept the Torah and was sinless or He broke the Torah and was sinful…we can’t have it both ways. The latter would have dire consequences to our own salvation. The laws of Torah teach us about the life and nature of the Messiah. He is a perfect, living example of Elohim’s laws lived out. Yeshua is the “Living Torah.” Elohim’s righteousness is revealed in human form, the Word made flesh. When we study Torah, we are learning the revelations of Elohim, the expression of His righteousness, and the very nature of Messiah. When we read the Torah’s laws—we are reading about the administration of King Messiah, the Branch of David, found in Jeremiah 33:15-16.
In Exodus 21-24 we experience a transition; until now we have experienced the drama of the narrative: Israelites enslavement; hope for freedom; plagues; Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness; escape into the desert; crossing the Red Sea; and the journey to Mount Sinai; and the great covenant with Elohim. But now we are interrupted by this “law Code”, this “Mishpatim”, which covers many topics from property, justice, Shabbat, festivals, but why here? Why not continue the story, leading up to the next dramatic moment, the sin of the golden calf? Why interrupt the flow? Because great leaders have the ability to connect a large vision with highly specific details. So, without the vision, the details are merely tiresome. We must catch the vision of Elohim. Once we have caught it, we must keep the vision before us. However, we must pay attention to the details. The genius of the Torah was to apply this principle to society as a whole.
Look at the Israelites; they had come through a transformative series of events like nothing before—none of it was accidental or incidental. Israel had experienced slavery to make them cherish freedom. They had suffered so that they would know what if feels like to be on the wrong side of tyrannical power. At Mount Sinai, Elohim gave them a “mission statement”, become a Kingdom of priests and a holy nation, under the sovereignty of Elohim alone! They were to create a society built on principles of justice, human dignity, and respect for life. The Kehillah should be revealing this in their community, being the example of Elohim’s Word. So, there we have the Torah! Translating historical experience into detailed legislation. The Israelites would live what they have learned on a daily basis—weaving it into the very texture of their social life.
In the “Mishpatim” we have VISION becoming DETAIL and NARRATIVE becoming LAW. As an example, in Exodus 21:2-3, slavery is transformed from a condition of birth to a temporary circumstance. It has been changed from who you are to what, for the time being, you do! The law is actually the beginning of abolishing slavery! In Exodus 21:20, a slave is not mere property, he or she has a right to life. In Exodus 23:12, one day out of the seven, slaves were to breathe the air of freedom (Sabbath). So Halleluyah for the Torah!
The Torah is really untranslatable because it means several different things that only appear together in the book that bears its name. Torah means, “law’, “teaching”, “instructions”, “guidance”, and “direction”. It is also the generic name for the first five books that comprise both narrative and law. Torah is the combination of history and law; experiences and how they sought to live it out; vision and narrative, so they would never forget the lessons they learned along the way.
What does Torah do? Torah brings vision and detail in a way that has never been surpassed. It is the way we lead our children, inspiring them with a vision, telling them why we should do what we are asked to do. However, there must be a narrative: This is what happened, this is who we are, this is why the vision is so important to us. Then there must be the law, the code, the complete attention to detail, that allows us to translate vision into reality and turn the pain of the past into the blessing of the future! It is this extraordinary combination, to be found in almost no other law code that gives Torah its enduring power! Torah is a model for all who seek to lead people to greatness.
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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The Torah is good! What a blessed day to walk out our obedience in celebration of the Sabbath. Come and worship as the corporate body, the Kehillah, gathers to praise Elohim for all He has done.
Today is His day…
let us gather at the altar and bring Him a sacrifice of fire!