Exodus 18:1–20:23

What is a parsha?

This week’s Parsha focuses on Moses receiving the 10 commandments from God and the preparation of Moses (and all of the Israelites) prior to this. We start with Moses’ father in law, named Jethro, noticing how Moses spends all of his day judging each and every individual case for the whole nation. Jethro advised Moses to change the structure of leadership in the camp so that he only deals with the important issues and so that Moses will no longer be worn down. Following this, Moses ascends Mount Sinai to meet with God alone. It’s here that God explains to Moses that it was Him alone who rescued the Israelites and that moving forward if the nation of Israel obeys God’s covenant they will be Gods ‘treasured possession’. The nation of Israel then consecrate themselves to God and God comes to Mount Sinai and reveals himself in a cloud, So that the Israelites know that God has appointed Moses as their leader. As a result this gave Moses legitimacy when he relayed to the people of Israel the 10 commandments which they were to follow.

All the way through this Torah portion there is a clear emphasis on preparation before an encounter with God. First, Moses lightened his workload by appointing Judges to take care of all the minor tasks of judging the nation. Through no fault of his own, Moses had got caught up in too many trivial appointments to be able to meet with God in the way that followed after he had lightened his workload, this step taken was an act of preparation for what was to follow. Moses then hears from God to prepare the nation as God plans to reveal himself in the form of a cloud at Mount Sinai. The atmosphere in the camp in the two days they had to prepare must have been electric and full of trepidation. The nation was instructed to consecrate themselves in preparation. To consecrate means to make or declare sacred and set apart for the service of God. On the third day, the day of God’s arrival the ground shook and the trumpets sounded and the whole mountain was filled with smoke. Boundaries were created at the foot of the mountain so that nobody would get to close. God then spoke and called Moses up the mountain to receive his commandments for the newly prepared people.

The need for all of God’s people to be prepared for what God wants to do or say to us hasn’t changed (in the case of the Israelites it was so that they would know that Moses was God’s appointed leader). However, what has changed are the boundaries that needed to be in place between God and his people around Mount Sinai, these boundaries no longer hinder us meeting with God. Hebrews 12:18-24 explains how where as before only Moses could meet with the Lord, now all of God’s people are able to approach his throne because we have been made righteous in his sight through Yeshua.

It is now our duty to show the nation of Israel that the boundaries surrounding Mount Sinai have been lifted and we are free to approach God’s throne. Let us all be prepared and ask God for clear strategies how best to communicate this message of preparation.

The European Coalition for Israel is a unique grassroots movement, which is seeking to promote better relations between Europe and Israel through advocacy and education. More information: www.ec4i.org

Header image credit: modified Mika Matinby