Torah – Exodus 21:1-24:18 Haftarah – Jeremiah 33:25-26; 34:8-22 Brit Chadashah – Matthew 5:28-42; 17:1-11
Mishpatim, the Hebrew word for judgements, or ordinances is a parasha (portion) that focuses on several commands or Mitzvahs. You not only have instructions concerning how man ought to behave before G-d, but also instructions on how we ought to live and get along with one another. There is far more valuable spiritual food in these verses than the “church-at-large” would even be aware of at all. Sadly, a majority of believers in and followers of Yeshua (Jesus) errantly ignore the commands and indeed most of the Old Covenant in general. Portions such as we have this week would likely be skipped over because they are seen by some as boring, or irrelevant to modern Christians. I hope to show you that this could not be further from the truth. Although, in this study, I will only begin to scratch the surface of what is here waiting to be mined or harvested.
One evidence that these words are relevant and important, even today is found in the Haftarah portion of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 33:25-26, “Thus says the L-RD: ‘If My covenant [is] not with day and night, [and if] I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26 ‘then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob and David My servant, [so] that I will not take [any] of his descendants [to be] rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will cause their captives to return, and will have mercy on them.” (NKJV)
It does not take any more than a simple glance out the window a couple times per day to see that G-d’s Covenant of day and night are still in full effect! The sun still rises at its appointed time of the day and sets at the appointed time in the evening according to the season. Not only that it still follows the same course through the heavens as do the moon and stars and other celestial bodies whose paths are ordained and sustained by Elohim himself! Therefore since the Covenant mentioned in verse 25 has not passed away, then all others are in full effect as well.
We know Messiah Himself told us that Heaven and Earth would pass away before one jot or tittle would pass away from His Word. Again, echoing the words of Jeremiah…who spoke the will of G-d. Remember also Messiah clearly stated that if we love Him we would KEEP His Commands. The Hebrew word for “keep” by the way, has a different meaning that the English implies. A better English word there would be “guard.” We are not only to observe them, but should do all we can to protect and preserve them as well.
Now let’s look at our Brit Chadashah portion this week for a little more evidence we can share with friends and other non-Torah following believers in Messiah.
Matthew 5:38-42, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have [your] cloak also. 41 “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 “Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
Exodus 21:12-25, “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 “However, if he did not lie in wait, but G-d delivered [him] into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. 14 “But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die. 15 “And he who
strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. 16 “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death. 17 “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. 18 “If men contend with each other, and one strikes the other with a stone or with [his] fist, and he does not die but is confined to [his] bed, 19 “if he rises again and walks about outside with his staff, then he who struck [him] shall be acquitted. He shall only pay [for] the loss of his time, and shall provide [for him] to be thoroughly healed. 20 “And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. 21 “Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he [is] his property. 22 “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges [determine]. 23 “But if [any] harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 “burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe..”
So you can see here that Yeshua was not saying that you’ve heard it said and eye for and eye as though it was just some story going around at the time. He is reminding his hearers and all those who would read through the centuries that we have heard it taught in and from the Torah, with the specific reference above. In other words, Yeshua in His New Covenant teaching was not delivering new doctrine! He was not establishing a new thing as much as He was renewing or giving new life to THE Covenant. From the language He used, it was clear that it was just that, a reminder. It was assumed knowledge. Let me put it yet another way, it was and IS the very foundation of our faith. Remove the foundation, the building will fall!
Jeremiah 34:8-22, “[This is] the word that came to Jeremiah from the L-RD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who [were] at Jerusalem to proclaim liberty to them: 9 that every man should set free his male and female slave–a Hebrew man or woman–that no one should keep a Jewish brother in bondage. 10 Now when all the princes and all the people, who had entered into the covenant, heard that everyone should set free his male and female slaves, that no one should keep them in bondage anymore, they obeyed and let [them] go. 11 But afterward they changed their minds and made the male and female slaves return, whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection as male and female slaves. 12 Therefore the word of the L-RD came to Jeremiah from the L-RD, saying, 13 “Thus says the L-RD, the G- d of Israel: ‘I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying, 14 “At the end of seven years let every man set free his Hebrew brother, who has been sold to him; and when he has served you six years, you shall let him go free from you.” But your fathers did not obey Me nor incline their ear. 15 ‘Then you recently turned and did what was right in My sight–every man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor; and you made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name. 16 ‘Then you turned around and profaned My name, and every one of you brought back his male and female slaves, whom you had set at liberty, at their pleasure, and brought them back into subjection, to be your male and female slaves.’ 17 “Therefore thus says the L-RD: ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,’ says the L-RD—’to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine! And I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth. 18 ‘And I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not performed the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between the parts of it– 19 ‘the princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf– 20 ‘I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. Their dead bodies shall be for meat for the birds of the heaven and the beasts of the earth. 21 ‘And I will give Zedekiah king of Judah and his princes into the hand of their enemies, into the hand of those who seek their life, and into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army which has gone back from you. 22 ‘Behold, I will command,’ says the L-RD, ‘and cause them to return to this city. They will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant.”
Once more we see the prophet Jeremiah speaking to Israel making reference to that which they should have already known and been observing properly.
Exodus 21:1-11, “Now these [are] the judgments which you shall set before them: 2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. 3 “If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he [comes in] married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 “If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. 5 “But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 “then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever. 7 “And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 “If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. 9 “And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. 10 “If he takes another [wife], he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. 11 “And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without [paying] money.”
Finally, let’s look quickly outside this study and look at what Paul had to say about the matter. Romans 10:4, “For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
I like the HNV (Hebrew Names Version) of this verse and its use of the word “fulfill.” You will see some versions use the word “end.” It is such a translation that leads some to wrongly conclude that the Torah, law or commands have been done away with and have come to an end. Really what Rabbi Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) is getting at is that Yeshua is indeed the purpose or the very point of the Torah! Messiah was in the flesh to demonstrate or give us a “real life” look at what it meant to keep Torah and all of its commands or connections with the Father. Shalom!