Yeshua the Mashiakh told us the two greatest commandments were to love God unreservedly and to love other people unselfishly (Matt. 22:34–40; Mark 12:28–31; Deut. 6:4–6; Lev. 19:18). Learning what the LORD would do in a situation — to walk as He walked (1Jn. 2:6) — is at the heart of this week’s Torah reading מִּשְׁפָּטִים Mishpatim (“judgements,” Ex. 21:1-24:18).
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2 NASB; cf. Isa. 61:10; Rev. 19:7; 21:9; 22:17)
Scripture likens people truly loyal to the Creator of Heaven and Earth to a bride. And the presentation of the Ten Commandments at Sinai is compared to the signing of a ketubah (wedding contract).
It’s not by coincidence there are a number of parallels between the events at Sinai recorded in this week’s Torah reading — יתרו Yitro (Jethro), covering Exodus 18:1–20:23 — and the Jewish wedding ceremony. Marriage is about transparency, devotion and loyalty, and that’s the testimony of the LORD in the Ten Words of Exodus 20.
It took more faith to save Yisra’el than lamb’s blood on the doorposts as the Destroyer of the firstborn roamed the streets of Mitzraim during the first Passover. Then came being cornered by a huge army and going into the desert without sufficient water or food. It’s all part of the training in righteousness that all believers in the LORD much travel.
“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28 NASB)
The cost of freedom for enslaved Yisra’el was the death of the firstborn of Mitzraim, and the cost of our freedom from slavery to the deathward lifestyle away from the Creator is the death of the LORD’s Firstborn.
The last three plagues, including the coming of the Destroyer for the firstborn of Mitzraim, and the first Pesakh are the focus of Torah reading בוא Bo (“come,” Exodus 10:1-13:16).
It’s no coincidence that the freedom of Yisra’el from bondage in Mitzraim was accompanied by 10 plagues and the release of mankind on the coming Day of the LORD comes after seven plagues. Why such drastic measures are required to give people freedom is behind this week’s Torah portion, וארא Va’era (“I appeared,” Exodus 6:2–9:35).
“Man is free, but everywhere he is in chains,” wrote a French philosopher in the mid-18th century, setting off a firestorm in Europe against monarchy.1 But more the three thousand years earlier, a greater shockwave resounded from within the superpower empire of Mitzraim.
These shadows grow even more defined in this week’s Torah portion, ויחי Vayechi (“he lived,” Gen. 47:28–50:26). In this fourth and last section on Yosef‘s life, we see parallels between pharaoh, Yosef and Ya’akov, and the Father, the Son and the people called Yisra’el.