Parashah 18: Mishpatim (Rulings)
Learn more about what a parashah is here. The heart behind this Bible portion blog is to help you develop your own daily reading habit, a daily renewing of your mind. We do this to know and love Adonai further, and to know His love for us. We share what the portion is for the week, what we took note of, and what spoke to our heart. We hope that this will help you study the Word of God and hide it in your heart, and soon you can teach someone else to do the same.
Torah (first 5 books of the Old Testament): Exodus 21:1-24:18
Haftarah (section from the Prophets): Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26
B'rit Hadashah (New Testament): Matthew 5:38-42; 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23; Acts 23:1-11; Hebrews 9:15-22; 10:28-39
What we took note of.
We learn about the rulings Moses was to present to the people of Israel from Adonai. He gives very specific instruction on what to do in certain situations. Up until this point, we learned in the last parashah Jethro, that Moses was listening to and settling all the disputes of the people. This was no easy task, given that Israel was at least tens of thousands in size, and at most 2-3 millions in size. Either estimate, it would have been much work for one man. And we read in scripture that it was a lot. "The following day Moshe sat to settle disputes for the people, while the people stood around Moshe from morning till evening" Exodus 18:13. Moshe's father in law made the judgement that what Moshe was doing "isn't good" in verse 17. What stood out what that God didn't say it wasn't good, rather the father in law said it. And the father in law was a recent believer in Adonai. When we read the rest of this parashah and the following one, we see that the Lord indeed equips Moshe to help him. He spells out 10 commandments and gives all of these specific rulings, in this way, Moshe wouldn't have to step in and handles disputes as often, as things are clearly spelled out.
Later in the reading, mentioned in just 3 verses, an incredible act took place. Moses, Aaron, two other men, and 70 leaders "went up", and together they all saw God. This is a time when 3 verses just doesn't seem enough to describe this event. The scriptures simply say that they saw God, and He was standing onto an incredible stone pavement that looked like a sapphire with perfect clarity.
Soon after that, both Moses and Joshua went up the mountain together, leaving the leaders behind, with Aaron and Hur in charge.
What spoke to our heart in this reading.
Moshe must have had a lot on his plate when leading the Israelites, but the Lord clearly called him to do it and must have equipped him all along the way. The Lord didn't equip Jethro, his father in law. He didn't call Jethro for this position either, but clearly his opinion mattered the Moses. We just wonder if Moses would have waited a little while longer, if this parashah and all the specific rulings the Lord gave, would have made the difference. This is all speculative, but it makes us cautious the be careful who we receive council from and to always take it back to the Lord and seek His will. And to remember that the Lord equips us to what He calls us to, though our plate may be full. And to be fair, Moses may have been listening to wise council here when he took Jethro's advice. Jethro did give a perfect clause when after everything he shared, he said "[i]f you do this-and God is directing you to do it" (Exodus 18:23). We know that sometimes the most well-meaning people can give advice that is not good for us. It is a great act to always take what we are told and ask the Lord if this is what He wants for us.