From: Messianic Bible
Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2012 1:19 PM
Subject: Being humble without being humiliated: Shabbat shalom Bjoern, this week’s Torah portion is Mishpatim (laws)
Welcome to Mishpatim (Laws), this week’s Parsha (Torah Portion).
This portion of Torah will be read during this week’s Shabbat (Saturday)
service in synagogues all around the world. We invite you to read along
and know that you will be blessed!
Exodus 21:1–24:18, 30: 11–16; Jeremiah 34:8–22, 33:25–26;
11 Kings 12: 1–17; Matthew 17:1–11
“And these are the laws [mishpatim]….” (Exodus 21:1)
In last week’s study, we read about God giving the Ten Commandments to
the children of Israel through His servant, Moshe (Moses). (Exodus 14:31)
Moses receiving the tablets of the law, by Joao
Zeferino da Costa
This portion of Scripture (Parsha) begins by describing a whole system of
civil legislation such as the rights of persons, slaves and servants, laws
concerning murder, personal injuries, offenses against property, and
Today these ancient codes are still relevant. The laws found here are
powerful and deep, and they remain a meaningful treasure in the Word of God.
While the spirit of lawlessness causes many in society to resent rules and
regulations, without a standardized code of laws, chaos and anarchy reigns
and the love of many grows cold. (Matthew 24:12)
In fact, the closer we move toward the end times, the more lawless society
seems to become, which is in keeping with end-time prophecy.
“For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who
now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:7)
God is a God of peace and order. Laws are absolutely necessary to live a
righteous, loving and peaceful life.
The Ten Commandments in Hebrew
God’s Law for Slavery: a Humane Approach
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the
seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.” (Exodus 21: 2)
The first set of laws presented in this Parsha deals with Hebrew servants
Even though the Israelites had been set free from slavery in Egypt, they still
had slaves and/or servants themselves. Back then, a person might become
a slave through poverty, debt, crime, or through being sold by someone.
For instance, a father might sell a daughter in an effort to give her a good
life or for a financial advantage.
A Hebrew slave, however, was not to be treated as an object that could
be owned, but as a person. Furthermore, in the seventh year, the slave
was to be set free.
A slave, however, who freely chose to remain a slave, would be brought
before God to the doorpost (mezuzah), where his master would pierce his
ear with an awl (a kind of needle). After that, the slave would be bound
to serve his master forever. (Exodus 21:6)
Similarly, when we pledge our allegiance to Yeshua, out of love, we also
become a lifetime slave of God unto righteousness.
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient
slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin,
which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
Jewish woman at the Western (Wailing) Wall
reciting tefillah (prayer).
Slave, Servant, Worker, and Worshiper
“Always give yourselves fully to the work [avodah] of the Lord, because
you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
The concept of slavery permitted by the Torah was quite different from the
cruel Greek and Roman systems.
In fact, the Hebrew language doesn’t differentiate between slave, servant,
worker or worshiper. The word is eved (plural – avadim).
“Behold, bless the Lord, all servants (avadim) of the Lord, who serve by
night in all the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 134:1)
This word has no connotation of shame, and it shares the same root as the
verb work or serve (avad).
Work in the Scriptures is not a consequence of the Fall. Even in the Garden
of Eden, God put Adam to work (l’avdah) to keep (l’shamrah) the Garden.
We see this same root word is used when God commanded Pharaoh to
“Let My people go – that they may serve [avad] Me in the wilderness.”
The Hebrew noun avodah also comes from this root, and means work,
service, and ministry.
Botanic garden in Kibbutz Ein-Gedi, which is at the
edge of the Judean Desert in Israel.
Eved Mashiach (Servant Messiah)
“For the son of Man did not come to be served but to serve [l’avdah] and
give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
No one really likes to feel like a slave forced into involuntary servitude,
like some kind of Cinderella, scrubbing the dirty floors of her wicked
stepmother and stepsisters.
Perhaps we all feel like this at times, and yet, Yeshua made the remarkable
claim that whoever desires to be great should be a servant, and whoever
desires to be first, should be a slave. (Matthew 20:26-27)
Yeshua the Messiah modeled this spirit of service.
Before the Feast of Passover, He girded himself with a towel and washed his
disciples’ dirty feet.
“I have set for you an example that you should do, as I have done for
you. Very truly I tell you, no servant [eved] is greater than his master, nor
is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:15 –16)
That Yeshua came as a servant is prophecy fulfilled:
“He who formed me in the womb to be His Servant [Eved] to bring Jacob
back to Him, and gather Israel to Himself. … It is too small a thing for
you to be my Servant [Eved] to restore up the tribes of Jacob and to bring
back those of Israel I have kept.” (Isaiah 49:5, 6)
A Jewish man donning tefillin (phylacteries) while
preparing for morning prayer. Donning tefillin
has its origins in Scripture (Exodus 13:9, 16;
Deuteronomy 6:8, 11:18), and it serves as a
reminder of God’s intervention at the time of the
Exodus from Egypt.
How did Yeshua, who had the exalted position of Son of God and El Gibor
(Mighty God), so easily humble himself as a servant?
The answer is in John 13: “Yeshua knew that the Father had put all things
under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to
God.” (John 13:3)
Yeshua knew who He was, what God had given Him, where He was from
and where He was going, and that he would sit at the right hand of His
Father in Heaven.
His conviction of His own standing, identity, purpose and authority afforded
Him such security that he could walk in humility without being humiliated.
When we also receive deep into our spirit this knowledge of our inheritance,
identity, purpose and authority in Messiah, then we can serve the Lord
humbly, unnoticed and even do unappreciated tasks with gladness of heart
rather than resentment.
“I no longer call you servants [avadim], because a servant does not know
his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends [y’didim], for
everything that I learned from My father I have made known to you.”
Although Yeshua perfectly fulfilled the prophecies in Scripture regarding
Servant Messiah, most of Israel has yet to comprehend this fact. Please
partner with us as we labor to bring the Good News of Messiah to Israel.
“Night is coming, when no one can work [avad].” (John 9:4)
Shabbat Shalom from our ministry staff
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