Parashat Mishpatim (Judgments)
29th of Shevat 5777 / February 25th, 2017
By: Abe Lang
This Week’s Readings:
Torah: Exodus 21:1-24:18
Haftarah: 2 Kings 12:1-17
Brit Chadashah: Hebrews 9:11-15
In the Torah Portion, we read about G-d, at Mt. Sinai, giving the Israelites various civil and criminal laws regarding slaves, property liability, sexual morality, and the treatment of foreigners. In addition, there are instructions concerning Shabbat (and how everyone, including servants, were meant to be refreshed on Shabbat) and the three festivals that Israel was to celebrate unto G-d: Passover, Shavuot, and the harvest festival (or Sukkot). G-d repeatedly reminds them, in this passage, to treat foreigners and the disenfranchised well, because they had experienced the same plight in Egypt. Then G-d commands them to listen to His angel, who would go ahead of them and lead them through the dessert. At the end of the Parashah, Moses gives the people the law and the people all state that they will do everything G-d says. They confirmed the covenant, and were sprinkled by Moses with blood, to put the covenant into effect. Lastly, Moses and the seventy elders went up the mountain and ate with and saw G-d, and they did not die.
In the Haftarah Portion, we read about the beginning of King Joash’s reign. Immediately after the execution of Joash’s evil relative Athalia, Jehoida, the priest, makes a covenant between Joash and the people and G-d. The people were to belong to G-d and to obey him. Then the people responded in obedience and smashed the temple of the idol, Baal. Joash then sits on his throne and begins his reign at age seven. One of his first actions as King is to repair the temple of G-d. So, he collects money from gifts and offerings, and begins the work on G-d’s temple. Despite the fact that the work was delayed for 23 years, Joash remained resilient, and made sure the work was completed out of his obedient heart.
In the Brit Chadashah Portion, we read in the book of Hebrews about how Yeshua has come as High Priest, and went through the greater tabernacle, not the one constructed in the dessert in Exodus, but rather the one in Heaven. The passage states that He offered himself to cleanse the acts that lead to death. And that He is the mediator of the new covenant. He acts as mediator in this New Covenant, so that we might be free of sin committed under the Old Covenant.
The common theme throughout all of these passages is the covenants established and the mediators who set them into place. In Exodus, Moses acted as the mediator, because the people were too afraid to approach G-d directly, and his obedience brought the people to obedience. They agreed to the covenant Moses laid out to them and responded in obedience. In the Haftarah the people of Judah and Joash turn to G-d in obedience because of the covenant that the priest, Jehoida, initiated. They then built G-d’s house. In Hebrews, Yeshua is the initiator and mediator of the New Covenant. He has set us free from sin and death and brought us into eternal life. We who have accepted Yeshua have been brought into this covenant (unlike the previous covenants). But the question is: Will we respond in obedience by following the example of our mediator? Or will we forget quickly as the Israelites soon would in Exodus with the golden calf? Or will we respond like Joash, who, even after 23 years of being a part of G-d’s covenant, persisted in completing the work?