Shalom! Sashya here. This week, I would like to share with you an article penned by one of the Tribe, Elizabeth Bass. She has a wonderful servant’s heart, and leads a fellowship in Oregon in a lifestyle of worship. She had some insight to share about Parsha Yitro, that she had published a few years back. Enjoy!
Ponderings: G-d Revealed
By Elizabeth Darby Bass, Sabbath Streams Ministries
Parsha Yitro: Exodus 18:1 – 20:23
G-d reveals Himself to us in many ways. Sometimes it is in the natural and sometimes it is in the supernatural. The Parsha this week begins with a revelation that seems pretty natural. “Now Yitro the priest of Midian, Moshe’s father-in-law, heard about all that God had done for Moshe and for Isra’el his people” (Exodus 18:1). And when he heard, he came.
Yitro (also known as Jethro) came to see what G-d had done. He came to get a first hand report of the miracles he had heard about. And when he came, Moshe honored and welcomed him. Moshe told him all the details of how G-d had been taking care of His people, how the plagues had struck the Egyptians but not the Israelites, how the water had parted for the Israelites and drowned the Egyptians. He told him about the bitter water made sweet and the provision of manna. And when Yitro had heard it all, he blessed G-d.
Yitro listened to the testimony of Moshe and that was enough for him. He believed G-d was G-d from what he heard and offered up a sacrifice in the presence of Moshe, Aharon and all the elders of Israel.
While there is disagreement about the background of this man, elsewhere called the priest of Midian, there is no mistaking his statement here. “Now I know that ADONAI is greater than all other gods.” By hearing of the miracles G-d performed for His people, Yitro was moved to a belief in the supremacy of G-d and was moved to worship.
Some of us are like Yitro. We have heard about G-d and we honor Him, even worship Him from what we have heard, and that is enough. But many of us want more. We want that personal and up close relationship we have also heard about. We want the experience for ourselves. It isn’t enough to hear about what He has done for others, we see the ways He has taken care of us and we know that we too are a part of His chosen people. But we really don’t know what we are looking for.
Like the Israelites in the next chapters, we come to the base of what we hope is going to be a mountain top experience for us. We are looking for the smoke and fire, looking for something to settle into our spirits and lift us up from the mundane experiences of life. What we don’t realize is that just like them, if G-d were to reveal Himself to us in that way; most of us would run the other direction. We forget that the absolute Awesomeness of G-d is just that, absolutely Awesome. We think it is a comfortable thing to be in the presence of G-d.
I know, some of you are saying, “but we are under a new covenant, Hebrews says we can ‘come boldly into the throne of Grace’ and Paul says we are to cry out to ‘Abba’ or daddy G-d.” And this is true. We can come boldly to the throne of G-d, we do not have to fear that we will be struck down on the day of judgment for our atonement has been made. We know that our G-d is a compassionate G-d, and that we have been made to be His heirs through the shed blood of Yeshua HaMoshiach. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. This is the same relationship that G-d offered to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai.
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you will be a kingdom of priests for me, a nation set apart.
Modern Christians often criticize the Israelites for how they complained in the wilderness and/or for how they seemed to be so easily led astray and yet, are we really any better? They were given a first hand vision of G-d, and it terrified them. They were offered a special relationship with specific laws to keep in honor of that relationship and they accepted it.
Yeshua has made the same offer to us. “You are my friends; if you do what I command you . . . This is what I command you: keep loving each other!”
We are given an understanding of the grace of G-d, and it warms our hearts. We are given one command as part of the honor of the relationship offered to us and we accept it. But how many of us are able to truly keep it?
We love the “warm fuzzies” of the Love of G-d, made known to us through the work of Rauch HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), and there is nothing wrong with that. We need the comfort and peace and joy that only comes through resting in that Love. But as more and more of us are crying out for true revival we need to remember that when G-d shows up, it doesn’t start with good feelings. All the great revivals in history began like the experience the Israelites had at the mountain – with a revelation of a Holy G-d, and a recognition of the sinfulness of our hearts. All the great revivals have begun with a terror of conviction about the holiness of G-d.
When G-d showed up at Sinai it says:
All the people experienced the thunder, the lightning, the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled. Standing at a distance, they said to Moshe, “You speak with us; and we will listen. But don’t let G-d speak with us, or we will die.” Exodus 20:18 &19
What will we say when He shows up for us? What makes us think it will be any different? We want His love, but do we want HIM? He is an awesome, holy, powerful, terrifyingly wonderful G-d and He has offered us relationship with Him. But we may have to be willing to enter the thick darkness just as Moshe did. It may not be as comfortable as we have been led to believe – we may have to be willing to change, really change. For the Israelites, G-d’s law was written in stone. For us it is written upon our hearts. But we never stop to think about the process of its writing and how that might feel.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to stick to the type of revelation that Yitro had. Acknowledging G-d, believing in Him as greater than all other gods, having that head knowledge of who G-d is and keeping it there. But to be a part of the chosen people, more is required of us. We have to move from that head knowledge to a real relationship. We have to risk the experience of the revelation of our G-d, a G-d who is “the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Moshe answered the people, “Don’t be afraid, because G-d has come only to test you and make you fear him, so that you won’t commit sins.” So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached the thick darkness where God was. Ex 20 20 & 21
True revival causes that kind of fear, a fear that drives the sin far from us, a fear that melts our hearts before the G-d who loves us. G-d told them that He wanted to make them a nation of priests; maybe it was their unwillingness to go into the darkness with Moshe that set the pattern for their disobedience and created the distance between the common man and the priesthood. Maybe if they had been willing to push past the terror and into the presence of this majestic, awesome G-d, the law could have been written on their hearts instead of on hard stone, making it possible for them to live out the law which was intended to be life to them. Maybe if we would be willing to push past the head knowledge and into His majestic, awesome presence the law that we have been given, the law of love, would not be so hard for us to walk in as well.
In the worship song Majesty this concept is expressed well,
Your grace has found me just as I am
Empty handed but alive in your hands
Forever I am changed by your love,
in the presence of your majesty.
Lord, may I never forget your majesty. May I never lose sight of how holy and righteous you are. May I be willing to come into that thick cloud and be made pure in your presence. May I not run from your fire but be willing to walk close enough to you to be truly changed. So that I may walk in that calling as your chosen one and truly fulfill the role you have for me in that royal priesthood of believers.
Unless otherwise stated all Scripture quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. Published by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. www.messianicjewish.net/jntp. Distributed by Messianic Jewish Resources. www.messianicjewish.net. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6
I Peter 2:9
John 15: 14 & 17
Michael W. Smith. “Majesty.” Martin Smith (Composer) A New Hallelujah. 2008
Elizabeth Bass says: I am a Ruth! I have fallen in love with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! And I glean from many sources to learn and understand!!! Early in my walk with the “Hebrew” understandings, Abba told me to look at the fruit in where I went to glean and that has guided me in many, many ways!! “Look at the love! and learn from ME” ~ been doing this for a time, but am still truly in learning mode!!
You can find her at https://sabbathstreams.org/