Yitro (Jethro)

Torah: Exodus 18:1-20:23 Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6 Brit Chadasha: James 4:11-17


I started off with a verse that we are all familiar with and probably many of you like myself have used the verse above to say now that we are ‘saved’ we are a chosen race and a royal priesthood and so forth and so on.  Is that really what the Scriptures is saying?  We know that in order to preach something from the Brit Chadasha (Newer Testament) we must find it in the TaNaK (Older Testament) because the Brit Chadasha wasn’t written when the apostles or Shaul (Paul) was around.  They were getting all of their information right out of the TaNaK.  So let’s go back to this week’s portion and see what the Scriptures really say about this priesthood and holy nation ordeal.[i] Many times when we read the Scriptures we very seldom take time to really focus on the important words like if, but and then.  This may sound very nitpicky but it is very important, and I will show you why.

Something about a Kingdom and a Nation

In the above reference from Exodus nineteen verse five it says, “And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation. (Emphasis mine)  Now let’s go back and compare this to the Scriptures that I placed under the thought of the week.  Interesting how two little words that many times we just pass right over and don’t pay attention to can cause a verse or verses to be interpreted so differently.  What is the issue here with all of this?  The issue is that we misinterpret the Brit Chadasha when we can’t even interpret the TaNaK much less have never took time to study it.

You might say well brother you are making a mountain out of a mole hill.  Possibly, you might be thinking that since we are ‘saved’ or believe and have faith in the Messiah then that automatically makes us what first Peter is referring to.  Is that correct?  In Exodus chapter thirteen[ii] we see that the children of Yisrael feared Yahweh and believed.  This Hebrew word, aman, which is translated as believed used in this passage means to depend upon, rely upon and have faith in.  We see it used when Abram believed in Elohim and it was counted as righteousness unto him.[iii] Think about this.  If they/we are automatically called a kingdom of priests and a set-apart nation when we get ‘saved’ or believe; why is it that the children of Yisrael back in chapter fourteen ‘believe’ in Yahweh and we jump forward to chapter nineteen and they are for the first time being told that IF they obey His voice and His covenant THEN they will be a kingdom of priests and a set-apart nation?  It’s because at salvation we do not automatically become a kingdom of priests and a set-apart nation by just waving a magic wand.

Now what was going on in the first Peter passage?  It sure seems like Peter is saying now that we are ‘saved’ we automatically become a kingdom of priests and a set-apart nation.  We clearly know that the disciples preached the message of repentance and that according to Scripture[iv] the message of repentance is turning around and returning to the Torah or going back to where you came from.  Also, in the book of Hebrews[v] and Luke[vi] we see that the gospel was preached to them, (the children of Yisrael).  Clearly Peter’s message was that once you have repented which means you returned to, obeying His voice and obeying His covenant i.e. obeying Torah, you are that kingdom of priests and that set-apart nation.  When we don’t go back to the beginning we can’t truly understand or interpret correctly what was written in the Brit Chadasha.

Taking it in vain

Most of us have probably heard that the Hebrews don’t use the name Yahweh because they interpret this as taking the name in vain.  I try and stay out of these debates that usually go nowhere leaving both sides angry and offended thus causing more division.  Honestly division is something that we should be getting away from these days because look at where it has brought us to over the last 2,000 years and look at what it has accomplished.

The point I want to make about taking the name of YHVH in vain[vii] is this.  Honestly many of us probably break this commandment more than we think.  What I mean is there are different ways to interpret this verse so I am not saying this is the only interpretation.  How many of us have said or say all the time a statement like, ‘if the Lord willing” and we are applying it to let’s say if we are going to show up to watch a baseball game or whatever thing that really doesn’t have spiritual meaning to it.  In my opinion if this is something that we do out of habit, it is taking the name of Yahweh in vain.  Also for those who are dogmatic in using Yahweh, Yahuah or whatever webpage you are looking at this week could we also be taking the name in vain when we use it all the time over and over and over until it has become something common to us?  I am just asking so please don’t throw rocks at me.  I believe we should give honor to the name of YHVH.  He deserves every bit of it but I guess my finishing point is that we should never get to a place where we just haphazardly use it all the time.  Why not use Creator of the Universe, God of Abraham, Yitzhak, and Yaakov, the Father or the Eternal.  Just food for thought and I am in no way trying to being dogmatic.

Thought for the Week

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for a possession, that you should proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light, who once were not a people, but now the people of Elohim; who had not obtained compassion, but now obtained compassion. Beloved ones, I appeal to you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts which battle against the life, having your behavior among the gentiles good so that when they speak against you as evil-doers, let them, by observing your good works, esteem Elohim in a day of visitation.  1 Peter 2:9-12


[i] Exodus 19:5
[ii] Exodus 14:31
[iii] Genesis 15:6
[iv] I John 3:4
[v] Hebrews 4:2
[vi] Luke 24:27, 44-47
[vii] Exodus 20:7