FRIEND OF THE ALMIGHTY

alternate textThe same person who, in Shemot (Exodus) 18, is called Yitro, the father-in-law of Mosheh and the priest of Midyan, has earlier (in Exodus 2) been called Reuel, the priest of Midyan who had seven daughters and who gave his one daughter, Tsipporah, as a wife to Mosheh. So it seems that this man was known by two names, Yitro and Reuel – Yitro meaning “excellence” and Reuel meaning “friend of Elohim”. Yitro must have had a profound influence in the life of Mosheh. When Stephanos was about to be stoned in Acts 7, he mentioned that Mosheh lived 40 years with Yitro and his family, before he was called to lead the people of Yisrael out of Egypt. Based upon this information it is believed that the life of Mosheh consisted of three parts of 40 years each: 40 years in Egypt, as part of the household of the Pharaoh; 40 years in Midyan, as part of the household of Yitro and 40 years in the wilderness, as part of the household and the people of Elohim.

Having lived with Yitro for 40 years, it is only to be expected that Mosheh and Yitro must have known each other exceptionally well and that Yitro, the older of the two, must have been like a father to Mosheh. That is why Yitro has the freedom to approach Mosheh in Shemot 18, questioning the way Mosheh is dealing with the people and advising him to handle his matters differently. “Why do you sit by yourself, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?” Yitro wants to know of Mosheh. Yitro puts before Mosheh the proposal to take only the most important matters upon himself and to leave the less important matters over to other men – men who also fear Elohim and love the truth and hate any form of unrighteousness. Interestingly enough, this conversation between Yitro and Mosheh appears in the same Parashah and forms the background of Mosheh’s personal encounter with Yahweh on Mount Sinai and the subsequent receiving of the Torah.

Mosheh spent time with the person whose name means “excellence” and “friend of Elohim” – in such a way that Mosheh himself discovered something of the excellence of Yahweh’s appearance and also came to know what it means to have Yahweh as a friend. In Shemot (Exodus) 33:11 we read these words: “Thus Yahweh spoke to Mosheh face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” For Mosheh, being a friend of Elohim did not mean standing in a buddy-buddy relationship with Yahweh, in the sense of approaching Him as though He was nothing more than a man. For Mosheh this was simply unthinkable. He tasted something of the majesty and the splendour of the Almighty. He sensed the excellence of his presence and the magnitude of his Name. He saw and heard the unbearable light and the thunderous roar on the mountain. For the first time, maybe, he knew what it meant to fear Yahweh. But somehow, Yahweh became his friend. Mosheh wanted to please Yahweh. He wanted to make his Name known to as many people as possible. He wanted to spend every second of his existence to come to know this Person better. In short: Mosheh was ready to receive the Torah, which means he was ready to be taught by Yahweh (because “Torah” is just another word for “teaching”, like the teaching of a father to a son).

In so many ways Mosheh reminds one of Y’shua the Messiah. Y’shua also had personal knowledge of the excellence of Yahweh. It is difficult for us to imagine what the exact nature of this knowledge was. But let us think for a moment of that time when He was baptized in the Yarden (Jordan) river. Remember, when He came up from the water it was as though the heavens had opened and He saw the Spirit of Elohim descending upon Him like a dove and He heard an audible voice coming out of the heavens, saying: “This is my beloved Son in whom I delight!” And precisely here we have one of the differences between Mosheh and Moschiach (Messiah): Mosheh was called a friend of Elohim, while Y’shua was called the Son of Elohim. Mosheh knew Yahweh as a Friend. Y’shua knew Yahweh as a Father. The ultimate achievement for us, as followers of Y’shua, would be to know Yahweh both as a Friend and as a Father! Just as “friend” is a relationship of intimacy and true connection, so, and even more so, “son” is a relationship of intimacy and true connection. Believe it or not, you and I have been called to be sons and daughters of the Almighty!

It is such a pity that church doctrines have twisted and confused the beauty of the Father-Son relationship between Y’shua and Yahweh by mixing it up with all kinds of philosophical ideas about a trinity and the Son being equal to the Father. Y’shua never equated Himself with the Father in the same sense in which it is done within the trinity doctrine. When He taught his disciples and told them “I and the Father are one”, He immediately added: “You should also be one as we are one” and “you should be one with Me as I am one with my Father”. He wanted to encourage them to become friends and sons and daughters of Elohim. And to experience that intimacy and that connection that Yahweh has intended for his people, right from the very beginning.

How is all of this related to the Torah and the Ten Commandments? The Torah and the Ten Commandments is all about friendship and intimacy with Yahweh. The first four Words or the first four Commandments, in particular, were intended to introduce people to what it truly means to come closer to Yahweh and to love Him with every strand and every fiber of one’s existence. Once again, what a tragedy that many churches in the past have downplayed the beauty and the extreme importance of the Ten Commandments by making the claim that Y’shua fulfilled each one of them, and thereby removing the need for his followers to also fulfil them. It is not difficult to show that the Hebrew understanding of the concept of “fulfil” is all about doing, not neglecting, carrying out to the full. Instead of following the example of the One they claim to be their Master and Teacher (by calling themselves his “disciples”), many believers, over the centuries have done exactly the opposite of what was taught and shown by both Mosheh and Moschiach, the two great leaders and friends of Elohim. In what ways did we and our forefathers missed out on the blessings and the excellence and the intimacy intended by the first four commandments? Let us look at just a few of these ways:

First commandment: You shall have no mighty ones against my face (or: before me). Surely, this must be taken to mean that we are not allowed to elevate any being, any creature, even a so-called “god” or a mighty one to the level of Yahweh – He, who calls Himself the “echad” (the One, as against the tendency among heathen nations to call upon more than one or multiple gods). What about Y’shua, the Son? Are we allowed to elevate Y’shua to the level of Yahweh and to honour and worship Him as Yahweh? Y’shua Himself said more than once that people should only worship Yahweh, his Father. Y’shua called Yahweh his Elohim. Y’shua once said to a man “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except One – Elohim” (Matt 19:17). Have we not missed out on the opportunity of becoming intimate friends with Elohim by allowing the confusion between Father and Son to trap us into transgressing the very first commandment that Yahweh gave to his friend, Mosheh and to his son, Israel?

Second commandment: You shall not make for yourself, and bow down before and serve, a carved image, or any likeness of that which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth. What about bowing down before a carved image of Y’shua and the so-called holy ones of the Bible and especially Maria (Miryam) whom the Catholic Church has always honoured as the “Mother of God”? I cannot imagine that the Almighty is not offended by this practice. Those who indulge themselves in this custom may well find that friendship and intimacy with the Almighty is an elusive ideal and that the excellence of Yahweh and his teachings is something they understand very little about.

Third commandment: You shall not bring the Name of Yahweh your Elohim to naught (previous translations: take or use the Name in vain). Within this commandment, and the negligence of this commandment, we may find one of the main reasons for the worldwide lack of intimate knowledge of the Almighty. Many believers have been taught in the past that this commandment is about swearing and abusing the Name above all names. But have they ever paused to discover what this Name above all names is? Do they realize that neither “Lord” nor “God” is the name of the Almighty? Have they ever allowed themselves to acknowledge the excellence of the Almighty by reverently calling on his Name? Friendship with Yahweh is undeniably related to accepting and calling upon his Name!

Fourth commandment: Remember the Sabbath day, to set it apart. The majority of those who claim that they know the Almighty have never in their lives made a decision to honour and to set apart the day that Yahweh had set apart Himself – not just ANY DAY of our own liking, but specifically the seventh day. I do not want to condemn these people. I am not allowed to do so. But I think they are missing out on something that is extremely precious – one of the great treasures of Scriptures and one of the keys of coming to know more about true friendship with Elohim. Those of us who know about this day should not allow the burdens and the ways of this world to distract us from our zeal for Yahweh and our commitment to esteem the things that He esteems and to pursue true friendship with this esteemed One with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds!

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