PARASHAT YITRO (JETHRO)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 18:1–20:23
In our Scripture portion this week, we read:
Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.
Shemot (Exodus) 19:3b–6
There are some key points in these verses that I want to focus on. The first point is that, as we have learned in previous studies from the book of Beresheet (Genesis), God created humankind for relationship; here, in Exodus we find this very important principle once again. God delivered Israel out of slavery in Egypt for Himself! Israel’s deliverance was not about Israel; it was about God and having a people set apart for Him.
“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant…” (emphasis mine)
The second point is found in this verse: obedience. The word “if” is such an important word in the Scriptures. God redeemed us in order to have relationship with us. But, together with that, we must remember that He is holy, and His will is for us to live holy lives. Yeshua also used the word “if” in a very similar way when He told His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) The Father and Son both made it clear how important obedience is to His word. We have not been redeemed for ourselves, but for Him, His purpose, and for His glory to be manifest through our lives. Therefore, obedience is crucial in the life of the believer!
“…then you shall be My own possession (סְגֻלָּה – s’gula) among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
The third point I want to focus on is found in this second part of the verse: possession. I find it interesting that the Hebrew word, “סְגֻלָּה” (s’gula) is translated in most English translations as “possession”. A more precise translation would be a “jewel”, which is something or someone of a great value. Isn’t that what you and I become through the redeeming power of our God? We are precious in His sight!
This same concept can be found in Titus chapter 2, where even the same word is used in verse 13, but this concept extends beyond the children of Israel to the gentile believers in Messiah: (I have included the earlier verses in order to provide context)
But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech, which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Urge bond-slaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession (“סְגֻלָּה֙” – s’gula), zealous for good deeds.
My dear brothers and sisters, you are precious! As children of God — Jew and Gentile alike- we are His jewel, bought with a very heavy price, not for ourselves but in order for us to reflect Him and His Glory.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.