Sunday, December 15, 2013

TorahBytes: Moses Is Good for You (Shemot)

The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. (Shemot / Exodus 2:2; ESV)

Moses was special. His parents somehow knew that. Different translations have Moses’ mother describing him as fine, fair, goodly, beautiful, or healthy. The Hebrew word used is “tov,” which basically means “good.” That translators prefer one of these other words is likely an attempt to capture how they think the word tov is being used in this context. But not translating tov as good obscures that it could be an echo of the creation account, where several times God looked at what he created and said it was tov, good (see NET Bible, Exodus 2:2, note 8 -!bible/Exodus+2). Could it be that Moses’ mother looked with satisfaction at her offspring in the same way God looked at his creation? Could it be a signal in the biblical text that God felt the same way—that he had his hand on this special child in such a way like nothing since creation?

Is this not the case regardless of the text’s intention? Moses was a key player in God’s plan to rescue his creation from the curse he pronounced on it as a result of our first parents' sin. Having promised Abraham that through his descendants “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Bereshit / Genesis 12:3), God chose Moses to reveal his ways to his people. It would be Moses who brings to a world lost in the darkness of ignorance, God’s version of life.

Among some people Moses’ teaching is misunderstood as having nothing but a negative function as if all it does is tell us how bad we are. It is true that the more we are aware of God’s standards, the more we become aware of how much we fall short of them. Yet it is though Moses we learn God’s ways of love, justice, equity, holiness, and goodness in every area of life. That we are unable live up to his instructions should create in us a profound dependability upon God in everything and drive us to Yeshua. The forgiveness and acceptance offered to us as a free gift through the Messiah frees us to embrace Moses’ words not cut us off from them.

This is not to say that Yeshua calls us back to an Old Covenant lifestyle. The system God established through Moses is long broken, having been replaced by the New Covenant in Yeshua (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; compare Luke 22:20). Still the essence of God’s ways as outlined by Moses and expounded on by the Hebrew prophets and upheld by the New Covenant writings (New Testament) are as relevant as ever.

Moses is good for you. Paul, so often misunderstood by so many, thought so. When he wrote “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), he was reminding his protégé, Timothy (and us!) of the value of the Hebrew Scriptures, Moses included.

To neglect Moses is to neglect God, for so much of who God is is revealed to us through this special child. His mother could see it. How about you?

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