As we have seen all through the journey thus far, YHVH has been consistently giving His instructions to the ‘wondering wanderers’ through Moses. At the present juncture He uses His mouthpiece to communicate remarkable promises of being a kingdom of priests and a “segulah” people. Moses being YHVH’s singled out messenger hears the following: "Behold, I come to you [Moses] in the thick cloud that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you forever" (Exodus 19:9 emphases added). It is as if YHVH is saying “obviously they are not going to listen to Me Moses, so maybe they will listen to you and believe you”. The condition of the uncircumcised human heart was obviously not concealed from the Almighty, as later on in Israel’s journey He makes the following pronouncement: "Yet YHVH has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day” (Deuteronomy 29:40). Here, under the present circumstances and spiritual condition of those standing at the foot of Mount Sinai there was not a chance that anyone would venture close or ‘take a peak’ at Elohim. As a matter of fact, Moses brought back a warning from the Creator of Heaven and Earth that no one was to even touch the mountain, lest they would perish. Additionally, further precaution was taken, and that was the boundary that the people were instructed to put around the mountain.
Hence, the experience by the foot of Mount Sinai was not designed for the Israelites to embark on an intimate relationship with their fathers’ Elohim. And if we deem that we can get to know Elohim through this Sinai Covenant, we will be sorely disappointed. Yet this Covenant does teach us a great deal about Him. This agreement was given to prepare the way and the people for a future day when the Spirit of Elohim will take up residence in their circumcised hearts, as promised through the prophets of old (see Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 35:11, in the Hebrew).
As a matrimonial bond, the Sinai Covenant is certainly extraordinary. For one thing, sin was part and parcel of the Israelites’ nature, meaning that rebellion with its pride and self-righteousness was rife among them. Our forefathers’ failure to keep their side of the bargain, right from the start, was very evident. How could they, then, be joined as a bride to a Holy and Righteous Husband? Were they not forbidden to come close, nor look upon their Spouse? YHVH, for His part, did not address them directly, using all along Moses as a mediator. This bride’s nature did not allow her to keep the statutes, laws and ordinances to which she had committed herself. In fact, the Ketuba-marriage contract would prove to be very problematic for Israel. Yet at the same time, once the promised New Covenant makes its appearance, the Torah will become very beneficial. “Behold, the days are coming, says YHVH ‘when I will make a new Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them’ says YHVH’” (Jeremiah 31:31-32 emphasis added). It is through this New Covenant that Elohim will reveal Himself to His Sinai bride in an intimate way: “I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know YHVH” (Hosea 2:20).
But at this point the fledging wilderness people are only just embarking upon their future history with this ‘strange’ Husband who took them out of bondage on eagles’ wings, and brought them to Himself here at camp Sinai. He will remind them and their seed, over and over through all their future journeys, of His sovereign work for His Name’s sake and on their behalf, especially how He had dealt with the Egyptians and then with the Canaanite nations.
In some way Israel’s journey parallels our own; those of us who have ‘come out of our Egypt’ but are still in the ‘wilderness of the peoples’, living as we do, being foreigners/strangers in other nations. YHVH is causing us too to pass under His disciplinary rod (see Ezekiel 20:35-37). As was stated in previous chapters, one of the purposes of the commandments of Sinai was to bring to light the horror of Sin and its consequences in our lives personally and corporately. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). This is why the “commandment is holy, good and spiritual”. “So did that which is good cause death in me, absolutely not, it was Sin working death in me” that is the culprit, and not the Law (see Romans 7:13). But without the spiritual light and power of this desert agreement, we would have no knowledge of what it is that causes us, and all of creation, to groan under Sin’s rule and its consequences of “death and decay” (see Romans 3:20).
The Torah was given on what we call today Shavuot or Pentecost, a feast and a time which is celebrated by the Jewish nation for the giving of the Torah. Christianity, on the other hand, basically celebrates only the giving of the Holy Spirit to the “church”. But those who have received the New Covenant circumcision, the Spirit and the restored identity should also incorporate the giving of the Torah to the celebration of this feast. Unfortunately, many are and were taught that the “Law was nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), and therefore once embracing the New Covenant it has no effect upon their lives. This is a false notion and demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of the apostle’s writing. Hence a study of Romans chapters 3 through 7 should be very beneficial in that regard. As you are well aware, it was not YHVH’s Word (His Torah) that was done away with on that execution stake. “Therefore, my brethren, you were made dead to the law through the body of Messiah, that you might be joined/married to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for Elohim” (Romans 7:40 emphases added). Yes, we have been crucified with our Messiah - when He died we died and have been raised with Him into newness of life (see Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15). For what purpose? In order to be married to another so that we will bear the fruit of righteousness to Elohim.
What does it mean “married to another”? Who were we married to in the past? Was it not the One who thundered and shook the mountain, whose voice sounded like a shofar and whose appearance was accompanied by fire and smoke? Was it not YHVH the Husband who accused Israel and Judah of adultery? "Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I [YHVH] had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous/unfaithful sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also” (Jeremiah 3:8 emphases added). Thus the whole house of Jacob attested to humanity’s bondage to Sin. As King David penned in Psalm 14 and 53, words that are quoted in Romans 3: “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after Elohim. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one’" (Romans 3:10-12).
The scriptural usage of the two words, “adultery” and “divorce” certainly indicates what Israel’s relationship had been with YHVH. As pointed out by the prophet Hosea, YHVH also accused Israel of harlotry. But in spite of this behavior and the divorce, YHVH was still watching over Israel to do what He had promised: “I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven” (Exodus 32:13). Today some believe that YHVH replaced Israel with a highbred seed and thus the promised multitudes do not originate from Sarah’s and Rebekah’s wombs, compromising greatly the Creator’s integrity and credibility as the Elohim of Israel. There are also those who go so far as to postulate that when Abraham was one hundred years old he was partially blind, like his son Isaac whose eye sight failed him later on in life, so that when he looked up at the heavens he only saw a few thousand of the brightest stars. This only proves that the “…foolishness of Elohim is wiser than men, and the weakness of Elohim is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
In order to stay faithful to His promise of multiplicity, Elohim hid the seed/life of Israel, the seed of faith, in earthen jars of human flesh and buried them under the laws of sin and death. Yet just as He multiplied our ancestors profusely in Egypt, He also continued to do so throughout the generations. His plans and purposes are immutable, regardless of what Israel does or doesn’t do. Even if we are in unbelief and are unfaithful, “He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
Today, we are in this wilderness together as one people, one nation, as were our forefathers. For generations we have found “grace” (Jeremiah 31:2), but as this wilderness age draws to a close Ezekiel’s 20th chapter, along with many others, are being fulfilled at an increasing pace and we do not want to be found lagging behind our Shepherd and Leader Messiah Yeshua.
More on Israel’s marriage to her Elohim in the next segment.