One of the greatest challenges (and fun opportunities) of studying the Torah is trying to get into the head of the original authors to solve the hidden riddles in the text. We know that Messiah taught in parables to purposely keep the wisdom, power, and blessing from those who would only misuse and abuse it. Likewise the higher and greater truth of what is being said in the Torah often lays beneath the plain reading of the text. It takes time to know the stories well enough that the call-backs, hints, oddly chosen words, and repeated phrases begin to emerge from deep below and show themselves. This is where the treasure lies.
Explaining these connections is even trickier, and while they can result in amazing insights, just as often they result in threats of a padded cell and a straight jacket. This is one reason that keeping Sabbath, practicing the Feasts, and doing every applicable command is so important. Study alone is not enough to REALIZE (Ayin) what the original compiler of these Hebrew stories was getting at.
Hopefully, I can explain today’s example well enough to do it justice. Let us compare the events in Genesis chapter 2 to the key imagery In Exodus we’ve seen so far on The Way to Shavuot.
2:7: YHWH creates Adam, just as on First Fruits He creates Israel—His firstborn son.
2:9: YHWH plants trees (etz), as in the etz that made the bitter waters sweet.
2:9: He provided the plants in the garden for food, just as he supplied the Manna and Quail for food.
2:10: A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, in the same way water flowed from the rock to provide water to Israel.
2:11: “Havilah” is mentioned, which means ‘to encircle’—just as the word “sin” (the border around Sinai) implies a circle of protection.
2:12: Onyx “stone” is mentioned—the introduction of the word ‘stone’, as in the stone Moses sat on.
2:16-17: Yah introduces a single command, a command that will keep evil and death from conquering Adam, just as He gave Israel the key to victory over Amalek.
So, if this pattern is legit, and not just a figment of my imagination, we should continue to see Genesis 2 language in Exodus 18, such as Genesis 2:18, “Then YHWH Elohim said, “it IS NOT GOOD that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” Beyond that, in Genesis 2:19, Adam gives NAMES to creatures, and Genesis 2:23 closes like this, “Therefore a man shall leave his father…”
So, let’s look back in Exodus 18 to see if this expected pattern plays out. In Exodus 18:2 we finally have Zipporah reintroduced, and for no real reason helpful to the straight-forward narrative. That is curious. It instantly projects the idea of a longed-for wife being produced—like Eve. “It is not good for a man to be alone.” Check.
Then in Exodus 18:3 we meet her sons, and their NAMES are given, like Adam gave names–one is named “Eliezer” which means “helper”. “I will make a helper fit for him.” OK, now we are getting somewhere.
In Exodus 18:17, Jethro says. “What you are doing IS NOT GOOD.” And then in 18:18, “You are not able to do it alone.” And finally, in 18:27, “Moses let his father-in-law depart.” “Therefore a man shall leave his father…” Yep. That is a bonafide thematic explosion of below-the-surface coolness.
Exodus 18 isn’t just a best-practices manual for crowd control. Behind the surface level plot, we are being prepared for a wedding.
While the clues are hidden in Exodus 18, the overall theme is clearly laid out in tremendous detail back in Genesis 24. It’s too long to paste here, so if you are really following along—read the whole chapter on your own. The servant, Eliezer (“helper”) is sent by the father (Abraham) to find a bride for his promised and miraculously born son, who was just recently rescued from certain death (Isaac). There is a very big deal made about swearing oaths (one of the meanings of the word “Shavuot”). The narrative also emphasizes multiple times the importance of THE CHOICE of the woman to accept the marriage proposal of her unseen Bridegroom. The story completes the patterns with a reference to leaving your parents after marriage, with “So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death”.
Here is the big picture painted with a broad brush:
Adam is created—it is not good for him to be alone; Eve is taken out of Adam to be a fit and helpful partner.
Abraham knows it’s not good for Isaac to be alone—he sends a helper to extract a bride from his own kinsman.
Israel is Yah’s firstborn son, it is not good for him to be alone; so, the most wise and fruitful are taken out of Israel to be a fit and helpful partner.
Yeshua, the only begotten Son of The Holy Father, is alone. So, The Father takes Israel out of the nations, to be a fit and helpful partner for His Son.
Let us keep digging. Here are three relevant verses from John’s gospel.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.” (John 14:16)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26)
In the physical absence of our Bridegroom-to-be He has sent a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to empower the Body of Messiah to do its job. The prime purpose is to help us keep going in the right direction, upward to the mountain top, and then beyond, with the Promised Land as the final stop. That’s where we are to be eternally united with our promised spouse. The Spirit is also within us to remind us of every command, which acts as both guardrails as well as the GPS while on the Way. We would not expect the Holy Spirit to encourage the breaking of the Law, as that is at odds with it is nature. Messiah says it’s purpose to “bring to your remembrance all I have said to you.” (If you think it’s the Holy Spirit is telling you that Sabbath is “done away with” or has changed days, for example, you need to re-calibrate your GPS.)
The themes of Shavuot here in Exodus and in the events of Acts 2 are the same, and that same continuing story won’t be over until The Wedding Supper of the Lamb at the very end of days. The “new” Shavuot story didn’t replace the “old” one –the agenda, pattern, and purpose of each support one another, and that strengthening of the promise gives us hope for the future.
“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” (Revelation 19:8)
As we are beginning to realize our value as the Bride of Messiah even while still all the way back here in Exodus 18, we should start to tweak our expectations as we move higher up the Mountain. We will continue to see further wedding imagery, as well as hints that more is happening here than meets the eye. Although we’ve used ‘newborn baby’, ‘growing toddler’, and even ‘grumbling adolescent’ references on the earlier stages of the Way, apparently Israel is of marriageable age on this side of Moses’ altar. We are being prepared, through hints and subtle patterns, for a proposal in the very near future.
They grow up so fast!