DEUTERONOMY 5: THE PERFECT GO-BETWEEN
It amazes me that many people who fervently claim that the Creator God exists, will then believe or even argue that He is limited. They would agree that every part of Him is infinite – not limited or “unable” in any way – and yet on the other hand, they regularly put limits on His words. For example, the first sentence in today’s chapter is addressed to “Israel”. [v1] So, the immediate assumption is that the rest of His instructions can therefore be written off as irrelevant for all of us who are not currently Israel. That so, then it is certainly not connected in any way to our 21st Century population.
But here’s the thing and there’s no way around it:
He has miraculously preserved HIStory for us to read today. Therefore, if these decrees are declared in our hearing today (just as the rest of that sentence says) then whoever reads and is read to (declared) must learn from them and follow them. [v1] Moreover, if we exchange the word “Israel” for Followers of the Creator God, or Children of the Creator God, or God’s Family, then this chapter is His infallible prophetic word addressing anyone who desires a connection, or who wants to be one of His followers and part of His family. This is extremely important to note, because many people around the world say that they believe in the Creator God, but they haven’t read His Word from cover to cover! They seem to pick out bits in His Handbook handed down to us, then push aside other unpalatable bits just as if we are children who prefer to eat the meat on our plates but not the vegetables!
The Creator God called Himself “I AM who I AM” or “I WILL BE who I WILL BE”[a], which is as much to say “I AM presently all that I AM capable of being, and WILL BE just as I AM now: unlimited in any age at any time. If “I AM” travels every day with time (transcending time) and every day eternal, then His word is also currently eternal and presently unlimited in every new day. So the next two sentences are relevant for us today: “The Lord our God made a covenant with us, who are alive here today.” [v2-3]
If this “covenant” (His contract/agreement with His followers) isn’t limited, then we could say it’s a covenant with His human images and administered in HIStory – this epic drama played out in history through Israel. It’s something that’s now declared in our hearing today, for us to learn from then follow. When reading this chapter, for example, I noticed that the original followers of the Creator God seem to have accepted from the very outset the need for a go-between. [v5] This is another important puzzle piece that alludes to a sort of prehistoric understanding that no-one could look upon the face of the Creator God and live[b] – and yet…
“…Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them.” [v24]
The second thing I noticed was that it was because of us, and not initiated by God, that a go-between was necessary. [v23-27] The people were afraid of two things: God’s Fire and His Presence. And so again, another gemstone is woven into the fabric of the storyline: the Creator is indeed a consuming fire[c] and we don’t want to face the idea of everlasting burning.[d] It seems that our preference to avoid our Maker is not because of His words, His commands, or HIStory; but instead, because we’re scared of “meeting our Maker” face-to-face and scared of dying. [v25] It’s the issue of death that stops us from even discussing the idea of Him, much less listening to His voice…
“…why should we die? God’s great fire will consume us, and we’ll die if we hear His voice any longer. For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? Therefore, go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord tells you. We’ll listen to you and obey.” [v25-27]
This refusal to not “go up His mountain” [v5] at the start of this covenant relationship between the Creator and this first group of people, makes it necessary from the outset for a go-between. But the problem with Moses being the go-between is that once he died, they would lose their connection with their Maker. HIStory shows that several people stood in as a go-between. Joshua took over from Moses in the next Act in this epic Play, and in the following Act (the Book of Judges), Father God raised up a series of ‘judges’ to lead/shepherd His people. Most especially, the High Priest was the only one who approached the Creator on behalf of the people and this only once a year on a special day called The Day of Atonement – late-September/October in our modern calendars. Again however, HIStory showed that this wasn’t a perfect go-between. Once corruption set in and the Jews lost their temple, for example, the sacrificial system and the priesthood (their connection) has been lost since AD70. Even if they did have a temple today, one high priest surely couldn’t intercede for an entire world of 8 billion people – especially if more people (other than Jews) wanted to follow their Creator God.[e]
This problem of a perfect go-between still stands true today. Moses is dead, and this original covenant/agreement for having a working relationship between humanity and their Maker, has broken down. But my husband has a motto for his work department: Providing solutions before you knew you needed them. And so, the Creator God’s answer for a perfect and everlasting go-between has already been woven between the lines… v6-21 in today’s chapter recaps the well-known Ten Commandments. If you’re not so familiar with them, I talked a bit about them on February 11th: Rules, or Total Freedom. In short, the ten rules can be split into two parts. Four rules will help us in our relationship with our Maker, and six are for maintaining good relationships with those He made in His own image. To make it easy, Jesus nailed it down to two:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbour as yourself.” [Matthew 22:37-38]
But there’s something special, hidden again today within this storyline. The old saying: Familiarity breeds contempt, is true of a chapter like this. If we’re familiar with The Ten Commandments, we tend to skip reading them slowly enough to find hidden treasure. So, today I want to pick up on the 3rd rule…
“You shall not take the Shem (Name) of Hashem Eloheicha (the Lord your God) in vain; for Hashem (the Lord) will not hold him guiltless that taketh (misuses) Shmo (his Name) in vain.” [v11]
A familiar rule perhaps, and people do all sorts to avoid breaking it. To avoid risking offending our Creator God, some people will even write “G-d”, rather then use the word “god”. However, the word “God” is a word that is also used for other “gods”. Therefore there’s little benefit in not using the word “god” since this is not a distinct “name” but instead a status or title – in the same way that we may use CEO today. For example: “I Am your CEO – your Chief Executive Officer in this Life – do not serve any other CEOs besides me.” But I want to suggest to you that in focusing on the letters, we may have missed a vital cornerstone block in our understanding of who we are following. I wonder, for example, how many of us have missed seeing that “His Name” is wrapped up in (embedded in, or personified in) an actual person who is not Father God Himself…
“Pay heed to him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your peysha’im (sin/rebellion); for My Shem (My Name, both words capitalized) is in him.” [Exodus 23:21]
The Creator has done something extraordinary by embedding His own Name inside someone else; and if true, then a perfect go-between. This is different to someone coming in the name of someone else. It’s also different to someone wearing external authority, like a signet ring. Wherever “His Name” is mentioned in this epic storyline (most especially when it is capitalized and therefore a person), we now need to see those two words as the One who embodies the Name of God – the One who personifies the Lord God Almighty’s Name.
Now look at the 3rd commandment again: “You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord your God”. Don’t mistreat the person of “My Name” because He carries my Name inside Him. Since the person and the Name can’t now be separated (it’s like a person with a computer chip inside them ie. the person is The Name), then “…the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His Name…” That is anyone who speaks tactlessly or derogatorily about “His Name” such as swearing by His Name.
It’s a strange rule because the Creator has many names. Elohim and El Shaddai was His name in the Book of Genesis. He’s called YHWH in Hebrew or “I AM who I AM” in the Book of Exodus.[f] As HIStory continues, He is given many more Hebrew names describing who He is. But if the word “God” can relate to any god known to humankind, and if we don’t speak Hebrew, then we’re off the hook! This is one rule that the whole planet is obeying. However, if the Creator God’s Name has been planted inside someone else[g] then we may all be in trouble – if we don’t show proper respect to that person. By misusing or misrepresenting the person in our speech, our Maker will not hold us guiltless. [v11] The question is: Who is He?
In addition to The Name, in today’s chapter, I want to highlight all references to the mention of His Voice [v23-27], because this voice is also coming from this same person – whoever He is…
“Behold (listen/look here), I send Malach (Messenger) before thee, to be shomer (watchman/keeper/guardian, entrusted into His care) over thee in the derech (path/way, bears a religious connotation: those on the path, who follow the derech, ascribe to both ancient and modern rabbinic authority which determines a way of communal and private life), and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Pay heed to him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your peysha’im (sin/rebellion/transgressions); for My Shem (My Name) is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his [bat] kol (his echo-voice), and do all that I speak; then I will be….” [Exodus 23:20-23]
It seems clear to me that to obey his “bat kol” (echo-voice) is equal to “doing all that I say”. The echo-voice of this person was synonymous with (interchangeable, equal to) the Word of God. If that voice that the Creator God solemnly told them to listen to and obey, was coming out of the fire, it was because He (this person) was in the fire, the cloud, and the deep darkness. [v22] So now we have Moses as a go-between, between the people and the voice. The Voice is then a person who is standing between Moses, the nation, and their Maker. If it isn’t serious enough that this Person, who carries the Name of God within Himself (and who’s voice is the Word of God, speaking exactly what the Creator God wants His people to obey), this Person has also been given two-fold authority. He’s been commissioned to lead the Creator God’s people into the place where Father God has prepared for them to go. And, He’s been given authority not to forgive rebellion.
It’s this Person that spent time with Moses and spoke all the commands that we have in our hands today. [v31] He’s the One who said, “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” [v30] But why should all this about the existence of a perfect go-between be of any interest at all for us today?
Well, it’s been recorded and kept, so that in walking in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, you may LIVE, and prosper, and prolong your days. [v33]
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[a] Exodus 3:14
[b] Genesis 16:13; Exodus 3:6; Judges 6:22-23; Judges 13:22
[c] Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 4:24; Isaiah 30:27; 30:30; Hebrews 12:29
[d] Isaiah 33:14
[e] Genesis 22:18
[f] Exodus 3:14
[g] Exodus 23:20-22