It’s interesting that in the book of Exodus we read, “Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord [YHWH] and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the Lord [YHWH] has spoken we will do.’ And, Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord [YHWH]” (bold and italics mine, Exodus 24:3-4a, ESV). Yet, the struggle remains among Jews and Christians as to what YHWH said, and what YHWH meant? Go figure!
Earlier in Exodus, just a view verses above, YHWH says,”Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20). Furthermore, in the verses following, we are instructed to pay close attention to Him, for He will not pardon our transgressions if we rebel against Him (v. 3); also, YHWH’s name is in Him. And, for the remainder of the chapter, we read of the consequences for not following Him and the blessings behind obeying Him. This, however, is not a complete list, but it is so that the people return, “All the words YHWH has spoken we will do” (Ex. 24:3b).
What is it about us that we become so transformed by the power of God and His word to only quickly forget and rebel? Is it only me? I sure hope not! It appears to be obvious that YHWH’s angel is none other than the “Commander of YHWH’s army” (Yehoshua 5:13ff), where Yehoshua (Joshua) recognizes as someone greater than simply an angel. So much so that Joshua bows down and worships Him. Yikes! Where’s the thunder and lightning? Why didn’t Yehoshua die? I’m sure Joshua remembered the words, “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared . . .” (Exodus 23:20). So, what’s going on here!? We are told that Moses wrote everything down, that YHWH would send an angel to bring us to the place He prepared, and we are to pay close attention to Him (the Angel). Well, it’s also obvious that this angel is none other than the manifestation of the Mashiyach. This “Angel” tells Yehoshua the same thing that He told Moses, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:15).
Now, the place isn’t necessarily what is “holy” but it was transformed into becoming holy because of the presence of the Commander of YHWH’s army. It’s just like the bush that appeared to be burning; we don’t worship the bush or the ground, we worship the Almighty in His glorious splendor. Now, just to blow-your-mind, in chapter 6 of Joshua, we hear the description of the Commander: “And the Lord (YHWH) speaks to Joshua . . .” (Joshua 6:2ff). Unholy Cow! What’s going on here? We have a voice within the burning bush telling Moses to take off his sandals, and now an angel with a sword telling Joshua the same thing. Now, if that’s not hard enough to imagine, what do we do with the fact that the Bible tells us that these figures are YHWH? They didn’t deliver the word of God like other angels, which speak in the third person like the angel which spoke to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). No, the Angel who spoke to Abraham, Moses, and now Joshua spoke as YHWH himself.
Although Jews for Judaism and other opponents to Yeshua being the Messiah can twist and defend messianic prophecies found throughout almost every book of the Tanakh, they can’t blame, however, “bad translation” for the fact that in almost every page of the Bible there is some sort of revelation of the Mashiyach. He’s the “Angel” that Abraham had a cheeseburger with (Asher Intrader’s words), He’s the one who spoke through the flames within the bush to Moses, He’s the one who led the captives out of Egypt with a pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, He’s the one who parted the Red Sea and took off the wheels of the chariots of Pharaohs army, and He’s the one who spoke from the mountain of God and the one with whom the children of Israel said they would obey. He’s YHWH; He’s Yeshua! He’s not the embodiment of Yeshua, because he had not yet been born through a woman as prophesied in Genesis 3:15 when God spoke to the serpent “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Both Jewish and Christian theologians consider this to be a messianic passage, because of the singular reference found here between he and you, meaning Yeshua and the Great Serpent, Satan.
Additionally, what does it mean when YHWH says “for my name will be in him” (italic mine, Exodus 23:21)? The term used here for “in him” gives the idea of branding. Once a rancher brands his livestock with his signature or brand, that animal belongs to him. So, here YHWH is saying that his name will be branded in Him. Basically, YHWH’s DNA will be in the Messiah. When YHWH reveals His name to Moses he says, “tell the people ‘eheyeh ‘asher ‘eheyeh (I AM WHO I AM, or I AM THAT I AM) has sent you to them.” The Hebrew also gives the meaning as “He who causes things to be; He who makes things happen.” Michael L. Brown, who has a Ph.D. in Semitic Languages suggests that the word Yahweh is a causative form of the root “to be.” And, the word Yahweh is an obvious word play with ‘eheyeh, which is from the same root “to be.” So, how’s does this relate to Yeshua? When questioned about his nature in the New Covenant Yeshua responds “I AM HE” (John 18:5-6). Furthermore, when the Samaritan woman suggested that the Messiah will come and “tell us all things,” Yeshua responds, “I who speak to you, am He” (italics and bold mine, John 4:25-26). And, finally, when the leaders of the Jewish people were questioning the paraplegic as to who healed him on the Shabbat, he told them that it was Yeshua. Thus, “this is why the Jews [Jewish leaders] were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath [according to their laws and views—oral traditions and customs], but He was even calling God his own father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). There are many more references to Yeshua being the Messiah, including his ownership of the title and having equality with God. You cannot conclude otherwise. Yeshua is the Messiah and the only one who can be. He is the Great I AM, and He is the one who spoke to Abraham, Moses, and Joshua—and He speaks still to us today.
Conclusion: When Moses wrote down all the words and all the rules, it behooves us to become obedient to those words. The Messiah is seen throughout the Tanakh, not just in known messianic prophecies; he is practically revealed on every page—for He is the target of Torah. Not only does Torah mean: the instructions of God, but it comes from the root yara meaning to cast or throw having the idea as to an arrow or a stone being thrown towards a target. Thus, the Torah—God’s Instructions are to be directed towards the target. Who or What is the target? It’s the Messiah; for all Torah points to Him. Now, when we miss the target and get off on things that are extra biblical, such as rabbinical mandates and church theologies, which add to all the words that Moses recorded, then that is what takes us away from the target. The Greek word, hamartia (ham-ar-tee-ah), is the Greek word for the English word, sin; and to sin means to err and or to miss the mark. Wow! Do you see the connection? What does it mean to miss the mark? Who’s the mark; who’s the target? Well, the answer is obvious: Yeshua the Messiah is the Mark or Target of YHWH, which all Torah leads to, and to err from Torah is to miss the target.
Through YHWH’s grace and faith in Yeshua we are no longer under the law, but we are drawn to YHWH through the Messiah’s lead to the obedience of Torah through the New Covenant of His Torah written upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31ff). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-25a). The last time I looked, it’s as much a sin for Christians to commit murder, lie, steal, and hate as it is for a Jew, whether he is a Jewish believer or not. So, what do we do? “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31). How, you may ask? By hitting or throwing the stone or shooting the arrow towards the Target. We uphold the Torah through Yeshua, being obedient even unto death.
In His grace,
Michael L. Brown, What Do Jewish People Think about Jesus? And Other Questions Christians Ask about Jewish Beliefs, Practices, and History (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2007), p. 63.
4 responses to “And Moses Wrote Down All that YHWH Said”
It’s exciting to see Jeshua from the beginning of scripture to the end. Your message brings that out well. May The Lord YHWH (Jeshua) bless your efforts and faithfulness.
I hope all is well with you and your family. Your brother in Christ, Steven
Thanks Steven. It’s always nice to knw what you think. I appreciate you, your family, and your friendship over these many years; even though, I’ve caused some (or many) of those gray hairs. 🙂
Shalom and blessings,
Regarding the many well-intended translations of YWHW:
I have profited from your thoughts–thanks for your contribution!
There are so many purely lexical/technical translations of YWHW (and you have included one of them in your article: “…the word Yahweh is a causative form of the root “to be.” And, the word Yahweh is an obvious word play with ‘eheyeh, which is from the same root “to be.”)
Most of these little terminology lessons are technically correct but hardly any of them give us true insight into the conversation going on in Exodus–into the nature of Moses’s enquiry and the Almighty’s response to that question. Was Moses really interested in the nomenclature of this God or finding out His surname? And when God answers approximately, ‘I am what I will be’ was He intending to provide Moses with a theological maxim regarding His nature or eternal essence? This is what a Greek philosopher would have loved to know, but I think Moses’s situation was different.
When Moses was asking what he should tell the people regarding this God, he didn’t need to know his “name” or “ID” in the sense that we moderns would, Moses was rather asking, “What are you about? What are you going to do?” That was the important thing–because the people already had background information regarding “the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob” in their history. In Hebrew writings a “name” has more often to do with intent or reputation rather than substance or nomenclature. The “name” wasn’t so much a “name” or description as much as it was a statement concerning the intent of God’s heart. Methinks He was about to show Himself in time, space and human history as the God of covenant. So His answer was probably more likely not a technical name pointing to the nature of His being. “I AM THAT I AM” was probably something like: “I am the God whom you are about to see revealed”–i.e. through the mighty acts and leadings which would ensue.
I agree that Yeshua embodies Torah and that God’s “DNA” is in both. Keep up the good work. Keep on seeking 🙂
Thank you for your encouragement and knowledge of the article I wrote. Yes, you are correct; there are many (too many) renditions of the name of God. And while many get off on that, they forget the character behind the name. Yeshua, dealt with this too when he walked the earth. He brought the Good News of the Kingdom of God (Good News about Abba, the Father). Knowing him and His character is what it’s all about, not just getting certain things right (or wrong). Our focus needs to remain on the goodness of God and His love towards all mankind. This in a nut-shell is the gospel of the Kingdom. That being said, it is now up to those individuals who hear the Good News to open up and allow all the character of the Father and the Son to infuse the person with the power of the Holy Spirit and set him free.
I have had many scholars that I respect argue differences with YHWH and his correct spelling and name; however, they tend to miss the point that God wants to show up in our midst.
Shalom and blessings,