“Therefore behold, I am going to make them know—this time I will make them know My power and My might; and they shall know that My Name is Yahweh.” (Jeremiah 16: 21)
Katie and I are traveling in Israel and gathering information for SnyderTalk. While we are there, I am posting excerpts from His Name is Yahweh in SnyderTalk.
The message in the book is important. Please take the time to read it.
Yahweh Teaches the Children of Israel Lessons on Holiness
It took Moses almost three months to lead the Children of Israel to Mount Sinai, and during that time Yahweh taught them several lessons. Actually, He taught the first lessons while they were in Egypt. The ten plagues He inflicted on Pharaoh and the Egyptians taught them that Yahweh is the One true God, that He is sovereign over everything in the universe including man and nature, and that He alone is in control of life and death. The tenth plague taught them that He is their Redeemer and their Savior.
The Red Sea crossing taught them that Yahweh is their Protector and that He will do extraordinary things to secure their safety if they have faith in Him. Before they reached Mount Sinai, they learned that Yahweh is their Provider. He turned bitter water into sweet drinking water to quench their thirst; He gave them manna from heaven every day to satisfy their hunger and taught them that they must learn to rely on Him daily for their provisions; and He showed them that He is their Warrior by defeating Amalek when he attacked the Children of Israel at Rephidim.
Finally, He poured out a river of water from a rock near the base of Mount Sinai so they had ample water to drink. All these lessons demonstrated that they could have faith in Yahweh, but they were mere preparation for a more advanced lesson. Yahweh was about to teach them what being holy means.
Moses was prepared to meet Yahweh when they reached Mount Sinai. He had spent 40 years in the Land of Midian as a shepherd quietly learning about God and His holiness. Then at the end of 40 years, Yahweh introduced Himself to Moses personally at the burning bush. The Children of Israel did not have 40 years to get ready. They were about to receive a crash course in God’s holiness.
At Mount Sinai, Yahweh instructed Moses to tell the Children of Israel that He would descend on the mountain in two days[i] and that they should wash their clothes and prepare to witness His magnificent arrival. Washing their clothes was important and symbolic. During their time in Egypt, they had become dirty. They had picked up Egyptian traditions, customs, and beliefs, and they needed to be clean before Yahweh’s arrival. God also told Moses to set up boundaries around the mountain so no one could touch it. When Yahweh’s presence descended on Mount Sinai, only Moses was prepared to enter into close proximity with Him.[ii]
Yahweh Descends on Mount Sinai and Gives the Ten Commandments
At the crack of dawn two days later, there was thunder and lightning, and a thick, dark cloud appeared over Mount Sinai. The people could hear a shofar (a ram’s horn that has been hollowed out so it can be blown like a trumpet) sounding in the distance as the cloud descended to the top of the mountain.
The shofar grew louder and louder as the cloud approached, and the people were in awe of Yahweh. Many of them trembled in fear. The whole mountain was engulfed in smoke as Yahweh descended with fire and tremendous heat. Smoke billowed into the air while the mountain quaked and the sound of the shofar grew even louder. No one dared go near the mountain except Moses, and he spoke to Yahweh. God responded to him audibly with words that everyone could hear and understand.[iii]
From the cloud Yahweh summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses climbed up to meet with Him. After Yahweh finished speaking with Moses, He told him to go back down and warn the people not to go near the mountain lest they die. When Moses reached the bottom of Mount Sinai, God proclaimed the Ten Commandments.
Jewish tradition states that everything was silent when Yahweh declared the Ten Commandments. This is the description of that moment in the rabbinic writings:
“When the Holy One, Blessed is He, presented the Torah at Sinai, not a bird chirped, not a fowl flew, not an ox lowed, not an angel ascended, not a seraph proclaimed, Holy. The sea did not roll and no creature made a sound. All the vast universe was silent and mute. It was then that the Voice went forth and proclaimed, I am HASHEM, your God!”[iv]
In fact, Yahweh did not say, “I am HASHEM.” He said, “I am Yahweh, your God!”[v] What came next may be the most powerful statements ever made, and they came directly from the mouth of Yahweh in the hearing of all the people gathered at the base of Mount Sinai. The only statements that even compare with the Ten Commandments are the ones Yahweh made when He created the universe. His Voice echoed through the air while the people listened in fear and awe.
The Ten Commandments are not suggestions. They are, in fact, commandments. The words themselves and the Voice of God annunciating them made that clear to everyone. Yahweh commanded us to obey His Law, and the Ten Commandments are the foundation of that Law. They are much more than edicts to follow, though. The Ten Commandments tell us about God’s character and His holiness, and they are the stipulations of the covenant God made with us at Mount Sinai. He said,
“If you will indeed obey My Voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.”[vi]
The second half of the book of Exodus (chapters 19 through 40) tells about God revealing Himself and His Law to His people, and it explains what it means to be God’s people. Yahweh is holy, and if we want to be His people and have a personal relationship with Him, then we must be holy as well.
The book of Leviticus expands on God’s Law by explaining in detail what we must do if we violate any portion of it. If we transgress even the smallest stipulation in the Law, we cease to be holy. Therefore, at the end of the day, the Law teaches us that our holiness depends entirely on God because no one except Yahweh can keep all the stipulations in the covenant without fail, and it teaches us that we need a redeemer. Only Yahweh is qualified to be our Redeemer.
The Ten Commandments, along with God’s introductory declaration, are presented below. Read them carefully and understand that it is impossible for you or anyone else to obey them—any of them:
- “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make for yourself an idol.
- You shall not take the Name of Yahweh your God in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness.
- You shall not covet.”[vii]
The first five commandments focus on our relationship with Yahweh, and they conclude with the commandment to honor our father and mother. Clearly, God places great weight on honoring our parents, and every one of us is guilty of breaking this command. But we are guilty of worshipping other gods as well. You may be thinking, “I have never done that,” but let me assure you that you have.
Consider this. When we get caught up in earning a living and making money, it is very easy to let our desire to create wealth become our idol. Today, many people who are facing retirement spend more time tracking their net worth than they spend with God. When this happens, money becomes our idol, and we are guilty of violating a commandment. Money cannot save us. Only Yahweh can do that. The assets we possess can depreciate to nothing, or virtually nothing, in a matter of days. Thus, we must place our faith in Yahweh and trust Him to take care of all our needs. Yahweh alone is our Provider.
Additionally, in the last few years scientific studies have shown that more than 66 percent of the people in the United States are overweight and that more than 33 percent of them are obese.[viii] When our craving for food consumes our thoughts and actions, then food becomes our idol. How many people living in the United States today spend more time thinking about their next meal or snack than they spend thinking about God?
But anything can become an idol. The clothes we wear or our desire to be popular can consume our thoughts and energy just as easily as money and food. Yes, every one of us has worshiped other gods, and we need a redeemer.
The fourth commandment deals with the Sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew, and we are told to remember it and to keep it holy. To keep the Sabbath holy means “to consecrate it” or “to treat it as sacred.” While most Christians recognize Sunday as the Sabbath, Jewish people identify Saturday as the Sabbath day. This is a controversial issue and one that deserves attention. However, it is not my purpose in this book to examine it, but others have addressed it in detail already.[ix]
Laying aside the controversy surrounding the Sabbath day, you must admit that most people in the United States do not consecrate Saturday or Sunday, and they treat neither day as sacred. Life goes on as usual, and we do not give it a second thought. Rest assured that Yahweh gives it His attention, and He included this commandment for a reason. One day He will make this point clearly so that everyone understands.
The last five commandments focus on our relationship with each other. Looking at them, it is easy to conclude, for example, that I have not murdered so I am all right on that one. But Yahweh did not mean just the act of murder. He included our thoughts and attitudes as well. The command not to murder includes anger. If you are angry with someone, you are just one step away from committing the act of murder, so an angry thought makes you guilty of murder.[x]
Similarly, slander is a form of stealing. When you commit slander, you are taking one of the most precious possessions a person has—a good name. If you follow this logic and carry it through the prohibitions against adultery and coveting, for instance, you will see that every one of us has broken every commandment. Yes, each one of us needs a redeemer, and Yahweh is our only hope. He is the only One who has never violated any stipulation in His covenant with us, and He is the only One qualified to be our Redeemer.
To see videos that explain the importance of God’s Name, click here.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17: 22-24)
See “His Name is Yahweh”.
[i] In Exodus 19: 9-15, Yahweh gives Moses instructions about what the Children of Israel should do to prepare for His arrival. He said He would descend on Mount Sinai “the day after tomorrow,” or on the third day. The third day includes today, thus Yahweh would descend in two days.
[ii] Exodus 19: 10-12.
[iii] Exodus 19: 16-22.
[iv] Shemos Rabbah 29: 9.
[v] Exodus 20: 2.
[vi] Exodus 19: 5.
[vii] Exodus 20: 2-17. It is Exodus 20: 2-14 in the Tanach. I have numbered the Ten Commandments to make it easy for readers to identify them, but they are not numbered this way in the Bible.
[ix] For example, “Ancient Paths: The Sabbath” by Doug Trudell deals with this issue in great detail.
[x] See Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7. These chapters discuss the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus used this sermon to explain Yahweh’s logic and His perspective on the Law.