Favor of Messiah

Some Bible readers believe that, prior to the New Testament, grace did not exist.

Moses with the Tablets of Stone (Art: Adapted from Illustration by Gustave Doré, via Wikimedia Commons)

Portion Summary & Scripture Reading
Sukkot Shabbat Chol HaMoed

Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Sukkot Shabbat Chol HaMoed (סוּכּוֹת שַׁבָּת חוֹל הַמּוֹעֵד | Intermediate Day of Sukkot on Shabbat)
  • Torah: Exodus 33:12-34:26
  • Maftir: Numbers 29:23-31
  • Haftarah: Ezekiel 38:18-39:16
  • Gospel: John 7:31-43

* References are from the Hebrew Bible. Christian Bibles vary slightly when indicated with *.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Exodus 33:12 | Moses' Intercession
    • Exodus 34:1 | Moses Makes New Tablets
    • Exodus 34:10 | The Covenant Renewed
    • Exodus 34:29 | The Shining Face of Moses

Portion Summary

Sukkot (Festival of Tabernacles) is a Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of Tishrei (late September to late October). It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals, shalosh regalim, on which Jews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

According to the prophet Zechariah, in the messianic era, Sukkot will become a universal festival and all nations will make pilgrimages annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there.

On the first day of Sukkot, the following Torah portions are read: Leviticus 22:26-23:44; Numbers 29:12-29:16. On the intermediate days of Sukkot (Chol HaMo'ed), portions from Numbers 29:17-31 are read. When an intermediate day of Sukkot falls on Shabbat, read the portions below.

The Shabbat during Chol HaMo'ed on Sukkot is known as Sukkot Shabbat Chol Hamoed and in addition to the designated Torah reading, maftir, and haftorah readings for that day, Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) is read aloud in synagogue in its entirety with special cantillation prior to the Torah reading during services.

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

The New Testament speaks about the grace that God bestows upon people through Yeshua. What does that mean? What is “grace”? Many teachers define “grace” as “unmerited favor,” but this definition is not completely accurate.

Some Bible readers believe that, prior to the New Testament, grace did not exist. They imagine a false dichotomy between “law” and “grace.” On the contrary, the Torah speaks of God’s grace frequently, but when we translate the Hebrew to English, we usually translate the Hebrew word chen (חן) as “favor.” The same word stands behind the Greek word charis (χάρις) which we translate as “grace.” In the Bible, grace and favor are the same thing.

Moses insisted that, if he had truly found favor in God’s sight, the LORD would not send him alone to lead Israel. The LORD replied, “My Presence shall go with you.” God promised to accompany Moses, but He did not promise to accompany the nation. His favor rested on Moses but not on Israel.

Moses refused the offer. He refused to separate himself from the people. He implored, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). He intentionally identified himself with the whole nation of Israel so that, if God was going to treat him with any favor, He must also treat the whole nation with the same favor:

For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth? (Exodus 33:16)

By positioning himself with Israel, Moses put the Almighty in an awkward position. If God intended to express His favor for Moses, He had to accord the same favor to the people of Israel with whom Moses so closely identified himself. The LORD agreed to extend His favor for Moses to the whole nation: “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name” (Exodus 33:17).

This story illustrates how the “grace of Messiah” functions. The story also demonstrates that grace is not “an unmerited gift.” Through His righteous life and His undeserved suffering, Yeshua of Nazareth merited favor in His Father’s eyes. When we identify ourselves with Yeshua and He identifies Himself with us, saying “I and your people,” He brings us under the favor He enjoys from the Father. The grace we receive through our association with Yeshua might seem like a free and unmerited gift to us, but for Him, it was not free at all. He earned it, and it cost Him His life.

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Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Shadows of the Messiah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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