Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parasha #16 B’shallach (After he had let go) Sh’mot (Exodus 13:17-17:16) Haftarah: Shof’tim (Judges) 4:4-5:31
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 15:1-4
This parashah begins with G-d leading the Israelites out into the desert, the column of cloud by day associated with the Angel of G-d (14:19) who is Yahshua before his manifestation as a man, and the column of fire by night 24 hours a day to lead them. One would expect an atmosphere of security among the people as G-d promised he would lead them to the Land, good and spacious, flowing with milk and honey as He told Moshe in Ex. 3:8. Yet the people then forgot the miracles they saw firsthand, just as people forget G-d’s promises and blessings now. Faith and trust falter. Although they followed Moshe’s direction in setting up camp as G-d commanded (Ex. 14:4), as soon as they saw Pharaoh and his army approaching, all the trust and faith in Moshe’s direction and G-d vanished. This was a sign of the Israelites’ spiritual immaturity. How typical for us to do the same when things do not happen according to the way we think they should occur. The people complained, telling Moshe they had asked to remain in Egypt as slaves, rather than take a chance on G-d’s plan for them to escape. This statement is a complete contradiction of what they said in Ex. 2:23: “Sometime during those many years the king of Egypt dies, but the people of Israel still groaned under the yoke of slavery, and they cried out, and their cry for rescue from slavery came up to G-d.” How quickly we forget and confabulate our own truths. Moshe’s response reflects his faith in G-d as he tries to console the people and calm them down. When Moshe entreated G-d, the response is as if G-d expected Moshe to know that all he had to do was lift the staff and spread his arms out over the waters to part them. Just maybe G-d felt that Moshe didn’t have as much faith as we might think. The next statement of interest is found in verse 19-20 of Chapter 14; “Next the angel of G-d, who was going ahead of the camp of Israel, moved away and went behind them; and the column of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them. It stationed itself between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel- there was cloud and darkness here, but light by night there; so that the one did not come near the other all night long.” Note that the angel of G-d went and the column of cloud stood. The column of cloud placed itself between Egypt (everything that represents sin) and Israel (G-d’s Chosen People). This may also symbolize Yahshua placing Himself on the execution stake to separate us from Egypt? The dark and light did not come near each other all night long. When Yahshua hung on the stake, He was separated from G-d for a time and “the skies became dark from noon until three o’clock in the afternoon, all the Land was covered with darkness. At about three Yahshua uttered a loud cry, ‘Eli! Eli! L’mah sh’vaktani? (My G-d! My G-d! Why have you deserted me?” Just as light and darkness were separated in our parashah, G-d (the Light) could not look upon the One who had taken on the darkness of sin. Also interesting is that the crossing seems to have occurred during the night. Verse 14:24 tells us “Just before dawn, Adonai looked out on the Egyptian army through the column of fire and cloud and threw them into a panic.” Then in verse 27 “Moshe reached his hand out over the sea, and by dawn the sea had returned to its former depth.” By examining these verses, we can see that G-d provided a light in the darkness just as He had during Pesach. The people crossed the sea by night by the light of YHVH/Yahshua! Recall the verse in Psalms 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my foot and light on my path.” The Israelites were following the King’s highways of sorts; the waters of chaos on either side, Egypt in all of its sin behind them, and a clean slate ahead. They were to move forward as it is written in Proverbs 4:25, “let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze on what lies in front of you. Level the path before your feet, let all your ways be properly prepared; then deviate neither right nor left; and keep your foot far from evil.” God prevented the Israelites from looking back by making it dark behind them and lighting the way ahead. Only after this most recent miracle did the people fear Adonai, believe in Him and in Moshe, but this fear and belief would be short lived. But for now, Moshe and the people rejoice with the song that is contained in Chapter 15. Miryam the prophet, sister of Aharon, joins in with her tambourines and all the women danced. After only three days in the desert, the people start complaining again, this time about the water. Adonai provides for them, and at the same time made the laws and rules for life for them… and he tested them (Ex. 15:25). It is the next verse where we first see the requirements of salvation through the description of the diseases of Egypt:; “ If you will listen intently to the voice of Adonai your G-d do what He considers right, pay attention to his commands and observe his laws, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians; because I am Adonai your healer.”
Chapters 16 and 17 are filled with the grumblings and quarreling of the people (16:2; 17:2). These complaints are about food and water. G-d provides heavenly man (manna) to meet the needs of each person and quail for meat. This is another example of G-d’s loving kindness toward a weak-faithed people. If G-d brought them through the Sea of Reeds and out of Egypt against all human comprehension, could they not assume He would feed and water them too? Moshe tells each family to gather just enough man for the family and not to hoard it. But true to secular human nature, some of the people hoarded the leftovers anyway. G-d intervened, worms, bred in it, and it rotted. The lesson is that we are not to take more than we can use of anything, but we can easily see that man has not learned that lesson to this day. Capitalism is built around greed, and we brag about it as if it were something to be admired. The exception for storing manna is in preparation for Shabbat, because G-d even took a break on Shabbat and did not send manna that day. The people ate manna for forty years and grumbled about it. A lesson we can learn from this is that we do not need gourmet food to maintain an optimal level of health. Just think of the money we could save if we ate a simple diet which research has shown is the best for human health. We would do well to follow Yahshua’s example in the area of diet just as we should follow the rest of His lifestyle.
Haftarah: Shof’tim (Judges 4:4-5:31)
We read the story of D’vorah who was ordained by G-d to be a judge if Israel. The people sought her council without a complaint about her ability to judge because she was a woman. This should at least stimulate a question or two in the minds of those who are taught that “women” should be silent in the “church” (1 Cor. 14:34). The translation is “wives” and not women in general, so there is an erroneous presupposition from the beginning. The issue was not one of women leaders in religious institutions but one of wives speaking out during services. This brings us back to D’vorah. Those who teach the false doctrine of women not being permitted to serve as religious leaders need to consider G-d’s stance on this issue.
The last paragraph of the parashah reveals another truth about evil described through the person of Amalek. In the parashah, the people of Amalek to the sword. However, the entity of evil lives on as evidenced by the statement that follows the narrative of the battle: “Adonai said to Moshe,” Write this in a book to be remembered, and tell it to Y’hoshua: I will completely blot out any memory of ‘Amalek from under heaven.” Moshe built an altar, called it Adonai Nissi (Adonai is my banner/miracle), and said, “Because their hand was against the throne of Yah, Adonai will fight ‘Amalek generation after generation.”
Amalek was the son of Eliphaz (himself the son of Esau, ancestor of the Edomites) and Eliphaz’ concubine Timna. Timna was a Horite and sister of Lotan. Amalek is described as the “chief of Amalek” among the “chiefs of the sons of Esau”, from which it is surmised that he ruled a clan or territory named after him. Romans are Edomites, not Italians, so it is not difficult to compose the scenario that G-d has planned for the Edomites who are the progeny of Esau.
B’rit Chadasha: Revelation 15:1-4
These verses speak of the conclusion of G-d’s fury, those who defeated the beast, its image and the number of its name standing by the sea of glass with harps given them by G-d himself. This event can be compared to our parashah where the Israelites stood at the Sea of Reeds and rejoiced after the destruction of the Egyptian army. Verse 3-4 reads “They were singing the song of Moshe, the servant of G-d and the song of the Lamb: Great and wonderful are the things you have done, Adonai, G-d of heaven’s armies! Just and true are your ways, king of the nations! 4 Adonai, who will not fear and glorify your name? Because you alone are holy, all nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”
The Song of Moshe reveals the might and justice of G-d, while the Song of the Lamb speaks of the testimony of Yahshua and exalts the justice of G-d. But unlike the Song of Moshe it also brings out that in the final judgment G-d is revealed as King of the nations, King of the whole world, as prophesied in Zech. 14:9, so that the nations will come to worship before him. The Song of Moshe and the Song of the Lamb exemplify and support the co-existence of grace and law, and the theme of the seven-fold-witness in Revelation that defines a true believer in the word of Yahshua Himself. Indeed, He will have the last word on this subject when we stand before Him. May we be found to have been good and faithful servants.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart