Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah # 14: Va’era (I appeared) Sh’mot (Exodus) 6:2-9:35
Haftarah: Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 28:25-29:21
B’rit Chadashah: Romans 9:14-17
This week’s parashah G-d declares His Name very clearly. He explains to Moshe and us that he manifests himself in different roles, although He is Echad (a complex unity). G-d tells Moshe that he appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai (Nurturer, the breasted One) stating unequivocally “I did not make myself known to them by my name, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh.” The essence of the Name reveals information about the Unity of the G-dhead that can only be seen through translation of the Hebrew. Yud (Hand) Heh (Behold) Vav (Nail or hook) Heh (Behold). In other words, Messiah Yahshua is in the Name Tetragrammaton. This fact lends further support to the compound/complex unity of the G-dhead. Yahshua is G-d! Furthermore, G-d reiterates that He is to be remembered by this Name (YHVH) throughout all generations (Ex. 13-16) mentioned again in the first sentence of this parashah.
YHVH discloses to Moshe He is about to manifest another of his roles; this time as Adonai, executing judgments on Pharaoh and all he represents on one hand but mercy and guidance to the Israelites He is about to take as His own people (Ex. 6:7) who are to be a separated people from among the pagan nations. Why does He do this? In verse 6:7 we learn of our first and foremost purpose for living and for being chosen as are all true believers described by Yahshua in the book of Revelation; “I will take you as my people, and I will be your G-d. Then you will know that I am Adonai.” Before we complete the sentence, we need to bisect it. The first section speaks of G-d in the role of the ultimate Creator who chooses the Israelites as His people regardless of whether they are righteous. He has the right to choose whomever He will for whatever reason He will as we shall explore further in a few moments. This part of the sentence set the stage for the future of Israel defined as all true believers according to Yahshua’s words to John, specifically the seven-fold witness found in Revelation. The second part states “who freed you from the forced labour of the Egyptians.”
With our previous knowledge that Egypt as used in the Bible represents the epitome of a sinful lifestyle and the literal geographic location, G-d is prophetically speaking of His future manifestation as both G-d and Yahshua with the purpose of freeing or delivering the people from sin and separating them from a sinful lifestyle. A proof text is found in Ex: 13:21:” Adonai went ahead of them in a column of cloud during the daytime to lead them on their way, and at night in a column of fire to give them light…22 Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire by night went away from in front of the people”. This verse also supports the fact that Yahshua executes judgement and is not all love as taught by many Christian clergy. The cloud represents grace, and the fire represents judgement; each attribute of G-d used as He sees fit.
Exodus 6:8 continues to describe the history and future of Israel defined in the context of true believers. We must keep the differences between Judah Israel and Ephraim Israel clear. This only comes with careful and diligent study of G-d’s Torah; “I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya’akov- I will give it to you as an inheritance. I am Adonai”. What an awesome, humbling, and beautiful promise! Deductive reasoning and hermeneutics allow us to apply the events described by G-d in our parashah to the continued “race to win the prize” described by Paul (Sha’ul) (Acts 17:11, Phil. 3:14, 1 Cor. 9:24), the end times described in Matthew 24, and the wedding of Israel to Yahshua in Revelation. The Land will be Israel, the borders of which have never been occupied by the Israelites in total as defined in Num. 34:1-13.This area is quite different than today’s Israel that is about the size of Rhode Island! If… then
There must always be an interchange, an interaction between two of anything for a relationship to exist. The relationship between G-d and Pharaoh; G-d and mankind is no exception. G-d as Adonai tells Pharaoh through Moshe to let the Israelites go and worship him (G-d) or else. In the limited, natural realm which G-d created, every action results in an opposite and equal reaction. However, in the spiritual realm we know or should know by now that YHVH/Yahshua has done and does more for us than we can ever do for Him. He needs nothing from us. Whatever we do for Him is described in the Bible as our reasonable service and an on-going system of checks and balances designed for our spiritual growth (Rom. 12:1-2). Presenting our bodies, better translated as “ ourselves”, a living sacrifice, set apart for YHVH/Yahshua includes everything we think, say, and do (Deut. 6:4). If we strive to incorporate, internalize, act upon the Words of G-d’s Torah, we will continue to ascend toward G-d as we descend in our love of self. Again, the reciprocity of energy expenditure is manifest in this concept. Interestingly, it is a relationship of inverse ratios. The more we nullify self, the closer we get to G-d(ascend). Another way to look at this in a physical sense is to imagine a marriage. When two people are married, the goal is to become one flesh, of like mind and heart. Certain “rights” as an individual are relinquished as each individual makes room for the other emotionally and physically. When the marriage is biblically based, the two become a greater entity than two separate beings. When the two become one, a relationship develops with privileges that only a married couple may understand and enjoy.
G-d, seeing the people He is about to separate unto Himself who will eventually be incorporated into the bride status, begins the process of removing all threats from her by way of dealing with Pharaoh (Egypt). Yet, the process still provides an opportunity for the aggressor to repent before experiencing each consequence metered out for each act of rebellion willingly chosen by Pharaoh. This is a theme throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation when opportunities finally cease. Pharaoh’s responses illustrate stubbornness we observe in our own society today and will see in the future. Even as some people who reject Yahshua during the Tribulation period are burned by intense heat when the fourth bowl is poured, they will yet curse G-d (Rev. 16:9)!
We must prayerfully read our parashot to appreciate the lessons for us today. Pharaoh chose his destiny. The statement that” YHVH hardened the heart of Pharaoh” is a Hebrew idiom in which an action verb is used to express not the doing of something, but permission to do it. G-d allowed Pharaoh to choose his destiny. G-d responds to our freewill choices (Jer. 18:8, 10) and condemns those who ascribe this to fate and state that we have no free will (Jer. 18:12); a point also reflected in 2 Tim 2:20-21. Using this parashah as an example a giant, great plague would not have convinced the Egyptians as thoroughly of G-d’s existence as several smaller ones. If Egypt had been wiped out at the first moment of refusal, they never would have been afforded the opportunity of teshuvah, (repentance). After each plague, Pharaoh and the Egyptians had an interval in which they had time to think about their errors and repent. Similarly, if a visitor to the synagogue tells us they are going out to a Pork Lovers of America Pig Roast, we should not judge them. We must give them time to learn the basics and internalize them before becoming more admonishing and otherwise drawing the line. It is the sole responsibility of the Ruach to lead us out of “Egypt” and develop us for G-d’s service. This intervention applies to everyone, not simply the “newcomer.” We are to provide a warm, loving environment in which individuals seeking the truth may develop and grow just as a mother’s uterus provides a nurturing and safe environment for a developing fetus. This does not mean antinomianism is to be tolerated without end. Just as Yahshua draws a line on tolerance, we should follow His example clearly described throughout His Torah as instructions on how to address fellow travellers and those who simply want to cause division and contention among the brethren.
There is another application in this parashah to our contemporary world. Just as with Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and everyone else, proper repentance must be completely unconditional. The penitent must acknowledge the wrong that he or she has done and resolve to improve, REGARDLESS of any external factors. Particularly, one’s repentance and subsequent Torah observance should not depend on the “success” of one’s prayer in the supplicant’s eyes. In other words, we cannot bargain with G-d. We should not offer to stop eating pork if G-d does such and such or has done so and so. As humans, we must acknowledge we are located on the forest floor; we cannot see above the canopy from above and below as does G-d. People frequently remain resolute in their choice to follow G-d only if their prayers have a perceived favourable outcome. Even if one’s situation deteriorates as humans often define deterioration in the physical realm, we must remain steadfast and not deviate from our new level of commitment. If we falter this easily, we can be sure we are as the fig tree spoken of in Matt. 13:21. If however, we remain on the King’s highway no matter how seemingly adverse our circumstances, we can be certain that G-d will execute His perfect will for our best (Rom. 8:28-38). Understanding the paradox of G-d’s strength in our weakness and adversity as opportunity to glorify G-d and ascend in our relationship to Him takes time, diligent study, and prayer for understanding. We will fall, but
Haftarah: Yechezk’el (Ezekiel) 28:25-29:21
This week’s haftarah starts with the ingathering of the exiles, reflecting back on G-d’s promise in our parashah “I will take you out of the suffering of Egypt.” Ezekiel discusses the decimation of Pharaoh and Egypt, also reflecting the devastation wrought upon Egypt described in the parashah.
Ezekiel tells us what will occur during the ingathering of the exiles. “When I gather in the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they have been scattered, and I have been sanctified through them in the eyes of the nations, then they shall swell on their land that I gave to My servant, to Jacob. And they shall dwell upon it securely.”
Ezekiel proceeds to convey a prophecy regarding Pharaoh and Egypt, foretelling the fall of the Egyptian empire. Egypt was punished for two reasons. First, they reneged on their promise to assist Israel against the attacking Babylonians. Second, they had incredible arrogance, considering themselves totally self-reliant on the bounty of the Nile instead of G-d. The Nile was their G-d. It is interesting that “G-d turned the waters of Egyptian god (the Nile) to blood and killed the life within it. That is a teaching in itself! This description fits America perfectly. Therefore, Ezekiel warns them:” And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and in ruins, and they shall know that I am the L-rd! Because he [pharaoh] said, ‘The river is mine, and I have made it.’” G-d warns that the land of Egypt will be empty and desolate for forty years, after which G-d will return the people to the land to re-inhabit it, but it will no longer be an important nation to be reckoned with. Could this statement foretell the future of the United States? Only time will tell.
The haftarah ends with another prophecy where G-d tells Ezekiel that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, will be the one to conquer Egypt and take its riches. This was a reward given him by G-d because he was accomplishing G-d’s purpose by defeating the nation of Tyre.
B’rit Chadashah: Romans 9:14-17
Now let’s look at the relationship between Ex. 9:16 to Rom. 9:17. In this passage (Rom 8:26-9:29), Paul compares G-d’s promise to believers with his promise to Israel. We know that Israel as the bride of Yahshua are the true believers both Jew, Gentile, and fellow travellers who carry the Testimony of Yahshua and Guard the Commands of G-d stated seven times in Revelation. These believers have been grafted in to one stick, one bride. Therefore this relationship should come as no surprise. Romans 8:29-30 literally translates from the Aramaic:” And from beforehand he knew them and marked them with the likeness of the image of his Son that he might be the firstborn of many brothers. And those which beforehand he marked, he called and those whom he called he justified and those whom he justified he glorified.”
The Aramaic does not address predestination, rather foreknowledge. The text compares G-d’s promise to believers with his promise to Israel ([believers=Israel] in Rom. 9:1-4). Paul tells us that G-d selected/elected/chose Israel (Rom. 9:11). He quotes passages from the Tanakh to support his statement (Rom. 9:12= Gen. 25:23); Rom 9:13=Mal.1:2-3). Take note that G-d hated Esau for giving up his inheritance of his own free will (Gen. 25:24-34).
Paul then quotes the Torah: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Ex. 33:19=Rom 9:15). This highlights G-d’s sovereign right to choose Israel. Keep in mind that choosing Israel is consistent with G-d’s omniscience; that He already knows who will be included in “Israel”, validating the Torah’s statement that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26). Now we can understand the true meaning of this scripture. It is not that all geographic or biologic Israel will be saved, but that true Israelites/Jews defined in Romans 2-3 will be saved and will become the bride of Yahshua described in Revelation 21:9-10.
Paul refers to our parashah (Rom. 9:17= Ex. 9:16), then presents the parable of the potter and the clay (Rom. 9:19-21); a parable common in Jewish literature (Isaiah 29:16; 45:9; Jer. 18:1-10). In this parable the potter is G-d and man is the clay. The point is that G-d is sovereign over man, just as the potter is over the clay. Paul uses this illustration to justify G-d choosing Israel as his elect while “hating” Esau and allowing Pharaoh to continue in his rebellion toward G-d. Paul’s point in Rom. 9 is not to promote the Greek philosophy of fatalism or to indicate that men have no free will. Rather, his point is to defend G-d’s sovereign right to choose Israel. Furthermore, we can see in this week’s parashah that Pharaoh is not stripped of his free will. However, it does illustrate G-d’s sovereign right to create Pharaoh for His purpose. May we submit ourselves as pliable, willing clay in G-d’s just and merciful hands as He makes us perfect vessels for His service.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart