Friday, January 26, 2018

Israel's Epic Journey~Kvetching Along the Way | Parashat Beshalach | By His EVERY Word

Parashat Beshalach 
פרשת בשלח
“When he sent”

Shabbat | 27 January 2018 | 11 Sh’vat 5778

The Journey of Israel’s Redemption

Moses carried with him the bones of Joseph as he led Israel out of Egypt, fulfilling the solemn oath Joseph had required of his brethren—to be buried with his fathers in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. 

The Hebrew word for bones, etsem, also means essence and strength. In many ways Moses not only carried the bones of Joseph, but also his essence and  strength as he led Israel out of Egypt.

Joseph’s essence and strength lay in his righteousness before God and man. He was a sanctified vessel, set apart for the use and glory of the LORD.
In a metaphorical sense, Moses carried Joseph’s bones as a righteous standard before the people—his life was one to be emulated—an overcomer in the place of great temptation and adversity, faithful and forgiving in the face of betrayal, humble, kind, and just in the seat of power. 

By Adonai’s mercy and grace, the Hebrew slaves were freed from physical bondage in Egypt—redeemed by the mighty arm of God. Now Israel must learn how to LIVE as a redeemed people. 

Adonai had removed from them the yoke of slavery—the yoke of Pharaoh, and the yoke of Egypt. Yet they weren’t ready to wear the yoke of freedom—the yoke of holiness—the yoke of their Redeemer.

The LORD will lead them into the wilderness—not to wander—but to learn of Him. Israel will meet with Him, learn to follow and trust Him, and learn the tragedy of lessons not learnedas Deuteronomy 1:30-33 recounts: 

“The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place. Yet, for all that, you did not believe the LORD your God, who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day.”

Israel has been redeemed out of harsh and hopeless enslavement in Egypt through awesome miracles wrought by the Almighty. This is unfathomable grace ... amazing love ... epic deliverance ... and stunning drama that continues to intrigue the world, fire the imagination, and feed the film industry with material!

And Israel, our hero at the center of this spectacular drama, is kvetching all the way ... it's all just so real ... so human!
Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah.

Exodus 13  God in the Wilderness
vv.17-18 “Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, "The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt. Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness...” 

The word wilderness, in Hebrew midbar מדבר, is not a desert place—a place of wandering senselessly. The word midbar has several meanings: wilderness ... uninhabited land ... but also pasturea place of care, feeding and nurture. Another meaning is mouth (as organ of speech)

Although Adonai had redeemed Israel out of Egypt, they didn’t know how to BE a redeemed People. Adonai needed to break their dependence [as slaves] on Egypt and bring them into a place of dependance upon Him, where He could care, feed, and nurture them ... where He could Speak to His People, teaching them His ways, and revealing their unique call before Him as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:6

Moses carried with him the bones of Joseph as he led Israel out of Egypt, fulfilling the solemn oath Joseph had required of his brethren—to be buried with his fathers in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron.

The Hebrew word for bones, etsem עצם, also means essence, substance, body, and strength. In many ways Moses carried the essence and the strength of Joseph with him as he led Israel out of Egypt.
Joseph’s essence and strength lay in his righteousness before God and man. He was a sanctified vessel, set apart for the use and glory of the LORD. In a metaphorical sense, Moses carried Joseph’s bones as a righteous standard before the people—his life was one to be emulated—an overcomer in the place of great temptation and adversity, faithful and forgiving in the face of betrayal, humble, kind, and just in the seat of power.

vv. 21-22 “The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” 

The pillar of cloud that led the sons of Israel was not an ordinary cloud. The Hebrew word used in these verses for cloud, anan ענן, is defined as a cloud-mass (of theophanic cloud), meaning a manifestation or appearance of God.”

We see a similar usage in the following dramatic description from Ezekiel 10:3-4: “Now the cherubim were standing on the right side of the temple when the man entered, and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.”

This glorious pillar of theophanic cloud represented the Divine Presence, guiding, sheltering, and emanating light for the people of Israel for forty years as they dwelt with their God in the wilderness. This was a visible sign of God’s enduring Presence. By day it was a dark cloud, shielding the harsh rays of the sun, and by night, a supernatural display of fiery light, leading, guiding, and bringing light to their encampments.
Those whom God brings into a wilderness, he will not leave nor lose there, but will take care to lead them through it. It was great satisfaction to Moses and the pious Israelites, to be sure that they were under Divine guidance. Those who make the glory of God their end, and the word of God their rule, the Spirit of God the guide of their affections, and the providence of God the guide of their affairs, may be sure that the Lord goes before them, though they cannot see it with their eyes: we must now live by faith. 
When Israel marched, this pillar went before, and pointed out the place of encampment, as Divine Wisdom saw fit. It sheltered by day from the heat, and gave light by night. The Bible is a light to our feet, a lantern to our paths, with which the Saviour's love has provided us. It testifies of Christ. It is to us like the pillar to the Israelites. Listen to that voice which cries, “I am the Light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life.” John 8:12    —Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

Exodus 14  God in the Narrow Place

The illustrious epic chronicling Israel’s Redemption out of Egypt reaches its grand crescendo as the beleaguered band of Hebrews and others who have joined them find themselves trapped in a narrow place between Pharaoh’s army and the sea. Terrified, they cannot see this is exactly where Adonai wants them—not for their destruction, but to experience the salvation of their God.

Controversy surrounds the exact location of the crossing. According to Exodus 13:18, God led the people by way of the “Red Sea.”  In the original Hebrew, Red Sea is Yam Suph יַם-סוּף , which is literally translated Sea of Reeds.

Theories also abound—inexplicably by those who accept the Exodus account—postulating how the sea may have been parted by natural causes, rather than by Divine act.

Adonai spoke all creation into existence from nothingness, created mankind in His own image, established the vast diversity of living things upon the earth, placed the earth in the exact rotation of a perfectly constructed universe, sustaining His creation in a fragile and elegantly balanced molecular environment ... planets, stars, universes, spinning in “nothingness,” yet held together by an invisible force. Scientists cannot comprehend it and call it “dark matter” as its effect can be clearly seen, considering 90% of the essence of the universe is “dark matter,” and it's responsible for gravitational pull—holding the universe together. Yet the Word declares, it is Messiah  who “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

Considering all that Adonai has done and is yet to do, why would any Bible believer question His ability to part a body of water?

Adonai Will Be Honored Through Pharaoh’s Hard Heart

v. 4 Adonai told Moses He will once again “‘harden Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.’ And they did so.” 
The Hebrew commentaries generally lean toward God utilizing Pharaoh’s own hardened heart from his repeated rebelliousness to bring about His plan of redemption. God, who knows the heart of man, knew Pharaoh would repeatedly defy His Voice. Rabbi J.H. Hertz notes that man is given free will to serve or to rebel against God, but God will not make man sin against Him. 
The Hebrew word used in this verse for harden is chazak. Chazak   חזק means to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, or be resolute.

Though Pharaoh may have become quite resolute, the voice of his conscience long since muted by his brazen defiance of Adonai, chazak doesn’t seem to imply his heart has been made intractable or incurable. He could still repent, but God, who knows the end from the beginning, knows he will not, and rouses Pharaoh suddenly to realize that he has let his slave labor workforce go, thus beginning His awesome drama at the edge of the sea!
vv. 5-10 “When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?’” 

So Pharaoh took six hundred of his finest chariots, all the other chariots and charioteers of Egypt, and set out hard after the sons of Israel.

The sons of Israel were encamped by the sea “in front of Baal-zephon.” It was there they found themselves trapped by Pharaoh’s massive army of horses, chariots, and charioteers.

The Egyptians were in hot pursuit, pressing them into the narrow space against the sea, and they “became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. 

The Roots of Jewish Humor
Here our text gives us a glimpse into the roots of Jewish humor, which is often dark, sometimes self-deprecating, and may be laced with sarcasm, cynicism, absurdity, and farce. It is generally witty and insightful, though—touching something common inside most of us—hence the broad appeal of this unique form of comedy. 

It is said that the Jew’s wry sense of humor has sustained them as a people through their grievous history of persecutions, annihilations, and traumas. 

On one level it bears an element of truth, however, that Israel has been preserved at all to this day against the relentless onslaught of her enemies, is a singular testament to the faithfulness of her God and His covenant promises!

As the sons of Israel find themselves in dire straits, threatened by Pharaoh’s army, first they do what we expect “biblical characters” to do—they cry out the LORD. Then they become people ... they turn on Moses ... they do what we Jews call kvetching. They whine ... they complain ... they accuse.

v. 11 I can so easily picture one of our iconic Jewish comedians playing this scene—maybe Jackie Mason or Jerry Seinfeld. “Then they said to Moses, ‘Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?’”

v. 12 It’s just so typical (and 1 Corinthians 10 tells us this is common to all mankind). Adonai is about to accomplish a divinely magnificent miracle for Israel, one that will demonstrate that HE IS YHVH to all. 

And here is Israel, in fear and despair, kvetching: “‘Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’” It’s just all so real—so human!

vv. 13-14 Then Moses begins to rise up, (getting into "Charlton Heston character") as he yells at the sons of Israel (can you see the dark clouds gathering and winds picking up?) “‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.’”

vv. 15-16 But after his grand, dramatic display, the LORD seems a bit put out with Moses: “Why are you crying out to Me?”

Adonai wanted Moses to tell Israel to move—go forward, not stand by: “Tell the sons of Israel to go forward ... lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.”

vv. 17-18 Adonai says that the sea will divide before Israel, creating dry land when Moses stretches his staff over it, for the sons of Israel to pass through safely. Then the Egyptians will go in after them, so that the LORD “will be honored through Pharaoh and all this army, through his chariots and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”

By this act all humanity will come to know that there is a God of righteousness in the world. 

When chaos reigns, the world is a more terrifying place than when a righteous judge is on the throne. 

The God of Israel will manifest His justice and might by delivering Israel, and overthrowing the wicked. All men thereafter will know of His righteous standard. Into a world of powerless gods of stone, Adonai will reveal Himself as the God who saves and delivers those who trust in Him.

vv. 20-24 Now the Angel of the LORD, resplendent in the brilliant pillar that lit the night, moved from in front of Israel to behind. This cut off and terrified the Egyptians, while the Divine Presence guarded and comforted Israel, despairing in the narrow place between her enemies and the sea. “Thus the one did not come near the other all night. ”

Moses did as the LORD commanded and stretched his staff out over the sea, and the LORD “swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.” 

Adonai created a supernatural wind that only affected the waters on either side, providing a dry passageway. The waters heaped up like walls, and the sons of Israel “went through the midst of the sea on the dry land.” 

“Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea.” 

At the morning watch, the LORD looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion.” 
“At the morning watch...” The morning watch was from two to four in the morning. 
Thus the Red Sea crossing took place in the dark of night, illuminated only by the torches of the armies and the supernatural brilliance of the fiery pillar of the LORD.
In the midst of the unearthly passageway of pursuit, the Egyptians became terrified. They realized that the LORD was defending Israel against them.

v. 25 “He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from Israel, for the LORD is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”   

It was too late.

v. 27 The LORD instructed Moses to stretch out his hand once more over the sea, and at daybreak the sea returned to its normal state as the Egyptians were fleeing, “then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.”

vv. 28-30 “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh's entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained.” 

“Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.” 
It was not a victory in which a feeling of pride or self-exaltation could enter. Unlike any other nation that has thrown off the yoke of slavery, neither Israel nor its leader claimed any merit of glory for the victory. The fact that the Egyptians had to perish mars the completeness of Israel’s victory.”
From The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Chief Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz, 1938
v. 31 “When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses. 
Many see this as Israel’s spiritual rebirth—their declaration of faith. Passing through the waters of the Red Sea was an immersion, in Hebrew, a mikveh, what is called baptism in the New Testament. 
It is an undeniable spiritual transformation Judaism remembers as a watershed event. A song of devotion, and commitment, the Song of the Sea, is recorded in the next chapter, and is still sung today in Jewish liturgy.
Lest the sincerity of exaltation be diminished by our knowledge of Israel’s stumblings, we should consider what each of our own lives would look like if all the world were able to scrutinize our every word and action. 

Exodus 15  God in the Sea of Salvation and Sorrow

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”  Psalm 20:7
vv. 1-20  Known for its poetic passion, divine devotion, and vivid imagery, the Song of the Sea expresses the triumph, terror, salvation, and sorrow the sons of Israel experienced that fateful night. It is inspiring and well worth the read!
Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said,

“I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
LORD is my strength and song, 
And He has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will extol Him.
LORD is a warrior; 
The LORD is His name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
And the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deeps cover them; 
They went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O
LORD, is majestic in power,
Your right hand, O
LORD, shatters the enemy.
And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You;
You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.
At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up,
The flowing waters stood up like a heap;
The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil; 
My desire shall be gratified against them;
I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them.’
You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
Who is like You among the gods, O
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in praises, working wonders?
You stretched out Your right hand,
The earth swallowed them.
In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed;
In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.
The peoples have heard, they tremble; 
Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. 
Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed;
The leaders of Moab, trembling grips them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
Terror and dread fall upon them;
By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone;
Until Your people pass over, O
Until the people pass over whom You have purchased.
You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance,
The place, O
LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O
LORD, which Your hands have established.
The LORD shall reign forever and ever.”
For the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea,
and the
LORD brought back the waters of the sea on them,
but the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.

Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. Miriam answered them,

“Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”
The Journey to Sinai—Back to Reality...
vv. 22-25 “Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them.’”

In Hebrew, Marah מרה, means bitter.

And there he tested them... Tested, or nasa נסה, in Hebrew, is more commonly understood as proved. The fabric of a man is often proved by his response to both abundance and insufficiency.

Here the sons of Israel illustrate a universal flaw in mankind—how easily we praise God with grand prose when He serves us, yet how quickly we become petulant, complaining children when we find ourselves once again in need.

vv. 26-27 “And He said, ‘If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.’” 

YHVH Rapha "I AM the LORD Who Heals You!"Here, Adonai reveals one of His wonderful Names to his people: YHVH Rapha יהוה רפא,  Adonai reveals Himself to His People here as the LORD their Healer. Note that there are conditions to His promise of Divine health...

“Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters.”

Adonai brought the entire weary congregation of Israel to a beautiful valley known for terebinths, palm trees and springs to rest and recover before resuming their training in the wilderness.

Exodus 16  God in the Sabbath

The oasis rest was short-lived, as Moses led the congregation out of Elim, toward Sinai, into the wilderness of Sin. One month after their departure from Egypt, they found themselves once again in a time of privation. With hunger gnawing at them, Israel begins kvetching at Moses and Aaron.

v. 3 Would that we had died by the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

This is actually somewhat humorous—they forget how they groaned in Egypt under the harsh slavery, and surely the fare of Egypt’s slaves was less than enviable!

From the Bread of Affliction to the Bread from Heaven

This problem, this privation was from the LORD (surprise!). He is testingor rather, proving—them, to see how they will react. He is also forming them, teaching them to walk in His ways—to be conformed to HIM rather than Egypt, or the nations. They must learn to look to Him as their provider, as their all in all.

v. 4 “Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.” 

A Test of Trust
v. 5 “On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 

Although Adonai is going to provide daily food, there is yet another level of trust Israel must learn. They are not to trust in that daily provision. Their eyes are to be on the LORD. The way He will provide it will test their faith and obedience!

vv. 6-7 “So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, ‘At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, for He hears your grumblings against the LORD; and what are we, that you grumble against us?’” 

The congregation of Israel is about to experience the LORD’s majesty in yet a new way.

vv. 9-10 “Then Moses said to Aaron, "Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, 'Come near before the LORD, for He has heard your grumblings. It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. 

“...the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud...”
In Hebrew, the word glory is kä·vōde' כָּבוֹד, translated glory, honor, glorious, splendor, reverence. It is related to the Hebrew word heavy, kaved כָּבֵד. The heaviest organ in the human body is the liverkaved in Hebrew.

The glory of the LORD is one of the grand appearances recorded in Exodus. We don’t know exactly what the congregation saw, as God is Spirit, but it must have been even more awesome than the pillar of Divine fire and cloud that by now accompanied them day and night.

vv. 12-13 “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’” 

In this verse we see God once again delineates the start and end of each day—from twilight to twilight as in Genesis 1:5 (which is still used by Israel to this day). We also see a very common theme throughout the Bible: God does what He does, not because of our merit, but that the world will know that He is the LORD!

vv. 14-15 “When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.’”

The Hebrew word for "what" is "ma" מה.

Trust the LORD for fresh ma-nah
The sons of Israel were instructed to gathered as much as each could eat—an omer apiece. Some gathered more, some gathered less, and they found that there was just enough for each person in each family. Moses further instructed that none should be left until morning.

v. 20 “But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul...” 
If the provision was hoarded, it rotted and testified against those who had not trusted in the LORD for the next day’s provision.
v. 23 On the sixth day, the leaders came and told Moses that there was twice as much provision. He explained to them: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.”
Whereas extra provision rotted and turned foul on every other day of the week, that which was gathered for the Sabbath remained throughout the Sabbath.
v. 24 “So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it.”

v. 26 Israel was instructed not to go gather in the field as there would be no provision on the Sabbath: “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.” 

v. 27 However, on the Sabbath, some of the people went out to gather, “but they found none.”

v. 28 The LORD held Moses responsible for his people and asked him, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and instructions?” 

Adonai repeated Himself. He has given His sanctified day to His people. And He will provide for them to rest in it. This day is to be a special gift.

The Sabbath is a unique and blessed tabernacle in time. The curse—that man must work to eat—is suspended during the Sabbath. For God will provide a double portion, a miraculous blessing for His People!

vv. 29-36 “See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 

“So the people rested on the seventh day.”  Finally!

Moses commanded that an omer of manna be gathered and kept in a jar throughout Israel’s generations “that they may see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.” 

This, Aaron would eventually place in the Ark with the Ten Commandments.

So, the sons of Israel would eat the manna forty years until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 

Exodus 17  God in the Waters of Strife

vv. 2-5 We find the congregation of Israel kvetching at Moses once again: “‘Give us water that we may drink.’ and Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?’”

They have now traveled from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Rephidim, where there is no water. And the people are thirsty ... And the people kvetch ... And the people accuse ... “Why now have you brought us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst? 

So Moses kvetches to the LORD: “What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.”

Adonai, of course will reveal Himself to this implacable people. They are, after all, His Children through whom He is to build a nation and redeem mankind!

vv. 6-7 Adonai will set Himself before Moses at the Rock of Horeb. Then he is to use his rod that made all water unfit for drinking in Egypt, and parted the Red Sea to reveal dry land for Israel’s crossing. He is to strike the rock at Horeb, and water will come out of it for the people to drink. “And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” 

“He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us, or not?   

In Hebrew Massah מסה, means temptation, and Meribah מריבה, means strife or contention.

Had the people trusted Adonai, this place could have been memorialized with a different name. It seems almost inconceivable that Israel, after witnessing such glorious deliverances, and experiencing a visible, Divine Presence day and night, could think—much less utter—“Is the LORD among us, or not.” 

Yet we are told that these are recorded for our examples as this is common to the heart of mankind.
In our own way, each of us betray our Creator repeatedly in our lives. 
In the exact same circumstances, can we be certain we would respond differently?

Victory Over the Amalekites—The Victory of Faithfulness

vv. 8-13 “Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand. Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.’” 

When Moses’ hands were held steady, they prevailed against the Amalekites...

The Hebrew word for steady is emunah אמונה, meaning steadfastly, steadiness, fidelity, faithfully, faithful, faithfulness.

This initial concept of the word for faith in the Tenakh, is describing an action on Aaron and Hur's part. This action of holding Moses' hands steady/steadfastly/faithfully gave victory over a deadly enemy. Fathifulness bore existential results!
It will become increasingly more apparent that it is emunah—faithfulness that Adonai is after. A life of trusting Him, fidelity to Him, acting faithfully, and being steadfast, are the lessons of the wilderness. They are the lessons of every disciple—every follower of Messiah.

In Habukkuk 4:2 and Romans 1:17 we find, "the righteous will live by his faith." That's our word, emunah again, faithfulness, steadfastness, fidelity, etc. The B'rit Chadashah equivalent is pistis πίστις, which also offers fidelity and faithfulness among the definitions for faith.
Israel was a redeemed people, yet still had to learn how to live as a redeemed people—how to live a life pleasing to God, that testified to the world that He is LORD. This is normative to all who are redeemed.
Yeshua said to go and make disciples ... teaching them to observe all (Genesis to maps) that He commanded. (cf. Matthew 28:19-20) 
He didn't say, "Go and get people to pray a formula prayer."
Faith is not a passive belief, it's an active, faithful, steadfast commitment, expressed in a life of fidelity. 
Some may think that "works" and "faith" are incongruous. 
James 2:18-26 puts it into context for us: "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."
Precious Words and Another Wonderful Name of YHVH!
vv. 14-16 “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’” 

UTTERLY! Praise Him for His faithfulness! Glorious, wonderful Words from the LORD Most High! And He wanted His Words written down as a memorial ... what love! 

And we have this treasure on parchment, on paper, digitally at our fingertips!!! And how inexplicable that some (who call themselves followers of God!) don't find this word to be precious!

“Moses built an altar and named it 

The LORD is My Banner

and he said, ‘The LORD has sworn; 

the LORD will have war against 

Amalek from generation to generation.’” 

YHVH My Banner, My Miracle יְהוָה נִסִּֽי.
The Hebrew for banner is nes נס
"My banner" is nēs·sē'.

“The I AM is my standard, exalted and lifted up for all to see,
the Mighty One of Israel Who Was, 
Who Is and Who WILL BE Forever, amen!”

Did you know, 
He is YOUR Banner, too?

To be continued...

Haftarah Beshalach
Judges 4:4-5:31

The ten plagues are now past. Egypt is entirely destroyed: economically—stripped by the departing Jews, militarily—her army lost in the engulfing Red Sea, religiously—each of her ten main deities proven empty, and emotionally—with the loss of all her first born. 

On the other hand, the Jews  have been miraculously delivered from bondage, and led by Almighty God to the door step of a new life. Yet failure after failure was to characterize their next forty years. Then, there would only be a partial capture of the promised land, followed by that period of time when ruled by judges. 

From approximately 1380 to 1050 BC this new Jewish nation had the task left to them by Joshua of finishing the taking of the Promised Land for their own. Numerous pockets of Canaanite resistance remained for the individual tribes to deal with. Indeed Moses had foretold of this when God said, “I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.” (Ex. 23:29-30) However, their continued success was conditional upon remaining faithful to the Covenant relationship God had established with them. Sadly, failures were to mark this period in Israel’s history as well.

Judges 17:6 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Israel was a loose confederacy during this time. She had no King and thus no central authority. What leadership they did have was provided by individuals known as judges, sometimes more than one ruling at the same time. The judges were made up of both men and women who provided sometimes political, sometimes spiritual, and sometimes military leadership as the individual situation required.

Our Haftarah portion focuses in on one of these judges and the man she chose to perform God’s work. Our central characters are Deborah, a judge and prophetess over Israel; Barak, a Naphtalite leader and warrior chosen by Deborah for the battle ahead; King Jabin of the city of Hazor, his warriors controlling the Hazor-Megiddo highway; Sisera, Jabin’s  captain of those warriors and the 900 iron chariots they drove; and Jael, wife of Heber a Midianite who was a descendant of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro.

Our story starts with these words, “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. The sons of Israel cried to the LORD; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of Israel severely for twenty years. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” Judges 4:1-4

As we read on we find that Deborah summons Barak. She tells him of a command “the Lord, the God of Israel” has given. 10,000 Israelites are to be gathered, taken to Mount Tabor where God will draw out Sisera, his many troops, and his 900 iron chariots. All will be given into Barak’s hand. But, Barak does not have complete trust in what he is told God has said. Barak insists he will do this, but only if Deborah accompanies him. Ouch! won’t these Israelites ever learn to have complete trust in their God? Deborah identifies this lack of trust right away and tells Barak what the consequence is. She will go, implying she had not initially planned on being there. He will defeat Sisera’s troops and the 900 chariots, but will not receive the honor for doing so. It will be taken from him and given to a woman.

As we go forward in our story Barak, Deborah, and the 10,000 Israelite warriors take a position on Mount Tabor. Sisera, his warriors, and his 900 chariots come out from Hazor to engage Barak in what Sisera feels will be an easy victory. After all, they had been in charge for twenty years. How could it go any other way? But God has planned differently.

Judges 4:14-16 tells us, “Deborah said to Barak, ‘Arise! For this is the day in which the LORD has given Sisera into your hands; behold, the LORD has gone out before you.’ So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. The LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not even one was left.”

Sisera did however flee the battle and end up taking refuge in the tent of Jael where he thought he could hide and get some needed rest. Much to his surprise, I’m sure, when reaching the other side of eternity, he found that the woman he had trusted to cover for him had instead driven a stake through his head while he had been asleep. (4:21) So Sisera not only lost the battle, but mistakenly trusted someone who really had always been on Israel’s side. (Remember her relationship to Moses?) And as for King Jabin (?) he was eventually killed and his city overthrown. (4:23-24) And after all this is done who is truly honored? Not Barak, but the woman Jael. And why? Because Barak could not fully trust God and do things just the way He wanted them done.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have trouble trusting God for what He has told me He will do. And what is nonsensical is that I don’t have any problem trusting Him for the really big things, like eternal security or the Rapture. Maybe because I don’t have or need any earthly control over them.  It’s the much smaller things that I have the trouble with, the ones I can control to some extent. My children’s safety, my bank account, the food to feed my family, or the roof over their heads.

It’s these kinds of things that I know God has said He will take care of, but still I want extra assurance, so I seek it. Isn’t this what Barak did? He was told what God had said He would do, but he wanted added assurance so he insisted on Deborah going along. The consequence? He didn’t get the full blessing for completely trusting his God. It was given to someone else.
I know I’ve got to work harder at this so that I can be given God’s full blessing out of this life. Lord, what possibly could be better than having Your full assurance of success as measured by Your standards? Help me, Lord, to do this one thing.... 
Trust in You, LORD, with all my heart
And help me not to lean on my own understanding.
In all my ways help me acknowledge You,
And You will make my paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

What a great principle and prayer to live by.
Care to join me in getting better at this day by day?

B’rit Chadashah Beshalach
John 6:15-71; I Corinthians 10:1-5

Our B’rit Chadashah draws into play I Corinthians 10:1-5. Verse 6 of that same chapter says, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” 

Remember the Israelites repeated lack of trust in God’s provision for them? Just as far as we have progressed in this year’s Torah readings we have seen them turn on Moses: as he dealt with Pharaoh for their release (Ex. 5:3-6:10), as he led them to the Red Sea crossing with the Egyptian army in pursuit (Ex. 14:9-12), as water was provided for them at Marah—first bitter then sweet (Ex. 15:22-27), and as their stomachs went hungry in the wilderness—leading to the provision of quail and manna. Exodus 16

In the weeks ahead we will see Israel’s continuing lack of trust in Yahweh. There will be the making of an idol to replace Him since He did not send Moses back down Mount Nebo in what was for them a timely enough fashion. (Exodus 32:1-14) And there will be a refusal to enter the Promised Land because they did not trust that God could give it to them. (Numbers 14) I Corinthians 10:11 says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Their lack of trust was rerecorded as instruction for us (v.11) that we might not crave evil things. v. 6 

And when you come right down to it,
it is the lack of trust in God that often leads men to evil.

A lack of trust in God is a terrible thing. Where it exists it necessitates the addition of something God never intended. Remember Moses’ doubt? When God met him at the burning bush He told Moses that he alone was to go to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh and speak a message of deliverance. Moses didn’t trust God for this result. He said he didn’t have the necessary speaking ability. So something was added, Aaron—to speak for Moses. (Exodus 3-4:15) It was the same with Barak. He could not trust God and go out to battle as God told him to. Something additional was needed. In this case, Deborah. Both Moses and Barak missed the full blessing that could have been theirs by not simply believing God for what He had said. No, they could not be satisfied until they added something more.

The other portion of this week’s B’rit Chadashah is John 6:15-71. In it we see the Messiah several times making reference to the eternal security of the believer. This is God’s message to the believer to have faith in His keeping power. He is in essence saying nothing more need be added to this. Note these verses:
          John 6:28-29, “Therefore they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’”
          John 6:39-40, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
          John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
          John 6:65, “And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’”

And in the third chapter John sums up the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus by saying in verse 16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Eternal life is that quality of life that is divinely given and has no end. Otherwise it would not be eternal.

Unfortunately many believers are not satisfied with these simple truths that must be accepted by faith. That the work of God is to believe in Him who He has sent. That Jesus will lose none of them. That Jesus will raise up all on the last day. That it is the will of the Father that all who believe in the Son will have eternal life. That this all happens because the Father draws them to the Son. And because they cannot accept this simple truth by faith they must add something else.

Yes, unfortunately there are those like Moses, Barak, and the children of Israel who have trouble accepting just what God has said and adding nothing more. In this case they want to say yes to all of the above, but add just this one more thing. That while God will keep the believer and will not walk away from him, the believer can walk away from God and therefore lose his salvation. What is missed by these folks is that it is not the believer’s responsibility to keep himself. No, it is not only God’s responsibility to save the unbeliever, but to keep him saved. This is God’s job and promise to all of His children.
Think of it. Not believing in God’s simple and complete message here means that man must add one more thing. What is it? That while God will give us eternal life we can still walk away from it. For me, a life that has the quality of eternity with God was never eternal in the first place, if I were to have the ability to walk away from it. No. Eternity is forever, without end. God gives it to the believer when saved. God is responsible for maintaining it. And adding nothing, I will rejoice in this truth... forever.
In Messiah' Love,
His Every Word Ministries