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
The first sentence in this parashah should make it very clear that G-d’s name does not include a “W”. G-d also explains how He is NOT a trinity, rather Echad a complex unity) who can manifest himself in different forms to accomplish His specific purpose. This validates the use of the Hebrew word Echad encompassing the concept of one Person; many roles and a “need to know basis.” G-d explains that he appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai (the Nurturer, the breasted One) stating unequivocally “I did not make myself known to them by my name, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh.”
YHVH goes on to tell Moshe He is about to manifest Himself in another of His roles; this time as Adonai executing judgments on Pharaoh and all he represents. I want to digress for a moment and try to explain why understanding the roles G-d takes and the names associated with them are so important. Let’s use an example of a woman who is a mother, lover, friend, co-worker, and sister. We would not tell her daughter that “my sister will be here shortly”, or your Daddy’s lover will be here shortly.” Rather, we would say, “your Mommy will be here shortly.” Now the child understands. To her, the woman is always “Mommy.” However, to a co-worker, “Mommy” can be understood as a Mommy, friend, sister of someone else, etc. So it is with G-d and His various roles. His very Name indicates He is law (Y-H) and grace (V-H). Just as humans, He can manifest himself in several roles using the Name associated with that particular role.
G-d tells Moshe that He will guide Israel with justice and mercy (Ex. 6:7) true to the full meaning of His Name Y-H-V-H, contrary to Christian teaching that the G-d of Israel was ALL justice and that Jesus taught and practiced ALL love. Many people wonder why G-d was about to demonstrate such signs at the expense of Pharaoh and Egypt in general. We find the answer in Exodus 6:2-5. G-d tells Moshe that He had not made his name known to the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as YHVH; they had lived as foreigners, and now the Israelites were enslaved physically by Pharaoh, and spiritually as they were part of the world (Egyptian) way of life. All humans would still be slaves to sin and the original death indictment as a result of the original fall of man but for the redeeming work of Yahshua that all men MIGHT be saved.
In chapter 6:7 we learn of our first and foremost purpose for living and for being chosen as true believers. In Exodus 6:6-8 we discover in a single paragraph G-d’s plan for Israel in the context of all true believers described by Yahshua in the book of Revelation. In this passage G-d is speaking of Israel in the context of the biological nation of Israelites. However, in the prophetic application of this scripture, Israel is spoken of in the context of the single stick described in Ezekiel 37. All Israel will include all true believers, Jew and Gentile; Judah Israel and Ephraim Israel. This is what G-d is saying when He promises that “All Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:26). “ 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, let’s break it down into two pieces. The first section speaks of G-d in the role of the ultimate Creator who chooses the Israelites as His people regardless of their sins. This part of the sentence set the stage, so to speak for the future of Israel and all true believers (Ex. 12:49). G-d has the right to choose whomever he will for whatever reason (Ex. 33:19; Rom. 9:18) just as we are learning in the study on the Prophets. By the way, Rom. 9:18 speaks of G-d’s sovereignty in the form of hardening whom He will also. The interpretation of hardening is in the context of allowing an individual to harden his or her heart against G-d as G-d allowed Pharaoh to do. G-d did not harden Pharaoh’s heart against his will as some Christian Clergy teach to support the idea that the G-d of the Old Testament was mean and Jesus is a G-d of love only. To do such a thing does not even make sense. G-d gave man free will to choose between right and wrong. He does not take that away and make us robots. The second part of Ex. 6:6 states “… who freed you from the forced labor of the Egyptians.” With our previous knowledge that Egypt in the Bible represents the epitome of a sinful lifestyle, 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. 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.” Interestingly, in my copy of Stearns’ translation on page 74). He calls the column of fire at night “the column of cloud at night.” How can I know this is an error? I looked up the verse in the Hebrew Bible. The word Ha’ish means fire. By the way, this verse also supports the fact that Yahshua executes judgment and is not all love as I previously mentioned. I think G-d was just testing me to see if I cared enough to look it up as I teach others to do!
Exodus 6:8 continues the history and future of true believers (Israel); “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 allows us to apply the events described by G-d in our parashah to the continued “race to win the prize” described by Paul (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.
But… IF…. There must always be an interchange, an interaction between two of anything for a relationship to exist. The Torah is filled with the necessity for us to obey/observe the commands, mandates, and statutes of G-d. A few references for your consideration are Lev. 26:6; Ex. 34:37; Lev. 20:26; Lev. 33; John 14:15; John 15:10. G-d required such a relationship with Pharaoh. Unfortunately, Pharaoh defiantly refused to acknowledge the G-d of Israel. G-d as Adonai tells Pharaoh through Moshe to let the Israelites go and worship him (G-d) or else… G-d tells those who would be considered true believers the same thing (Ex. 15:25-6), and Yahshua in John Chapter 14. In the natural universe for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. However, in the spiritual realm there are no limits. G-d’s blessings and curses are more than we can imagine in the natural world. Furthermore, we know that YHVH/Yahshua has done and does more for us than we can ever do for Him; he needs nothing from us. What we do for Him is a reasonable service and an ongoing 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, and 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. G-d, seeing the people he is about to separate unto Himself, 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. Pharaoh’s responses foretell the stubbornness we observe in our own lives in certain areas and society. In the future people will curse G-d even as they are burned by intense heat when the fourth bowl is poured out (Rev. 16:9). We must read our parashah carefully. 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) as mentioned in the beginning of this teaching. This truth stands in direct contrast to those who hold Pharaoh innocent and blame G-d and state that we have no free will (Jer. 18:12); a point also reflected in 2 Tim 2:20-21. Using the parashah as an example once again, a giant, great plague would not have convinced the Egyptians as thoroughly of G-ds 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, G-d is allowing more frequently occurring “natural” disaster to occur around the world, each time allowing people to look up for their help and deliverance. Yet, as a global community, we still ascribe such calamities to global warming, government conspiracies, etc. G-d is patient and long suffering. Yet, there will come a time when the line will be drawn (already known by G-d) and opportunities for repentance will be lost. One reason for G-d affecting disaster upon the Nile was that Pharaoh proclaimed himself god of the Nile. Another was that the Nile was the life of Egypt. The Egyptians never looked to the heavens for the Source of water. The opposite is true for the Israelite farmer who always looks up in hope, expectation and faith. Although rain also comes from below (Gen 2:6), G-d did not create us to be passive recipients of his chesed (unmerited kindness). We are designed to ask, seek, and knock continually as we seek to ascend in our relationship to Him (Matt. 7:7).
There is another learning opportunity in this parashah. Just as with Pharaoh and the Egyptians , 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- that is if one’s prayers are answered. We must acknowledge as humans we are located on the forest floor; we cannot see the future as does G-d. People often remain resolute in their choice to follow G-d only if their prayers have a perceived favorable outcome. Even if one’s situation perceivably deteriorates, we must remain steadfast and not deviate from our new level of commitment. If we falter this easily, we can be sure we will be counted as the fig tree spoken of in Matt. 13:21. If however, we remain on the King’s highway no matter how much traffic there is all around us, we can be certain that G-d will execute His perfect will for our best (Rom. 8:28-38).
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 and that described many times eschatologically by Yahshua, the prophets, and the disciples. Those who are following the study of the prophets currently presented on Friday nights and on the website are learning the profound significance of the prophecies as they relate to the past AND to the future of our world.
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. 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. It would seem that the prophecies of Obadiah specifically address this probability.
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 is in fact defined as true believers. 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, but with 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.
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, but it does express G-d’s sovereign right to create Pharaoh for His purpose. May we submit to G-d’s just and merciful hands as the clay allows the potter to form a perfect vessel.
Rabbi Tamah Davis