Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parasha #15: Bo (Go) Sh’mot (Exodus) 10:1-13:16
Haftarah: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 46:13-28
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 16:1-21
The timing of this parashah could not be more appropriate as we continue negotiating the current pandemic. As we read, we can see that nothing has changed in secular society. People continually harden their hearts towards G-d and his people. The mercy and longsuffering G-d has for mankind is demonstrated through the series of plagues and judgments the Egyptians are given, even to Pharaoh and their gods. Killing the firstborn of man and flocks includes killing key symbols of divinity in Egypt including the bulls of Apis and the cows of Hathor. The Nile is even contaminated which is the lifeblood of the Egyptians. G-d’s patience has limits that He chooses. When His grace finally runs its course, He repays measure for measure. Even so, the wicked do not repent, even on the threshold of destruction. This is evidenced in the B’rit Chadashah in Revelation chapter 16, first in verse 8: “The fourth one (angel) poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn the people with fire. People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of G-d, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory.” Verse 10 continues: “The fifth one poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom grew dark. People gnawed on their tongues from the pain, yet they cursed the G-d of heaven because of their pains and sores and did not turn from their sinful deeds.” Verse 17 provides another example of the hard-heartedness of those who choose to follow their own way: “ … and huge seventy-pound hailstones fell on people from the sky. But the people cursed G-d for the plague of hail, that it was such a terrible plague.”
It is not difficult to see the parallel between our parashah and today’s events. Record temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of earthquakes, storms, rising tides, wars, rumours of wars, and unprecedented lawlessness and abominations against G-d.
G-d works for his people through those who do not love Him in ways that man could never accomplish. In our parashah, G-d tells Moshe to tell the men and women to ask their neighbors for silver and gold jewelry. This would typically never happen as the Egyptians would not give up such valuables to the Israelites. But “Adonai has made the Egyptians favourably disposed toward the people” (Sh’mot 11:3). Just as G-d intervened for his people then, he has done throughout history and will intervene again as His judgement and righteousness is revealed according to Matthew 24, as just one example.
Much to the chagrin of those who do not choose to follow the G-d of Israel, we read of a truth that antinomians deny; that G-d makes a distinction between his own and those who remain hard-hearted/stiff-necked against His Torah. Sh’mot 11: 4-7 reads “ Moshe said, “ Here is what Adonai says: ‘About midnight I will go out into Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the slave-girl at the hand mill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. There will be a horrendous wailing throughout the land of Egypt-there has never been another like it, and there will never e again. But not even a dog’s growl will be heard against any of the people of Israel, neither against people nor against animals. In this way you will realize that Adonai distinguishes between Egyptians and Israel.”
We must clarify who G-d is talking about through Moshe. Egypt represents the secular, anti-G-d world and Israel represents all true believers defined by the Seven-fold witness in Revelation, Romans 2-3, and John 14 in the B’rit Chadashah. In the Tanakh, true believers are distinguished in passages such as the preceding one. It is not that all Egyptians are antinomians. In our last parashah in Sh’mot 9:20 we read of an example of some Egyptians who took heed to what G-d said: “ Whoever among Pharaoh’s servants feared what Adonai had said had his slaves and livestock escape into the houses; but those who had no regard for what Adonai had said left their slaves and livestock in the field.” Those who did not listen to Adonai and remained outside died form the hail; humans and animals alike) Sh’mot 9:19). These examples among many others in the Bible contradict the humanistic mantra that “we are all in this together.” G-d knows his own and provides for his people no matter where they are and even amid his judgements and plagues. Again, we must be exposed to the world so we can shine our light; the light of our Messiah before the world. Our task in not to assimilate, moan, and wail as we witness the results of mans rebellion against G-d and his instructions as He forewarned in Deuteronomy 28:58-61. Rather, we are to seek the whole peace of G-d, his strength and wisdom from above so that we may glorify Him in all we do. This is our reasonable task and we must keep this at the forefront of our minds just as the Israelites did when they were given instructions concerning the Passover lamb, how to prepare and eat it; and how they were to smear the blood on the two sides and top of the door-frame and remain in their homes that night as Adonai passed over them and struck down the Egyptians. G-d’s instructions were clear then and they are clear now; unchanged and not abrogated as many Christian clergy would have people believe.
Finally, Sh’mot 12:43-49 provide an early illustration of Ezekiel’s prophecy in Ezekiel chapter 37: 15-38 describing how those who accept the Torah/Instructions of G-d and reconcile themselves through Yahshua (G-d Saves) will be grafted in to one stick; Ephraim Israel and Judah Israel as one nation before G-d. Note the scripture says that these believers (Israelites) will never again defile themselves with their idols, detestable things, or transgressions. They will be cleansed and “My servant David (in the future Yahshua) will be king over them, and all of them will have one shepherd; they will live by my rulings and keep and observe my regulations” (Ezekiel 37:23-4). We can never be an all- inclusive, tolerant society if we are to be a holy people for G-d. we must choose one road or the other; the King’s Highway or the road that is broad that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13).
Haftarah: Jeremiah 46:13-28
Our Parashah is complimented by prophecy describing another defeat for Egypt that will take place eight centuries later. While Egypt was competing for world domination, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia would totally defeat them. Jeremiah described Egypt’s hopelessness against Babylon, after making clear the reason for Egypt’s defeat was a result of their haughtiness and rejection of G-d’s dominion. This haftarah ends with the good news that Jacob (Israel) need not fear. Although Jacob will be punished for past transgressions (and that is why the name Jacob is used instead of Israel), his enemies will be destroyed. Jacob will survive and become stronger than ever. However, their survival is dependent on service of G-d. This is no different that our salvation once we are reconciled to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice (See Rom. 3:25; 2Pet. 1:9). When we strive to follow G-d’s Torah out of love and obedience, we have His assurance that we will emerge triumphantly in the end.
B’rit Chadashah: Revelation 16:1-21
1 The seven bowls of G-d’s fury spoken of in Chap. 15:1,7-8, contain the third set of seven judgments in this book, the others being the seal judgments, and the shofar judgments. The bowl judgments are poured out in this chapter.
2 Similar to the Anthrax plague that affected only the Egyptians in Ex. 9:8-11, these sores appear only on unbelievers (the people who take the mark of the beast and worship its image). Verse 11 speaks of arrogance equal to that of Pharaoh. Despite the pain of the sores, these people remain hardened. They never turn from their sins to glorify G-d (v. 9) but curse him to the end (v.21). They exercise their free will and G-d allows it!
5 O HaKadosh used in this verse is a term applied to Yahshua as Messiah
as evidenced by Acts 2:27, 13:35, quoting Psalm 16:10
9-10This is the B’rit Chadasha’s most cogent description of the usual behaviour pattern of those who totally harden their hearts toward G-d as did Pharaoh. They curse the Name of G-d instead of turning from their sins and giving Him glory. This is in direct rebellion to His stated purpose for humankind; to glorify Him so the nations will know He is Adonai. Being antinomians, anti-Torah, and materialistic, they remain unrepentant.
12-16 The sixth bowl dries up the Euphrates so that the kings from the east can cross over to attack. The unclean spirits looked like frogs but are
miracle-working demonic spirits who go out to the kingdoms of the world to assemble them for the final battle at Armageddon. Yahshua
inserts a reminder that He is coming like a thief in the night, and that we must remain steadfast in Torah even then.
17-21 The seventh bowl reveals flashes of lightning, thunder, and the greatest earthquake known to man. The Great Babylon is made to drink the cup of G-d’s fury. Every island and mountain disappear. Seventy-pound hailstones fall on the people, yet they still curse Him (Always somebody else’s fault!). Note the statement that “great city was split into three parts” refers to Jerusalem! (Jeremiah Chapter 25). There is a debate about whether this applies to Bavel and/or Jerusalem. However,
after reading the text closely and looking at the sentence structure, I believe this scripture is speaking of judgment on Jerusalem
and it is split into three parts. Regardless, we will be held accountable for our sins; either in the form of temporal punishment, or the loss of rewards in the world to come, just as were the Egyptians, Pharaoh, and those Israelites who rebelled against Adonai in the desert.
It is no accident that in this parashah, the section that deals with the culminating plagues and the Exodus should turn three times to the subject of children and the duty of parents to educate them. As Jews, we believe that to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education. Freedom is lost when it is taken for granted. Unless parents (or clergy who properly teach G-d’s Torah) hand down their education and experiences to the next generation, the story of freedom and how to handle adversity is lost. What is fascinating in G-d’s Torah is the way it emphasizes the fact that the children must ask questions. This is mentioned in Ex. 12:26-27; Ex. 13:14). It is the duty of parents and teachers to encourage children/students to ask questions. It is of little value to attend a class of any kind unprepared. The information will not be retained. It is a religious obligation to teach children/students to ask questions and explore their innate sense of wonder. This is how they and we grow (See Deut. 6:4-11).
Judaism is not a religion of blind obedience. Written into the very structure of Hebraic consciousness is the idea that our highest duty is to seek to understand the will of G-d, not just to obey it blindly because we believe that intelligence is one of G-d’s greatest gifts to humanity. Our Torah walk is on the steps of prayerful understanding and discernment that improves as we study, pray, learn, and obey. This should be our credo.
Just as the children of Israel were preparing to leave Egypt and begin their walk with G-d, Moshe tells the people to hand down this memory to their children as commanded by G-d through the mandate of celebrating Pesach. Indeed, during the Seder, the youngest child who can read asks questions. Once the truth has been shown, it must be internalized and acted upon. Children/students/congregants should not ask the same question repeatedly, for this simply demonstrates a lack of attention to the answer and a desire to aggrandize oneself in front of others. It accomplishes quite the opposite!
Another important point for parents and teachers to emphasize is that not all questions have immediate answers. Some require age and experience. Others take years of intellectual preparation. Still others cannot be answered at this stage in G-d’s timetable.
Although we may not know what we do not know, if we remain diligent in our walk toward YHVH/Yahshua, He will teach us everything we need to know for the purpose He has for our life at the perfect time.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart