Parashat Va’eira (And I Appeared)
Shemot (Exodus) 6:2–9:35
Haftarah: Ezekiel 28:25–29:21
I spent a lot of time this week in prayer seeking God's wisdom before writing this blog entry. Our weekly Scripture portions — the Parasha & Haftarah — hold great pearls of wisdom for us in these challenging times. They remind us where our eyes ought to be fixed and who God truly is. I think we could all benefit from being reminded of the importance of having a godly perspective of all things, especially in these days.
Last week’s Parasha ended with a statement that God made to Moses:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.” Exodus 6:1
Pharaoh was an incredibly powerful man; he was the ruler of the mightiest empire of that time and was considered by many as a god. Pharaoh’s arrogance prevented him from acknowledging the true God, which we see evidenced by the way he mocks the God of Israel in Exodus 5:2:
But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.”
Yet, Pharaoh was still not as powerful as the God of Israel! This account reminds us to keep our eyes on God and not on people, regardless of how powerful they may be. Often, we take our eyes off God and put them on our leaders, forgetting that all too often, power breeds pride and sadly, even the most humble leader can become a replacement to God. We need to refocus our gaze on the One who is more powerful than any person, and who can truly do all things.
Pharaoh’s questioning of God’s authority and power — like many people do today — leads me to our Parasha for this week. Our Parasha opens with a powerful reminder of who God is, of His everlasting faithfulness, and His power and might:
God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them. I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as strangers. Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the labors of the Egyptians, and I will rescue you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments. Then I will take you as My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the labors of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession; I am the LORD.’”
God sends Moses to tell the people of Israel that He is faithful, remembers His covenant, hears their cries, and knows what they are going through. He also promises that He will be the One to deliver and redeem them from slavery in Egypt in order to be His people, and to lead them to the Land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as an inheritance.
It’s easy for us to judge the children of Israel’s disbelief of Moses’ message to them in Exodus 6:9:
So Moses said this to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.
Yet, in a very similar way, many people around the world today reject the good news of redemption because of their great difficulties in life; they are slaves to sin and their hardships block them from receiving the gift of freedom in Messiah.
But the difficulty to receive God’s encouragement and hope isn’t limited to non-believers. In fact, many of us who know and follow the One and only true God have allowed the reality of the hardships (Covid-19, politics, the economy, etc.) to take our eyes off God and His call for our lives. By doing so, we unintentionally conform to the pattern of the world rather than doing the opposite as Scripture tells us:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
This point connects me to our Haftarah portion where we find God’s judgment over Egypt. Egypt had been a type of refuge for Israel’s forefathers, and even for Yeshua’s family when He was a young child escaping Herod. It was a place where the children of Israel ran to in times of trouble and sought refuge and comfort. Only that in the Book of Ezekiel, we find judgment promised to Egypt, specifically judgment on the areas that were the source of life in Egypt, such as the Nile river.
The prophet Ezekiel refers to the comfort that Egypt provided to Israel as a “staff made of reed":
Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the Lord, because they have been only a staff made of reed to the house of Israel.
The “staff made of reed” is something that can be easily broken. This means that the thing on which Israel leaned could easily be broken because it was not God Himself that provided the comfort for Israel. Egypt, with all of its greatness, will become “a lowly kingdom” (Ezekiel 29:14). God will not come second to anyone! Just as with Israel, this is true for us followers of Messiah today. God alone is to be the source of hope and comfort for Israel and the nations.
In closing, I want to raise a challenging question for each of us: Where do you find your hope? Do you look to the Redeemer for comfort and rest? Or do you put your trust in people, kingdoms, leaders, and money? Only God can truly satisfy the longing we each have for hope, comfort, and peace.
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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