Parashat Va’eira (And I Appeared)
Shemot (Exodus) 6:2–9:35
Haftarah: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
God’s Word always reminds me of the hope that I have in Him. This week’s Parashah is one that both encourages me and helps me understand Israel’s current reality, as well as the difficulty the children of Israel had in accepting God’s message to them:
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.’” So Moses said this to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.”
Knowing that God heard our suffering and, in His faithfulness, promised to deliver us from bondage to the Egyptians gives me hope for today and for the future. This hope is not only for me personally, but also for my children and all of Israel. I am also encouraged when I think of God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which includes the Land of Canaan that God gave to Israel; this is His land and Israel today is defending our inheritance. We are not “occupiers” of a land since it belongs to us.
We are now three months into a devastating war that started with an horrific and demonic attack that took the lives of our babies, children, men, women and elderly. This war has personally affected almost every household in Israel; there are an estimated 25,000 newly disabled army veterans whose lives have been forever changed. And Israel now faces a front in the north with Hezbollah and with Iran that could develop into an even bigger war, which would be even more devastating for Israel. Considering this amount of suffering, I can understand why the children of Israel “did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.”
It is very easy for us to judge the children of Israel. Yet, when you are faced with intense hardship and suffering, it can be hard to believe that there is a faithful God who remembers His promises.
In the Haftarah portion, we read once again of God’s everlasting faithfulness and the fact that the covenant which he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is still in effect today:
This is what the Lord GOD says: “When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and show Myself holy among them in the sight of the nations, then they will live on their land which I gave to My servant Jacob. They will live on it securely; and they will build houses, plant vineyards, and live securely when I execute judgments upon all around them who despise them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.”
It is interesting to note a few things in these two verses. The first is that it is written that “…all around them who despise them.” It is nothing new or surprising that Israel is surrounded by those who hate us. This hatred is also spreading quickly throughout the world. The second notable thing in the above verses is the promise that Israel will live in the land securely. Today, for those of us living in the land of Israel, our security has been threatened. As I write this commentary, it is my prayer and hope that we will see God execute judgment upon all who are around us so that the world will know once again that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one and only true God.
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