Rabbi Cliff Maynard
Torah Reading for Week of Jan 5-11, 2014 – Shevat 4-10, 5774
Brit Chadashah – Romans 1:16-32
Shabbat Shalom everyone! This weeks parsha for is Beshalach (when he sent away) . This parsha has so much more for us to learn from than just the usual, normal rendering we are used to reading. It is my intent for you to stop and think about what you are reading in this parsha. There are some very deep meanings that should and, I believe are intended to make us stop and see very distinct parallels to the body of messiah, as well as our personal lives in relation to our walk with G-d. I would be excited to hear back from you as to your thoughts on the subject matter and, the questions and answers you discovered as you navigate through this parsha. So, lets begin!
In the parsha this week we have the Jewish Exodus from the land of Egypt. Foremost in this parsha, the Jews go through Yam Suf (the “Red Sea” or “Sea of Reeds”) G-d splits the sea in front of them, they come out on dry land on the other side. The Egyptians don’t come out quite so well; they are swallowed up by the waves of the Red Sea as it engulfs them, drowning them, as they pursue G-d’s Chosen people. The Jews are finally free from Egypt! What a beginning for this parsha! The Torah continues to tell us what happened between the time the Jews left Egypt and the forty-nine days in-between the Exodus and the receiving of the Torah, which will happen in next week’s Torah portion.
WHERE ARE YOU G-D?
The Torah tells us a few different things that occurred and, we need to examine these things and try to understand why exactly did they occur at this point. What exactly do they represent and how are they the preparation for the receiving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The first thing the Torah tells us is that on the 15th day of Iyar, which is exactly one month after the Jews left Egypt, all of their food was used up. No bread, dough, no grain, no meat, nothing left to eat! We read that they came to Moshe and complained about the situation. To quote my ancestors from Exodus 16:2-3 “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the L-RD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
According to the sages (great rabbis of old) the actual point being made in the midrash, that they were referring to, is that they wished they would have died in the 9th plague, the plague of darkness. It is also interesting to note that the Sages tell us that 4/5 (do the math on that one!) of the Jewish people actually died during the plague of darkness. Those 4/5 were so immersed in the ways of the Egyptians culture, that they didn’t want to leave and, died in the plague of darkness. At this point of the Exodus, one month later, those who did leave, were actually saying they wished they would have died rather than be starving to death a month later in the wilderness!
This brings up some very interesting questions. Why did they refer to the plague of darkness? What did they mean by that? We should also pay attention to the fact that it is exactly one month after the Exodus. G-d has been providing for them, helping them, protecting them. What is going on? Why all of a sudden do they loose their faith and, start complaining to Moshe. After they complain, HaShem creates a miracle for them and provides their needs! This brings up two very important questions:
1. Why are they complaining and not trusting in Adonai?
2. Why did Adonai wait till they complained and had nothing before he provided for them?
WHAT ELSE CAN GO WRONG?
As we read forward, before they get to Mt. Sinai, we find our brethren at another crisis. It is important to note that it is still the month of Iyar and, that within a short amount of time they run out of water. This time they take their complaining to a new level as we read in Exodus 17:1-7…
“1 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the L-RD, and camped in Refidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.”
So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the L-RD?”
3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”
5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the L-RD, saying, “Is the L-RD among us or not?”
Are you noticing a patern here? Once again they complain. Once again G-d waits till they complain and meets their need by commanding Moshe to strike the rock for water. On the surface this appears a little puzzling? Hold on, we will get to the bottom of all this very shortly.
TAKE NOTE OF THE LOCATION
The Torah takes the time to make sure we know where this is taking place. It is at a place called Refidim. Could it be the Torah is offering up a clue for this event and the one to follow?
· Why did G-d wait till they complained before He gave them water?
· Why did they question if G-d was with them?
· Clearly it seemed that if they are dying of thirst that maybe G-d was not with them, or was he?
OK, TIME FOR SOME ANSWERS!
· Refidim means “weakness”
· It was a place that the Jewish people tested G-d! How?
· By questioning whether or not G-d was with them, in doing so it revealed a problem in their walk with HaShem. Sound familiar? Havent we done the same thing? How many times do we complain instead of worshiping G-d for what He has provided? Did you notice they complained when the water and food ran out, instead of giving thanks while the had it. They complained and tested G-d instead of worshiping Him and asking Him to provide more with a grateful heart. This “weakness” of an ungrateful heart leads to immorality.
Romans Chapter 1:16-32 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Messiah, for it is the power of G-d to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of G-d is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
18 For the wrath of G-d is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of G-d is manifest in them, for G-d has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and G-dhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew G-d, they did not glorify Him as G-d, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible G-d into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore G-d also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of G-d for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason G-d gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain G-d in their knowledge, G-d gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of G-d, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of G-d, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
SO WHY THE MONTH OF IYAR?
· Why is all of this stuff happening to them in the month of Iyar?
· What is the significance of the month of Iyar?
· Iyar means “Darkness or Covering up”
· The sages seem to think that this represents the times in our life when G-d seems to be silent. The times that cause us to seek His face at a great degree to find Him. That in turn draws us closer to Him.
· I believe it also is the way G-d has of showing us the stuff in our lives that needs to be uncovered. The way He uses to get the hidden junk in our spiritual closets that keep us from intimacy with Him. When we complain, and finally cry out to Adonai in desperation, He always comes through because He loves us. Yet, He wants us to learn from our mistakes and go deeper in Him. I am amazed sometimes at the stuff I could have avoided, if I would just take the time to thank Him, Trust Him and Obey Him. Hang with me! There is more explanation to come and, some eye opening information from the Word that will help bring light to this parsha.
OY VEY! NOW THEY ARE ATTACKED BY AMALEK! WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? EXODUS 17:8-16
“8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of G-d in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so 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 the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 Then the L-RD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-L-RD-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, “Because the L-RD has sworn: the L-RD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
· Why is it that this war also happened at Refidim?
The people of Amalek were the descendents of Esau. They were known as people that questioned the existence of G-d. They had chosen the things of the flesh of this world over the spiritual things of the world to come. This was a “weakness” of Esau.
· Why is it that whenever Moshe’s hands were raised the Jewish people succeeded?
· Why was it that whenever Moshe’s hands were lowered they suffered defeat?
Whenever they focused on the war, they lost sight of Who was in control. When they focused on Moshe’s hands raised in praise, they focused their eyes on the G-d they served and it built their TRUST (faith). Now, if that wont minister to you, nothing will!
MOSHE BUILDS AN ALTAR- SOME DEFINITIONS
· ADONAI NISSI – THE L-RD IS MY BANNER OVER SEXUAL IMMORALITY (SEE ROMANS 1:16-32 ABOVE)
· ADONAI NISSI – THE G-D WHO TESTS ME
· ADONAI NISSI – THE G-D WHO LIFTS ME UP
It is important to note here that testing and lifting is the same concept, as a test is something that lifts up from one level to another. That will bring us to the last couple of question that needs to be answered and, a few closing remarks.
· Why did 4/5 of the Jewish people die in the 9th plague of darkness?
The sages believe it was the removal of the last outer layers of he Jewish people who as I mentioned earlier, loved the world more than the things of G-d. Does that ring familiar? The body of Messiah today is so polluted with the world. Messiah Yeshua is returning for a Bride that is without spot and wrinkle. How many will be left behind in the “plague of darkness” because they will not be willing to give up the evil they have come to know and love? Are we who call ourselves leaders in the body in some manner or another fulfilling our calling and teaching the “Truth” of the Word? If not, we had better rectify the problem quickly.
· What is the significance that all of the events in this parsha happened between the leaving of Egypt and the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai?
I believe the significance comes down to the counting of the Omer. What Jewish people do for 49 days between Passover and Sha’vout (Feast of Pentecost). It was the cleaning up if you will, of the Nation of Israel that left Egypt as slaves and arrived as the Priests and Kings, a Holy Nation that would carry the Light of Torah and, be the progenitors of the Messiah for the world.
Now for some closing remarks on the body of this parsha. Time is a layer that relates to the month of Iyar. It hides the deeper meanings of the Word revealed for these Last Days before the return of Yeshua. There are also times in our lives that we all feel a distance from G-d. Beshalach serves to remind us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He continually works on us to form us into chosen the men and women of His, that we are designed by Him to be. I have often told my students, G-d is the Hammer, adversity is the chisel, and we are the diamond in the rough. We must strive to find G-d and serve G-d even in the hard times. Adonai has made a way for us through Yeshua the Messiah. May we seek Him first, praise Him while we do, and give Glory to His name as we walk through this wilderness towards the Promised Land.
Rabbi Cliff Maynard
Rock Of Israel Congregation
National Jewish Fellowship of the AG