From: Messianic Bible
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2012 2:06 PM
Subject: Shabbat Shalom Bjoern, when quitting isn’t an option-This week’s Torah Portion is Beshalach (when let go)
The Waters Are Divided, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot
Shabbat Shalom Bjoern,
Welcome to this week’s Parsha (Torah Portion) which is called Beshalach
(when let go).
This is the portion of Torah that will be read in synagogues around the world
during this week’s Shabbat (Saturday) service. We know you will be
blessed as you read along today. Enjoy!
BESHALACH (When Let Go)
Exodus 13:17–17:16; Judges 4:4–5:31; John 6:15–71
Parsha Beshalach is the continuation of the story of Israel’s miraculous
exodus from Egypt. Last week we ended with the final plague—the death
of the first born. Pharaoh’s resistance to releasing the Israelites was so
shattered that he drove them out of Egypt.
The Israelites left Egypt in such haste that they didn’t have time to put
yeast (chametz) in the dough, so they baked unleavened bread (matzah).
The Ma Nishtana (מה נשתנה), called the Four Questions in English, literally
means ‘what has changed‘. As can be seen in this Passover Haggadah,
the four questions, which are traditionally asked by the youngest person
at the Passover table who is able to do so, revolve around the obligation
to tell the Passover story to one’s children.
In anticipation of their journey to the Promised Land, they were instructed
by God to eat the Passover meal in haste, with their sandals on and their
Facing Pharaoh’s Army at the Red Sea
“They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that
you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing
us out of Egypt?’” (Exodus 14:11)
The Exodus is the cornerstone of the nation of Israel: the commandments,
the promises, the essence of Judaism, all began with this departure from Egypt.
Orthodox Jewish men reading from the Torah
The Exodus broke the power of Egypt and devastated it. Egypt never
regained its status as the great nation it had been.
But that didn’t happen just because of the plagues or because Pharaoh let
the Israelites go.
No, the final blow came to Egypt when Pharaoh reconsidered letting God’s
people go free and sent out his army to chase after them with the intention
of bringing them back into slavery.
Imagine how the Israelites panicked when they saw Pharaoh’s army coming
after them. Scripture makes it clear that despite all the mighty acts that
God had performed to save them from Egypt, in the face of Pharaoh’s
army, they were fearful.
Either the Israelites didn’t really believe in God’s omnipotence, or they
didn’t believe that He would use it on their behalf.
They had just finished praising God for how He had delivered them from
Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. But when faced with
this first real challenge, they fell into doubt, fear, and unbelief.
There in that moment, they interpreted what was happening with a victim
mentality and not with the mindset of a victorious people. They thought they
were going to die and blamed Moses.
Pharaoh’s Army Engulfed by the Red Sea, by Frederick Arthur Bridgman
From Victim to Victorious
Rabbinical commentary proposes an explanation for the Israelites’ fear
when they saw the Egyptian army approaching.
While such a great multitude of people had a chance of defeating this army,
because of years and years of servitude to the Egyptians, they were
depressed and lacked confidence.
Generations had learned to patiently endure all the oppression and insults the
Egyptians inflicted upon them and they did not have enough time to make
the mental adjustment from victim to victorious.
To them, it seemed like a no-win situation.
If they moved towards the sea, they would drown, and if they didn’t,
they’d die at the hand of the Egyptians.
The Red Sea
What was left but to pray? But when Moses called out to God, the
“Why are you crying out to Me? Speak to the Israelites and tell them to
start moving…” (Exodus 14:15)
The Israelites had to make the first move: Moses had to raise his staff and
stretch out his hand to part the sea, and the Israelites had to step between
those terrifying walls of water.
There’s a time to cry out to the Lord, a time to intercede and pray, and
there’s also a time to just move forward in faith – Kadima! (Forward!)
The crossing of the Red Sea was a turning point in Israel’s relationship
with God. Up until this point, the miracles were entirely orchestrated by God.
What transpired at the Red Sea required the Israelites, for the first
time, to become directly involved in their fate. If they didn’t move,
tragedy was inevitable.
Israel’s Escape from Egypt, Bible card illustration, 1907
Moving Forward in Faith
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in
the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7)
When we spend years of our lives in servitude to the kingdom of darkness,
we learn to live in fear and expect the worst.
As the people of God, we must become confident enough to step out in
faith, trusting God to lead, guide, and direct our footsteps.
While celebrating the Passover, or reading the account of the Exodus, we
are to consider that God delivered each one of us, personally out of bondage.
That way, instead of distancing ourselves from the unbelief of Israel, we can
examine the fears and doubts in our own heart.
Passover at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem
Just as the Exodus was the starting point of Israel’s salvation, so is our
rescue from the kingdom of darkness just the beginning of our spiritual
journey. The enemy of our souls does not let go easily; he usually attempts
to draw us back into bondage.
Sometimes when our backs are up against the wall, as was the case with
Israel standing at the Red Sea – the water before them, Pharaoh and his
armies behind them, and the mountains all around them – we wonder,
“What should I do? What should I do?”
The best thing we can do, rather than panicking and getting all upset about
the situation is just believe that He will save us. After that we need to
enter into His rest, and wait on the Lord for further instructions.
We need to be still before Him, confident that we will see the salvation He
will bring, rather than fearing, doubting, and panicking.
If we remember that the Lord fights our battles for us; then we just need to
quiet our inner turmoil and trust in Him, hold our peace and refuse to spout
unbelief when we are pushed to our limits.
Torah scroll opened to The Song of the Sea (also
known as Az Yashir Moshe-The Song of Moses)
is a poem in Exodus 15.
Shabbat Shirah (Sabbath of Singing)
“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the
Lord, for He is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the
sea.” (Exodus 15:1)
This Shabbat has a special name—“Shabbat Shirah” (Sabbath of Singing)
—since the Song of Moses is read in the synagogue.
The Israelites sang this composition of Moses with great joy after they
passed safely through the Red Sea to the other side, but Pharaoh’s armies
could not pass through and were destroyed in the Sea.
Later, Shir Moshe (Song of Moses) was called Shir Miryam (Song of
Miriam) since she and the maidens went out with tambourines and they sang
and danced for joy.
The Songs of Joy, by James Tissot, at the Jewish Museum, New York
Singing praise to the Lord is one of the highest forms of spiritual warfare.
The Book of Revelations establishes a clear link between praise, warfare,
andShir Moshe (Song of Moses):
“Those defeating the beast, its image and the number of its name were
standing by the sea of glass, holding harps which God had given them. They
were singing the Song of Moshe, the servant of God, and the song of the
Lamb: Great and wonderful are the things you have done, Adonai, God of
heaven’s armies!” (Revelations 15:2-3)
When we experience adversity and yet believe that God can and will bring
us through to victory, we are transformed into overcomers who will inherit
the Kingdom of Heaven, here on earth.
An engraving of the Torah Scroll open to the Song
of Moses (Exodus 15). Notice that the layout of
this passage resembles bricks in a wall. The
alternating words are supposed to represent the
two walls of the split sea with Israel walking down
the middle, passing through to the other side.
Passing Through to the Other Side
“And the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is
fighting for them against Egypt.’” (Exodus 14: 25)
After the Israelites passed through the Red Sea safely, God hindered the
Egyptian army by removing their chariot wheels.
As the water returned to its natural state, Pharaoh and the Egyptians realized
they were fighting with the one true God, but it was too late.
The Egyptian army drowned in the sea, just as the Egyptians by Pharaoh’s
command had drowned the Hebrew baby boys in the Nile River.
We see here God’s standard put into practice: whatever the nations do to
Israel, God will return on their own heads, for good or for evil.
He will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.
The nations who are coming against Israel are fighting against the Lord, and
one day, they will also realize this.
Women praying at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem
The Coming Judgment of the Nations
“I will judge him with plague and with blood, I will cause torrential rain to
fall on him, his troops and the many peoples with him, along with huge
hailstones, fire and sulfur. I will show my greatness and holiness, making
myself known in the sight of many nations; then they will know that I am
Adonai.” (Ezekiel 38:22-23)
Scripture describes a last-days scenario that seems similar to the one in
which Israel found herself there by the Red Sea. But instead of one nation
coming against God’s people, all nations will try to overpower her.
When the nations come against Israel, it will look like a hopeless situation,
just as it seemed when the Israelites were trapped between the Egyptian
army, the mountains, and the Red Sea.
But just like back then, the Lord will supernaturally intervene to save Israel.
As God judged Egypt with plagues, God will judge the nations with plagues,
so that they will know that He is Adonai.
“For I will gather all the nations against Yerushalayim [Jerusalem] for war…
Then Adonai will go out and fight against those nations, fighting as on a day
of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives….
“Then Adonai will be king over the whole world. On that day Adonai will
be the only one, and his name will be the only name.” (Zechariah 14:2-9)
On this glorious day the whole world and the Jewish people around the
world and especially here in Israel will know that God has saved them and
they will believe in Him, and in His servant, the Branch, the shoot out of
Jesse, Yeshua King Messiah.
Shabbat Shalom and Shavua Tov (have a good week) from all our ministry staff.
“I will bless those that bless Israel.” (Genesis 12:3)
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