3. SHABBAT READINGS & COMMENTARY

Friday, February 03, 2006 | 
Bo (Come): Exodus 10:1–13:16; Jeremiah 46:13-28

In our weekly portion (parasha) “Bo” we read about the last three plagues and the Exodus from Egypt. So much has already been destroyed in glorious Egypt. In the eighth plague, the locusts ate everything that was left on the fields after the heavy hail. The powerful economy of Egypt that was built in the days of Joseph collapsed. Now Pharaoh’s servants begged Pharaoh to let the children of Israel finally go.

“How long will this man (Moses) be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?" (10:7) They understood, but Pharaoh and “hardened his heart” did not – again, a struggle over power between YHWH, the true God, and Pharaoh the Worldly God.

Every plague ended with Pharaoh hardening his heart or, as we read, “God hardened his heart.” God gave a time of rest between plagues causing Pharaoh to harden his heart – but that’s also with us the same, when we experience good times without trials, we too distance ourselves from God!

One clear reason we find in the beginning of chapter 10 for God hardening Pharaoh’s heart: “… that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the LORD."

Some will say, that’s not fair: God first hardens someone’s heart and then punishes him for it? Romans 9 clarifies: “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” (Verse 18) In those decisions, it is better if the man does not interfere– it’s a matter for the Boss!

Interesting point: Pharaoh was hard-hearted (in Hebrew keshej lev) and the people of Israel were described as stiff-necked (keshej oref) and are still today! A neck stiff with pride and a hardened heart of self – both needing to be broken by God. To be truthful follower of Christ.

That brings me to another point. We read of the repeated demand from Moses: “Let my people go, that they shall serve me!” ? That’s God’s call for every sinner! But is it not a paradox? He demands the release and freedom of the Hebrew slaves and yet he also calls for them to serve Him? In Hebrew, servant and slave are the same word “eved.” Meaning we will always be eved! The question is to whom - To Egypt, in bondage of sin, or to the almighty God?

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other… You cannot serve God and wealth.” ? (Matthew 6:24) Therefore we need to come with a broken heart and contrite spirit – like David writes in Psalm 51 – to the seat of Mercy!

When Pharaoh threatens Moses with death, Pharaoh seals his own fate (10:28). God turns from Pharaoh. The last plague was the most difficult one. Over night death came to the firstborn. And again we read, He protects His people: “… that you may understand how the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” (11:7, also in 9:4, 6) That is how God handles His own. That’s our comfort! In Chapter 12 we read about the salvation remedy, pure and innocent blood of a “faultless” lamb that was scarified before the salvation and put on the posts of the Hebrew houses. This is a clear indication of the “sinless” Lamb of God, whose blood is on the posts of our hearts today. That’s our Exodus and salvation today!

We read about the first Biblical feast on the first month of the year, called Pessach or Passover. Till today the Jews, and also the Messianic Jews Christ-oriented, celebrate on the 14th day of Nissan Passover seven days with unleavened bread as a symbol of rush of God’s intervene at the Exodus!

So 600.000 men, not counting women and children, left Egypt. Abraham’s prophecy of a “great nation” was fulfilled, but also the prophecy of the Prophet Jeremiah in chapter 23: “Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "when they will no longer say, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then they will live on their own soil." (23:7-8)

These are the same words of comfort we find in our portion in the prophets, in Jeremiah 46:27-28.

- Michael Schneider -

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