Torah Portion B’Shallach (He Sent) Sh’mot (Exodus) 13-17
Haftorah Reading Judges 4:4-5:31
This week’s Torah portion begins with Pharaoh sending out the people of Israel and their beginning of the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. During this trek we also see their journey from slavery to freedom. In this portion we begin to see that both of these journeys will be a process, not an immediate transition.
The evolution of the people from slaves to free men began with G-d’s miracle of splitting the Reed Sea. He brought them through the sea to dry land and drowned the army of Pharaoh as they pursued the Israelites. Tell me, what picture does this give you in connection to your spiritual life, your salvation process? Can you see your story here? I think we all can see G-d’s hand in our own victory over spiritual death. G-d, by His grace, brought us through the water and so began our trek of becoming His people, free from the spiritual slavery of the past.
I want us to look at the start of this process here in our portion today and find lessons that should help us along our own personal journey. I think all of us have gone through those times when we have been discouraged or even feel G-d has left us. Obstacles arise in our life such as health, finances, family problems, etc. that can hold us prisoner and prevent us in our quest to become all G-d wants for us. The issue is what do we do when we come to these places? Here today in our story we see what can happen. We read that after just a three day journey into the desert the people complained about a lack of water. In Exodus 15:22-25 we read about their complaints. Further in Exodus 16:1-3 we read where, a month and a half after the splitting of the see they were even more vocal about the lack of food. They were wishing they could return to Egypt where there was plenty to eat. They even accused Moshe, and by extension, G-d of bringing them out into the desert just to kill them.
What we see here, at least partly, is that G-d’s desire is for us to move on in our lives. Even something as spectacular as the miracle at the sea did not sustain them in their walk through the desert. In all of our lives we enter the desert somewhere along life’s way. It might be for a short visit or maybe longer. It is then that our faith is tested. It is then we find ourselves alone with G-d and the miracles of yesterday have faded a bit in our memory and we must draw on something deeper than memory. We must be able to stand even in the face of whatever G-d allows in our lives. We do this by growing each day spiritually. We do it by coming to understand that what is important, what keeps us going, is to grasp the truth that we are to live in and through what G-d wants, what His will is for us. If we are looking for a physical or worldly reward for obedience we will be disappointed. G-d might be saying your reward is to be what I want, your relationship with Me is your reward. This kind of relationship can’t be broken by a lack of anything. Our question must always be, “What does G-d want?” Then we devote ourselves toward doing, living and being what He desires. We see that clearly in the Messianic Writings where Yeshua prayed to the Father that G-d would take this cup from Him. Then He said in Luke 22:42, “Not my will but Yours be done.” This must be our goal in our spiritual walk with G-d, His will be done. His will should be our goal in our life.
That is what we see here in this story of the beginning of the trek through the wilderness. These people had been slaves of Pharaoh for hundreds of years. In some strange way they had become settled in that they had no decisions to make, they only did what they were told to do. Their lives were preprogrammed to depend on Pharaoh for everything. Suddenly they were freed physically from that life but found they did not have a clue as to how to live in their new state of freedom. Food and water were their first big problems. G-d started with them there, the basics for life, and began to retrain them in how to live as His people.
This is how it is with us. We came out of the Egypt of sin and entered another realm. We needed time and help to learn how we were to live this new life. There were new rules to live by. This knowledge did not come automatically. Love your neighbor as yourself is one of those rules. We come from a world that has told us to look out for number one. That is what is important. It takes time to unlearn the past, and so it was here with these people. As G-d’s people everyday should see us progressing to that higher calling, to become true children of the King. My prayer for us is that we are consumed with doing the will of our Father each day.