Torah Portion: B’Shallach Sh’mot (Exodus) 13:17-17:16
HafTorah: Judges 4:4-5:31
I want us to look mainly at the Exodus and see what we can learn that might give us insight into our own lives spiritually. I want to start by looking at the last question I sent you this week. In Sh’mot 13:17, in Hebrew, it is written that Pharaoh sent the people out, in Sh’mot 14:5 he is told that the people have fled and finally in Sh’mot 14:8 it says the people went out with an up raised arm. So which is true?
The answer lies in the fact that Torah is speaking of two Exoduses – one is physical and one is spiritual. Two different events but related. Physically the Jews indeed left on their own with up raised arms but spiritually it was another story. That Exodus could be likened to a divorce, messy and involved.
For Israel, to leave Egypt, it was like jumping off a cliff. They left Egypt where life was not wonderful but was secure and predictable. To go out into a desert where there was no food, water or shelter was scary. People who had been slaves for hundreds of years now had to rely on a G-d they could not see or feel for everything.
Think how this must have been, to abandon your entire sense of security, to lose the predictability of life and place yourself entirely in the hands of G-d. To put it in our world, consider living for 40 years with no savings, no house, no new clothes, no business, no job, not even food for the coming day, no physical way to meet your human need for security or that of your family. You would have zero control.
Which brings me to Exodus 16:4 (So I may test them) what was G-d’s test here? Would they learn to rely on Him or not?
Now Pharaoh knew his Jews. He knew that for sure G-d could physically take them out of Egypt but could they really, on an emotional level, leave Egypt. Where would they go? What would they do? The desert was a desolate place. He sent them out because he believed they would surely return. Exodus 14:10-12
Pharaoh still believed despite G-d’s power, they still remained his people. We see sometime this played out in our own life or people we might know. This life of faith is too difficult. It is much easier to return to what we have known and where we seem to be in control, where life is predictable. But here Pharaoh miscalculated. G-d split the sea. Remember back in Exodus 3:18 where G-d is speaking to Moses it says “The L-rd G-d of the Hebrews happened upon us.” The word in Hebrew actually means someone who has crossed over to the other side. The New Testament, in II Cor. 5:17, calls it becoming a new creation. This was about to happen to these people as they crossed over the sea. For here G-d held them in His hand and brought them through the water while Pharaoh and his army perished. They did not just witness a miracle, they lived inside of that miracle. We, when we came to the L-rd through Yeshua lived inside that miracle of changed life, changed desires and priorities. It does not mean the old ways do not try to get back in but we are different and now our life, like theirs is changed. Our connection to G-d is direct. We can talk to Him. He talks back. Slowly we let Him control our live. Sometimes this is harder than in others but our goal is to become more and more a child who looks to its Father for everything where we don’t worry about health, money, job or house for He knows better than we.
As long as we struggle to remain with the false security of the natural world, no matter how much we pray or do good things we can never eat the manna. We will never fully experience life in the palm of G-d’s hand.