Weekly Torah Section: Bo (Come) Exodus 10:1-13:16, Jeremiah 46:13-28
Let’s start tonight by looking at Jeremiah and then spend some time on the Torah section. First, the Bible tells us that Jeremiah was commissioned as a prophet in the 13th year of King Josiah. This would be in the early half of the 600’s and apparently Jeremiah was young at the time (Jeremiah 1:6) He continued as a prophet for the next 40 years. This King Josiah is the same king we read about last week who died at the battle with the Egyptians at Megiddo. Jeremiah lived through the conquest of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar but unlike Ezekiel, was allowed to remain in Israel. Our section tonight deals with his words about Judah’s continued reliance on Egypt for protection. In fact, my first question deals with one of these verses: Jeremiah 46:17. King Jehoakim trusted in Egypt to deliver him from Babylon. How did that work out for him? It says in this verse that Egypt had no power but rather was just a big noise. Who is our Deliverer? G-d Almighty. All else is clashing cymbals – just noise compared to G-d. He ends in this section with words of comfort to Judah and Israel. They will return to G-d’s promise and rest in peace. We do not have to worry and tremble before the things of this world. G-d is our defender and shield.
The Torah section carries on this thought for us as the plagues reach their climax this week. This week we see the redemption of G-d’s people by His hand. Think of your own lives as we look at these verses tonight.
First before we talk about the plagues, G-d tells Israel to mark their calendar – to reckon time based on what has transpired. We would do well to follow this pattern. Remember when our lives changed. Remember what it would have been like had not this change occurred. G-d does this here by giving a new calendar to Israel. This first day of Nissan would be much more than just starting a new month. It would be the day of marking their lives as redeemed people. No longer slaves but free men! It is the same as our own personal redemption. In fact we see here on the 14th and the 21st of Nissan (Aviv), days set aside as Sabbaths. This means no work. So the first thing after the sacrificing of the lamb in the afternoon was a day of rest to be celebrated each year. A time of resting in our redemption, a time to be focused on being completely free from the pressures of the world – our old world. A time of resting from the old things that beset us in our prior lives. There would be no leaven for 7 days followed by another day of rest. This could relate to our redemption experience and then the final Shabbat being the coming Day of the L-rd at the end of the age. The only power that sin has in our lives, during this time between the Shabbats is what we is what we give it. What a sweet picture G-d has given us here of being His completely and being free from those things of the past. But those things of the past do not go quietly. In fact, if we look at the last three plagues what do they all have in common – darkness. The eighth plague was locusts (Ex. 10:4-5, 15) Here it says in Hebrew they will cover the eye of the earth. They will darken the earth. Then the ninth plague is darkness so thick you could feel it. The tenth plague, killing of the first born, came in the middle of the night. So what does this mean? To get some clue let us look at an old exchange between Moses and Pharaoh in Ex 10:9-11. Remember one of the reasons for the plagues was to discredit the gods of Egypt. Who was the highest god of Egypt? His name was Ra, the sun god. (The worship of the sun continued up through Constantine. ) So when Pharaoh said you must know that evil will confront you he uses the Hebrew word, ra. In Hebrew this word means evil or bad but could be read as the name of Egypt’s highest god. Pharaoh is warning Moses to remember who he is dealing with. So, these plagues of darkness are a direct affront to Ra, the sun god. He has no power and is ridiculed by the G-d of Israel. Let us never forget who we serve. Our G-d is our Shield and Deliverer. Just as He redeemed Israel so has He redeemed us.