Torah Portion: Sh’mot Exodus 10-13 Bo (Come)
HafTorah: Jeremiah 46:13-28
Tonight we read the conclusion of the ten plagues and the institution of Passover, a yearly celebration of freedom from slavery and oppression. We also read of the yearly religious calendar. In this portion we read of the setting of the month of Aviv, now know as Nissan.
I want to spend a few minutes talking about this issue of time. If you think back to Genesis, scripture starts with the creation story told by using days of creation. Here we see months of the year being established. Both of these speak of time and its importance for us as G-d’s people. G-d himself had no need for time. He was, He is and He will be. However His creation works based on time. It is for our benefit not His. What does time do for us? How does it help us in our lives?vvOne way, it gives us time to reflect on our lives. It gives us the opportunity to repent, to change, to work on our spiritual lives and draw closer to the Father. In this Torah portion we see an example of time wasted, opportunities missed.
Here we read of the last three plagues brought upon Egypt, hail and fire mixed, darkness and finally the death of the first born. Before each of the plagues Pharaoh was given the opportunity to repent, to let the people go but at every turn he refused. He hardened his heart. In fact, at the last plague we are told that Pharaoh went to bed and only awoke at the great outcry in Egypt when it was evident that time had run out. (Sh’mot/Exodus 12:29-30) We read here that Pharaoh got up from his bed. One has to wonder how he went to sleep in the first place. Apparently he had convinced himself that surely this would not be, that he had more time to deal with the Jewish problem. He probably thought he was still in control. Now to be clear, it probably was not G-d’s first choice that the first-born should die. Ezekiel 18:23, 32 makes that clear. It is not His will that any would perish but we all should return and live. However, that door does not always remain open. Jeremiah 46:17 says of Pharaoh that he let the opportune time pass. Pharaoh was faced with a choice as we all are. Psalms 37:27-28 tells us of that choice, “Turn from evil and do good so that you may live forever.”
This is our challenge everyday as it was with Pharaoh. We can choose to do good or we can choose to do evil. That choice is in our hands. Hebrews 12:1 puts it well, “Let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin and choose life.” However, we must not let the opportune time pass, for the clock will eventually run down.
One of the problems we all face is the problem of entangling sins. We have a salvation experience but then if we are lax in our choices, or do not work n our relationship with G-d we find ourselves back in old patterns and habits. How do we break away from those things that so easily beset us?
An example is here in our Torah portion. After hundreds of years it was inevitable that many of the people of Israel would have assimilated into the Egyptian culture and life style, maybe even taken on the worship of Egyptian idols. One of those idols was the sheep, much like cattle is worshiped in India today. Remember back when Pharaoh first told Moshe to take the men and go worship G-d in Egypt. Moshe rebutted that offer by saying such an act would be an abomination in the sight of the Egyptians. (Exodus 8:25-26) So to sacrifice a sheep would be suicidal. So what does G-d ask of them on the night of the Passover? He asked that very thing, to take a lamb, kill it, put its blood on the door and then eat its flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Not only that, but they had to pick it out 4 days ahead of time and keep it, look at it, think about the cost of what was about to happen. They had to make a decision – new life or old life. Do they let the opportune time pass or not. My point is, they had to remove themselves from their old lives as slaves and consciously choose to change. As believers we can’t allow ourselves to hold on to old habits, old friends, old hangouts. Our lives have been changed by the blood of the Lamb. As it was with these people, we need to cross over to the other side of the sea. We are not who we were, we must not continue in our old ways, old speech or old dress. Do not let the opportune time pass. Make the right choices.