Turn aside!

Sh’mot (Names) Exodus/Sh’mot 1:1-6:1

Haftorah Readings: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3

Today we begin a new book of Torah, Exodus or Sh’mot. We will read the names of the people who came to Egypt from Israel. They came with no idea of what would transpire over the coming years. However, as we will see G-d was there and had a plan.


Before we start I would ask you to hear some of my thoughts on the events in our country this week. In some ways I believe this Torah portion has much to say to us that is relevant to what we as a country and as a world are experiencing now. In our portion we read where Moshe turned aside to see why the thorn bush was not consumed by the fire. Later, I will go deeper into this happening but for now just a few personal words.

What we saw and experienced as a country was a disgraceful display of a riot at our capitol  It was done by a group of people who had lost all restraint and allowed emotions to rule their behavior. We saw people who said they were Christian, loot and steal the seat of our democracy. We saw people who got swept up in emotion and allowed themselves to act in ways completely inconsistent with who we are as G-d’s people.

They did not turn aside to see what G-d was saying but plowed ahead with their own fleshly emotions. Fear and insecurity ruled the day. We are better than this. G-d has called us to be the salt of the earth, to be His voice of reason and faith rather than what we saw in DC I ask each of you to consider how you present yourself to the world. Use words of peace and reconciliation. Be an example of who we are called to be as the people of G-d. Let our light shine in the darkness around us.

Now on to the Torah portion. Today we read of the initial meeting of Moshe and the Father. I expect it began as most any other day for a shepherd. He took his flock of sheep out to graze for the day. He came to Mt. Horeb, no special place to him, just an ordinary mountain among many. However, Mt. Horeb became Mt. Sinai, the mountain of G-d. Why? Simply because G-d chose it, not because it was more grand or taller or holier than the other hills around.

When we look at Moshe we see him progress and change. It was not because he was more pious or more eloquent than others. No, this ordinary man was transformed because he encountered G-d. When G-d presented the opportunity Moshe turned aside and allowed G-d to speak to him.

Most of us do not see ourselves as special. Most of us see ourselves as pretty ordinary individuals. From G-d’s view that is perfect. We are just the people G-d uses. He is looking for people like us who are willing to turn aside. Moshe saw the burning bush and scripture says in Exodus 3:4, “And the L-rd saw that Moshe had turned aside to see and G-d called to him from the midst of the thorn bush.” What if he had not turned aside. What if he had said, “That’s strange but I don’t have time to investigate.” I encourage you to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit and take advantage of those times when G-d may be calling out to you. Don’t miss the opportunity. Take the time to read, study and grow in Him. Good intentions are not enough. Act as Moshe did here in our portion. 

I want to continue on with the verse I used earlier and also tie it into similar verses in the Messianic Scripture. In our portion we see Moshe focus his attention on this thorn bush that did not burn up. For a moment he forgot about the sheep and went to see what was going on. So, first he turned aside. G-d got his attention and he turned aside. The verses go on to say, “The L-rd saw he had turned aside to look, and then G-d spoke to him from the midst of the bush.”  Here we see G-d did not initially speak to Moshe. He first presented an opportunity and only when Moshe turned aside did G-d speak to him from the burning bush.

In Hosea 6:3 we read, “So let us know, let us press on to know the L-rd, His going forth is as certain as the dawn.” G-d is there. He speaks to us when we take the time to hear. He searches for us and when we can hear He speaks. I am sure each of us in our lives, have had those encounters when we have come face to face with the Father. The first encounters might have been our salvation experience. What do we do? Do we take the time to listen and to answer? In Genesis 12:1 we see Avraham respond to G-d’s call to go to a land that G-d would show him. We read of no objections from Avraham. He leaves his land, his father’s house and goes to a land that G-d would show him. We see the same pattern throughout scripture. We see ordinary people, shepherds, potters, farmers, fishermen who became servants of G-d. One thing they had in common is they turned aside. Jonah would be the only exception. He needed a second talking to.

In the Messianic Scriptures we see the disciples follow Yeshua without reservations. (Matt. 4:19-20, Matt. 9:9) It still happens in the same way for us today. G-d calls and we turn aside.

Each of us are called. We are to be an example of G-d’s love, to act kindly and help someone when the opportunity arises. We are called to be that element, that example of change that the world cannot ignore. Bless each of you this week. David