Miss no opportunity
Torah Portion: Sh’mot (Names) Exodus (Sh’mot) 1:1-6:1
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
Tonight, we begin a new book of Torah. The name of this first portion is Sh’mot in Hebrew. If you translate this word to English it is, “Names” but the book, in English is called Exodus. This book begins by listing the names of the Israelites who went down to Egypt.
I would like to jump ahead in our portion a bit to look at my first question this week. In Sh’mot/Exodus 3:14 we read where G-d told Moshe His Name that should be retold to the people when they ask who is this G-d. I want to start here because this answer has a great impact on the rest of this portion. It also can impact how we view G-d in our lives as well.
When G-d told Moshe His name, in verse 3:14 many English translations read, “I Am Who I Am.” However, this is not an adequate translation of the Hebrew. To understand this let’s look at the Hebrew and see what it says. In Hebrew it reads, “I will be what I will be.” This is a remarkable statement that we often miss when we rely on the common English translation. What is so radically different is, this Hebrew statement is in the future tense, not I Am but I will be. When this was first translated by the early church fathers the intended message was missed. Instead of only seeing a G-d of history, G-d was giving us the promise of a G-d that would be in our future, giving us the assurance of, no matter where we go or what we encounter, the L-rd will be there, has been there, and has our hand to lead us through our challenges. He is giving us hope that tomorrow has already been filled with opportunities and He is already there. He is the G-d of the future not just something we read about that happened long ago but here today, tomorrow and every day.
So, as the people set out on their journey to the Promised Land, they could be assured that the Father was already there and had a way for them. There would be choices for them to make, some choices would delay their journey, but the promise was always just over the horizon. In our portion today we see several people who were given the opportunity to make the right choice or to miss the chance, but the destination was always there.
Let’s look at some of those people who, when presented with a situation, chose to be part of the fulfillment of G-d’s plan. As we mention each one, put yourself in their place and consider what would you have done? Let’s begin with the two midwives. Pharaoh decreed that the Hebrew midwives were to kill all male children they helped deliver. Scripture names two who did not follow that command. (1:15-17) These women chose to let the male babies live. Because of their refusal G-d blessed them. Why didn’t they do as they were ordered? Scripture says they obeyed, and feared G-d more than Pharaoh.
Next let’s look at Pharaoh’s daughter. She defied her father when she saved this Hebrew baby, Moshe. Had she not taken this step what would have been with Moshe? We can be assured G-d’s plan would have been carried on through some other means but she seized the moment and did the right thing. She saved the life of baby Moshe who would go on to lead the people for forty years. Choices, we all are confronted with them every day. How do we look at these seemingly chance meetings? Do we live in the moment enough to see the opportunities G-d puts before us or are we too focused on the next thing on our schedule? How do we see those openings to speak life into someone’s world? Are we flexible enough to take a little extra time to speak a word or offer a hand. I would pray we take advantage of these opportunities.
Lastly, I asked about the common examples of meetings that took place at wells in scripture. How many did you find in scripture? In B’resheet/Genesis 24:11 we read where Avraham’s servant found a wife for Isaac at a well. In B’resheet/Genesis 29:2-9 we read where Ya’akov found his wife at a well. Here in our portion we see Moshe met his future wife at a well in Midian (2:16-21) All of these are about a meeting at a well, a meeting that G-d used to further His plan for His people. My point being, if any of these opportunities had been missed the plan of G-d could have been delayed.
In the Messianic scriptures we read of another meeting at a well. Yeshua was on His way from Jerusalem to the Galilee. The shortest way was to go straight along the mountain range. This route led through Samaria and through Shechem where He stopped at a well. There He met the woman at the well and after getting by the fact that He, a Jew, would ask a Samaritan for water, He took the opportunity to speak to her about, “living water.” She listened and ran into town to tell the people that she had found the Messiah and many more believed. This woman looked past the common feelings about Jews and heard from Him, the source of eternal life.
We have all had this same opportunity, to drink from the same well of living water because someone took the opportunity to speak with us. This should encourage us to not miss any opportunity to share the love of G-d with a thirsty person that G-d puts in our path.