Torah Portion: Va’era (I appeared) Exodus 6:2-9:35
HafTorah: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
This week we see Moses and Aaron go before Pharaoh to demand he let the people go. As the verses progress we read of the increasing severity of the plagues yet Pharaoh does not relent.
If you remember last week in Exodus 5:2 we read where Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh the first time and Pharaoh says, “Who is the L-rd? I do not know the L-rd.” In this verse Pharaoh uses the Holy name of G-d, so apparently he had never heard of this name and so there was no reason to obey the command of the G-d who he had no knowledge.
I would like to spend a bit of time on the subject of the name of G-d. This week in Exodus 6:2-3 we read where G-d introduces Himself to Moses by His Holy Name, saying that the forefathers did not know the depth of relationship that Moses was about to experience. They knew G-d as Elohim or El Shadai – G-d Himself, the G-d of creation, the all powerful G-d but this deeper experience they had not known. For us as believers today we sometime get stuck on the G-d of creation – what He does and it is hard for us to experience Him at a deeper level because we are human and we live and exist in a material world where action is what we know. But there is so much more to G-d than that. Tell me some of the things you have experienced that have given you a deeper understanding of G-d? This Holy Name of G-d is above all and this name Pharaoh did not know.
We can see Moses move from when we read back a few chapters in Exodus 3:1 where we are told that he came to the mountain of G-d (Elohim). So here Moses is coming to the mountain of the G-d he had heard about as a boy. In Exodus 3:2-4 we read about the bush that was not consumed by fire. Moses had to see this. It was something outside of the created order. Elohim calls to him from within the bush. Here we also see the Holy Name of G-d being used in these verses. “And G-d saw that Moses turned to look.” So Moses is introduced to G-d who is more than he had thought and this carries him to our passage in Exodus 6:2-3 where w see G-d tell Moses that he (Moses) will experience G-d in a more complete way than the foregathers. He will see more of Him than they had. I believe this is what Yeshua helps us in. When we come to know Him He gives us a deeper, richer knowledge of G-d than we ever dreamed. He becomes the Tree of Life for us. He becomes life to its fullest, not limited to the creative knowledge of G-d but going much further than that.
Part of what helped Moses in this process was the experience he had back at the bush when G-d told him to throw his staff to the ground and it became a snake. Exodus 4:3-5 He is frightened and runs away. Why? Sure, he was afraid of the snake because of the danger physically but also perhaps he feared it because of what happened the last time when man got too close to a snake and sin entered the world. Man has been in a struggle ever since. But here G-d tells him to reach out and take the snake in his hand. He does so and it becomes his staff again. What would this tell Moses spiritually? We can be victorious over sin. We can win this struggle we are in. But how? In the garden man was told not to eat from the tree of knowledge but no such instruction was given regarding the tree of life. The word for knowledge used with the tree is Daat – same word used when a man knows a woman intimately. So maybe we are more interested in experiencing life rather than living life. Experiencing life could be compared to doing every new thing that comes along because everyone else is doing it. Living life would be living our lives through the Tree of Life, Yeshua, growing in our knowledge of what G-d desires of us. In Proverbs 3:1 G-d compares the Tree of Life to Torah. In the New Testament Yeshua is our example of a person who was blameless, perfect. He was Torah (John 5:46) Romans 10:4-11 says Messiah is the goal of the Torah. Our faith in Messiah gives us the spiritual ability to win the battle over sin, to partake of the Tree of Life and then experience life from the perspective of the Spirit and win the battle over the serpent. G-d was showing Moses there is a way to overcome sin, to know Him in a deeper way than we may have ever considered. Yeshua shows us the same. It requires effort on our part. It does not stop at our confession but goes on our entire life as we learn more and more each day.
I John 2:3-5 says we are to keep the commandments of Yeshua. What are they? Yeshua and Torah are identified as the Tree of Life. Does this mean Torah is, should be, must be relevant to our lives? Or did G-d change?