Torah Portion: Va’era(I Appeared)Exodus/Sh’mot 6:2-9:35
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
I want to begin by thanking everyone that sent in answers to my questions this week. It is always a help to me when I write to read your personal understanding of the Torah portion. Please continue to pray for those of our group who are sick.
My last question to you this week was, “By what name did the children of Israel not know G-d?” This question is based on Exodus 6:3-4. “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as G-d Almighty, but by My name L-rd I was not known to them…” However, in Genesis 15:7-8 we read G-d using this same name when speaking to Avraham. “I am the L-rd, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit. And he said, “L-rd G-d how shall I know that I will inherit it?” Here Avraham used the holy name of G-d – HaShem.
So we know the forefathers did indeed know His name, HaShem. So our question is, why do we read in this Torah portion G-d saying they did not know him by that name? I think sometimes we know the name of our G-d but we forget the depth and power of who He is and forget to hold fast to what His name means to us. The Israelites were in that same place after years of slavery.
This name, maybe more than any others, has richness and power in its meaning. HaShem means I am faithful to uphold My words. Avraham died without ever seeing the results of G-d’s promises to him. Avraham’s descendants here in our portion gradually begin to see the full meaning of this name. G-d keeps His promises. We may or may not see the fullness of his promises to us but we continue to work toward that day. We keep our faith strong even though G-d may tarry. He is trustworthy to fulfill His word.
For us and for Israel, He is faithful. I believe in the Messiah we see the faithful fullness of G-d. Like Avraham, the word of G-d may not reach its fullness in our lifetime but never lose hope or doubt His faithfulness. HaShem is the Promise Keeper for us and for Israel. Thank G-d that through sending His son Yeshua we have a path to become included in the family of G-d. He is faithful to uphold His word.
In question number 2 I asked what was G-d’s purpose in saving the Israelites? In this portion we can find two reasons. In Exodus 7:5 we read, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the L-rd when I stretch out my hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” Here G-d wants to make clear to the Egyptians that He is G-d and Pharaoh who they considered god had no power. In fact Pharaoh was no god at all.
In Exodus 8:1 we read, “And the L-rd spoke to Moshe, ‘Go to Pharaoh and say to him, thus says the L-rd, Let My people go that they may serve Me.” In these two verses we see G-d making His point to both the Egyptians and to Israel that He alone is G-d and there is no other. It is Him we should worship and no other. It is easy to get wrapped up in the things of the world and forget whom we serve. There are so many avenues that can get us off track. Our challenge is to recognize the counterfeit.
Question number three was, why were the magicians not able to duplicate all the signs of G-d? They copied three plagues, turning the rod into a snake, plus the blood, frogs. Satan may have given Pharaoh’s magicians the power to duplicate some of the signs G-d performed through Moses but Satan’s power is always limited by G-d. Even the magicians recognized the hand of G-d and told Pharaoh. In Exodus 8:19 it says, “Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of G-d.” Pharaoh did not listen.
Now I would like to look at my first question, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, was he able to choose? In Exodus 7:3-5 we read, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.” As we read on we understand G-d did this to show both Egypt and the Israelites His power and might.
When we read through the list of the plagues we read in the first few Pharaoh hardened his own heart. (Exodus 7:13, 22; 8:15, 8:19 and 8:32) Each time Pharaoh stood firm. Then in Exodus 9:12 we begin to read, “But the L-rd hardened Pharaoh’s heart.”
At this point in time Pharaoh was looked at by his people as a god. For him to give in to G-d he would lose influence and power over his subjects. In other words his position and reputation would be greatly damaged. So he continued to harden his own heart. He had a lot to lose.
There is a lesson for us here. Are there things in our lives that hold us captive? Are there things that hold us back from doing G-d’s will in our life? As Pharaoh learned, after a time of feeding the “tiger” we begin to lose the power to stop. Let nothing be so powerful in your life that it keeps you from following G-d. Pharaoh progressed to the place of being held captive by his own hard heart. He went so far there was no way back for him. My prayer for us all is that this never happens to any of us. Yeshua gives us the strength to withstand the temptations of this world However, if we choose to continue down a path that is not good for us we can find ourselves at the same point as Pharaoh.
Someone once asked how could they stop giving in to the evil inclinations in their life and focus more on G-d. I think whatever we feed the most is what grows stronger in us. If we daily, hourly feed the Holy Spirit that abides in us as believers by studying His word we will grow stronger in our faith. If we feed our flesh that is drawn to unholy things by spending most of our time on worldly things then that will be the strong one in our life.