Weekly Torah Commentary – Bo February 3, 2017

Torah Reading:  Exodus 10:1-13:16

Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 46:13-28

Jeremiah 46:27 But fear not thou, O Jacob my servant, neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid. Fear not thou, O Jacob my servant, saith Jehovah, for I am with thee: for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee; but I will not make a full end of thee, but I will correct thee in measure, and will in no wise leave thee unpunished.

This verses states emphatically that nothing whatever will be able to thwart the eternal purpose of God in providing redemption for all mankind through the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Despite the fact that the Chosen people had become a degenerate, a corrupt vine instead of the noble vine that God had planted, they will not be able to countermand or destroy God’s intention. They indeed failed, but God did not fail.

We need to understand the difference between an oath and a promise, which are two of the ways, among others, by which God speaks to us.  He has given many promises such as ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.’  2 Chronicles 7:14  The most important word in this passage is ‘If’. We readily understand that the promise comes with a condition: IF we will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, then God will heal our land in response to His peoples’ prayers, repentance and humility.  That is a promise of God.

An oath, on the other hand, is when God speaks without condition; when He utters a pronouncement which will never be changed and which you can be absolutely sure will happen.  For example, immediately after Abraham was prevented from offering his son, Isaac, on Mt. Moriah and substituted a ram instead, the LORD spoke to Abraham in an oath:  ‘By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gates of their enemies and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because you have obeyed My voice.  Genesis 22:16-18  When God says ‘By Myself I have sworn…’ that is an oath which carries with it the utter impossibility of it not coming to pass.  There may not be a time frame given but if God said it in oath language, it WILL happen.  In this case, the blessings to Abraham did not follow an ‘If you will..’ clause. Rather, Abraham had already obeyed God in faith and God’s response was to pronounce a massive blessing that would span generations.

So it is with the passage above in this week’s Haftorah.  The LORD pronounces an unchangeable decree that though He discipline Israel for their transgressions, He will not leave them nor forsake them.  He has promised the same to each of us.  He will discipline us when we need it for a loving Father always does, but He will never leave us nor forsake us.

This entire chapter of Jeremiah gives an extensive view of what it will be like for mankind when one world power, such as Egypt, is overcome by another world power.  Human life in all such situations is considered a very cheap and expendable factor; and the sorrows of the human race appear are almost beyond the powers of our imagination to fully comprehend.

Though uncomfortable to some, it is important to remind ourselves that there will be a Day of Judgment; that each of us will have to stand before the Almighty and render an account of what we have done with the life He so freely bestowed on us.

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In Tune with Torah this week = How often we do bring to mind that our life is a gift? That each day is a new gift from God? That He expects us to make good use of the time He has allotted to us, not to serve ourselves but to do good to others?  Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone – Today, while it is still today, serve the Lord in joy and in holiness.

Shabbat Shalom

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