Weekly Torah Commentary. – Bo January 19, 2018

Torah reading: Exodus 10:1 – 13:6

Haftorah reading: Jeremiah 46: 14 – 28

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you.” But Moses said, “You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the Lord our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.” But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”  Exodus 10:21-29

darkness

 

The plague of darkness brought upon Egypt was dreadful. Can you imagine living through three days of complete and total darkness, a darkness so thick you could actually “feel” the darkness?  It astonished and terrified the Egyptians. For three long days it remained so that it felt like six interminable nights.  Why did God do this?

One probable reason is that it gave Pharaoh time to consider his next steps. Spiritual darkness is spiritual bondage; while Satan blinds men’s eyes that they see not, he binds their hands and feet, that they work not for God, nor live with an eternal perspective.

So they sit in darkness. The blindness of their minds brought upon them this darkness of the air. Never was a mind so blinded as Pharaoh’s, never was air so darkened as in Egypt. Consider the dire consequences of sin; if three days of darkness were so dreadful, what will everlasting darkness be like?

Meanwhile the people of God had light in their dwellings, manifesting the favor of the Holy One of Israel upon them.  Given the stark difference between the oppressive darkness in Egypt and the light emanating from the homes of the Israelites in Goshen, who in their right mind would not have wanted to align with those who had light?

Is it any different today?  A pall of darkness overshadows much of our world today – a spiritual darkness has pervaded cultures and societies in the east and the west, in the north and the south.  No nation on earth is neutral.  As a matter of fact, the Scriptures know nothing of being “neutral”.  Joshua, you will remember, challenged the Israelites:

Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness….choose you this day Whom you shall serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  Joshua 24:15

We do not bargain with God Almighty for His terms of reconciliation are so clear, that though men may dispute them, they cannot possibly alter them, or bring them lower. Repentance and a changed life.  That is what God expects and we must submit to His ways; we cannot, we dare not, expect that He should condescend to accommodate our pursuit of selfish pleasures.

Pharaoh had not reckoned with that truth.  He abruptly sends Moses away. Had he forgotten how often he had sent for Moses to ease him of his plagues? And now he dares to threaten Moses with death? Has Pharaoh learned nothing?   Is it not terrifying to behold what hardness of heart, and contempt of God’s word and commandments, can bring men to!

Darkness has crept into our modern world in recent times, slowly but oh, so surely.  That which would not even be spoken of in the last generation is common parlance today, even among our youth.  Honor, respect for one’s elders, integrity and courtesy are quickly becoming forgotten virtues.

In the midst of such darkness, there must be lighthouses.  Places, people who show forth the light of the LORD. Have we not been called by Him to be a “light to the nations”?

In Tune with Torah this week = Are you a light bulb for God?  Is your heart completely His?

The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those who hearts are completely His.  2 Chronicles 16:9

 

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.

time

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