Torah:Exodus 13:17 – 17:16
Haftarah: Judges 4:4 – 5:31
This is the sixteenth week of parasha (portion) and we find ourselves studying the portion named Beshalach, which translates “when he let go.”
If you are a person who is in the midst of a seemingly insurmountable life struggle, then this parasha is for you! In fact, this is pretty much for everyone as if you are not currently in the midst of a struggle of such a magnitude you likely have been in the past, or will be in the future. In any case, get ready to grab a hold of some valuable information and encouragement straight from the Word of G-d.
The redemption of the Hebrew people out of Egypt is a picture of redemption as a whole. There are many pictures we are given of what our own personal redemption as well as the redemption of the “church” will be like.
Where were they redeemed from in the Biblical account? Egypt, or in the Hebrew Mitzraim. This word in the Hebrew is synonymous with a closed in place, a prison, or darkness. We read in the Torah verses this week how the Hebrews were taken out of darkness and into the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. Keep in mind Scripturally the wilderness is a place where we not only rely upon G-d, but have encounters with Him. This is even evidenced with the accounts of Yeshua (Jesus) Himself as, after his baptism he is immediately taken into the wilderness!
After the salvation or redemption of the people out of the darkness, they are baptized by going down in the water of the parted Red Sea. This is even confirmed that it was a baptism according to Rabbi Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) in the following verses.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (NKJV)
The similarities go on, but really what I want to now focus upon is the idea of how we should approach our battles in life.
Exodus 13:14-18, “So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What [is] this?’ that you shall say to him, ‘By strength of hand the L-RD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 15 ‘And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the L-RD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the L-RD all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 “It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the L-RD brought us out of Egypt.” 17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines, although that [was] near; for G-d said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 So G-d led the people around [by] way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.”
As you have likely learned by now if you have been a follower of Messiah for any length of time, we don’t immediately get delivered out of darkness to a place of great enlightenment and peace in our lives. How nice that would be, but it simply is not the case. We must study, learn and grow. Growth does not occur in a vacuum, but rather growth is a product of struggle. There are no short-cuts in the Kingdom of G-d!
In the preceding verses, you see that there was indeed a shorter path to the Promised Land, through the land of the Philistines. Why then the 40 years of wandering after the life and death drama at the Red Sea? The simple answer is that the people were not ready. It was easy to take the people out of Egypt, it was another thing altogether to get the ways of the Egyptians out of the people that were called to be set apart, Holy unto G-d. If you find yourself feeling as though your desired future, goals or what have you are put on hold, that is not something to get upset over, but perhaps you should rejoice that G-d is likely in the delay! You will arrive at your spiritual and other destinations at their appointed times. Rest assured in that fact if you are indeed pursuing the L-RD and His Ways. The Father will complete the work He began in you!
Exodus 14:10-14, “And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the L-RD. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because [there were] no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 “[Is] this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For [it would have been] better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the L-RD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 “The L-RD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
Now we see the Hebrew people trapped and certain to be slaughtered at the hand of the armies of Pharaoh! Not only is G-d in our delays and diversions, but we see here He may even be in our dead ends! Surely to those trapped in this situation it had to seem hopeless. They were not equipped or trained to fight against the superpower of the time! Imagine yourself as part of a group of unarmed men, about 600,000 going up against the full force of the Russian armies and you were trapped in a geographical noose on top of everything else! Not a good, or happy feeling.
But what was the advice? What was the prescription to cure this dire situation? The best advice any of us can take to heart today in our lives. Then as now we must recognize that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but rather they take place in the spiritual realm. They are told to stand and be still! I have never been in the military, but I cannot imagine West Pointe Military academy doling out advice like this to their cadets, can you?
Psalm 46:10-11, “Be still, and know that I [am] G-d; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! 11 The L-RD of hosts [is] with us; The G-d of Jacob [is] our refuge. Selah.”
The advice was so sound it was repeated in the Psalms. Furthermore, you read earlier that the very thing that sealed the fate of the Egyptians became the salvation of sorts to the Hebrews. By this, I mean the water that drowned and killed the enemy had first served as the wall on either side that kept the Hebrew people safe and lead the way to safety and victory over their enemy!
In the sixth chapter of Ephesians, we are told to suit up for battle and to put on the whole armor of G-d. This is absolutely what each of us ought to do each and every day. It is critical to our walk. However, the amazing thing is that we are not suiting up for battle so that we can get in there on the front lines and slay a giant or two. We are suiting up that we may know and rest in the fact that we are protected. It is a visualization of a spiritual reality. Focus upon the fact that the sword you equip yourself with is the “sword that the Spirit wields.” Even though we prepare for battle. Even though we don the battle gear, we do not do the fighting. The fighting is done our behalf by the Spirit of G-d if we stand in emunah (faith).