The readings for this week are, Parashat Va’eira, Exodus 6:2 – 9:35* & for Rosh Chodesh (Shevat which is Monday) Numbers 28:9-15; Haftarah, Ezekiel 28:25 – 29:21; Apostolic Writings, John 6:16–29.
Throughout our lives we all make many journeys, some more memorable than others and some that we even wish we had never taken. Looking back over my childhood, growing up on the Mississippi gulf coast, I remember summer trips to southeast Texas to visit my grandparents. I vaguely remember the trips on Highway 90, before Interstate 10 was complete, when we went through every little town in southern Louisianaand skirted the AtchafalayaSwamp. Years later, traveling on the interstate, I marveled at the AtchafalayaBasin Bridge that spanned 18.2 miles of swamp and spillway. In my mind’s eye I can see the swamp, but I can’t remember much else of the almost 600-mile trip. In late summer of 1972, I vividly remember another trip, this time by Greyhound to Savanah Georgia and then by military transport from Savanah to Paris Island, SC. This almost 600-mile trip was only the beginning of this journey, which in the end lasted 12 plus years, as a United States Marine. To this day, I remember getting off the bus at Paris Island and after about half an hour wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into? Three months later, after completing Basis Training, I had no doubt that I was traveling the right direction, toward an attainable goal that would change my life forever.
In this week’s parasha, we continue reading about Moshe’s journey. As we read in Shemot, his early journey began in a reed basket in the Nile, then to Pharaoh’s palace in the care one of Pharaoh’s daughters. After growing up in the lap of luxury, circumstances detoured his journey to Midian, where instead of the lap of luxury Moshe became a shepherd of sheep for his father-in-law. It could be said that Moshe’s time in Midian was his Basis Training for leading Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This week Moshe has already spoken to Pharaoh once (Exodus 5:1) and it was not well received by Pharaoh nor were the resulting consequences well received by Bnei Yisrael (Exodus 5:21). Moshe probably felt even worse than I did when I first got off the bus at Paris Island; instead of feeling good about the possibility of becoming a Marine, I was rather sacred due to a drill instructor standing nose-to-nose with me, berating me for the clothing I was wearing. Well, Moshe continued to argue with HaShem as He directed Moshe to go to Pharaoh once more,
Bnei-Yisrael have not listened to me. So how would Pharaoh listen to me—I, who have uncircumcised lips? (Exodus 6:12)
One can imagine that by this time Moshe is probably wondering why he ever left Pharaoh’s palace in the first place some 40-years earlier. Everything had been going so well and his future position in the palace was pretty well secure, so long as he didn’t make waves. But HaShem had different plans for Moshe and his life journey, one that would eventually see him standing on“the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho,” (Deuteronomy 34:1) overlooking the promised land that Bnei Yisrael would soon enter without him. But even here, Moshe did not see the end of his journey. Centuries later, Moshe would stand on the other side of the Jordan in Israel, as he and Elijah bore witness to the transfiguration of Yeshua, signifying His Sonship and deity (cf. Matthew 17:1-5).
So it is with us, though maybe not the mountain top visitation. We all are on a journey with ADONAI. Sometimes there are seeming detours, either caused by our own actions or by circumstances of life. But as with Moshe, each detour and each life event goes into the narrative of our lives, making us who we are and usually preparing us for some future activity or need. Imagine Moshe trying to lead Bnei Yisrael through the years in the wilderness with only his training in Pharaoh’s court. Every step along the way, HaShem is with us, whether we realize His presence or not. As a means of comfort, I often quote HaShem’s words through Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon,
For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares ADONAI, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
However, there is another word I want to leave with each of you reading this week’s Thoughts. In Deuteronomy just as Moshe is finishing his time as the journey director for Bnei Yisrael, he states assuredly,
Chazak! Be courageous! Do not be afraid or tremble before them. For ADONAI your God—He is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon (forsake) you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
In the Letter to the Hebrews, who some suggest was written in the latter part of the 1stcentury CE, the author uses the same phrase in his closing exhortation,
Keep your lifestyle free from the love of money and be content with what you have. For God Himself has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
If these words were written toward the end of the 1st century, they are especially important as not only had Yeshua been crucified, but the Temple itself had been destroyed, and the third exile was beginning. It is possible that these words of exhortation and comfort brought to mind earlier words of comfort from HaShem as Jacob was embarking on his 20-year exile,
Behold, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land, for I will not forsake you until I have done what I promised you. (Genesis 28:15)
Remember, where ever you are in your journey and no matter how you reached the place where you are, ADONAI is with you, watching over you, desiring to enter into your story and to lead you into shalom, which is His perfect peace.
- Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.