Thoughts and Teachings: Haftarah Va’eira

This week’s Torah portion, Va’eira, (Exodus 6:2 – 9:35) starts the process of the Exodus, beginning interestingly with Israel not accepting Moshe’s message from the LORD “because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery,” (Exodus 6:9). Then, just as today, there are times when the LORD desires to enter into our situation, but because of the pressure or the severity of the situation, it is hard to recognize His presence. Fortunately for Israel, as well as for us, ADONAI’s participation in our lives is not solely dependent upon our response to Him. At times, in spite of our own actions and attitudes, He accomplishes His plans for us because of His character, as He expressed to Moshe;

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7

In the Haftarah reading, (Ezekiel 28:25 – 29:21) the prophet relates the essence of the Exodus experience in that Jacob was in the the past and will be again delivered and restored (Ezek. 28:25-26) not only restored but made strong as well (29:21). The imagery of the horn springing up, not only indicates the strength of the restored nation returns the hearer to the messianic prophesy by the Psalmist that one day, “I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed,” (Psalm 132:17). As sure as Jacob would be restored, so Messiah would come. The equation works in reverse as well, as sure as Messiah did come, so Jacob will be restored and planted securely in the land of Israel and the LORD will be sanctified in the midst of Jacob in full view of all the nations.

Four times in this passage we read, “they will know that I am the LORD.” Twice are in reference to Israel knowing her God because of His faithfulness to His covenant with the Patriarchs (28:26 and 29:21). Once is a firm reminder to Israel not to look to Egypt for help or deliverance from problematic situations but to look to the LORD alone, (29:16). The last reference is less than spectacular. Egypt will know that the LORD is God, not the pantheon of deities in which she put her trust. From Pharaoh’s first proclamation in Shemot, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go,” (Exodus 5:2), he set himself and Egypt not simply against Israel but against the LORD Himself. That my friend is real chutzpah, in bold and all caps! Historically, as well as what the Exodus cost Egypt though the various plagues and the exit bootie; Ezekiel notes that the LORD would send Egypt in to a forty-year exile, then return her to her land, but “they shall be a lowly kingdom,” (29:14). One would think that the nations would learn that even with Israel is being disciplined, those who messes with Israel is messing with “the apple of His eye,” (Zechariah 2:8), the LORD’s am segula, “His treasured possession,” (Deuteronomy 7:6). Sadly, as evidenced by history, the nations still have not learned this lesson.

Today, along with Israel, who remains His treasured possession, believers in Messiah Yeshua who have been brought into the Commonwealth of Israel are His treasured possession as well, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy,” (1 Peter 2:10), though once alienated, now brought close by the sacrifice of Yeshua, (cf. Ephesians 2:12-13). This agrees with the prophetic pronouncement, “And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people,” (Zechariah 2:11). What this means is that just as the LORD’s promises to Israel are secure in His character and Name, so are the LORD’s promises to those who are in Messiah.

“So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6); therefore “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).

Shabbat Shalom

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Michael Hillel with his wife Vered and their three children, made aliyah from the US in late 80s, and in biblical fashion has, for the last 27 years, done whatever his hands have found to do. In 2013 Michael began working on a MA degree in Messianic Jewish Theology. Using the tools learned from his studies, he has been writing teaching and devotional materials from both the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings. Since Messianic Judaism shares a communal context with both Judaism and Christianity, he incorporates material from both traditionally Jewish and Christian perspectives.