The children of Israel have been freed from the slavery of the Pharaoh and are in the desert. God has them encamp between Migdal and the Red Sea (also called the Sea of Suf), knowing that Pharaoh will see this as his chance to reclaim the Israelites.
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When the Israelites saw the chariots of Pharaoh coming, they immediately cried out to Moses, asking “Why have you brought us out into the desert, just to die?”
Moses calls to God, who tells him to split the Red Sea and have the people walk across it. God keeps the Egyptians at bay with a cloud of fire and after the people have crossed the sea, he removes the cloud so the army can pursue them.
Once the Egyptian army is deep within the sea, God tells Moses to close the waters over them and throws the army into a panic, so that in the end, the entire army is drowned.
Egypt, now, is a total mess: the crops and herds are decimated, the army is destroyed, and the people, whose firstborn have been killed, are devastated.
After singing praise to God for his salvation from Pharaoh, they soon find themselves near water, but the water is undrinkable, and they again carp to Moses about why he brought them there just to die. God has Moses throw a certain tree into the water, which makes it potable.
Later, they again complain about the lack of bread and meat, so God sends quails and manna in order to satisfy their hunger; but, because instead of praying to God they carped and complained, showing a lack of faith, God also sent a plague while the meat was still in their mouths as punishment for their rebellious and distrustful attitude.
Later on, they again complained about needing water, and Moses (by the command of God) struck a rock, which brought forth water for the people.
Later in the Torah (Numbers 20), we are told the same thing happened at the end of the 40 years in the desert, just after Miriam dies. However, at that time Moses becomes so angered with the people he strikes the rock twice, not giving the credit to God; for that, he is punished by being prevented from entering the land.
This parashah ends with the attack by the Amalekites, and we read how Moses stood on high ground so all Israel could see him, and when his hands were raised, the Israelites would be winning. But when he lowered his hands, the Amalekites would be winning, so when his hands got too tired to remain raised, Aaron and Hur stood on either side of Moses, keeping his hands up until the Amalekites were defeated. God tells Moses to write this attack as a memorial in the Torah, and that God will utterly blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.
It isn’t until we get to Deuteronomy 25:17 that we realize why God was so angered about this attack. You see, Amalek came out against the Jews but not against the main force: they snuck up on the rear and attacked the lame, the elderly, and the tired who were lagging behind. Their attack was both cowardly and, as any Klingon would tell you, they were without honor.
When reading about the Red Sea victory over Egypt, there is something I never understood- why would the people think Pharaoh wanted to kill them? He didn’t want to let them go because of the service they performed as slaves, so why kill them, now? I think it is obvious he wanted to recapture them. The only answer I can give is that they were so totally faithless in God, they were afraid of everything. They couldn’t see the good in life, only the bad, and so instead of being able to think positively, all they ever saw was the worst possible scenario in every aspect of their existence. And we see this constant faithlessness in their continual complaints to Moses.
This is a problem that still exists today, and people’s fear of everything is founded on a lack of faith in God. Whether or not a particular religion accepts Yeshua as the Messiah, or as a Rabbi, or a Prophet, or even believe he is God, himself, my experience with human beings is that, as a species, we are more pessimistic than trusting.
Yes, I said “trusting” instead of “optimistic” because you can’t be optimistic without trust. Whether your trust is in God, or some other supernatural entity, without trust in something more powerful than yourself, you cannot be optimistic about anything.
I’m sorry? You’re saying that people who are egotistical and trust in their own power to control their lives can be optimistic? And there are those who go through life wearing rose-colored glasses, forcing themselves to only see the good and pleasant things in life. Yes, these people can be optimistic, but they still have faith- either in themselves or in other people. However, in the long run, they will find that faith is misplaced.
I have known people who have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, and those who have not; I have known Christians and Jews, Muslims, as well as people of Eastern religions. The one thing I have found that is a constant with all people, despite what they profess to believe in, is that those who are constantly seeing the worst-case scenario are faithless. No matter what they say (remember: people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do) if they are always afraid or quick to give up on something, they need to strengthen their faith.
For me, to have faith means to choose to believe in that which we cannot prove, but I have found, in my own life, there can be proof to justify our faith.
When I first began to seek out God, and to determine once and for all if this guy Jesus (I didn’t know about Yeshua then) really is the Messiah or not, I made a conscious decision, a choice, to believe. A few months later, when I received the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as I was anointed at the Messianic synagogue near my house, I knew then- absolutely- that my choice to believe was correct. The sensation I felt when the Ruach entered my body was real, and even more than a quarter of a century later, when I think about that moment, I get all puppy-eyed and emotional.
That moment was, for me, absolute proof that God existed, Yeshua is the Messiah, and that my decision to believe was being rewarded.
For those who have not experienced receiving the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh, let me tell you, it is something that changes your life.
So, going forward, let’s all try to remember that if we feel pessimistic or afraid, it shows we need to strengthen our faith. God is always there, he knows what we need and he is capable of supplying it. And even if you have to suffer through some tsouris, that doesn’t mean God isn’t with you.
Gold is not purified through spa treatments and gentle massage- it goes through a very hot fire! And usually more than once because gold is usually found surrounded by other materials, and has a lot of dross that has to be melted away. For us, the other stuff is some form of emotional baggage, but if we do as the Israelites constantly FAILED to do, which is to review in our lives all the wonderful things that have happened, all of which came from God, then we will be able to find reasons to be faithful.
If you want to be gold, you need to be willing to go through the fire, trusting that God will allow you to come out of that fire more spiritually purified than when you first went in. And the more you go through the fire, the more you will know that God is always there for you, making sure you come out better than when you went in. And the result is that you will become braver, more confident, less afraid, and optimistic; when we have a strong faith in God, we are able to find more joy in life.
And, just in case you may think it’s not possible to go through fire and come out unscathed, read the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3.
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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!