We begin this parashah with the death of Sarah. She is mourned by Abraham, and buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which Abraham buys from Ephron, a Hittite. As he is also old and close to death, Abraham makes Eleazar, his servant, swear to him not to bring Isaac back to Haran. This shows that Abraham was thoughtful enough to make sure that his son, the son of the promise, would not accidentally reverse God’s work by returning to a place they were told to leave.
Later, after the Exodus, God tells His people that they have left Egypt and they are not to return. This warning, if you will, is repeated through the different writings of the Prophets.
I see here something that I think is important: once we begin our walk with the Lord, we need to keep walking. Lot’s wife looked back, she yearned to return to her previous life, and look what happened to her. Yeshua said that anyone who plows the field but looks back is not worthy of the Kingdom of God, so from the beginning to the end, and throughout, once we commit to walking the way God wants us to walk we need to keep going in that direction. We can stumble, we can fall, and sometimes we get a little lost and wander about, but we need to keep going forward. Returning to Sodom, returning to Harran, returning to Egypt…all these places were where we lived separate from the Lord. It is said that while in Egypt only the Levites remained faithful to worshiping God correctly and the rest of the tribes took up the Egyptian religions. This makes sense, as they were totally enslaved by the Egyptians. But once they left Egypt, they were not to return. I don’t think that means just not return to that place, but more than that, do not return to that way of life.
The walk with God is hard. Although He blesses us for obedience, and (because He is who He is) He even blesses us when we aren’t obedient, it is hard to worship God and do as He tells us in a world that doesn’t want to worship Him or do as He says. To be with God means to be against the world. That’s why Yeshua said to follow Him we need to pick up our execution stake. We need to die to self, and die to the world (it’s sinfulness and its hedonistic teachings and temptations) so that we have room for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to “move in” and take residence. We need to walk in faith and be spirit led, and not to look back at where we were and who we were. We are to move forward, and look to where we are going and to who we are becoming.
If you are new to being saved, it is easier to keep moving because you are infatuated. Your joy of salvation is fresh and new, and God will honor your decision to accept His grace. But as you keep walking you will encounter troubles, and these troubles will test your faith. And you will begin to get ‘used’ to being saved, you will start to remember how it was, and you will find yourself somewhat influenced by the world and begin to yearn, maybe a little and maybe a lot, for how it used to be when you “fit in” with everyone.
Even David asked God to renew a right spirit in him, and return to him the joy of his salvation (in Psalms.) He didn’t want to remain in the worldly place he was and wanted to return to the proper walk. He had fallen, he backslid, and he wanted to return to walking with God. We need to remember this when we feel the desire to “return to Egypt.” And don’t think, despite how enamoured you may be at this time with God and your salvation, that you are not able to succomb to “returning” because you are! You can’t fight what you don’t see, and if you aren’t willing to see that you are, and always will be, human with human weaknesses, then you are fooling yourself.
In the End Days , MOST will turn from the faith. Not some, not one or two, but most. They will “return to Egypt”, or to Harran, or to Sodom…wherever they were before they accepted Messiah, that is where they will go back to. In the letter from John he warns that those who have known Messiah, and afterwards chose to return to their previous way of life (return to Egypt), will be much worse off than if they had never known Messiah at all. There are other references in the B’rit Chadashah about people who apostatize. With regards to salvation, the Lord giveth and the Lord will not taketh away, but we can throweth away what He gaveth. It is up to us to ask for salvation, to accept it, to keep it and work with it. To show our faith through our works, and to keep walking forward.
Keep up the good fight, keep your eyes on the prize, pick up your execution stake and get going! It’s a hard road, it’s a long walk, and the pathway is narrow so it is easy to get off track. Pray that God provides a hedge of thorns on your right , rocks to your left and destroys the road behind you so that you stay on the straight and narrow pathway towards salvation. Don’t look back, don’t dwell on the meat and leeks of Egypt, and recognize that the plain manna and water that the Israelites complained about was miracle food and drink, provided by God. Better one day with the Lord than a thousand in the tents of sinners. God will give you what you need now, and the rewards you receive later will be more than you can imagine.
I like the movie, “Finding Nemo”; in it, there is a fish that is a little screwy. Her name is Dory, and she tells Marlin (the Dad) as they are searching for Nemo that he need to “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…just keep swimming”, over and over and over. He complains to her that now that song is going to be stuck in his head. We need that: we need to keep walking with God.
We need that message stuck in our head like a song that just won’t stop, reminding us ,” Just keep walking, walking , walking…”