The parashot we are in at this time of the year is the story of the plagues against Egypt in Exodus.
For those who don’t know, the Torah is sectioned off, so to speak, into portions to be read at each Shabbat service. These portions are called Parashot (parsha, or parashah for each one) and when following this annual cycle every Jew across the world is reading the same exact part of the Word of God, every week.
Currently we are in the midst of the plagues that God sent against Egypt, designed to weaken the Pharaoh, call down judgement on the Egyptians and free the Israelites from bondage. These plagues first destroyed the land, then the cattle, the crops, the people and even the very heritage of Pharaoh, when his first born son is killed. Finally, the power and might of Egypt, it’s army, is drowned in the Red Sea.
When I read this I think of Genesis 12:3, where God promises Abraham that He will bless those who bless him, and curse those that curse him.
Come, Sherman, to the Way-Back machine, and let’s go back some 400 years, to Genesis 41. Here we read how Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, and Pharaoh immediately blessed Joseph. He raised him to a level of nearly autonomous power, and when Joseph brought his family into Egypt for protection from the famine, Pharaoh gave them the best of the land. This Pharaoh blessed the seed of Abraham, and through Joseph he became the richest man in the world. When we read this story we see that Pharaoh, who at that time was already the political and religious leader of the country, also came to own the country, the people and their goods. As they ran out of money to buy grain, Joseph had them exchange their cattle, the land and even their homes. The Pharaoh that blessed Joseph was totally blessed by God.
Back now to Moses and the current Pharaoh, the one who has cursed the seed of Abraham with bondage and cruelty. Let’s see what happens to him:
- the Nile to blood kills his fish and the fishing economy
- the cattle disease kills his cattle
- the hail destroys his trees
- the locusts destroy his crops
- his political and religious authority is eroded (we read how the people take protection as Moses tells them, ignoring the Pharaoh’s example. His authority and position as a god is eroded as the God of the Hebrews shows His true sovereignty)
- the death of the firstborn throughout the land destroys the people’s morale, and robs the Pharaoh of his legacy
- the destruction of the army in the Red Sea not only robs Pharaoh of his military strength but leaves his entire country defenceless. I guess it was a good thing for them they had nothing left to take!
Everything God had given to the Pharaoh who blessed His people was taken away from the Pharaoh that cursed them; in fact, not only did God take away that which had been given, but what he had already (his political and religious authority) was taken away, too. It’s just as Yeshua said in Matthew 25:29:
For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
In our everyday life it seems sometimes that we are being cursed, that what we have is being taken from us, and many times I have heard people say that this is punishment from God. It may be, but I don’t think so; at least, not in most cases. People always want to blame God for everything, when we should remember that as we come closer to God, the enemy is more threatened and he will move more against us. The trials and tribulations we go through aren’t always because God is “after us.” The enemy likes to screw around with God’s people in order to fool them into thinking God has abandoned them.
Don’t fall for it and don’t worry about stupid things like clothes, jobs, money, etc. Yeah, yeah- in a modern world we need it, but recall how Job lost everything but it was returned to him, doubled! If it was God who sent tribulation upon you, if you repent and return to Him, He will return to you what was taken. He tells us that in Joel 2:25:
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
Also, we read in Matthew 6:25-34:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? 28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The Prophets talked continuously about the regathering of the people, and we are a blessed generation because we are seeing this prophecy fulfilled, today. The world is coming down around us, and in the midst of the dust and debris we see people making Aliya (literally, “going up”, returning to Israel) and many of the groups helping these people to make Aliya are Christian based! The “one man in God” that Shaul (Paul) talks about in Galatians 3:28 is actually happening! Right now! Today!
Look at the history of God’s people, with respect to those that have cursed them: the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Philistines, the Ninevites, the Assyrians, the Romans, the Spanish (yes, they were the world power from the 14th through 18th Centuries, but after the Inquisition they were destroyed as a world power, forever), and, of course, the Nazi’s. Even though we still have the Arab countries constantly try to destroy Israel, they have failed. Today as technology increases and our dependance on the oil fields lessens, the arab nations whose power and wealth is tied up solely in oil will fall. And each time they try to destroy Israel it goes this way: they attack and we kick their butts!
As the Jewish people have said for millennia: “They tried to kill us; we killed them; let’s eat.” And we can say that because God is on our side, just as we are told in Psalm 118:6.
Salvation is a gift from God that we can never buy or earn, but blessings are things we can earn. And since they can be earned, they are not irrevocable. As Job said, God can give and take away. We can’t always (in fact, we probably never will) understand what God is doing or why, but we can trust that He always does what is best for us. So even when you find yourself in the midst of the fiery furnace, keep trusting, keep praying, keep growing in faith and continue to lovingly obey the Torah, and you will be saved.
God likes to bless His children, and we are all His children, so never, never, NEVER think that you are abandoned by God. You can abandon Him, and He may stay out of your way (which takes away all your protection from a fallen and cursed world) but God is always in the wings, rooting for you, and His hand is always held out waiting for you to reach for it.
If you think that God doesn’t care about you, you’re wrong. You probably don’t care enough about Him, so do T’shuvah (turn from your sin) and reach out to Him. He’s waiting for you.