Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beshalach "when he sent away"

Shemot 13:17-17:16

In the first reading in Shemot 13:17-18 we read: “It came to pass when Pharaoh let the people go, that God did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines for it was near, because God said, Lest the people reconsider when they see war and return to Egypt. So God led the people around [by] way of the desert [to] the Red Sea, and the children of Israel were armed when they went up out of Egypt.”  With these verses we start to see the journey of the Israelites into the wilderness to reach the Promised Land, a wandering that takes them 40 years to reach their destination. The estimated distance from Egypt to Israel is approximately 380 miles and we know that the fastest route between two points is in a straight line. Not to say that the distance between these two places is exactly in a straight line, but we read here that Ha’Shem had His people take the long route and not take the short route. Why did Ha’Shem instruct the Israelites to take the indirect route to the Promised Land through the wilderness instead of the straight line, direct route through northern Sinai to the Land of Israel, which was only an eleven days’ journey?

Testing and building of one’s faith would be my guess in answering the question as to why Elohim had the children of Israel take the long route. In a barren wilderness we have nothing much to sustain us; water is scarce, food isn’t freely available and a fixed shelter to protect from the elements is hard to sustain. All that we would have in the wilderness is our faith to trust in who will provide for us; we either turn to Ha’shem or turn against Him. The first example that we see Israel takes is the option of complaining, especially as it has been cornered in against the Red Sea and the pursuing army of the Egyptians. A preparation needs to be done in order to enter into the Promised Land and that would seem to be a preparation of battle against wickedness. As the verse say’s that Israel wasn’t prepared yet. Now we know that Elohim would deliver his children from the people that live in the land already. Still Israel must learn warfare 101 according to Elohim, they still have to fight in battle, but the fighting must be done with trusting in Elohim in spiritual way and not in natural way.

Is a wilderness experience something that all of God’s people need to experience as well? The answer would be YES! We in essence are to endure some persecution in our lifetime as well, a sort of wilderness experience.” Second Timothy 3:12 says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Messiah Yeshua shall suffer persecution.” Knowing that we’ll suffer in this lifetime, following Elohim doesn’t seem to be all that attractive, but we do have the great examples in the Tanach of Elohim being with and delivering his people from such adversities. Israel’s wilderness experiences can serve as these great examples. Luke 21:19 “By standing firm you will gain life” We need not be afraid because the B’rit Hadasha with Messiah’s sufferings shows the pinnacle of wickedness being destroyed. Elohim is truly faithful to deliver his children; all we have to do is to not turn back to Egypt.

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