Torah Portion for week 14: Exodus 6:2 – 9:35
Va’eira (And I appeared)
Is God really in control over rulers and nations and the destiny of his people? As we look at this week’s Torah reading portion, it is amazing to see the power of God revealed in Scripture as the stage is being set for the famous Exodus of God’s people from Egypt. In the passage before us, we are about to experience a powerful encounter between the God of the Hebrews and Pharaoh, the most powerful ruler of the world at the time.
As we look at the situation of the world around us today, we can often wonder if God really is in control, and we can quickly find ourselves consumed with fear and doubt about what is to come! To this day, evil rulers and dictators still rule over their people in tyranny. Even more disconcerting is the fact that we see a modern trend to push God completely off the stage of world history. In Israel, we face the daily threat of war and annihilation from enemies surrounding us. But the truth is that God always was and always will be in complete control. He has the final word!
Exodus 6 – 9 may be summarized with a verse from Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” There are several lessons for us to take today from this passage as we look at Moses, Israel, and Pharaoh.
Moses is in despair after his first appearance before Pharaoh seems to be a failure; he says to God, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exod 5:22, 23).
But God, having already predicted Pharaoh’s hardened heart, replies to Moses in Exodus 6:1, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” God in his grace uses Moses, a man like you and me, to stand in the gap between Israel and Pharaoh and demand the people’s redemption. May God give us the grace to stand in the gap for our people today.
The Israelites, on the other hand, did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and the harsh slavery – this, in many ways, is a picture of mankind today, struggling to listen to God’s word as they suffer from the bondage of slavery to sin. Let us be encouraged today that God is still faithful to deliver people from bondage.
Last but not least, we see Pharaoh and his magicians like the “stream of water” in God’s hand, as they face brutal plagues that bring destruction and desolation to a rebellious ruler and his nation. As for God, he has the final word as he states to Pharaoh, “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exod 9:16).
All of these displays of God’s power were shadows of the ultimate redemption the world experienced with Messiah’s first coming, as well as shadows pointing to the second coming of Yeshua, when his name will be proclaimed in all the earth by those who have been redeemed.