"The Israelites Crossing the Red Sea" by Circle of Juan de la Corte

Exodus 13:17–17:16: If God is with us, who can be against us?

A shelach is an emissary or an ambassador. In this section, we will meet several people who were sent to represent God. There are several questions to as yourself as you read through this parashah including: “Is God with us?”, “Are we really free?”, “Where do we find our daily bread?” and “Where do we find living water?” The main message of this parashah is about Emanuel, God is with us.

That’s the focus of the Torah reading, בְּשַׁלַּח Beshalach (“when he sent”), covering Ex. 13:17-17:16.

Is God really bringing the cloud by day and the fire by night, the manna, the quail and the water out of the rock or are these spectacular acts just natural occurrences? Are we free? Do we even understand what freedom God wants to give us? The children of Israel were leaving Egypt but did they leave Egypt or were they carrying it with them?

We have been here before and this section is yet another warning that we need to be on guard. We need to know where we have a weakness and make sure that weak spot has a defense.

God put the children of Israel into several hopelessly outmatched situations to test Israel as to whether they would trust God and have enough faith in Him to trust Him completely or falter.

 “ “It will come about in that day that I will respond,” declares the LORD. “I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,

And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, And they will respond to Jezreel.

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You aremy God!’””(Hosea 2:21–23 NAS95)

Hosea’s words are a prophesy, not only of the Messianic age when Gentiles will be brought into the Kingdom, but also those of Israel who had thrown God out for idolatry and repented during the exile and returned to their God. God had to hit the reset button of His relationship with the children of Israel on more than one occasion. They would “show up” and peform the right actions on the surface but their hearts were far away from God.

There will be a day when God will no longer be a master but a husband just as Yeshua said that his disciples were no longer servants but friends. This comes about when God transforms our hearts.

The real daily bread comes from God, not just the physical bread but the spiritual bread as well.

The children of Israel had a 40 year adjustment period to get rid of Egypt and to learn more about God and understand Him.

God really needed to know what was in the hearts of the children of Israel. Did they still want their old life or were they ready to accept the new life God wanted to give them? God didn’t take them out of Egypt to be mean but because He knew the new life He had for them in the Promised Land would be much better. He wanted them to be free, not enslaved.

The Torah is the law of liberty, it frees us from the sins that used to enslave us. God’s instructions always show us something new. They never lose their relevances and force. They lead us to know that we need a savior.

They came out with a “mixed multitude” and there were also a lot of people who were grumbling and complaining. It would not be beyond reason to believe that only a small portion of the children of Israel left Egypt during the Exodus, just as only a small remnant of Judah returned to the Promised Land after the exile.

God does have a “strange mercy.” We aren’t to write people off as hopelessly bound for hell. Condemning people is a form of testimony and since only God knows who is bound for hell and who is not, we commit perjury if we ignorantly condemn people as being written off by God. God is the one to do the pruning, not us.

We don’t understand how important a name is. Whether we’re talking about God’s name or someone else’s name, it’s not about spelling and pronunciation, it’s about reputation and character. What do you think and feel when you hear that name? If God’s name is made common or irrelevant because of how His children act, God will have to judge that strongly.

When Paul says that we are ambassadors of the Messiah, we need to understand that is a heavy task. We are sent out to bring people closer to God. That is why God also calls us a Kingdom of priests, or “minsters of reconciliation” of the division between heaven and mankind.

If you are faced with the question “Is God with us?” ask yourself another question. “Do you want to enter God’s rest?” Yeshua is the Emanuel, God with us. If you are in Yeshua, God is with you and the separation between yourself and God is repaired. Messiah came to take care of all that.

Are we going to believe that or not? This is the lesson of Shabbat to remind us of Emanuel that God is with us every week.

The message of this parashah is Emanuel, God is with us. If we turn our back on Emanuel, there is no sacrifice left for us. Today, if we hear His voice, we need to enter His rest.

Banner image: Circle of Juan de la Corte (1580-1663), “The Israelites Crossing the Red Sea,” Oil on canvas, Fundacion Banco Santander, Wikimedia Commons / Google Art Project, Public domain (U.S.), 1630-1660.


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