“Man is free, but everywhere he is in chains,” wrote a French philosopher in the mid-18th century, setting off a firestorm in Europe against monarchy.1 But more the three thousand years earlier, a greater shockwave resounded from within the superpower empire of Mitzraim, and that’s what we see in this week’s Torah reading, שמות Shemot (“names,” Exodus 1:1–6:1).
“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11 NASB)
” ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.’ ” (Mark 6:4 NASB)
The ancient saying “familiarity breeds contempt”1 could easily sum up how Yosef‘s brothers treated him in his early years and how many leaders of Yisra’el treated Yeshua. The prophetic parallels between Yosef and Yeshua the Mashiakh sharpen further in this week’s Torah section, ויגש Vayigash (“he approached,” Genesis 44:18–47:27).
In it, the brothers’ contempt turns to fear when they realize their plots against Yosef have put them at his mercy. It’s also a picture of the Day of the LORD, when Yisra’el then the world must confess, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the LORD” (Psalm 118:26; Matthew 23:39; Luke 13:35).
Have you ever felt like God has abandoned you? Or at least forgotten about what you’re going through? It would have been easy for Yosef to think so. He’d been languishing in prison for a crime he didn’t commit for at least two years. The second installment of the account of Yosef (see part 1) is in this week’s Torah section, מקץ Miketz (“from the end,” Gen. 41:1–44:17). We see “that dreamer” go from victim of justice to vice president of the mighty empire of Mitzraim, and the prophecy pointing forward to Yeshua the Mashiakh gets fleshed out.
It’s not easy to leave one’s family, even at 75 years old, but God called Abram out of his father’s house for his own good. This was Abram’s first test.
In the Torah passage לֶךְ-לְךָ Lech Lecha/Lekh Lekha (“go forth,” Genesis 12:1-17:27), we learn that Abram’s faith came from both hearing God’s instruction and doing it. Doing matters, not just hearing. Hearing is easy, doing is much more involved and more difficult. When our life is smooth and we get instant gratification, it’s easy to continue walking in a way that brings a quick blessing. But when we are doing something that is right but we do not receive instant gratification, it’s harder to continue doing what is right.
When God tells us to do the right thing but we don’t want to do it, it’s hard to do it anyway.
The seventh day of Chag Matzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) is a memorial to the crossing of the Red Sea. It’s not only the zenith of most movies about Israel’s flight from Egypt but also a parable about every believer’s path to repentance, salvation and righteousness.
Mankind can only serve one master: God or sin. We can’t serve both. God purchased all of Israel with the death of the first born to serve Him. God owns all of Israel. God is not only teaching Israel a lesson but Egypt as well. When God covered the children of Israel with the cloud and then sent them through the sea, this was a form of baptism.
Repentance is something that happens on the inside, the water is a physical representation of that repentance. Repentance doesn’t pay for your sins. Repentance is merely step 1 of our walk with God. It clears the conscience so salvation can enter. Step 2 is filling one’s life, so “Egypt” will never return.
Yitzkhak was a messianic figure, showing us that Mashiakh was supposed to die and that Mashiakh’s death will bring freedom. Yosef is the new Messianic figure who shows us that Mashiakh will rule and reign after He dies and is released from death.
We don’t know which pharaoh that helped raise Moses or which pharaoh Moses confronted to free the ancient Israelis from slavery.