Monday, February 6, 2012

"When Let Go"

'When Let Go'

I want to share some reflections from last week’s Parsha (Torah Portion) which is called Beshalach (when let go). This is the portion of Torah that was read in synagogues around the world during last week’s Shabbat (Saturday) service. I have been blessed during the past year to subscribe to the weekly Parsha shared by a messianic congregation based in Israel; it is truly a blessing to share in such a uniting communal observance, reflecting with the body of Christ on God's goodness and promises to His people. (This has also been the first time for me reading a part of the Parsha in the original language of the text, Hebrew!)
The sermon is titled BESHALACH ('When Let Go')
The readings are taken from Exodus 13:17–17:16; Judges 4:4–5:31; (and John 6:15–71).
I offer here only a brief reflection on the hopeful message of the exodus, which is central to the formation of the nation of Israel; the exodus is essentially the cornerstone: the commandments, the promises, the essence of Judaism, all began with this departure from Egypt. We witness the first few steps of the nation, mingled with fear of the unknown, doubt and later a desperate cry of panic at the prospect of facing a mighty enemy. The text portrays a vivid image of a believer's 'tight spot', a time where all seems bleak (the sea is facing them and pharaoh is at their heels). 

One might wonder why they doubted God, having lived through times of miraculous interventions from Him on their behalf. The answer is that this time, they had to make a decision to move and trust God. when Moses called out to God, the Almighty answered:
“Why are you crying out to Me? Speak to the Israelites and tell them to start moving…” (Exodus 14:15) 

Essentially, for the Israelites, this is a quick journey from 'victim' to 'victorious'. It is a journey we all have to take, and with uncertain steps at the best of times. God understands that the years of our captivity have left us with spiritual/psychological 'baggage' - it is likely that the baggage included low confidence, depression, lack of trust and anxiety. Having spent years of servitude in the kingdom of darkness, they learned to live in fear and perhaps to expect the worst. I quote an exhortation by brother Zev: "If we remember that the Lord fights our battles for us; then we just need to quiet our inner turmoil and trust in Him, hold our peace and refuse to spout unbelief when we are pushed to our limits."

The Shabbat ends with the reciting of Shir Moshe (Song of Moses), a song of joy and praise to God Almighty. A reference to the song of Moses is also found in Revelation 15:2-3,  “Those defeating the beast, its image and the number of its name were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps which God had given them. They were singing the Song of Moshe, the servant of God, and the song of the
Lamb: Great and wonderful are the things you have done, Adonai, God of heaven’s armies!”
(Revelations 15:2-3). Amen.

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