By Joseph Shulam.
The Torah reading this Shabbat is called Bo! = “Come.”
Exodus 10:1 – 13:15.
From the Prophets, the reading is from Jeremiah 46:13-28
From the New Testament, the reading is from
Luke 22:7-30 and 1 Corinthians 11:20 – 34.
Before I go into the Biblical texts, please forgive me for sharing about the situation of Israel these days. Israel has been at war with a very cruel and sadistic enemy that has no morals and has demonic hate against Jews in general and against Jews in Israel.
Israel has been at war for 104 days on two fronts, in the South with Hamas, a heartless, cruel, sadistic pervert. The Hamas is Persia, Iran. They are supported, trained, inspired, and motivated by Iran. They are a proxy of Iran and armed and financed at least partially by Iran.
In the North, the war is with Hezbollah, also a proxy of Iran. Israel is fighting ruthless and cruel enemies that have no morals, and they are trained and armed by Iran. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are totally under Iranian control, inspiration, and finance.
Israel, Netivyah, and the Shulam family need your prayers. We need your prayers for all of Israel and for the Israeli government to be wise and make decisions that are for now in the middle of the war and also for the release of the 136 hostages held under horrible conditions in deep man-made tunnels that can be as deep as 150 feet. There are more than 100 US miles of man-made tunnels under the ground everywhere and on more than one level. The Hamas leadership and military headquarters and their torture chambers are all underground in the miles and miles of deep dark tunnels where they are keeping the Israeli-Jewish Hostages. Some are sexually abused repeatedly and often murdered.
Please pray for Marcia, my wife, and for me, too. I had a biopsy of several overgrown lymph nodes in my chest and other internal parts.
The Torah portion Bo starts with the Hebrew word Bo, “Come.” – Normally speaking, when you send someone out, you say to him “Go,” not “Come!”
The Hebrew has a double meaning. Not only “Go see Pharaoh,” but “Go inside of Pharaoh!” It is clear from the text that the Lord sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand the Egyptian ruler release the children of Israel from their slavery and let them go free to the land of Canaan! The Torah portion of Bo starts with Exodus chapter 10:1, but verse 2 fascinates me.
“Go into Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”
What fascinates me in this text is that the Lord tells us why and for what reason He is using these plagues on Egypt. God was interested in advertising and publicizing HIMSELF before Pharaoh and the Egyptians and also before Israel to show them who is the BOSS, “My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD!” I was surprised that in the first chapters of Exodus, God uses unusual and special signs and plagues to show both sides that God is in charge. The first plagues didn’t touch the people of Egypt in their bodies. The Nile River turned into blood. God damaged the animals. Then, the plagues moved on to the people with the plague of locusts that affected the Egyptians’ land and agriculture. From there, the plagues progressed to damage the people of Egypt themselves.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Plagues is that the Egyptians suffered from them, and these Plagues didn’t touch the Israelites. This is a major sign that these were not natural plagues but ones that were specifically aimed at and touched the Egyptians and not the Israelites.
I learned things about the Power of God that are not so commonly recognized. These are very important lessons for the disciples of Yeshua to understand.
To build trust in God, He can aim the plagues against specific groups of people, and others on the sidelines will not be affected. This is important for understanding how God works on this Earth.
The children of Israel walked on dry ground, crossing the Red (reed) sea. Hours later, the same Red Sea became a death trap for the armies of the Pharaoh. All Egypt was in Darkness, and the children of Israel had light.
This reminds you that the LORD controls all forces of nature: the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars. Our question for the end times is not How God Will do it and How there will be light without the Sun shining by day. “It is not for me to ask why but to do and die!”[i] These are the words of Isaiah about the end times:
“Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls Salvation, And your gates Praise. “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, Nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the LORD will be your everlasting light, And the days of your mourning shall be ended. Also your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.” (Isaiah 60:18–21 NKJV)
I am bringing these verses from Isaiah the Prophet that describe the end chapters of this world after the cosmic changes take place. The interesting part for today is Isaiah 60:18, which predicts that “Violence shall no longer be heard in your (our) land!” The word violence in Hebrew is Hamas! Yes, the same word as the name of this horrible, inhuman cruelty and beastly behavior.
In our Torah reading this Shabbat, we have a major reminder of another of these things that the disciples of Yeshua and the Jewish people forget. Yes, we forget that God, our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Israel, is also the God of all the nations. These nations might not know this or recognize the One True God who created this universe and all that is in this universe. This includes the Arabs, and He even knows what is their hearts. This very interesting text in our Torah reading this Shabbat:
“But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go.” (Exodus 10:20 NKJV).
The phrase “The LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart” appears 13 times in the story of the Exodus. The phrase puzzles me and may be for you, too. Most of the time, when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart when Pharaoh was willing to make some deal or concession, God hardened his heart. What can I learn from these divine tactics that God is using in the Exodus story?
1. God has a master plan with all detailed pre-planning and a program to execute His will and make His plan work. It is clearly seen in the 13 times in the story of the Exodus that God hardens the heart of Pharaoh to keep him from releasing Moses and the children of Israel from Egyptian Slavery.
2. The story of Exodus is about one major topic – Who is in control of Nature, and people’s hearts, and the heart of the King (in this case, Pharaoh, the great ruler of Egypt) 73 times in the Bible “God hardened a heart and 32 times God made Pharaoh’s heart heavy. What can we learn from this about rulers, kings, and people God uses to make His program and plan succeed? The program always comes through to save His people and bring glory to His name!
3. In our reading this Shabbat, God also demonstrates His full control of nature, light, and darkness. He controlled the small animals like the lice on the heads of the Egyptians and also the locusts who came in hordes that covered the sky and devoured the green in the land of Egypt.
4. The last point I learned from this Torah portion concerns the people, not the plagues. Moses and Aaron don’t understand God and wonder what is happening here! Moses and Aaron didn’t understand but believed in the end game. They knew that God would succeed in the end because God predicted this to Moses in his first encounter in Mount Sinai and the burning bush. The how was God driving Pharaoh to release the slaves that were building His Egypt.
In our Torah reading this Shabbat is the Passover story and the actual departure that is the greater story of deliverance, emancipation, and liberation—the liberation of a national family-based group of millions of liberated slaves. God’s plan, as revealed in the Passover night and the Passover meal, is to take a problematic tribal group and make a nation out of them.
So, God showed the children of Israel first that He can control nature, and second, He can control the powers of kings and direct their ways. What about us, the simple folk? We who are willing to serve God and men? We are the objective and the focus of God’s eyes and heart.
One more point that I must never miss or forget. God loves His world so much that He has planned and given His Son Yeshua to be the world’s savior. Now, just to put the Cherry on top of the cream – Yeshua is also a kind of Moses. He is both a Messenger of God and a conclusive object of God’s plan for the salvation of not only one nation but the whole world. This is why the Passover becomes the feast of salvation and redemption from the different forms of slavery for the entire world.
The last point of this study is that I encourage all of you to actually go and read the Torah portion and from the Prophets and above all, know that there is Someone, far, far away beyond the rainbow, that rules this world. A world that He created and seeks that no one will suffer in Hell and everyone can be saved, delivered, and overcome with God’s help and obedience!
READ the Book and become a character in the story! The celebration of the Passover is not only a one-time moment. It is a continuous celebration for each of us, our families, our tribe, and our nations. The same God that took the children of Israel from Egypt is still saving, delivering, blessing, and leading His Children.
Right now, we might be in the 40 years of wandering through the deserts of life. But for all who follow and build God’s Tabernacle, even in the wilderness of life, there is a promised land waiting for us all! A Jerusalem without violence or Hamas and hate and animosity like Israel is today. In these days of war and suffering, a battle between the sons of light against the children of darkness – remember that you want to have a part in the rebuilding of the fallen tabernacle of David, which James talks about in Acts 15: 12-17:
“Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: “After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.’” (Acts 15:12–17 NKJV)