By, Rabbi David Markel Hall
Torah: Ex 13:17-17:16, Prophets: Judge 4:4-5:31

Exodus 13:17 "And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had Be-Shallach (let the people go), that G-d led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for G-d said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:"

When G-d first sets us free, he doesn't take us directly into (spiritual) war because we would be tempted to return to our old ways. Instead, He starts a process of placing us into impossible situations and then demonstrating His reality and power by taking us miraculously through the situations. This is evidenced in this week's Torah portion. G-d knows and understands our weaknesses and is ready to act on our behalf to deliver us from troubles. Later, after we have come through the wilderness, He puts us through the paces of fighting some of our own battles, with His help to insure that we win. 1 Cor. 15:57 "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our L-rd Yeshua HaMoshiach."

Next Israel faced the Red Sea. When we follow G-d we often find ourselves at the "Red Sea". Some say that this should be translated "Reed Sea", which is located further to the north than the Red Sea. However, if this were the case, they would have had to pass through Philistine country, which is contrary to verse 17.

Exodus 14:1,2 "And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall you encamp by the sea." Just because something didn't work out the way you thought it would, doesn't mean you haven't heard from the L-rd. When the Israelites faced the Red Sea, they not only were provided a way to leave which was supernatural, but they also lost their primary enemy, the Egyptian army. If we will only trust G-d, He will not only provide a way of escape for us, but will also in the process destroy the army chasing us. Baruch haShem!

11,12 "And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore have you dealt this way with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell you in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness." How soon we forget. Just a short time earlier the people were crying out to G-d for a deliverer. When G-d sent one, we don't like the results. Believe it or not, no mater how bad things look to the eyes, the L-rd is in control. Trust Him.

15,16 "And the LORD said unto Moses, Why do you cry unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But you lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea." Don't return to your "Egypt", go forward into victory and watch G-d defeat your enemies.

20 "And it (the angel of the L-rd) came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night." What appears to be the L-rd's direction and blessing to you may not be the same to your enemies. To the Israelis, G-d's protection was a blazing flame. To the Egyptians, a dark thick cloud. Flames bring light, which results in understanding and comfort. Darkness produces confusion, fear and prevents clearness of mind.

24 " in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drove them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians." The L-rd loosened the "lug bolts" on their "tires" J and everything came apart, wheels flying everywhere. This would tend to make it more difficult to escape the trap being laid for them.

24,25 "And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,". G-d changed their murmuring and bitter waters into sweet water. Our Sabbath prayers call the Torah Aytz Hayim "A tree of life". Just as Moshe was provided a tree to sweeten the bitter waters, G-d has given us His Torah to sweeten our lives which are bitter without it.

In chapter 16, G-d begins to demonstrate to the Israelis his Holy Sabbath. He provides man (Manna) bread for them during the week and any excess collected turned to worm-infested slime. On Friday however, twice the normal collection of Manna does not spoil, as the residue is used on the Sabbath, to teach them to observe the correct day of the week as the Sabbath. Israel had just left a country whose calendar used an eight-day week. All recollection of the Sabbath had been forgotten. You might say, "Where is the Sabbath mentioned before this?" Gen. 2:2,3 "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

Chapter 17 reveals how G-d struck the rock in the desert to provide water. Keep in mind the prophetic nature of this event. Just as Moshe struck the rock in the desert, G-d struck Tsur Yisrael (the Rock of Israel, Yeshua) to bring fourth living water for those who thirst spiritually.

While fighting Amalek, when Moshe held up his arms and hands with the rod, Israel won. When Moshe lowered his hands, Israel lost. Aaron and Hur brought a rock for Moshe to rest on and held up his arms until the battle was complete and Israel won. The symbolism of the rock and the three men acting as one, in this situation, has spiritual meaning which should not be overlooked.

Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe you greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. Deut 30:3,4
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