Welcome to Va’era (And He Appeared), this week’s Parasha (Torah Portion).
Va’era (And I Appeared)
· Exodus 6:2–9:35
· Ezekiel 28:25 - 29:21
· Revelation 15:1–16:20
“And I appeared [Va’era] to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov as El Shaddai [אל שדי] but by MY Name, YAHUVEH (יהוה), I did not make MYSELF known to them.” (Exodus 6:2–3)
In last week’s Torah study, YAHUVEH appeared to Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai in a burning bush, instructing him to lead the Israelites out of Pharaoh’s bondage. Because Moses perceived himself to be slow of speech, YAHUVEH appointed his brother Aaron to be his spokesperson.
When the brothers went before Pharaoh, he refused to let the Israelites go. Instead of making the situation better, the Israelites’ enslavement became more oppressive. Pharaoh required them to gather their own straw whereas previously it had been provided for them and still produce the same quota of bricks.
Of course, the children of Israel complained to Moses, so he brought their suffering before GOD, who reassured him that things would turn around. YAHUVEH told him that HE would not only save the Israelites with a mighty deliverance, but Pharaoh would drive them from Egypt.
YAHUVEH Redeems Israel Past, Present and Future
In this Parasha, YAHUVEH promises Moses that HE will accomplish four redemptive acts: HE would bring out the Israelites from their suffering in Egypt, rescue them from slavery, redeem them from their oppression with HIS outstretched arm, and take them as HIS own Nation (am).
These four promises are called the Four Expressions of Redemption, and they are traditionally commemorated during the Passover Seder ritual meal with four cups of wine.
For each of these acts of deliverance written in Exodus 6:6–7, YAHUVEH used the following Hebrew words:
· Hotzeiti (הוֹצֵאתִי), which means I will bring out
· Hitzalti (הִצַּלְתִּי), which means I will rescue
· Ga’alti (גָאַלְתִּי), which means I will redeem
· Lakachti (לָקַחְתִּי), which means I will take
YAHUVEH also makes a fifth expression of redemption. HE promises HE will bring (heveiti) HIS People back into their own land.
“And I will bring [heveiti] you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am YAHUVEH.” (Exodus 6:8)
Two thousand years ago, when the Jewish People lived in the Promised Land, this fifth expression may have been commemorated during the Seder with a fifth cup of wine.
Although YAHUVEH has been rescuing the Jewish people from their exile and bringing them back into the Land, the fifth cup is considered to represent a complete Redemption through YAHUSHUA the MESSIAH.
This fifth cup at the Passover Seder, therefore, is called the Cup of Elijah, which is left untouched for the Prophet Elijah, who is expected to return to earth to herald the coming of the Messiah and HIS Messianic reign.
When YAHUVEH speaks a Word, it will be done as HE has said, despite how circumstances appear in the natural.
Still, we live in a fallen world. Many of us suffer from spiritual myopia – short-sightedness, caused by focusing on our own suffering and loss.
The Israelites were no different. They were so downtrodden and grieved in spirit that they simply could not believe what Moses said YAHUVEH would do for them. They couldn’t even listen to his words of hope.
“Moses reported this [promise of YAHUVEH] to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” (Exodus 6:9)
This tendency in human nature should remind us to be patient and merciful as we minister to people.
Even today, there are those whose bondage is so cruel and whose spirit so broken that they also cannot hear those who preach the Good News of YAHUSHUA. Sometimes, they must watch us walk in the power of YAHUVEH, seeing signs and wonders before they will listen and believe.
Sometimes, we must faithfully sow seeds, patiently waiting as YAHUVEH grows them.
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but YAHUVEH has been making it grow." (1 Corinthians 3:6)
As YAHUVEH had commanded them, Moses and his brother Aaron (Aharon) returned to Pharaoh over and over again, demanding that he let YAHUVEH’s People go so that they may serve HIM in the wilderness.
This whole account of YAHUVEH’s redemption of Israel from Egypt has a spiritual parallel in our salvation from the kingdom of darkness, ruled by ha satan (literally, the adversary) and the Kingdom of Light, ruled by YAHUVEH.
We are delivered from ha satan through faith in YAHUSHUA, the Passover Lamb, not simply to walk away and “do our own thing.” As it was for the Israelites, the purpose of our freedom is to serve the living GOD.
“For HE has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the SON HE loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13–14)
Pharaoh Remains Prideful Despite Marvels and Wonders
YAHUVEH gave Moses and Aaron a special sign to show Pharaoh. In Hebrew the sign is called a ‘mofet’, which means a ‘marvel’ or ‘wonder’. Aaron was to throw his stick down before Pharaoh, and it would be transformed.
However, Pharaoh, as YAHUVEH foreknew, still refused to let the people go; therefore, YAHUVEH sent HIS judgment on Egypt in the form of the Ten Plagues.
“Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay MY hand on Egypt and bring MY Hosts, MY People the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.” (Exodus 7:4)
These plagues are remembered each year at the Passover Seder during the second cup of wine. One drop is removed from the cup for each of the plagues, while the leader recites the list of judgments in Hebrew.
The idea behind this custom is that our cup which represents joy cannot be full while others are suffering.
First, the waters of the Nile River were turned to blood (dam), making it undrinkable. Then frogs (tzfardeim) swarmed the land, and then an infestation of lice (kinim) tormented man and beast.
Until the plague of lice (kinim), the Egyptian magicians and sorcerers were able to duplicate the plagues but, with this plague, they could not. Therefore, they recognized this to be the finger of YAHUVEH.
“Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh: 'This is the finger of YAHUVEH'; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as YAHUVEH had spoken.” (Exodus 8:19)
Pharaoh had hardened his heart and would not listen to the voice of reason – one of the surest signs of pride. A humble man or woman will receive correction willingly, but a person with pride immediately becomes defensive and will not listen to others. This can bring about his downfall.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
Note the contrast between Pharaoh and Moses, who even today is considered to be the most humble man to walk the earth. When Yethro, Moses’ father-in-law, corrected him on his approach to settling disputes between the Israelites in the wilderness, Moses listened and took heed.
“So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.” (Exodus 18:24)
Although Pharaoh promised to let the Jewish People go after the plague of lice, he hardened his heart and reneged on his promise. As a result, YAHUVEH sent swarms of flies (arov) that covered the land, then a disease (dever) that killed all the cattle.
YAHUVEH made a distinction between Israel and Egypt. While all the cattle of Egypt died, not even one of Israel's cattle fell to the disease. (Exodus 9:4)
This underlines the importance and reliability of being in a covenantal relationship with the Almighty GOD. None of Egypt’s best sorcerers and masters of the occult could save them from the hand of YAHUVEH.