Parsha Va'era: Shemoth/Exodus 6:2 - 9:35
YAHUAH is Savior of the world. He is our Deliverer and our Redeemer.
He Who brought the children of Yisrael out of Egypt can and will bring us out of any harsh or difficult circumstance.
He’ll bring us out...as long as we’re ready to be brought out.
Why is this Happening?
Parsha Va’era begins with YAH’s answer to Mosheh’s complaints at the end of last week’s readings. When Mosheh told the Hebrews that deliverance was near and then told Pharaoh “Let My people go,” the result was an increased workload and even harsher treatment.
The people complained to Mosheh, and feeling sorry for their burdens and responsible for their added distress, Mosheh questions YAH:
(22) And Mosheh returned to יהוה and said, “יהוה, why have You done evil to this people? Why did You send me? (23) For ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your Name, he has done evil to this people. And You have not delivered Your people at all.” (Shem/Ex. 5:22-23)
YAHUAH answers Mosheh by again revealing His Name saying, “Ani YAHUAH - I am YAHUAH” (Shem/Ex. 6:2). He then goes on to say that He has remembered His covenant with the fathers, He has heard their groanings, and He will indeed redeem them - despite what it may look like.
Even though these are encouraging words, it seems as if YAH doesn’t directly answer Mosheh’s questions of why things got worse.
But His Name IS the answer!
Listen or Obey?
Mosheh relayed YAH’s answer to the people (the message in Shem. 6:2-8 about His Name and His promise to redeem them), but…
“...they did not listen to Mosheh, because of shortness of spirit, and from hard slavery.” (Shem/Ex. 6:9)
The people did not listen to Mosheh.
The Hebrew word translated as “listen” can mean different things: to hear with your physical ears, to understand, or to obey.
Of course, they physically heard Mosheh, and his message was pretty easy to understand (especially since it was the promise that had been passed down to them from their fathers).
So, perhaps “listen” in this verse means the children of Yisrael did not “obey” Mosheh.
This is proven by verse 12:
“And Mosheh spoke before יהוה, saying, “The children of Yisra’ĕl have not listened to me, and why would Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?”” (Shem/Ex. 6:12)
The same word “listen” is used for both the children of Yisrael and Pharaoh. In Pharaoh’s case, it definitely means “obey” because Pharaoh was supposed to obey Moshe’s (YAH’s) command to “Let My people go.” Pharaoh was supposed to listen - obey - Moshe, and so the people were also expected to listen - obey - Mosheh.
But obey what exactly?
All Mosheh did was tell them that YAHUAH was going to redeem them. What were they supposed to obey?
A Hidden Commandment
Check out Yehezqel/Ezekiel 20:1-12, especially vs. 5-8.
In this passage, YAHUAH talks about when He sent word to Yisrael and promised them that He would take them out of Mitsrayim. He says that He told them, “I am YAHUAH your Elohim” (Yehez/Ezek. 20:5).
He also says that He gave them a command - a command that’s not apparent in the Shemoth readings:
(7) “And I said to them, ‘Each one of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Mitsrayim! I am יהוה your Elohim.’
(8) “But they rebelled against Me, and would not obey Me. All of them did not throw away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Mitsrayim. So I resolved to pour out My wrath on them to complete My displeasure against them in the midst of the land of Mitsrayim.” (Yehez/Ezek. 20:7-8)
YAHUAH told them to get rid of their idols - but they didn't obey Him.
Also, in Wayyiqra/Leviticus 18 (after they’ve already come out), YAHUAH tells them not to do the things the Mitsrites (Egyptians) did:
(2)“Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, and say to them, ‘I am יהוה your Elohim.
(3) ‘Do not do as they do in the land of Mitsrayim, where you dwelt. And do not do as they do in the land of Kenaʽan, where I am bringing you, and do not walk in their laws.
(4) ‘Do My right-rulings and guard My laws, to walk in them. I am יהוה your Elohim.
(5) ‘And you shall guard My laws and My right-rulings, which a man does and lives by them. I am יהוה." (Leviticus/Wayyiqra 18:2-5)
From Yehezqel and Wayyiqra, we see that the children of Yisrael had taken on the ways of Mitsrayim. They were a separate people, but they had started to behave and live like the people around them, like the people who did not serve YAHUAH.
When it came time for redemption, YAHUAH commanded them to change their ways - to remove the idolatry and to not live like the Mitsrites.
“... but they did not listen to Mosheh..." (Shem/Ex. 6:9)
This is why things got worse before they got better.
The time for redemption had come. YAHUAH told them what to do to prepare for their redemption, but they didn’t obey. So, the pressure got worse.
The pressure increased to bring them to the point of teshuva - repentance.
So, when Mosheh complained and asked, “YAHUAH, why have You done evil to this people?”, YAH answered, “Ani YAHUAH - I am YAHUAH” (Shem. 6:2).
In Yehezqel, when YAH talked about removing idolatry, He says, “Ani YAHUAH - I am YAHUAH.”
In Wayyiqra, when He talks about not doing the ways of Mitsrayim, He says, “Ani YAHUAH - I am YAHUAH.”
He told the children of Yisrael to remove their idols, and when they didn’t, He said, “Ani YAHUAH - I am YAHUAH.”
Is this to imply that they (or we) don’t know His Name?
No. YAHUAH is not simply relating knowledge or information.
He is impressing upon us the reality of Who He is.
The reality that we must come to understand to the depths of our being. We have to understand and internalize completely that He is YAHUAH.
And the flip-side of this: there is none else.
“And you shall know today, and shall recall to your heart that יהוה Himself is Elohim in the heavens above and on the earth beneath; there is none else.” (Deb/Deut. 4:39)
The importance of understanding these two concepts is emphasized by the first two commands given at Sinai: (1) I am YAHUAH and (2) You have no other mighty-ones against my face.
When we truly understand that He is YAHUAH, we will obey His commands unquestioningly. We will walk in His ways and not the ways of the people around us.
When we truly understand that He is YAHUAH, we will have no idols because we know that there is none else.
YAH’s answer to Mosheh of “Ani YAHUAH” was a direct response to the people’s disobedience. They had not removed the idols and were still doing the things of Mitsrayim. He tells them His Name again to impress it upon them so that they truly begin to understand Who He is.
This was Yisrael’s part to play in the redemption. The time had come for deliverance, but Yisrael had to be ready. They had to do teshuva - return to YAHUAH by removing their idols and changing their ways.
Because they had fallen so far spiritually, it would take time before Yisrael was truly worthy of receiving the Torah - thus, the whole wilderness journey. However, they were required to begin the process in Mitsrayim, in order for the redemption and deliverance to take place.
There are times in life when we find ourselves in a ‘Mitsrayim.’ When we feel like we’re stuck in a miserable situation and there is nothing we can do to make our life better, we're in ‘Mitsrayim.’
YAHUAH is Savior of the world. He is our Deliverer and Redeemer. He is more than able to deliver us from any situation or circumstance.
We just have to make sure that we do our part in the redemption process. We have to make sure that we’re ready when our redemption comes.
At the appointed time of our deliverance, we have to be sure that we’ve done what YAHUAH required of us, that we’ve listened to - obeyed - His commands to get rid of our idols and change our ways.
Does He expect us to be perfect before He saves us? No.
But He does expect us to have begun the teshuva process and to continually be engaged in our teshuva.
Meaning: We have to remove and refrain from idolatry and continually strive to improve our ways while we’re waiting on YAH's deliverance.
We will do both of these when we fully comprehend that YAHUAH is Elohim and there is none else. When we begin to understand, we begin to make changes in our life. When we make the changes, then we’re doing our part. We’re preparing ourselves for the redemption, the salvation to come.
When YAH’s appointed time comes, because we’re ready, because we’ve done our part, we’ll be redeemed in an instant - just like Yoseph, and just like the night of the first Passover when Pharaoh said,
“ …Arise, go out from the midst of my people, both you and the children of Yisra’ĕl. And go, serve יהוה as you have said.’” (Shem/Ex. 12:31)
“And it came to be on that same day that יהוה brought the children of Yisra’ĕl out of the land of Mitsrayim according to their divisions.” (Shem/Ex. 12:51)
Redemption can come in an instant...we just have to be ready!