This week our parasha is Beshalach which means “When He Let go”. Besalach covers Exodus 13:17-17:16 and picks up where Bo left off. In this parasha we see our people doubting the Lord. Every time He demonstrates He is a perfect and holy God. The tests of the Lord expose our sinful, doubting hearts.
Our parasha begins in Exodus 13 with the Lord leading our people to the Red Sea. The Lord appeared as a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night. As we moved forward the Lord’s presence was always before us. Right as our people reach the Red Sea, the army of Egypt lead by the Pharaoh is seen approaching fast. We then became fearful and complained to Moses that we should have never left Egypt to march to our deaths. But the Lord as always had His plans and He parted the Red Sea. In a dramatic display of Adonai’s power, the Red Sea parts so powerfully that our people cross on dry ground. Foolishly the army of Egypt attempts to follow but they are swallowed by the sea as the dividing ends. The Torah records that our people saw the bodies of the army washed onto the shore and believed in the Lord and Moses. Safe now from Egypt all Israel sings a joyful song to the Lord.
But very soon the parasha moves from this joyful song to our people doubting the Lord again. After traveling through the desert for several days there was no fresh water to drink when we came to Marah. Once again, we doubted the Lord and complained to Moses. Again, the Lord provided for us by having Moses turn bitter water into fresh water. After this the Lord told our people that if we were to obey and follow His commandments, we would never experience plagues like in Egypt. The Lord stated that He was putting us to the test to see if we would remain obedient and faithful.
Quickly after Marah our people began to complain once again, this time about having no food. We grumbled against Moses and said it was better to be back in Egypt with plenty of meat to eat and not starving to death in the wilderness! In response to these complains the Lord told Moses He was going to test our people. The Lord brought Manna, a sweet substance, from heaven to satisfy our hunger. We were instructed to only harvest Manna for 6 days and to rest on the Sabbath from our labors. We were only able to gather enough to satisfy our hunger, none of it could be hoarded for the next day. We always had exactly as much Manna as we needed, no more, no less. The Lord also said the Manna we gathered before the Sabbath would be sufficient for both days, all we had to do was trust in the Lord to provide and there would be no difficulties. He also provided us with Quail meat in the evenings to eat as well.
Our people failed this test though. Many tried to hoard the Manna for the next day and many went out on the Sabbath looking for more Manna as well.
The parasha ends with our people’s rebellion at Massah. In that place our people were ready to stone Moses for lack of water. Again, we doubted the goodness of God. But even though we sinfully rebelled, the Lord still mercifully provided water from a rock for our people.
As we reflect on Beshalach we today can see how completely our people failed the tests of Adonai. Even though they had seen Adonai strike the land of Egypt with His wonders they faltered at the Red Sea. Even after crossing the Red Sea we acted as if the Lord would let us die of thirst and hunger. It was even to the point that Moses was in fear for his life.!
Proverbs 17:3 states this simple truth: “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” The Lord tested our people repeatedly in this parasha and we failed every time. We did not trust in the Lord to keep His word or to provide for our basic needs. Now it is easy to look at a parasha like this and come away with a sense of superiority or shock. But we should not delude ourselves into thinking we would have acted differently if we had been there. The truth is we are as susceptible to doubt and sin as that generation. How often do we forget what the Lord has done for us in the face of new challenges? How often do we doubt His goodness and plans when things don’t go the way we want or expect?
Psalm 95:8 shouts to us, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness.” The Lord declared that generation would not enter His rest because they did not know His ways. They heard but they did not listen, they saw but they did not understand, and so they died in the wilderness. Their unwillingness to trust in God’s grace condemned them to die to in the wilderness. Each of us today has a similar choice to make, to accept the grace provided through Messiah Yeshua or to rebel. The writer of the letter to the Messianic Jews builds on Psalm 95 to make this point, “For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” (Hebrews 4:2).
So, we need to test ourselves and see if we are right with our Creator. Have you put your trust in the Lord through the Messiah? Are you walking in the ways of the Lord or are you walking according to what you think is best? Is your heart hardened or softened towards the Lord?
As we move through the difficulties and tests of this life it is my hope and prayer the Lord would refine us all. May each of us be approved by God through our faith in Messiah Yeshua. May we remember all the good promises of the Lord when going through difficult times. May each of us on a day soon be told, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”