Bo – “Go”

What is the condition of your heart?  Is it strengthened by a close relationship with your heavenly Father or is it fortified by an indifference or contempt for His word?

This week’s Torah portion is entitled, Parasha Bo, meaning “Go.”  It covers Exodus 10:1-13:16.  Previously, despite the Lord’s many warnings to Pharaoh, all of which he disregarded, and regardless of seven horrible plagues already poured out onto Egypt, Pharaoh repeatedly hardened his heart and went back on his word.  So here in Chapter 10, Moses speaks the next plague, and a great swarm of locusts were cast onto Egypt, and in Verse 18, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

We have heard many attempts to place blame on God and not Pharaoh after reading these words, stating that Pharaoh never had a chance, he was doomed from the beginning without choice; however, remember that Pharaoh had already defied God’s commands several times prior to the mention of Adonai hardening his heart.  Pharaoh’s determined heart was full of pride and self-fulfilling desires.  He was very reluctant to give in to God’s will.

Now, before we start throwing stones at the memory of Pharaoh, thinking we are so different, we must recognize that hardness of heart is something each of us must overcome on a daily basis.  We ALL have experienced it.  God wants us to be willing to go wherever He leads us and to do what He asks us to do.  We were created with the ability to strengthen our hearts; to have freewill and it is a tremendous blessing that He gave us.  So harden your heart toward sin and not the Lord.  And I didn’t say harden your heart toward the sinner, I said the sin.  If we continually and willfully refuse to surrender to God, we can place hard layers on our hearts.  If we do this enough; the more we disobey and the longer we rebel, the thicker and harder our heart can become towards Him.  Selfishness and stubbornness stop the flow of life and, much like in the situation with Pharaoh, God can turn His gaze from us and leave us to our sins.

We see this in Romans Chapter 1, when God abandoned wicked men to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired.  They had traded the truth about God for a lie and built up their hearts against that truth.  If any of you understand what it means to be left to your sin and how terrifying of a thought that truly is, then you also understand that this is NOT something you want.  Instead, use that amazing gift God has given you and strengthen your love, your heart, for the Lord.

Verse 21, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.”  So Moses lifted his hand to the sky, and a deep darkness covered the entire land of Egypt for three days.”  Now, this plague was quite the attention-getter.  First of all, “a darkness so thick you can feel it”…I can’t imagine how dark it must have been, but considering God differentiated it from a normal darkness, it must have been a complete, supernatural darkness.  Secondly, Egypt’s greatest and most worshiped false god, Ra, god of the sun, was extinguished right before their very eyes.  The God of Israel was not only showing that He was truly present, but that He has sovereignty over all things, and their false gods did not.  As the Egyptians sat in this thick darkness and the only light burned around the people of Israel, Pharaoh again did not soften his heart and ultimately refused to meet the demands of God.

In preparation for the next and final plague brought down on the land, the death of the firstborn son, the Lord instructed the people of Israel to select a one-year old male lamb, completely free from any imperfection and bring it into their homes on the 10th day of Nisan.  This lamb would live among them for four days in order to ensure it was without defect and then, on the 14th day, God commanded that they sacrifice the lamb and apply its blood to the doorposts of their homes. The people were told to roast and eat the lamb with urgency since they would be departing Egypt quickly.  They were even told to be fully dressed, wear their sandals and carry their walking stick in their hands.  None of the lamb was to be left over until morning, no bone was to be broken, and they were to eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs along with it.

That night, as God said, death passed over any home that had submitted to His will.  The Lord God, in His infinite goodness and mercy, had made a way of escape from this plague.  He had provided salvation.  A plague that was ultimately cast onto all present, including Pharaoh.  All the firstborn died that night, the firstborn children throughout all of Egypt, the firstborn of the livestock, even the firstborn of Pharaoh himself, all died except those that had listened to the will of God and followed His instruction given by Moses.  Finally after this tenth and final plague, Pharaoh instructs Moses and Aaron to depart Egypt with all of Israel…no one and nothing would be left behind.  Not only that, but God didn’t allow them to leave empty-handed.  Neighboring Egyptians willingly gave up large amounts of gold and silver to the people of Israel.  It actually states in Chapter 11 that the Lord had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel, showing that the Lord will provide, even in the most hostile environment.  So, for over 400 years, the people had lived in Egypt and on this night the Lord kept His promise to deliver His people out of that land.  Therefore, every year, we are to remember and celebrate these events from generation to generation.

When you view the instructions of Passover in hindsight, knowing that Jesus is the Messiah, it is very easy to see all the foreshadowing involved.  Yeshua is the spotless Lamb set aside before the foundation of the world.  As the people of Israel kept watch over their lamb ensuring its perfection, so was Jesus watched during His ministry on Earth.  As no bone was to be broken during the lamb’s sacrifice, so neither were the bones of Messiah during His crucifixion.  Just as death passed over their homes due to the blood of an innocent lamb painted on the doorposts of their homes, death has also passed over us due to the blood of Yeshua the Messiah being applied to the doorposts of our hearts.

Brothers and sisters, we are all very blessed.  We have indeed been given the ability to be strong at heart.  Let’s use this blessing properly.  Proverbs Chapter 4, Verse 23 states, “guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  I’ll say that again, “GUARD YOUR HEART ABOVE ALL ELSE…FOR IT DETERMINES THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE!”  The course of our lives is determined by whatever penetrates our hearts!  It is no wonder why God instructs us “above all else” to guard what our hearts are exposed to.  Whatever we expose our hearts to will either direct us toward, or lead us away from God.  We guard our hearts when we purposely focus our thoughts on Yeshua, the spotless Lamb.  Choosing to turn your mind toward Him will keep you sensitive to the Holy Spirit and your heart will never become hardened when you allow His love to fill it up.

Pharaoh was in a total rebellion against God and his heart got stronger and stronger.  He was capable of ignoring every plague, miracle, sign and wonder, and even the voice of a prophet.  In the end, his will was broken and God’s reigned supreme.  Now, let’s look at the Messiah.  Yeshua was in total submission to God and His heart only became stronger and stronger.  He stayed in perfect communion with the Father, only doing what God asked Him to do and say.

Prior to His earthly death, He prayed in Luke Chapter 22, Verse 42, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering from Me.  Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine.”  Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him.  We can all resolve to be more like Yeshua and less like Pharaoh.  Just imagine the difference that could be made in your life if you are determined to walk with Jesus with ALL of your heart.  The Word of God should steer each of us as we navigate our course through life.  This unfailing navigational tool will undoubtedly ensure that we reach our destination.

I will leave you with this last word, for we all should truly understand where we can gain full, pure strength of heart.  Philippians Chapter 4, Verses 4 through 7:  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua.

Shabbat Shalom!