Va’era – “And I Appeared”

This week’s Torah portion is Va’era, which means “and I appeared” and covers Exodus 6:2-9:35.  In last week’s parasha, Moses and Aaron were sent to see Pharaoh and request him to allow them to celebrate a feast for three days in the wilderness. Pharaoh does not allow this to happen, and he increases the Israelis’ burden by forcing them to gather their own straw, yet leaving the quota of bricks the same. This will be a great hardship.

Adonai was hardening Pharaoh’s heart to bring about God’s glory. But when the Israelis hear this, they kvetch and blame Moses and ultimately God.

In this week’s parasha, God reminds the Israelis of His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God says “I am the Lord” and reassures them with 7 “I will” statements, which are:

I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,

I will deliver you from slavery

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment

I will take you to be my people

I will be your God

I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and…

I will give it to you for a possession.

Unfortunately, the Israelis are suffering from a broken spirit and have lost hope. It is typical of us to want things on our own timetable and to forget that El Gibbor, the Mighty God, is in charge.

But the time for the plagues is upon Egypt. The showdown between Adonai and Egypt’s false gods is soon to begin, though really it won’t be much of a contest. These 10 plagues will show Egypt and the world that there is only one God, and all the so-called gods are helpless to thwart what El Elyon, the Most High God, can perform.

This parasha covers the first 7 of the 10 plagues.  In the first plague God turns the water of the Nile into blood.

Pharaoh calls upon his magicians to end the plague, but the gods of Egypt are powerless, and it continues until Pharaoh asks Moses to plead with the one true God to make it stop. After seven days, Moses approaches Pharaoh and asks him to “Let our people go” and Pharaoh replies “No.”

The second plague brings about frogs everywhere. The Egyptians cannot walk without stepping on them. They cannot sit or sleep without sharing their quarters with them.

Pharaoh’s magicians were able to generate more frogs, but could not get rid of them.

Pharaoh begs Moses to ask Adonai to remove the frogs, promising he will let our people go.

Moses asks God, and all the frogs die. But the stench was overwhelming. Because God has continued to harden his heart, Pharaoh breaks his promise, and the Israelis are still held captive.  Gnats appear in the third plague. Pharaoh’s magicians cannot produce the gnats, and they tell Pharaoh that only the God of Israel could do this.

The fourth plague involves flies. God says, “On this day I will set up apart the land of Goshen where my people dwell so that no swarms of flies shall be there that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth.”

This first set of three plagues not only fell on the Egyptians but also on the Israelis, they showed very little faith in God when Moses returned and then complained heavily when Pharaoh increase their burden having to get their own straw.   By now, the Israelis have seen the hand of God and are gaining faith.

From now on the remainder of the plagues will only fall upon the Egyptians with the exception of the 10th plague which we are not covering in this Parasha, there was a requirement to NOT be struck in the 10th plague but you’ll have to wait to hear the rest of the story next week.

Pharaoh again pleads with Moses to ask his God to remove the flies and promises to let Moses’ people go to the wilderness.  Pharaoh’s again hardens his heart and refuses to let them go. Moses fifth plague arrives and the Egyptians’ livestock perishes.

The Israeli livestock remains healthy.  The smell of death increases. Yet Pharaoh continues his hold on our people.  The sixth plague has boils breaking out on all the Egyptians and what was left of the animals. Again, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and he refuses.  The seventh plague arrives in the form of hail.  The hail included fire, and killed everything in the fields including trees. God says to Pharaoh, “but for this purpose I have raised you up to show you my power so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth”.  God’s glory increases, and so does the Egyptians’ misery.

By the end of the plagues, the great Egyptian nation will be humbled and broken, and the world will know who the God of the Jewish people is, the Great I Am.

Some points to remember: God continues to intervene on our behalf today.  I know for myself, I see it all the time.  Maybe some of you are not sure that God is working for your good in your life.  Philippians 1:6 states “Being confident of this very thing that God has begun a good work in you and will perform it until the day of Yeshua’s return.”

God knows our needs and He desires to help us, just as he redeemed the Israelis out of Egypt.

Brothers and Sisters we should also remember that even as God Hardened Pharaohs heart to guarantee the outcome Pharaoh’s heart was hard even without God’s hardening of his heart so it should come as no surprise to us that God would punish Pharaoh, for he was responsible for his actions just as we are responsible for our actions, How much more for those of us in leadership who cause others to stumble.

We should also remember that in the seven “I Will” statements, God promised, “I will bring you out from under your burdens”.

Today He accomplishes it through our redemption in Messiah Yeshua.  After all, redemption is the business of God, and His grace, mercy, and forgiveness are the ground of our faith.  One final truth I would like to mention – It is God, not us, performing a good work in us.  His will, not ours.  The credit and glory belong to God.

Don’t seek earthly acclaim, but rather give the credit and glory to whom it is due – to our Three-In-One God.