torah reading

Torah Portion: Vaera – Exodus 6:2-9:35

MESSIAH IN TORAH

TORAH PORTIONS – JAN 16, 2020

PORTION SUMMARY

And I Appeared – Exodus 6:2-9:35

Exodus 6:2-30

Israel’s elders have rejected Moses. Pharaoh doesn’t listen to him. In His confusion and rejection, Moses complains to Yahweh. And, Yahweh responds. He affirms His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and then once again declares He will redeem Israel from Egypt. However, this time He does so with a four-fold promise:

  • 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, and I will be your God.

Yahweh’s word of promise ends with reiteration He will bring them into the Promised Land, directly connecting Israel’s deliverance to the patriarchal promise.

Once again, God instructs Moses to stand before Pharaoh to intercede for Israel. Moses is still reluctant. God admonishes him to obey. Then, the genealogy from Jacob’s sons to Aaron and Moses is listed. The text emphasizes the point that those who appeared before Pharaoh were direct descendants of Jacob’s family, anointed representatives of God’s promise.

 

Exodus 7:1-13

Moses goes before Pharaoh again and asks for Israel’s freedom. Pharaoh asks for a sign. Moses’ staff turns into a serpent. Egypt’s magicians perform the same feat. But, Moses’ serpent swallows up all the other serpents. Pharaoh is not impressed and doesn’t change his mind. So, the plagues begin.

Exodus 7:14-9:35

First, the Nile River turns into blood. Everything in it dies and there’s a water shortage. The magicians repeat this miracle. Next, God multiplies frogs all over Egypt. And, once again, the magicians do the same. Third, Moses strikes the dust of the ground and it becomes lice on humans and animals. The magicians can’t replicate the miracle and attribute it to God. Fourth, God sends flies all over Egypt. However this plague only affects the Egyptians. Israel is protected from it and from all the plagues following. Fifth, a pestilence overwhelms all the domesticated animals of the Egyptians but it doesn’t affect Israel’s animals. Sixth, the Egyptians and their animals are plagued with boils. Seventh, hail and fire rain from heaven and strike the land. But, before this plague, God warns Pharaoh. He says He could destroy all Egypt but He stayed His hand. His purpose? So Pharaoh would know God sovereignly gave him his position and power. Pharaoh does not let Israel go.

DEVOTIONAL: THE MESSIAH IN TORAH

This devotional is not a comprehensive discussion of the Torah portion. Its purpose is to identify themes that point to and reveal Jesus the Messiah.

Here, Moses enters human history. He is THE prophet in Israel, the lawgiver, and deliverer. In his life and ministry, we see the Messiah in a variety of ways.

In this portion, Pharaoh is introduced to Yahweh in the plague phenomena. Initially, he’s unaffected, even hardened to God and His power. Egypt’s magicians turned water to blood, just like Moses. They conjured frogs from the Nile, just like Moses. Yet, the wonder of the plagues grew. Lice rose from the dirt. Egypt’s magicians attributed them to God’s power and showed signs of fear. Then flies, pestilence, boils, hail, and fiery rain arrived. Moses’ stature grew in everyone’s eyes. He spoke sovereign words of rebuke, correction, and judgment against the most powerful ruler on earth. Pharaoh did not relent.

Before God’s might shattered Egypt’s pride, the deliverer arrived. He carried God’s wonders and revealed the Messiah. As Yahweh poured out His divine judgment on Egypt, the narrative paused to give us Moses’ family history. It seems strange, at first glance. Yet, it’s through this we see God’s Messiah.

Moses’ family history comes in the usual form of a genealogy. This one, though, has some distinctive marks. It started with Jacob’s sons: Reuben, then Simeon, and then Levi. No more of Jacob’s sons were listed. It stopped with the third. Why? From there, we read of Reuben’s sons, then his line stops. Then, we see Simeon’s sons and his line stops. Last, we see Levi’s sons, then multiple generations until it stops at Moses.

Think about the context. Israel didn’t believe Moses. Neither did Pharaoh. Moses got discouraged and didn’t want to continue. Then, the four-fold promise came (Exodus 6:6,7) and God renewed His promise to give Israel Canaan (Exodus 6:8). Here’s the point. The promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob pass to their descendants, Israel. The genealogy was then given to show that Moses is, in fact, the carrier of God’s promises. He fulfilled the very promises God gave to Abraham (Genesis 15). Not only do God’s promises to Abraham flow through Israel, they found their fulfillment in Moses, Israel’s deliverer.

Who, ultimately and eternally, carries God’s promises (Acts 13:30-39)? Though whom has God’s Kingdom found its redemptive expression (Matthew 11:12)? Who is the appointed, anointed representative of Abraham’s promises (Galatians 3:16)? Jesus.

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Torah Portion: Shemot – Exodus 1:1-6:1

MESSIAH IN TORAH

TORAH PORTIONS – JAN 9, 2020

PORTION SUMMARY

Names – Exodus 1:1-6:1

Exodus 1:1-22

After Joseph’s generation passes, Israel remains in Egypt, multiplies greatly, and grows to great strength. A new Pharaoh rises to power that does not remember or regard Joseph. He grows fearful of Israel. To contain the potential threat they represent, he enslaves them and makes them build the stores cities of Pithom and Raamses. Dissatisfied with the impact of slavery, he commands Shifrah and Puah, two Hebrew midwives, to murder every male child at birth.

They refuse to do so. When he confronts them, they argue that the Hebrew women are stronger and give birth faster than the Egyptian women. Angered, he orders his own servants to throw every male baby into the Nile River.

Exodus 2:1-10

In the midst of this persecution, Moses is born to Amram and Jochebed. They hide him for three months. Unable to continue hiding their child, they make a basket, place it in the Nile River, and hope their child will escape. Miriam, Moses’ older sister, watches and follows. The basket miraculously arrives in the bathing spot of Pharaoh’s daughter. She takes him as her own, names him Moses, and brings him into the royal family.

Exodus 2:11-25

Moses grows under the tutelage of Egyptian education and royal life. He is drawn to visit his people, the Israelites. He sees their burdens. While there, he intervenes when an Egyptian taskmaster beats a Hebrew slave. He kills the Egyptian and buries him in the sand. Drawn once again, he visits his people the next day. This time, two Israelites fight and he intervenes. They repel his intervention, exposing his murder from the previous day. In response to the killing, Pharaoh seeks Moses’ life. Moses runs away to Midian.

In Midian, Moses encounters some female shepherdesses mistreated while attempting to water their flocks. Moses intervenes, protects them, and then helps water their flocks. The shepherdesses turn out to be Jethro’s daughters, the priest of Midian. Moses is invited to stay with Jethro’s family. He marries Zipporah (Jethro’s daughter), becomes a shepherd, and begins having children.

Exodus 3:1-4:17

After many years as a shepherd, Moses encounters Yahweh. From afar, he sees a bush on fire but its not burned up. He approaches to see the strange phenomena. Yahweh speaks to him and reveals His memorial name: I am that I am. Moses is commissioned to return to Egypt and confront Pharaoh with Yahweh’s words: “Let my people go.” Reluctant, Moses makes multiple excuses. Yahweh concedes and sends Aaron, Moses’ older brother, to act as the prophetic mouthpiece.

Exodus 4:18-5:22

Upon return to Egypt, Moses appears to the elders of Israel and does miracles to prove he’s sent by Yahweh to be their deliverer. Initially, they believe him. Moses then appears before Pharaoh. He does not respond favorably to Moses’ request but increases Israel’s labor. Israel’s elders turn on Moses after the labor increase and accuse him. Moses complains to God. In this moment of desperation, God renews His promise to free Israel.

DEVOTIONAL: THE MESSIAH IN TORAH

This devotional is not a comprehensive discussion of the Torah portion. Its purpose is to identify themes that point to and reveal Jesus the Messiah.

In this section, the Messiah explodes from the pages of the text into human history. We see the Messiah in the person and ministry of Moses and God’s first direct, deliberate revelation of His personal name. In the revelation of His name is the Messiah.

Israel’s place of protection under Joseph passed. Still they were fruitful. The promise to Abraham was channeled through them. A new Pharaoh, with no regard for Joseph or Israel, systematically enslaved and persecuted them. Could Yahweh’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be fulfilled? Was God powerful enough to redeem his people from the world’s most powerful nation?

Moses was taken into the royal family of Egypt in direct response to the crisis. To fulfill His eternal purposes and promises, God sent His redeemer. Moses’ life was preserved. His calling was revealed. His ministry as Israel’s deliverer unfolded. In Moses, we see our Messiah. Like Moses, Jesus was born in the midst of a persecuted generation and His life was miraculously preserved. Like Moses, Jesus’ life and ministry confronted both the heavenly and earthly powers that enslaved humanity.

We also see the Messiah in the revelation of God’s name at the burning bush. God commissioned Moses to lead Israel out of bondage. Moses asked for God’s name. In the revelation of a god’s name is its authority and power. God responds with a phrase that could be translated I am that I am or I will be what I will be or I am He who shall be. The sense is this: Yahweh is eternal. He has been and always will be and He will do everything necessary to keep His covenants and promises to Israel.

Fifteen centuries later, Jesus debated with Jewish leadership. They refused to believe He was the fulfillment of Abraham’s vision and the revelation of God’s salvation. He claimed Abraham rejoiced to see His day. His listeners were appalled. He could not have appeared to Abraham since he was not yet fifty years old. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” His words were identical to the word Yahweh spoke to Moses at the burning bush. Intentionally, Jesus aligned His life and ministry with the original revelation of God’s name and nature. Moses experienced the manifestation of Yahweh and Jesus was the manifestation of Yahweh. In Him, we experience God’s fullness and redemption (Hebrews 1:1-3).

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Torah Portion: Bereshit – Genesis 1:1-6:8

MESSIAH IN TORAH

TORAH PORTIONS – OCT 17, 2020

PORTION SUMMARY

In the Beginning – Genesis 1:1-6:8

Genesis 1:1-2:3

Yahweh creates the world in six days. Each day’s creative fruit is unique but Yahweh declares every aspect of His creation “good”.

Day one: darkness and light. Day two is the formation of the heavens, separating the waters so there’s an upper and lower water. Day three lands, seas, and vegetation are created. On day four, the sun, moon, and stars are set into place.

 

On day five comes fish, birds, and reptiles. Day six brings the creation of animals and humans, the only element of creation made in God’s image and given dominion. On the seventh and final day of creation’s week, Sabbath is made, sanctified from all other days, and Yahweh rests.

Genesis 2:4-25

Yahweh then revisits humanity’s creation and commission. Man is formed from the combination of the dust of the earth and Yahweh’s living breath. He is instructed to eat from all trees and commanded not to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil. If they do, they will die. Seeing man’s need for companionship, Yahweh takes a rib from Adam and forms Eve. They are married and become one flesh.

Genesis 3:1-24

The serpent then deceives Eve. She eats from the forbidden tree, thinking she can become like God by doing so. Adam follows her into sin and rebellion by eating himself. Adam and Eve cover themselves with leaves and hide from Yahweh’s presence when He comes looking for them. Death sets in. A curse is pronounced on Adam, Eve, and the serpent in ways unique to them. In the first recorded act of sacrifice and atonement, Yahweh kills an animal and cloths Adam and Eve in it. Then, Yahweh banishes them from His presence in the Garden.

Genesis 4:1-24

Two sons follow: Cain and Abel. Cain rebels against God and, in reaction to God’s judgment, kills Abel. He is cast out and becomes a wanderer on earth. Sin continues to spread on the earth, represented by Lamech’s murder of a young man. Interestingly, Lamech is Cain’s distant descendant.

Genesis 4:25-6:8

Seth is born, the third child of Adam and Eve. Adam’s generations begin to fill the earth. Corruption infects not just individuals and families but society as a whole. From Seth’s lineage comes righteous Noah.

DEVOTIONAL: THE MESSIAH IN TORAH

This devotional is not a comprehensive discussion of the Torah portion. Its purpose is to identify themes that point to and reveal Jesus the Messiah.

This section takes us from the beauty of perfection to the depths of death and loss. We forfeited what we were created to be, lost what we were created to do, and became a stranger to the One we were designed to know intimately. The narrative moves from the grandeur of creation to the devastation wrought by rebellion and selfishness. Yet, in the loss there is the promise of the Messiah, seen in the following ways.

The Word of Creation: “In the beginning, God…” is how the entire sacred record begins. Here, Yahweh speaks all things into being. His spoken word was the agency of creation. Then John’s Gospel begins with the same words, “In the beginning…” There is a connection. In the beginning was the Word, the One through whom all things were made (John 1:2-3). Jesus is the means through which the Father’s creative power flowed. He was there, possessing the fullness of the Father’s nature, working in perfect unity, and bringing the universe into existence. By John’s words we see Jesus is the Embodied Word of God, carrying both the nature and purpose of the Father within Himself.

The Promise: After the fall, Adam and Eve are without hope. Reconciliation isn’t within their grasp, which is why they hid from God (Genesis 3:7-10). Yet, Yahweh moves toward them, initiating divine redemption. The curse of death He promised cannot be avoided but it can be broken. He promised a Redeemer – a Seed would come through Eve who would destroy the serpent. When the serpent is destroyed, man’s attachment to death would finally and forever be broken. Intimacy would be restored; isolation would be gone forever.

The Second Adam: God created us in His image, but it was lost through Adam’s sin. Adam, in turn, created humanity in his broken, defiled image (Genesis 5:1-3). All of us are stained with sin (Romans 5:12-17). However, God’s promise of a son to Eve was assurance of redemption and restoration. 2,000 years ago, Jesus entered time and space for this very purpose. Just as Adam was the well from which all humans have drunk so Jesus was offered on the cross to become the wellspring of life to those who trust in Him. Where Adam destroyed his descendants, Jesus redeemed them. In Him, redemption has been realized.

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