In last week’s Torah study, God appeared to Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai in a burning bush, instructing him to lead the Israelites out of Pharaoh’s bondage. Because Moses perceived himself to be slow of speech, God appointed his brother Aaron to be his spokesperson.
When the brothers went before Pharaoh, he refused to let the Israelites go. Instead of making the situation better, the Israelites’ enslavement became more oppressive. Pharaoh required them to gather their own straw (whereas previously it had been provided for them) and still produce the same quota of bricks.
Of course, the children of Israel complained to Moses, so he brought their suffering before God, who reassured him that things would turn around. God told him that He would not only save the Israelites with a mighty deliverance, but Pharaoh would drive them from Egypt.
God Redeems Israel Past, Present and Future
In this Parasha, God promises Moses that He will accomplish four redemptive acts: He would bring out the Israelites from their suffering in Egypt, rescue them from slavery, redeem them from their oppression with His outstretched arm, and take them as His own nation (am).
These four promises are called the Four Expressions of Redemption, and they are traditionally commemorated during the Passover Seder (ritual meal) with four cups of wine.
For each of these acts of deliverance written in Exodus 6:6–7, God used the following Hebrew words:
- Hotzeiti (הוֹצֵאתִי), which means I will bring out;
- Hitzalti (הִצַּלְתִּי), which means I will rescue;
- Ga’alti (גָאַלְתִּי), which means I will redeem; and
- Lakachti (לָקַחְתִּי), which means I will take.
God also makes a fifth expression of redemption. He promises He will bring (heveiti הֵבֵאתִי) His people back into their own land.
“And I will bring [heveiti] you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.” (Exodus 6:8)
Two thousand years ago, when the Jewish People lived in the Promised Land, this fifth expression may have been commemorated with a fifth cup of wine during the Seder.
Although God has been rescuing the Jewish people from their exile and bringing them back into the Land, the fifth cup is considered to represent a complete Redemption through Messiah.
This fifth cup at the Passover Seder, therefore, is called the Cup of Elijah, which is left untouched for the Prophet Elijah, who is expected to return to earth to herald the coming of the Messiah and His Messianic reign.
When God speaks a Word, it will be done as He has said, despite how circumstances appear in the natural.
Still, we live in a fallen world. Many of us suffer from spiritual myopia (short-sightedness) caused by focusing on our own suffering and loss.
The Israelites were no different. They were so downtrodden and grieved in spirit that they simply could not believe what Moses said the Lord would do for them. They couldn’t even listen to his words of hope.
“Moses reported this [promise of the Lord] to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.” (Exodus 6:9)
This tendency in human nature should remind us to be patient and merciful as we minister to people.
Even today, there are those whose bondage is so cruel and whose spirit so broken that they also cannot hear those who preach the Good News of Yeshua (Jesus). Sometimes, they must watch us walk in the power of God, seeing signs and wonders before they will listen and believe.
Sometimes, we must faithfully sow seeds, patiently waiting as God grows them.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)
As God had commanded them, Moses and his brother Aaron (Aharon) returned to Pharaoh over and over again, demanding that he let God’s people go so that they may serve Him in the wilderness.
This whole account of God’s redemption of Israel from Egypt has a spiritual parallel in our salvation from the kingdom of darkness, ruled by haSatan (literally, the Adversary) and the Kingdom of Light, ruled by the LORD.
We are delivered through faith in Yeshua, the Passover Lamb, not simply to walk away and “do our own thing.” As it was for the Israelites, the purpose of our freedom is to serve the living God.
“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13–14)
Pharaoh Remains Prideful Despite Marvels and Wonders
God gave Moses and Aaron a special sign to show Pharaoh. In Hebrew the sign is called a mofet, which means a marvel or wonder. Aaron was to throw his stick down before Pharaoh, and it would be transformed. In most English translations, we read that the stick became a serpent; but in the Hebrew, the word used is tannin, which means a crocodile.