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Parsha Beshalach Exodus 13:17-17:16

Parsha Beshalach Exodus 13:17-17:16

Out of all the portions we have been through these past months, I believe I can truly say, this has to be one of my favorites! Before I get into this portion, I want to write that some mornings it is amazing to wake up knowing that I am a “friend of God.” This is one of those days, and it definitely gives me a fresh perspective concerning everything! I’m reminded of the line of a song by Dillon Loving, the song is titled “So Blessed” and the line goes like this, “I woke up this morning feeling lovely. First thing, Holy Spirit said He loved me!” That’s how I felt waking up this morning! I pray we would all consistently and constantly remember the love God has for each of us!
 
This portion fits the entire story of the exodus from Egypt into 2½ chapters. And one of those chapters is a song, so, even less actually tell of “…the Lord [bringing] the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies.” (Ex. 12:51) There truly is a lot in these passages, but in order to write everything I want to get to, let’s jump straight to Israel being camped next to the “Yam Suf—Sea of Reeds.” Israel has just left Egypt and has camped in a location next to the Sea of Reeds, when suddenly Pharaoh comes charging in behind them. Israel is stuck between “a rock and a hard place” or…between Pharaoh and the Sea. Israel cries out to God and God tells them, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward…” Many people are familiar with the movie scenes that recount this event; Moses holds the rod of God over the waters, while the sea opens up, allowing the Children of Israel to cross over on dry ground to the other side. What most people don’t know is that there is a Midrashic story that goes along with this account. (The Midrash is an elaborative narrative and ancient commentary on the Torah)
You see, everything God does in the world generally involves people. The splitting of the Sea is no exception, and so therefore we read a Midrash in the Talmud that explains it was not God’s grace alone, nor Moses lifting his staff, but someone else’s audacity that God used to bring forth the Split Sea miracle…The story goes as follows, “Nachshon, the son of Aminadav (future Prince of Judah), stepped into the water. His family and friends looked on with horror and amazement. They cried: “What are you doing? Where are you going?” Nachshon walked forward like a man possessed — up to his knees, his waist, his chest. The second the water came up just over his nostrils, the second when he [was] fully submerged, at that moment and not a second before, the sea split. And the people were able to walk behind Nachshon to liberation, to a place of singing and joy. (c.f. Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 36b-37a, Mekhilta Beshallach 6)
What can we learn from this story? God uses people to accomplish His work. He uses willing people. Nachshon knew God had told the people to “move forward,” so he moved forward. He didn’t let his family or friends distract or discourage him from the words of God. Every one of the children of Israel had the same calling, but only Nachshon trusted God to be faithful, and because of Nachshon’s faithfulness, the whole Nation of Israel crossed the Sea of Reeds on dry ground. Moral of the story: Some of us will have to get wet in order to prepare dry ground for those coming along behind! One man’s faith in the faithfulness of God opened up a chasm of walled waters so that all God’s people could enter into liberating freedom!
This truly was a “rebirth” for the children of Israel. Just as when a baby is born it must pass through the birth canal to the other side. The children of Israel had to pass through the water, like passing through a birth canal, to find life and freedom on the opposite seashore! Not only can Israel’s experience be described as a birth, Rav Shaul (The Apostle Paul) writes about Israel’s experience in 1 Corinthians 10, he says, “…all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…” Baptism is recognized as a renewing from our old self into the newness of life we receive from God! Baptism is synonymous with birth. But why does it say in 1 Corinthians that Israel was “baptized into Moses?” What does being “baptized into Moses” even mean?
 
Before I answer this question, I want to quickly bring in a quote I heard from a Rabbi over in Israel about the Exodus story, he said, “It took 1 day to bring Israel out of Egypt, it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel.” Israel was freed from Egyptian bondage, but they had yet to shed their slave mentality. This is a reality I believe we all face in life. The freedom we receive in Yeshua comes immediately on the day we choose to follow Him. Our struggle is that even though we are free, we still have a slave mindset; this is why so many believers still walk as if they were in bondage. They still have a slave mentality. This is why it is so important to speak God’s promises over ourselvesas we speak His promises into and over our lives, we begin to believe them and when we believe the promises, then we begin to live by them! We must learn to see ourselves as God sees us! I believe this is a key element that all believers need to understand…if this is not making sense then please read over this paragraph again or reach out to me for clarification. This idea has changed the way I live my life and I have found more freedom in declaring and believing God’s promises over me than I have ever experienced “fighting my sin.”
 
Now, back our question, what does it mean that Israel was “baptized into Moses?” In Exodus 14:31, right after Israel crossed the Sea and the water covered the Egyptians, it says, “Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.”
Believing and baptism in Moses seems to have had a lot to do with the redemption of Israel. How? In the Mechilta (a compilation of Scriptural exegesis by Rabbi Ishmael and his students) it is written, “If they believed in Moses, how much more so, in the L rd!” The idea written here is one I thought was well expressed by First Fruits of Zion in one of their articles, they wrote, “One who believes in the Torah (Moses) believes in more than just a vague sense of higher power; he believes in the God of the Bible…” When one says he is a follower of Moses this implies he follows the Torah of Moses given by the God of Moses…so in reality, a follower of Moses is a follower of the God of the Bible. So, believing and being baptized into Moses implies a belief in God and a baptism into the family of God. The reason I bring this up and why it is so important is because of something else FFOZ mentions in their article, they write, “We find that many people today are willing to confess faith in God, but they seem embarrassed to confess faith in Yeshua.” It is once people are asked to give specifics that many become uncomfortable in talking about who their “god” actually is. Whether it be the true God or some other god… 
Let’s not be those who confess a belief in God, the true God, but then are ashamed or shy to acknowledge that we do know truth. I know it can be hard in conversations and it can come across as arrogant that we have truth. But if we really do have truth, then why should we be ashamed or arrogant? Today, I want to encourage all of us to not be “followers of God,” get more specific! We are believers in Moses and baptized into Yeshua! (Matthew 28:19)
 
When Israel believes in “the Lord and His servant Moses,” what happens next? Let’s take a look at the next verse. Well actually, there is no next verse. That was the last verse of chapter 14.  But remember, there are no chapters in the Torah. Portions not chapters divide up the Torah; therefore, there is no division between the end of chapter 14 and the beginning of chapter 15. If we were to read the last verse of chapter 14 with the first verse of chapter 15 without division it would read as such, “…so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses. Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord…”
So, to answer our question, “When Israel believes in “the Lord and His servant Moses,” what happens next?” We find the answer is, they sing! The whole chapter of Exodus 15 is the song of Moses and Miriam that was sung right after the Sea of Reeds showdown.
 
People are familiar with the song of Moses from its mention in the book of Revelation, where it says, “They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…” But how many people know that there are 2 songs of Moses? The first song occurs right here in Exodus 15, right as the children of Israel enter into their new freedom. The second song is found in Deuteronomy 32 right before the children of Israel are about to end their journey and enter the Promised Land.
During the Morning prayer service, the Jewish people pray a certain prayer called the T’hilot. It comes right before the Amidah prayers, which could be considered the central prayer of Jewish liturgy. The T’hilot is generally recognized because of the exclamation made during the prayer, “Mi chamocha ba’elim Hashem—Who is like You among the gods O Lord?” This verse actually comes from Exodus 15:11 and the T’hilot prayer deals with the story of what happened at the Sea of Reeds. In this prayer there is an interesting line, it says “Shirah Chadasha Shib’chu Geulim L’shimchaWith a new song the redeemed praise Your Name.” We’re interested in the words “Shirah ChadashaA New Song”
Moses sung two songs, right? Well, at the Sea of Reeds the children of Israel sang a “Shirah ChadashaA New Song.” What is interesting is the words used here are in the feminine. (Hebrew uses Masculine and Feminine words)
“Miriam and Women at the Seashore” Women of the Bible (1861)
According to the Rabbis, the reason these words are in the feminine is because after every “birth” in the nation of Israel and after every Shirah Chadasha (New Song) comes another time of testing and trial. It is in the feminine because another “birth” has yet to take place. Israel must go through more labor pains for the redemption to come…But there is coming a time, when Israel will not sing a Shirah ChadashaA New Song (Feminine) anymore, instead they will sing a Shir ChadashA New Song (Masculine) from Psalm 98. What is Psalm 98 about? It is about the triumph of the coming Mashiach, the coming Messiah! Why do we suddenly sing a New Song in the Masculine? Because there are no more coming labor pains, no more births, no more waiting for redemption, because the redemption has come! Why do we sing a Shir Chadash (Masculine) when the Messiah comes? Because none of the Shirot Chadashot (Feminine) are good enough!
 
One of my favorite traditional Hebrew songs is “Yibaneh HaMikdash” (To find my favorite version of this song, look up the band Moshav for their song “Yibaneh”)
Here are the words “Yibaneh HaMikdash Ihr Tzion Timaleh V’Sham NaShir Shir Chadash Uvirnanah Na’alehLet the Temple be rebuilt, the city of Zion overflow, and there we will ascend singing a New Song.” There aren’t many words, but if we now understand that the only time we sing a Shir Chadash is when the Messiah returns, it suddenly transforms this song. We ascend to Jerusalem singing a Shir ChadashA New Song because the Messiah has returned!
 
Moses had two songs, right…One was sung right after the Children of Israel crossed the Sea of Reeds, the second was sung right before the children of Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. All of us who follow Yeshua as our Rabbi have come out of bondage/Egypt, have been “baptized into Moses,” and have been given a New Song. (Psalm 40:3) However, it is right before the ultimate redemption, right before we enter into the “Promised Land” that we are given a Brand new “Shir Chadash” with which to welcome King Messiah back into the world! We can sing a song of redemption even now in exile, but we long to sing it in the redeemed city of Zion. Even as the exiles in Bablyon said, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137)
 
I like the Rabbis idea behind Shirah ChadashaA New Song (Feminine) and Shir ChadashA New Song (Masculine). But maybe there will be a Shirah ChadashaA New Song (Feminine) when the Messiah comes? Remember, we are the bride of Messiah…Maybe when the Messiah comes, He will sing a Shir ChadashA New Song (Masculine) while we, His bride, will sing a Shirah ChadashaA New Song (Feminine)…Maybe, just maybe…and as the Heavenly Bridegroom harmonizes with his refined and pure bride, it will truly be heard in the world, just as Jeremiah the prophet once prophesied, “…in the cities of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem…the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say: ‘Praise the Lord of hosts, For the Lord is good, For His mercy endures forever’—and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.”
May it be soon and in our days! May our exile come to and end and may a New Song soon be upon our lips, until then; keep singing the song He’s already given you!
 
Shabbat Shalom,
Samuel

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