weeks Parsha has some amazing and interesting statements that I want to
dive right into. But just to recap…remember, in our story, we are in
the middle of Plague-ridden Egypt. Despite the plagues brought into
existence by God, through Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh has refused to let
the children of Israel leave his land. And then
we arrive at a very interesting verse that is written several times
throughout this story that has perplexed scholars and Rabbis alike. The
first time it is mentioned is in Exodus 9:12, but we are confronted with
this same statement at the beginning of this portion as well. In Exodus
10:1 we read, “Now the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him…” Look at the underlined text…what does it mean “God hardened the heart of Pharaoh?” Did Pharaoh have freewill or was God playing him like a cat plays a mouse? Exodus 9 it seems to agree with the latter idea, “…for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”
God was declaring His power and His name throughout the known world and
He was using Pharaoh to do it. But does this idea really stick? Do you
really think that, first of all, God was out to “prove” His power? And
second of all, do you really think that God would take away Pharaoh’s
freewill and right of choice? |
As we all have learned from past observations, when you don’t understand something, get back to the Hebrew! So, let’s break this verse down and reconstruct it in a way that will hopefully make more sense.
In Hebrew, “I have hardened his heart” is “Ani hich’badeti et-libo.” I want to take a look the word “hich’badeti.” In Hebrew, the root word used here is “kavad.” I know in transliterated English these two words have seemingly no similarities, so, you’re going to have to trust me on this one…We find this root word throughout the Bible, but one of the notable places is in Isaiah 6. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is having a revelation of the Lord enthroned in His temple, and in this encounter, he says that the seraphim are calling to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” The word used here for glory is the word “k’vodo” which is related to the word “kavad.” This is interesting, the word for Pharaoh’s heart being hardened and the word for God’s glory are the same…or, I should say, share the same root word. What does this mean?
Before I keep going, let me say; we read in previous chapters before Exodus 9:12, about 6 times Pharaoh himself “hardened his heart.” 3 times it says, he “strengthened his heart,” and 3 times it says, he actually “hardened his heart.” This
was without God’s intervention. Pharaoh did this of his own “freewill.”
This is important to remember before we jump to the conclusion that God
just randomly hardens peoples hearts. Pharaoh already had a history of
rebellion against God, and this all happened before we come to the verse
where it specifically states, “God hardened the heart of Pharaoh.”
When we get to this verse, we find the true meaning behind God
hardening Pharaoh’s heart. If we take what I’ve already explained and
apply it to this verse, we could read it as, “I have ‘glorified’ his heart,” rather than “I have hardened his heart.” The word “kavad” can also be translated as “honored or respected.”|
We could also translate this verse as “I have honored/respected his heart.” This actually shows the opposite idea of God infringing on Pharaoh’s freewill. God is not “hardening Pharaoh’s heart” with the idea that Pharaoh has no freewill, rather, God is “respecting Pharaoh’s heart” which allows Pharaoh to walk as he has already chosen without God’s intervention. In this case, God’s intervention is by not intervening.
Romans 1 explains this well and I would like to take a few verses to better explain this concept. “…what may be known of God is manifest…for God has shown it to them… because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God…Professing to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts…For this reason God gave them up to vile passions…And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind…” Two things to notice here; the first is, “Man rejects God and does not glorify or honor Him as God.” And because God is not honored or glorified by man, He gives “them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts…” He gives “them up to vile passions…” and He gives “them over to a debased mind…”
What is happening here? Exactly the same thing that is happening to Pharaoh…When a man, a people, or nation walk contrary to God, God removes the “moral compass” we all carry. In other words, when we walk in continued rebellion against God, God turns off the alarm bells that tell us we’re going the wrong way. He allows us to take the road of our choosing. As it is written in Leviticus 26, “…they also have walked contrary to Me, and…I also have walked contrary to them…” If we continue in our rebellion and contrary ways, God will eventually “give us over…” to our rebellious ways. But only with the hope that eventually we will “…turn from [our] wicked ways…” And when that happens, God will “…hear from heaven, and will forgive [our] sin and heal [our] land.”
Verse 1 of chapter 10 continues with another interesting twist. Right after God tells Moses that He has “hardened” or rather “respected” Pharaoh’s heart and desire, He says He did this so “that I (God) may show these signs of Mine before him (Pharaoh).” If we go back into the Hebrew of this verse we find that the word for “before him” is “b’kirbo.” This is fascinating because the word “b’kirbo” could also be translated as “in close proximity to him” or even as “within him.” God is saying that He is showing His signs “within Pharaoh.” So, with our new understanding, let’s go back and read Exodus 10:1, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have respected/honored/glorified his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine within him…” The choice that was before Pharaoh is the same choice we all face in life. God gives us the choice on how He will be glorified in our life, but you can be sure, no matter our choice, whether we are contrite or we rebel, He WILL be glorified in and through us. God won’t force us to conform, but He can and will remove His covering from us, even as He did in the case of Pharaoh or Job, in order to bring us back to Him.
When we read through the plagues of this portion, I have to say, the one that struck me was the plague of darkness. Why would darkness even be a plague? We have darkness every night, what’s the big deal? In Exodus 10:21 we read, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.’” The difference was that this was a “darkness that could be felt.”
I want to quickly skip two chapters, over to Exodus 12:5-6. We read there about the Passover Lamb and it says, “…the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.” What is fascinating is that the word used here for twilight is “Bein HaArbayim.” What this phrase literally means is “between the evenings.” Here, we’ve just talked about “darkness that can be felt” and “twilight—between the evenings.”
In Genesis 1, we read that God created light. God said, “Yehi Ohr V’Yehi Ohr—Let there be light and there was light.” But look at the Hebrew…the way this verse should really be translated is, “Let there be light and let there be light.” The Rabbis teach that we are to learn from this verse, that there were 2 lights created. Both were the same light, but they were reserved for different times. The light that God created was the light of the Messiah that emanated into Creation. But after man’s “fall” the light of Messiah was hidden until the coming final redemption. When man was sent into exile after the Fall, this was the start of darkness coming upon the world. In other words, it was “twilight.” But there are two evenings, remember…because the Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed “between the evenings.” Who do we know as the Lamb of God? John the Baptist declares Yeshua to be that Lamb in John 1, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Yeshua was the Passover Lamb who was sacrificed to bring freedom and deliverance to all who put His blood on the doorposts of their hearts.
When did Yeshua come? “Between the evenings.” I wish I could draw this on a whiteboard to better explain this. But think of what I’ve been writing about like this…The light of the Messiah was revealed at creation and then concealed after the fall to be revealed again at the final redemption. Between these two revelations of the light of Messiah come two evenings, or, two nights. Two dark nights where the “darkness can even be felt.” But, what separates the dark into “two nights?” The arrival of the Passover Lamb; The Lamb of God, who is Yeshua, the one who came to take away the sin of the world. He is the one who broke through the dark night and brought a glimpse of the coming light of the Messianic Kingdom to humankind. It is through Him that we even purify ourselves to prepare for this coming light. After the Passover Lamb comes another evening, another twilight, another night. Right now we are in this second night waiting for the revealing of the coming light of Messiah. It is neat to know where we are in the timeline of God. This is not to say I know when He’s coming, but I do know where we are in God’s timeline.
Even as the Israelites were enslaved in the land of Egypt, we also are in the “galut,” the “exile” awaiting the complete redemption that comes when the dawn of Messiah breaks through into this dark world. Yet, there is comfort even in exile. Even when the “creepy crawly darkness” was covering Egypt when no one left his house; yet in Goshen, “all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”
God goes into exile with His people, with His children. Yes, we await a greater light, a light that consumes all darkness, the fullness of the light of Messiah. But even now, when we must “walk through the valley of the Shadow of death” in this world, what do you need to have in order to have a Shadow? Light!
God’s people go through trial and tribulation, we read of God’s light
being with His people. In the book of Esther too, when God’s people are
threatened with extinction, we read, “For the Jews there was light, gladness and joy…” Israel was commissioned in Isaiah 42 to be “A light to the Gentiles” We
are the light of Messiah to this generation and to all generations! Let
us live up to the commission given to us by Yeshua our Messiah. He says
in Matthew 6, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”|
Remember, I wrote earlier, God will be glorified through us. Whether we choose His ways or not, He will be glorified! As Deuteronomy 30 advises us, “Choose life!”
Micah recognized that despite all the obstacles and odds of life, that God would be with him, he wrote, “Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.”
To this I say, Ken tih’yeh lanu-so may it be for us. May we all come to see the complete redemption, when darkness is expelled and the “Shachar shel Mashiach—The Dawn of Messiah” is fully revealed to the world! May it be soon and in our days!
P.S. So sorry for not getting this out sooner…I thought I had lost all my work around 4.30, and it took some time to recover. The Love of Messiah be with you all!