Torah Commentary – Beshalach “When He Sent” – Outward Preparation – January 9, 2014


“When He Sent”

Exodus 13:17-17:16

Judges 4:4-5:31

Luke 2:22-24; 1 Cor 10:1-13; Revelation 15:1-4

Outward Preparation

The big day has finally come for the Hebrews.  We can’t even imagine how they must have felt taking the first steps of their new journey.  It had been about a year since the infamous day when Moses had come back to Egypt.  So much had changed and changed so quickly.  There had really been no time to process what was happening to them.  They just had to take it as it came.  Now here they were, with bags packed and heading out from Egypt.  There was still no time to stop and process what was going on, it was simply time to get going.

From the outside the Hebrews looked prepared for just about anything.  Their last days in Egypt had treated them rather well.  The plundering of the land had brought many gifts of silver, gold, fine linen and clothing.  It had also brought forth the finest in Egyptian weaponry.  The Hebrews looked on the outside like they were prepared for anything, from a fine dinner party to an all out war, based on the amount of stuff they now possessed.  Would having all this plunder really be of any good to them in their first days of the journey though?  Was there something they were missing, something Egypt could not give them?  Something only time, experience and trials could bring about in their lives?

It is true the Hebrews were prepared on the outside, but what they lacked was a preparation that had nothing to do with physical items.  It was a preparation of their soul and spirit.  It was a transformation of the inward man that they needed and this was not something they could have received in the middle of the night from their Egyptian neighbor.  Without this inward transformation though, the people would never be ready for the Promised Land.  HaShem would begin this inward change by taking them on a roundabout route in the wilderness, then bringing them face to face with what seemed like hopeless situations.  In each of the encounters with hopelessness, He would teach them not to trust in their sword, not to trust in their canteen, not to trust in their supplies in the wagon, but to always put their complete trust in Him.

What a lesson this is for each of us today.  Of course most of us are reading the words of the first exodus with a renewed anticipation these days.  We are trying to find within its teachings every word which will help us in preparation for the greater exodus to come.  Maybe there is no greater teaching that we could glean from the words this week than a saying taught in most every survival school in the world, “In times of stress, it is not what is in your pack or in your brain that keeps you alive, it is what is in your heart!”

Please do not get me wrong on this.  You will never hear me say that physical preparation is not a good thing.  I have spent years now teaching just how to go about the physical preparation.  What I do find is that no matter how many times I teach about putting the spiritual and emotional preparation first in the equation, in the end these principles seem to not be heard as clearly.  It is just too easy and can also be fun putting together your Bug-Out-Bag, but spending time taking a hard look at run away emotions and ‘me first’ attitudes can be a bit of a drag to our lifestyles.

The Hebrews were led into some pretty difficult situations in the wilderness.  It was anything but the daily picnic some have imagined.  Life was no longer about slavery, but it was anything but easy.  They had to learn about just what life in Egypt had done to them as persons.  They had to learn a new way of life.  They had to learn about how to trust and have faith in One they had never seen.  They had to learn that life was not about the outward stuff which was so very easy to come by, but rather changes that only time, experience and trials could bring.  Some of the people would learn this valuable lesson over time, but most would not learn no matter how many years they would spend going around the same mountain.  The latter would always be content to make change an outward process, but never allow it to go to the place it was truly needed, down deep inside.

Learn this week from the Hebrews?  I say we had better.  What we need to learn is this. Food water, clothing, gold, silver and armaments can be brought forth in our lives in one night.  The important things like faith, trust, submission to authority and thankfulness take much more time to come forth.  Maybe it would be a good idea if we spent more time today on the harder items first.  Maybe this would make the other items come easier anyway. 

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