Posts Tagged With: Pharaoh

Torah Nugget: Parsha Bo

I am still out of town, but wanted to make a quick post about something that jumped out to me this year, likely due to my study of Amalek.

Pharaoh is the epitome of one that desires to control, enslave, and oppress. He views people as a commodity, sheep that he can shear and fleece. During the plagues (miracles) of judgment, Pharaoh’s servants advise him to just let the MEN go to worship Adonai. Pharaoh heeds their advice and calls Moses and Aaron back into his presence. He asks them, “Who will go (halak)?”

“Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Send the men, so they may serve Adonai their God. Don’t you realize yet that Egypt is being destroyed?” So Moses and Aaron were brought to Pharaoh again. “Go, serve Adonai your God,” he said. “But who will be going?” Moses answered, “We will go with our young and our elderly, our sons and our daughters. We will go with our flocks and our herds—for we must have Adonai’s feast for Him.””  (Ex. 10:7-9 TLV)

All the people, including the women and children, even all the livestock will go to worship Adonai. This is not the answer Pharaoh wanted to hear. In his mind, they all belong to him. By allowing the women and children and the livestock to be released with the men, the whole Body or nation would be set free. He would no longer be able to profit from their labor.

We would do well to keep a couple of spiritual truths in mind. Pharaoh believes he owns you and yours. You are no more than a good that can provide cheap service and labor to further his earthly kingdom. He is the opposite of rest and freedom. It took 7 plagues to get him to partially relent. But even then, he couldn’t let go of the thought of future revenue. That’s what the women, children, and livestock represent – the future. Moreover, when any gender or racial group is required to remain enslaved, this is not the “freedom” Adonai has in mind. (Livestock is often a symbol of the nations.) Paul knew this well and advised the Galatians:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed—heirs according to the promise.”  (Gal. 3:28-29 TLV)

A spiritual “Pharaoh” knows that restraining the women, children, and nations, will keep the Body under his control. This is the way of fearful, flesh ruled men. If Pharaoh can keep them hostage, he has the men also, even though they have a facade of liberty. Adonai and Moses know that true freedom must include the women, little ones, and even the livestock (nations).

“But he (Pharaoh) said to them, “So may Adonai be with you, if I ever do let you go, with your little ones. See clearly now! Evil is in your face. Not so! Go now—the men—and serve Adonai! For that’s what you were seeking.” Then they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.”  (Ex. 10:10-11 TLV)

Adonai and Moses’ demand that the whole Assembly leave Eygpt to worship YHWH. This infuriates Pharaoh. He calls Moses ra or evil. He even implies that Moses is deluded and cannot see clearly by telling him to ra’ah or see that evil is neged or in front of his paniym (face).

Did you catch that? I’ll repeat it. Pharaoh believes Moses is blind and cannot see what is right in front of his face! I wonder how many have bought into Pharaoh’s twisted words? How many blind lead the blind? Is it evil to desire that the WHOLE Assembly serve and worship Adonai as He has called? Pharaoh thinks so.

Interestingly, the first use of neged, the word that means “in front of” is kenegdo in reference to the creation of woman. She is right in front of man’s face. I don’t believe it is a coincidence that Pharaoh refuses to let the WOMEN go with the men. They are the first step in the whole Body, including the nations, being set free.

The Exodus is one of the largest motifs in the Bible. (For a great book about this, click here.) In fact, the whole Bible is about Adonai moving one from slavery to freedom. We must grasp every detail of the Exodus to understand true redemption, salvation, deliverance, sanctification, and restoration. Enemies like Pharaoh reveal (to those with eyes to see) the heart issues of depraved man. The desire to control and subject others is never godly, even if the perpetrator believes himself to be a god.

Consider modern government today. How much of it is corrupted by the beastly desire for selfish gain, the drive to build a name and kingdom for self, greed and acquisition? What about religious man? Is he any different? Don’t these same desires nest in the hearts of many that lead flocks? I wonder how many actually believe they are building Adonai’s Kingdom when they are in fact only serving their own selfish desires?

Don’t let Pharaoh frighten you, especially if you are considered marginalized, inferior, or a minority. You are NOT a commodity; rather, you are an HEIR according to the Promise. Adonai, Moses, and Yeshua proclaim the Good News. They work to set the captives free from the House of Bondage and Slavery. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. And, contrary to what oppressors like Pharaoh will tell you, these gifts and callings are meant to SERVE Adonai and build His Kingdom – no matter your sex or race. Stop building for Pharaohs that call good evil and evil good.

(Is. 61:1-6 TLV) 1 The Spirit of Adonai Elohim is on me, because Adonai has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, 2  to proclaim the year of Adonai’s favor and the day of our God’s vengeance, to comfort all who mourn 3  to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of Adonai, that He may be glorified. 4  They will rebuild the ancient ruins. They will restore former desolations. They will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. 5  Strangers will stand and shepherd your flocks, children of foreigners will be your plowmen and vinedressers. 6  But you will be called the kohanim of Adonai, They will speak of you as the ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations and boast in their abundance.

(Jer. 46:27 TLV) “But you, fear not, Jacob My servant, nor be dismayed, O Israel. For behold, I will save you from afar, your offspring from the land of their exile. And Jacob will return and be at peace and secure, no one frightening him.

Categories: Torah Portions, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Matters of the Heart Part I

lev 2

We all have our own ideas of what we mean when we say things like:

“God knows my heart.”

“My heart just isn’t in it.”

“She has a good heart.”

“My heart is breaking over this issue.”

“His presence makes my heart skip a beat.”

“Just accept Jesus into your heart.”

 Heart Defined

But what exactly is our heart, biblically speaking? Is it merely the blood pumping organ in your chest? Is it just an idiom for your deep seated emotions and convictions? How does the heart differ from your mind? Is our heart deceitful or has Messiah given us a new heart?

The Hebrew word most often translated as heart is “lev or levav.” These Hebrew words are also used to refer to the mind, reasoning, will, and understanding of a person. As a matter of fact, there isn’t a single Biblical Hebrew word to express the western idea of the “mind” or even the brain. When you see the English word “mind” in your Bible translation, it is usually the Hebrew word lev or levav.

Why does this matter? According to Jeff Benner’s Hebrew pictograph’s, the lev, depicts the staff or authority (lamed) with the tent or house (vet). In other words, the lev is a pictograph of “the authority within.” The question becomes one of authority. Who is on the throne of your life? You or the Creator?

What about those times when you feel pulled in two different directions? Could this be an indication that you are fighting YHWH for the throne? For example, have you ever been faced with a decision where you truly felt like you knew the obvious answer in your mind, but your heart didn’t want to follow your own sound reasoning? The heart wants what the heart wants, right?

You might have felt like your heart and mind disagreed in these instances. But in Hebrew thought, your heart and your mind cannot be in opposition to one another. This is because biblically and Hebraically speaking the heart and the mind are one and the same. Thus, a conflict of your seeming heart and mind means that in reality you are double-minded. Ouch. Perhaps the sound instruction you knew to be true (God’s Word) or even good common sense, just isn’t what you desired.

James’ answer is to SUBMIT to God. Apparently that inward struggle is us trying to take the reins and have our own way. We are told to resist the “devil” or the enemy (which can very well be our own flesh) and the “feeling/drive” will flee.

Jam. 4:7-8 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (8)  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Circumstances such as these are indicators that our lev needs to be purified, because we are suffering from double-mindedness. You see, the real battle you are experiencing is between your “renewed” mind/lev and your flesh or nephesh. The nephesh is that big bundle of appetites and desires that we share with all living beasts. Sadly, the things we generally associate with our heart are really no more than this animalistic nature.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve been faced with such inner conflictions, I KNEW what I SHOULD do (my renewed mind); it’s just that my DESIRE was to do to the opposite (my heart). My nephesh wanted what it wanted, regardless of logic or the Word of God. This is why James calls a double minded person “unstable.” (Jam. 1:6-8) They don’t have a legacy of overcoming the desires of the flesh, making them more akin to a beast than a human. This can also be a maturity issue. The beast (flesh) must daily be placed on the holy altar — something we must learn.

The Occupied Mind (Lev)

Knowing that we each have this warring nature within, YHWH gives us the remedy.

Dt. 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! (5)  “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart (lev) and with all your soul (nephesh) and with all your might (meod).

Loving YHWH begins in the mind (lev) which encompasses our emotions and will. This leads to one making their flesh/nephesh come into obedience (self-control). The more we exercise this type of submission, the stronger we become spiritually. But, the key is the lev as the next verse attests that the Word/commandments of God are to be UPON our lev. (Dt. 6:6) We must purposely choose to meditate on the Word of God day and night. This will strengthen our lev (mind) and we will have much better chances of overcoming our greatest enemy, our flesh.

So far, we have discovered that:

  1. The lev is more than our heart; it is our MIND.
  2. The lev involves thinking, planning, feeling, knowing, remembering, intent, etc.
  3. The lev can listen to your nephesh (flesh/desires) or the truth (Word of God).

Now let’s consider some verses that use the Hebrew lev and read them with this fuller understanding. There are hundreds of verses to choose from; I encourage you do to your own concordance search for more detail.

It searches:

Dt. 4:29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

It speaks to you:

Dt. 8:17 “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’

It’s in need of circumcision:

Dt. 10:16 “So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.

Ps. 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

It can be changed and enlarged:

1 Sam. 10:9 Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day.

Ps. 119:32 I shall run the way of Your commandments, For You will enlarge my heart.

It can carry you away:

Job 15:12  “Why does your heart carry you away? And why do your eyes flash,

It can rejoice:

Ps. 13:5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

It can meditate and be taught:

Ps. 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

Ps. 86:11 Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

It has a tablet or record that must be guarded:

Pr. 3:3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Pr. 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

It can deceive you:

Jer. 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Our hearts/minds must be guarded and “fed” a healthy diet of God’s Word in order to stay steadfast and righteous. It truly is a well spring of life —- or death. Thoughts are like seeds. They have the power to produce fruit/deeds. Our natural inclination will be to produce death. This is because a sinful person is really sick. The virus wants to reproduce itself. The only remedy we have or need is the Living Word of YHWH.

The good news is that YHWH is not only willing, but desires to renew our minds. But, it will require us to relinquish ourselves to Him. This reminds me of a quandary that I often meditate upon (a faculty of my lev).

Does YHWH supernaturally place or write His Word and Commandments on our heart (lev) upon receiving Yeshua? Or is this a “process” that we must choose to allow by the washing and watering[1] of His Word? My meditations have caused me to consider that this isn’t a real either/or question. Both are true, if you can take off the Greek/western lenses. Let’s look at a familiar story in the Scriptures that forces us to look at the “heart of the matter.”

cropped-exodus1.jpgPharaoh’s Hard Heart

The passages concerning the Passover and exodus from Egypt are read every year in the Torah cycle and are commemorated each spring with the first moed (feast) on YHWH’s calendar. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that Pesach (Passover) is FIRST on YHWH’s calendar. This story retells the Israelites redemption and release from slavery. Followers of Yeshua also understand that He is our Pesach Lamb year after year. Like Israel of old, we are redeemed and saved by the blood of the Lamb. We are released from the bondage of Egypt and Pharaoh. And, not because we deserve it, worked for it, or earned it. YHWH’s great compassion, mercy, and loving-kindness moved Him to act on our behalf.

But after our release, we must get to know our Redeemer. We must choose to trust and follow Him. We will all face the wilderness. In the wilderness we will be tested and tried, so that our true lev or heart/mind will be revealed. This is life, folks. Will we die in the desert or move on to the Promised Land?

Dt. 8:2 “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Each year as we commemorate Israel’s and our freedom, we are faced with a seeming paradox in regards to the heart. In the account of the plagues of Egypt, sometimes we see YHWH hardening Pharaoh’s heart and sometimes Pharaoh hardens his own heart. These verses were most confusing to me in the past. How could Pharaoh be held accountable for his resistance to God’s Word if YHWH was pulling all the strings? You might have asked the same question. YHWH loves an honest question—— it requires us to exercise our mind. We have just learned that it was actually Pharaoh’s lev that was hardened. But first, let’s look at this “hardening.”

The Hebrew word for hardened is chazak. This word may be familiar to you if you have a Jewish Bible. There is a traditional phrase that is chanted at the completion of each book of Torah in the reading cycle. It is: “Chazak, chazak, v’nit’chazek!” It means, “Be strong! Be strong! And let us be strengthened!” Thus, what should our lev be strengthened by? The Torah! Isn’t this what the Shema and V’ahavta are all about? (Dt. 6:4-9)

When I looked up the Hebrew word chazak, I was rather amazed by the fact that this word is only translated as “hardened” in reference to Pharaoh’s heart. It is most often translated as “be strong.” It literally means to seize, to grab hold, to strengthen.

What actually occurred was that Pharaoh’s mind (lev) was strengthened. He had convinced himself or “set his mind” to keep Israel subjugated. He wouldn’t even allow the evidence of miracles and plagues to change his mind. He wanted what he wanted. Unfortunately, this strengthening was against the will of God. If you look closely at the text, Pharaoh hardens his own heart toward Israel throughout the first five plagues. And then, YHWH hardens Pharaoh’s heart during the last five. It seems that YHWH eventually turned Pharaoh over to his own desires. Paul tells us that this is very possible:

Eph. 4:17-19 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, (18)  being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;  (19)  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Sadly, if we continue to resist the Holy Spirit’s direction to appease our flesh, God will let us have our way. Paul urges us to lay aside the “old self” or the evil inclination and be RENEWED in the spirit of our mind.

Eph. 4:20-24 But you did not learn Christ in this way, (21)  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,  (22)  that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,  (23)  and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  (24)  and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Paul continues in the Book of Ephesians by advising us to be imitators of God. The process of laying aside the “old man/self” and taking on the “new self/man” is often called sanctification. It is NOT salvation. It is a process. A journey. A walk. A way of life. This is the wilderness experience.  But how do we know what to kick aside and what to take on? Paul again exhorts us:

Eph. 5:8-11 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (9)  (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),  (10)  trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  (11)  Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;

Eph. 5:15-17 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, (16) making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  (17)  So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

We must be careful and diligent as we follow the Lord. We must seek YHWH’s will and learn what is pleasing to Him. This is much different than pleasing men, their tradition, and their theology. Nevertheless, we can do this without sinning in anger or speaking evil of those that aren’t in the exact place we are on the path. In other words, our lev must become obedient to YHWH.

The only instructions we have is the Bible. Thus, the Words of Life are contained within its leaves (pages). I can either reject them or follow them. But this is where the controversy arises. Is the whole Book meant for my instruction or are there parts I should ignore? When I stand back from all the theological arguments and the thoughts of men, the answer seems rather simple.

Ecc. 12:13-14 The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man(adam). (14)  For God shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. (JPS)

A whole (restored/complete) adam or man will fear God and keep His commandments, because he has a mind (lev) set on serving the Creator. This is a person that has given his inner authority (lev) over to the ultimate Authority of the Universe.

 

But there is more to come, controversial as it might be for some, as I share my lev in the Matters of the Heart in Part II.

 


 

[1] Eph. 5:6

Categories: Messianic Issues, Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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