“And I Appeared”
Torah: Exodus 6:2–9:35
PROPHETS: Ezekiel 23:25–29:21
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Acts 7:23–39, 55–60
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 and 2
God’s Message Comes Through Moses
Moses has delivered God’s demands to Pharaoh and as a result of the immediate consequences, his own people are furious with him. Disheartened, Moses cries out to God (5:22–6:1).
What about God’s continued response to Moses is supposed to be reassuring (cf. Genesis 9:15, Psalm 111:5)?
God then gives Moses instructions to speak to Israel again. Verses 6 and 7 contain God’s four “I will” promises that are commemorated in the four cups of wine at Passover, the third being the cup of redemption that has become our cup of communion (Nizkor, lit. ‘we remember’).
But Israel is too overwhelmed by suffering to lift their eyes and trust the LORD (contrast 4:31). Can you relate to this!?
God tells Moses to go back to Pharaoh (vv. 10–11) to which we can almost hear Moses scoff (v. 12)! The next verse is a summary verse that sets apart the narrative break that follows (v. 13).
God’s Anointed Priests Will Come Through Aaron
This genealogy breaks the narrative by surveying six generations and linking Moses and Aaron back to their patriarchal father.
Jacob’s first three sons: Reuben (v. 14), Simeon (v.15), and Levi (v. 16) are traced through Levi’s line.
His three sons: Gershon (v. 17), Kohath (v. 18), and Merari (v. 19) are traced through the middle son.
Kohath’s line bears Moses and Aaron through firstborn Amram (v. 20) and other sons through Amram’s brothers (vv. 21–22).
Aaron’s line (v. 23) is distinguished from his cousin Korah’s line (v. 24) because the anointed priesthood is given to Aaron (cf. the resulting conflict in Numbers 16:1–3, 8–11).
This priesthood will continue through Aaron’s descendants Eleazer and Phinehas.
While this genealogy links Moses & Aaron backward to the patriarchs and God’s promises to them, it also links them to the present “exodus” event (vv. 26–27) as well as forward to the choosing of the priestly line through Aaron’s family. The narrative then resumes (v. 28). What is the effect of the literary “seam” that is created by the section ending here?
Torah 3 and 4
"Speak to Pharaoh… Again!"
The narrative break ends by picking up were we left off: God commanding Moses (6:29; cf. vv. 10–11, 13) but Moses doubting himself (v. 30; cf. v. 12).
God explains Moses and Aaron’s role in freeing Israel (7:1-2) and also that Pharaoh’s hardness of heart (vv. 3–4) would end up resulting in Egypt’s hearing about God (v. 5).
God’s servants, through whom He demonstrates His power through obedience (v. 6), would be considered old and weak by today’s standards and thus very unlikely redeemers (v. 7; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:27)!
Perform Signs and Wonders: Snakes, Blood, and Frogs…
Let’s go back and review Moses and Aaron’s journey so far. They receive God’s call and go. They bring God’s word, along with “signs,” to Israel’s elders who believe (4:29–31). Pharaoh, however, does not believe (5:1–4). Instead of honoring God he lashes out and Israelite foremen get beaten. When Pharaoh rejects the foremen’s plea (vv. 15–18) they respond by just about cursing their redeemers (vv. 20-21). Disheartened, Moses cries out to God (vv. 22–23). God encourages him (6:1–5) and tells him to go back to his people (6:6–8) who do not listen this time (v. 9). So, God tells him to go present God’s demands to Pharaoh once again (v. 10), this time, however, he is to bring Pharaoh a “sign” to authenticate the message (7:8–9).
Pharaoh’s magicians, however, mimic this sign with their own staffs turning into snakes (vv.10-11).
Even though God’s power is proven superior (v. 12) Pharaoh heart is hardened (v. 13). As a result, more signs will be poured out in the form of plagues (7 in this week’s portion).
The First Plague: BLOOD begins like many others will. God instructs Moses to go to Pharaoh and repeat God’s demands (vv. 14–15) with specific words that Aaron will speak (vv.16-18). After Aaron delivers these words to Pharaoh, Moses will then tell Aaron (in Pharaoh’s presence) to raise his staff and Pharaoh will watch God’s power flow into the Nile (v. 19). Moses & Aaron obey and the Nile turns to blood (vv. 20–21). Pharaoh’s magicians, however, mimic this sign also and so Pharaoh disregards it (v. 22–23). Even so, all of Egypt suffers for seven days (vv. 24–25).
The Second Plague: FROGS, also begins with God’s words to be delivered to Pharaoh by Aaron (8:1–4). Again, Moses will tell Aaron to raise his hand and Pharaoh will watch God’s power flow out of the Nile (v. 5). When they obey and frogs come up (v. 6), Pharaoh’s magicians again produce similar power (v. 7). This time, however, Pharaoh does respond (vv. 8–10). What specific lesson is God teaching Pharaoh about Himself (v. 10b; cf. 2 Samuel 7:22, David has learned this lesson). How has God taught you this lesson?
torah 5 and 6
LIce and swarming INsects…
Moses tells Pharaoh that the frogs will leave “tomorrow” (v. 11). When Moses intercedes (v. 12) the frogs die (vv. 13–14). With relief, however, Pharaoh hardens again (v. 15).
The Third Plague: LICE is described more briefly (vv. 16–17). This time the magicians cannot counterfeit God’s power (vv. 18–19).
The Fourth Plague: SWARMING INSECTS, begins like the first one with God telling Moses to go to Pharaoh down by the water (vv. 20–21). How does this plague differ in term of what God will do and what God is teaching (v. 22)?
Pestilence and Boils…
God distinguishes Israel from Egypt (v. 23) by flooding only Egypt with these swarming insects (v. 24).
Pharaoh responds and appears to “give” a little more (v. 25). In what way is his “offer” inadequate (vv. 26–27; Egyptians viewed Israel’s sacrificial animals as sacred just like cows are sacred in India)? But how does it reveal that Pharaoh actually did learn something from what God taught Him at the end of v.22?
Pharaoh seems to “give” even more and let Israel go outside the land but just not too far (v. 28). Interestingly, the most powerful man in Egypt seeks prayer from a shepherd. (For Lord of the Rings fans: Perhaps Pharaoh is having a Gollum/Smeagol “inner-struggle” - opposing God vs. submitting to Him).
Moses agrees but warns Pharaoh to let his “yes” be “yes” (v. 29; cf. James 5:12). When Moses prays (v. 30) God answers (v. 31) but Pharaoh hardens yet again (v. 32).
The Fifth Plague: PESTILENCE, begins with Moses’ instructions from God (vv. 1–3) which once again will set Israel apart (v. 4). God inflicts Egypt but spares His people, Israel (vv. 5–6). Even after Pharaoh investigates the reality of God’s “sign” of distinction, he nonetheless maintains his hard heart (v. 7).
Even though the Sixth Plague: BOILS unleashes God’s power upon even Pharaoh’s magicians (vv. 8-11), this “hardness” of heart is unyielding, as God foretold (v. 12; cf. 4:21 and 7:3–5).
Before the next plague, God gives Moses instructions to go to Pharaoh and once again repeat the demand (v. 13) with a stern warning (v. 14)! Again, why is God going to do this according to the end of v. 14? What is He trying to teach (cf. 8:10; Isaiah 46:9)?
God could have wiped Egypt out already (v.15). Why didn’t He (v. 16; cf. Ezekiel 38:23, the verse from which the Kaddish prayer is based; Isaiah 11:9b)? How does Yeshua further this purpose of God (Isaiah 45:22–23 & Philippians 2:9–11)? How are you furthering this purpose of God (Acts 1:8)?
torah 7 and
Egypt is Seriously Slammed with Hail…
Moses gives Pharaoh a final word of warning to not set himself against God’s people.
To make the point, he announces the Seventh Plague: HAIL, but adds saving instructions for God-fearers (vv. 18–21). At God’s command, Moses initiates hail on all Egypt (vv. 22–25) but Israel is again set apart (v. 26). Pharaoh appears to repent (vv. 27–28) but Moses knows better (vv. 29–30). Moses says the thunder and hail will stop to teach Pharaoh what specific lesson (cf. v. 29 & Psalm 24:1)? While the hail destroyed the flax and barley, the wheat and spelt were spared, only to be devoured by locusts during the next plague (vv. 31–32)!
Pharaoh is Still Seduced by His Hard Heart
Moses doesn’t even pray! He just lifts his hands and the skies become silent (v. 33). True to form, when the pressure is off Pharaoh’s heart hardens, along with his officials (vv. 34–35). How easy it is for us to fall into the same trap! Difficult circumstances can easily bring us to our knees and cry out to God for relief… but we all too easily “stand on our own” when things lighten up.
Are you living on your knees before God or standing on you own as you face life’s trials? Identify a trial you are currently going through and pray through Romans 5:3–5; James 1:2–4 and/or 1 Peter 1:5–7, seeking God’s perspective on it. How is God growing you through it?
In our Torah portion, God is bringing glory to Himself by judging Egypt and freeing Israel. Ezekiel envisions a time when God will do a similar thing in their future. This priestly prophet (1:3) lived through a time when Israel was crushed on all sides and eventually conquered by Babylon. He speaks God’s words against seven surrounding nations (Ch. 25–32) with the most words directed against Egypt (Ch. 29–32). How many times in this haftarah portion does God say that He will do something so that people will “know that I am the LORD”? “Knowing” is not just head knowledge but an undeniable conviction based on a real relationship. Compare the way that God teaches Israel (28:26; cf. Exodus 6:7; 10:1–2) and Egypt (29:6, 9; cf. Exodus 7:5, 17) this same lesson.
How has God taught you this lesson? How does He impress upon you even now a deeper knowledge of Him? Oh the fullness of joy in His presence (Psalm 16:11)! Bask, praise and tell others today!
Honoring God—Even Unto Death
Acts 7:23–39, 55–60
God “appeared” to Moses in a bush that would not be consumed by fire (v. 30). God encourages Moses after he has been rejected (by those he is trying to save) by telling him how He appeared to his forefathers, the patriarchs (Exodus 6:2–3). God appears to Stephen after He faithfully testifies to the reality of Yeshua’s Messiahship to the glory of God. Stephen does this sweep of history in order to show that Yeshua is the Messiah and that his hearers were rejecting Him just as our people have so often rejected the ones God has sent to save. Stephen’s boldness cost him his life. He was willing to die for his faith and he “saw” the glory of God in the person of Messiah Yeshua. While modern day terrorists are ready to die for their faith, how different is Stephen’s heart toward those who oppose him (v. 60).
Would you die for your faith to bring honor to God’s Name? How are you honoring Him with your life? Ask Him to lead you as His disciple to bring Him honor through all you do today.
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.