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Shemot/Exodus 11:4 "At midnight I Myself will go out in the midst of Egypt"
There is great debate among the commentators over the meaning of the word , led byRashi who states that this is literally "at midnight" or "when the night is divided", taking the word as a verb form. On the other hand, he apologetically explains, the Sages have interpreted it as if it was a noun, preferring the translation "at about midnight", lest Pharaoh's astrologers err in their calculation of the precise midpoint of the night and so call Moshe - and of course, by inference, HaShem - a liar. After having his say on this controversy and coming down in favour of the "about" translation, Ibn Ezra makes a short comment that might pass unseen if it were not so important. He says, "I will go out": by means of an agent - My decree will go forth."
A modern commentator, Richard Friedman, takes strident issue with this: "Later Jewish tradition, presumably unable to bear the thought of G-d personally passing through Egypt and causing the deaths, introduced the horrible concept of the 'Angel of Death'. But there is no such thing as an Angel of Death in the Bible. The text is explicit that G-d personally passes through Egypt" (Commentary on the Torah, pg 205). In the Maggid section of the Pesach Haggadah each year we affirm, "'HaShem brought us out of Egypt' - not through an angel, not through a seraph and not through a messenger, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, He alone, in His glory", echoing the use of the personal pronoun in the text.
This is important for it speaks of the way in which G-d deals with each of us. On the one hand, we must not lose sight of the corporate nature of our people's relationship with G-d: Israel is a nation, a people before G-d and there are certain things that happen because of that corporate identity, both to us and because of our actions as a whole; similarly, all those who believe in Messiah Yeshua are part of the Body of Messiah, an identifiable whole that the Scriptures tell is is being prepared as a bride for Yeshua Himself. On the other hand, G-d deals with us, speaks to us, knows each one of us personally, by name, on a one-to-one basis. He doesn't relate to us indirectly, through a proxy or an intermediary. Rav Sha'ul was quite explicit: "For G-d is One; and there is but one Mediator between G-d and humanity, Yeshua the Messiah" (1 Timothy 2:5, CJB). It is G-d Himself, through the person of Yeshua, who teaches us, who receives our worship and prayer, who provides for us and - ultimately - made it possible for us to have relationship with Him at all.
In the same way, we must not lose sight of the fact that discipline and correction come from G-d. Don Francisco, a popular Christian singer of a few years back, has a little song where he puts the following words in the mouth of the Devil: "Here's a package of suffering from G-d - He always sends me when there's dirty work to do" (Don Francisco, The Package, New Pax Music Press/ASCAP) as though Satan is somehow active in our relationship with G-d. But the writer to the Hebrews is definite that it is G-d who is responsible: "Regard your endurance as discipline; G-d is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father?" (Hebrews 12:6-7, CJB).
It is easy to slip into a kind of dualism, thinking that good things come from G-d and bad things from the enemy, as they battle for control of our lives, alternately bribing us and assaulting us to try and modify or influence our behaviour. This is simply not true! Although G-d certainly allows us to experience the consequences of sin and allows us to be challenged in many ways, He alone is in control of the process; He alone has authority over our lives and this world; as Yeshua said: "Aren't sparrows sold for next to nothing, two for an assarion? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's consent" (Matthew 10:29, CJB).
Further Study: Micah 2:12-13; John 10:14-18
Application: If you are in a place of receiving challenge or discipline from the Father, don't be tempted to simply suffer and get depressed, thinking that the world and the enemy are grinding you down. Instead, lift up your head and be aware that G-d is working in your life; respond to the challenges and lessons so that you may grow and become more like Yeshua.
© Jonathan Allen, 2007
Comment - 22Jan07 17:09 Bonnie: Alleluia. Thank you for teaching the Truth from Scripture. If we do not know down in our knowers that our G-d is L-rd over all, then we are in a sad state indeed. We have trials and struggles down here on earth, but He has seated us with Yeshua FAR ABOVE all powers and principalities. We have a refuge! We dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of The Almighty! Nothing can seperate us from His love. Nothing. Is there some mountain that stands in our way? We can speak unto the mountain and say BE THOU REMOVED AND CAST INTO THE SEA and it shall be done! He comes leaping upon the mountains and skipping upon hills! Nothing shall ever be able to seperate us from Him. In the world we have tribulation, but we can be of good cheer, because Yeshua has overcome the world! It blesses me that He made this incredible statement BEFORE He went to the cross. He always was who He is, and always will be! Your teaching was wonderful! Thank you.
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