Glory Either Way | Beshalach
By Asaph Boskey
Parashat Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-16:16) is immediately preceded by the inauguration of the first Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and by God’s Ten Plagues of judgment on the Egyptians. God has been wooing the children of Israel into the desert since the beginning of the book (3:18, 7:16). He is introducing Himself to them as their trustworthy national leader by overcoming one impossible obstacle at a time.
Pharaoh’s stubbornness and hardness of heart come into focus in great detail here in this passage. Through Pharaoh’s actions we can see a clear example of the condition of a human heart that refuses to acknowledge God, even as He makes Himself plainly known. By this point in Exodus, Pharaoh has clearly observed the superiority of the God of the Hebrews over the gods of the Egyptians by demonstrations of signs and wonders, many of them directly assaulting the supposed divine characteristics of the Egyptian gods.
God has been setting the stage to teach Israel (and the Egyptians) a few important lessons: God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is directly connected to Pharaoh’s consistent and stubborn refusal to acknowledge of Him; and God is more than willing to work with those who cooperate with Him, however far along in their maturing they may be (e.g. Israel and Moses). Those who fight against God’s plans will certainly see their hearts hardened, no matter who they are or how elevated they appear to be in the earthly realm. Pharaoh chooses to ignore God even though God repeatedly made His might known to Pharaoh. Exodus 14:4 – “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.” The degree to which a person chooses to ignore God’s working in their life is directly connected to the degree of the hardening of their hearts by God.
God receives glory even in the hardening of hearts. God will receive the glory in His righteous judgments of all humanity, and it’s up to us to determine how He will receive the glory in our judgment. Exodus 14:17-18- And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” C.S. Lewis — ‘For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.’
An excellent example to contrast Pharaoh and the Egyptians is Moses and Israel. As the children of Israel leave Egypt, God leads them down a route that is seemingly a dead-end. Going directly into the land they were promised meant leading them to a war they would not have been mentally prepared for, according to God’s analysis; Exodus 3:17 “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”’ Though God had recently displayed His power over the Egyptians through the plagues, He knew that the children of Israel were still growing in trust for Him. God then leads Israel to a place where a demonstration of His ability and His desire to deliver them from certain destruction was the only way out. He led Israel into a position of utter desperation and total dependence.
What is important to us in reading this passage is to understand that God is constantly working with each and every one of us on different levels, whether unto glory on unto destruction. He is able to approach each person at the level of maturity they are at and teach them to grow into His calling, and He will spare nothing in this process for those who cooperate with Him. He most often reveals Himself as the one who meets our immediate needs as they arise whether physical or spiritual. Exodus 15:25b-26 – “There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.””
God was orchestrating the events unto one of the most powerful public demonstrations of His might the world had ever seen. He was closely directing the nation of Israel’s steps and teaching Moses important leadership principles while hardening Pharaoh’s heart at the same time and bringing judgment on the Egyptian army by mighty acts of nature. He did all of this in order to make Himself known by each of the characters in the story simultaneously.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
Click HERE to be directed to our Portions Podcast.
About the Author
Asaph Boskey graduated with a B.A. in Biblical Studies from the Moody Bible Institute. He is the Executive and Pastoral assistant to Chad Holland, Lead Pastor King of Kings Community Jerusalem and CEO of King of Kings Ministries. Asaph & Andreea Boskey live in Jerusalem with their newborn son Binyamin-Tzedek and are actively serving the local Body in Israel.
Subscribe to stay in the loop