God of Distinctions | Bo
By Chad Holland
Exodus 10:1-13:16 picks up the story of the children of Israel in Egypt under Pharaoh’s command. God has introduced Himself to Moses in previous chapters and both called and equipped him to be the deliverer of the Jewish people. Pharaoh would not listen to the warnings that Moses gave him to let the Jewish people go free to worship their God, so God Himself begins to release plagues on the land of Egypt. In this particular portion, we see the plagues of locusts, darkness and finally the death of the first born in the land.
Pharaoh thinks very little of God in the beginning as exampled by his series of false repentances and broken agreements to let the Israelites leave Egypt without conditions. The text tells us that Pharaoh had a hard heart towards God and that later God used this increasingly prideful and more deeply hardening heart, to display His wonders before the people. In each case of the plagues, demonstrating His own power over the gods that the Egyptians worshipped.
An interesting concept starts to develop in chapter 11, when God communicates that He sees distinctions between people.
Exodus 11:7 – “But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” Here, God distinguishes between Egypt and Israel, between idol worshippers and His people of the covenant family. This theme shows up several times in the portion.
The commandments for observing the Passover regulations in chapter 12, also carry a distinction. Exodus 12:47-48 – “The whole community of Israel must celebrate it. “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.” We see here that there is a difference in God’s mind between the community of Israel and a foreigner residing among them, or someone who temporarily lives in the Land. There is a “must” and a “wants to” statement, clarifying to what degree one is required to observe the Passover and the invitation to others would wish to observe. The distinctions continue as chapter 13 moves into the discussion of the first born. Exodus 13:2 – “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.” We can also add verse 12 of the same chapter to this conversation – “Exodus 13:12 – “you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD.” God makes it clear that there is a difference between the first born and those born later.
The topic of distinctions is not a very popular topic in today’s world. The liberal side of society seems to want no distinctions at all. They would prefer that we accept their notion that men and women are not different, nor are humans and animals, nor is it of consequence to be married or not married when being involved physically with someone. The enemy of God does not want us to embrace that there is Holy and common, impure and sanctified. However, God’s Word is consistent in showing us that distinctions do not equal value.
God tells the sea how far it can go and then commands it to stop at the edge of land (Job 38). The sea is no more important than dry land. God made male and female (Genesis 1, 5), and man is no more important than woman. God made the priests and the people of Israel to serve different roles as well. There in lies the problem that seems to upset many people. We are tempted to falsely believe that if God calls or blesses or anoints one person for a special task, that He cannot call and anoint us for a task equally important. God’s distinctions line up with His calling for each part of creation and on which He designs a special destiny. One who believes there is no need for distinctions does not believe that God has created each person with a divinely inspired destiny. II Corinthians 12:12 highlights this in the New Covenant – “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with the Messiah.”
We continue to see this struggle for value even in the believing community. It often shows up in the identity of Jews and Gentiles. While the Jewish people are clearly distinct in their covenant identity and responsibility, the non-Jewish believers should never feel inferior. The book of Romans tells us that each has an important role to play in God’s Kingdom. The Gentiles are called to provoke the Jews to jealousy in their own God (Romans 11:11) and the Jews are called to help bring life from the dead to the world with the salvation message of Yeshua (Romans 11:15). Jews and Gentiles are both called sons of adoption into God’s family, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Both are called to preach the gospel to one another and the believers are called to form the One New Man and be engrafted into the same olive tree. We are called to value our distinctions and embrace our God given roles, without being jealous of others calling and their roles.
The portion “Bo” brings into focus the idea that God distinguishes between people, giving each part of creation an important role to play. We do not come into our fullness of destiny by trying to be someone other than who God made us to be, whether we are male or female, old or young, Jew or Gentile. Each one is part of God’s family, important in their role, and vital to God’s plan.
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About the Author
Chad and his wife Rebecca, along with their 3 children, made Aliyah to Israel in July of 2014. Chad was the Senior Leader of Brit Hadasha Messianic Jewish Synagogue in Memphis, prior to their move. Chad began in full time ministry in 1999 in Gaithersburg, MD. The Holland family enjoys being involved in discipleship, small groups, marriage counseling, hospitality and leadership training. Chad is now the CEO & Senior Pastor of King of Kings Ministries in Jerusalem, Israel.
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