This week our parasha is “Bo”, which translates to Go, and covers Exodus 10:1-13:16. In this parasha we will see our people finally leave Egypt and the foolishness of trying to thwart the will of Adonai.
We begin in Exodus 10, with Pharaoh still refusing to let our people go. The Lord tells Moses to once again go before Pharaoh and demand he let our people go. But he has hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that all the generations after Moses will know that the Lord is God with the signs He has performed in Egypt.
After Pharaoh refuses Moses once again, the Lord strikes the land of Egypt with a terrible plague of Locusts. These Locusts destroy every bit of plant life somehow left in the land. Pharaoh once again summons Moses and Aaron and begs them to pray to the Lord for this plague to end. Once again, they pray, and the Lord stops the plague. Still Pharaoh refuses to allow our people to leave and so the Lord strikes the land of Egypt with darkness.
This was a thick darkness, the total absence of light which I can only assume was terrifying. But while it was dark where the Egyptians lived, there was still light for our people in Goshen. This clearly showed the power of the Lord, that He is the source of light, and that our people were blessed by Him. After this ninth plague, and after Pharaoh once again begged for it to stop, he still refused to let our people leave. But this time was different, this time Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron to never return or else he would kill them. Moses responds by telling Pharaoh that the Lord has a final plague planned, and that after this last plague he will beg for us to leave and then finally we will.
The stage is set for the final plague that the Lord will bring on Egypt. Death to all firstborn, the firstborn male of human beings and of animals. The Lord promised Moses that every first born Egyptian son, from the Pharaoh’s own son all the way down to the poorest person would soon be killed. Then we are promised that we will be finally allowed to leave, leave with the treasures of Egypt, given to us by the Egyptians themselves.
We are told that this month will be the first month of our calendar and that on the tenth day we are to take a lamb for each household, keep it for four days, then kill and eat it. The lamb must be an unblemished, firstborn lamb and we are to eat it together with our families at twilight. We must then take the blood of this spotless lamb and apply it to sides and tops of our doors. Along with the roasted lamb we must also have unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. This meal is to be eaten quickly while dressed and ready to leave. Every year we are commanded to celebrate this festival, the Lord’s Passover, from generation to generation.
We did as the Lord commanded and during the night the Lord went through the land of Egypt. Any home that was not marked with the blood of the lamb, the firstborn male in that home was killed. But the homes that applied the blood of the lamb trusting in God’s promise were spared. The Torah tells us that the crying had never been and never would be as loud as it was that night in Egypt, because there was not a house without someone dead.
The Lord’s words were fulfilled, and Pharaoh begs us to leave. Finally, our people are set free, and leave Egypt rich with Egyptian treasure. But we also leave as a mixed multitude. Many Egyptians left with our people after seeing the power of the one true God. The Lord had systematically proven that the Egyptian gods, including Pharaoh, were powerless in the face of His might.
After 430 years, to the very day, the Lord’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled that He would free our people from Egypt and lead us back to the Promised Land. At the end of parasha Bo we read that in every generation we will tell the story of this day to our children and so it has been for thousands of years.
There are many lessons we can learn from parasha Bo today. The biggest, at least to me as a Messianic Jew, is how Messiah Yeshua is our Passover Lamb. How His death as a sinless sacrifice for our sins is prophesized through the lambs killed during the Passover. Our people in Egypt had to apply blood by faith to the physical doorposts of our homes to be spared physical death. Today we must also apply by the faith the blood of the Greater Lamb to the doorposts of our hearts to be saved from spiritual death.
But there is another lesson worth considering from the Passover story, the foolishness of trying to thwart the will of God. The Lord in his wisdom has allowed us to have wills of our own. We are not robots that are forced to follow exact programming. When I ask my phone a question with the proper command it must answer, sometimes poorly, but it will give me an answer. I will never have it go, “give me a few minutes and ask later”.
As human beings we have choices, a person living in Egypt could have chosen not to apply the blood to the doors, Pharaoh in the beginning chose not to let our people go. But our choices have consequences and in this parasha we see the incredibly devastating consequences that come with trying to go against God.
Parasha Bo is a reminder for all of us that while we have wills, God’s Will trumps our own and that what He has decided will always come to pass. There is a comfort for us as Believers that everything will be accomplished in His time just like His promise to free our people from Egypt. All that He has promised us, the promise of eternal life through Messiah Yeshua, of an end to death and sorrow, will come to pass. But it is also a warning that the promise of coming judgement, which will be more devastating than any physical plague, will also come to pass. We can choose to follow the Lord and experience His blessings and salvation, or we can choose to curse God and die like many of those in Egypt. There are only two roads, two choices, the question is, which have you chosen and are you continuing to walk down the right road?