- Judges 4:4—5:31 (Shabbat Shirah)
The readings for this week are called B’Shalach – “In the Sending”:
Because both the Torah and Haftarah portions contain wonderful prophetic songs—the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15) and the Song of Barak and Deborah (Judges 5)–this Sabbath is sometimes called
Shabbat Shirah – “Sabbath of Song”
*Exodus 13:18b. “And the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt” (NASB). There was, as of yet, no military experience or discipline in this people (see verse 17), and a furious battle with the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16) awaited them just a little way down the road. Yet, somehow, they left Egypt armed and in orderly array. In I Samuel 17:45, David goes out to meet Goliath “in the name of the LORD of Hosts, God of the Battle-Arraying of Israel (YHVH Tzeva’ot Elohei-Ma’arkhot-Yisrael)”. It is YHVH of Armies who ultimately brings Israel into array both physically and spiritually to face her enemies.
PLEASE PRAY: For the armies of Israel to come into array under the LORD of Hosts. Pray for the Messianic Believers in the Israeli Defense Force; they have organized, and many get together regularly on weekends for praise, worship and prayer. Favourable articles have appeared in Israeli newspapers in recent years about the Messianic presence in Israel’s military. Many of these soldiers have excelled, gaining rank and favour and with some now themselves in positions of command. We know of cases in which some of these commanders have been actually encouraged by their superiors to share their faith with the others in their company. Two years ago it was estimated that there are more than 300 Messianic believing soldiers in the Israeli military…and we believe that number is growing! But the battle against them by the Enemy is fierce. Please pray courage, integrity, cleanness, and close fellowship for these young men and women both with their LORD and each other, that they be a light of Truth and Life to their comrades.
*Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20. “And YHVH went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” “And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.”
PLEASE PRAY: for Israel to be aware that God’s presence is with her to lead and give light. For believers to apprehend His Presence…for an awareness of the presence of God’s angels in the heavenlies round about us to lead, encourage and protect!
*Exodus 14:13-14. “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid! Stand still (NKJV) and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall not continue to see forever and ever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
We would observe regarding the first part of Moses’ admonition “Stand Still” (NKJV), that in the Hebrew this is far from an indolent ‘standing to the side’. Far better translations are “Set Yourself” (NASB) or “Take Your Station” (Robert Alter), The Hebrew lehityatzev is a military term. It is exactly the same word used by the Watchman standing his post in Habakkuk 2:1, “I will…set myself– (NKJV) or “station myself– (NASB) on the rampart, and watch to see…” As mentioned above, Israel was already an army, whether or not she yet realized it, and each member had a positioning within that army, appointed by the Captain of the Host of the LORD. The same is true for those coming into the Kingdom today. As we are watchful at our stations, the LORD will be working his salvation on the battlefield. At the end of this week’s readings, Moses’ station will be on the hill with his hands raised, as Joshua (whose name means, “The LORD is Salvation”) is prevailing in physical combat on the plain below.
Exodus 15:1-18 contains one of the most exalted, beautiful and truth-filled victory songs in any language:
Shirat haYam—The Song of the Sea
*15:2. “My strength and song is YAH; and He is become to me salvation (yeshu’ah); He is my God, and I will adorn Him with praises.”
PLEASE PRAY: That present-day Israel will recognize that the LORD is indeed become her Salvation (The name Yeshua (Jesus) is a contraction of a compound name combining the name of the LORD—YHVH with yesha—“Salvation”).
*15:3. “YHVH (the LORD) is a man of war; YHVH is His name.” In this verse, the LORD YHVH is literally referred to as an ish—“man”. We do not believe this to be merely metaphorical. How could the Most High call Himself a man—unless He would actually become one?
PLEASE PRAY: That the Holy Spirit will shine divine illumination onto his written Word—that minds will be opened to comprehend what is written about Yeshua (Jesus) in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (Luke 24:44-45).
*15:11. “Who is like You, YHVH, among the gods? Who is like You, sublime in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”
PLEASE PRAY: that these wonderful attributes of the LORD will be released in new understanding in His congregation throughout the world—1. Sublime HOLINESS; 2. PRAISES in spirit and truth which nurture GODLY FEAR in His servants, terror in His enemies. 3. A release of signs and WONDERS in the name of His “holy servant Yeshua” (Acts 4:30).
*15:17. “You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O YHVH, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, Adonai, which Your hands have established. YHVH shall reign forever and ever.” This is a prophecy regarding what, many hundreds of years later, would become the “Temple Mount” in Jerusalem. Since 1967, Israel has claimed sovereignty over this mountain. Yet non-Muslims are only allowed to ascend for a few specified hours on certain days of the week. It has been said that “the Last Battle will be fought over who will be worshipped on this mountain.” Over the interior doors of the Dome of the Rock is a passage from the Muslim holy book proclaiming that that religion’s deity “has no helper (son)”. The Second Psalm of the Hebrew Bible says that the LORD not only has a Son, that Son will reign as King on that Mountain. In Ezekiel 20:40 the Lord GOD (Adonai YHVH) declares that “On My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel, there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them…” At that time, it will truly be said that Israel has been “brought in and planted in the mountain”. But at present, she is only a wary custodian of a highly disputed area inhabited by structures of desolation.
PLEASE PRAY: that God’s Kingdom come and His will be done on the “mountain of His inheritance” in Jerusalem. We know teams of believers who ascend the mountain weekly to walk round it, praying this. Also, please pray for divine wisdom and guidance over our nation’s leaders in how best to administer Israel’s present governance of this holy site.
*Exodus 15:26b. “For I am YHVH (The LORD) who heals you.”
PLEASE PRAY: For release, revelation and progression concerning the healing gifts in the Body of Messiah in Israel.
*Exodus 16:8b. “Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD.” A similar rebuke and warning is echoed in the New Covenant in Acts 5:4, “You have not lied to men but to God.”
PLEASE PRAY: That the fear of the Lord would be on the Body of Messiah in Israel regarding their honour and conduct towards God’s appointed leaders.
*Exodus 16:23, 29. “Then he said to them, ‘This is what YHVH has said: “Tomorrow is a Sabbath, a Holy Sabbath to YHVH…”‘ “See! For YHVH has given you the Sabbath…” (Emphases ours). “Sabbath” (Hebrew: Shabbat) comes from a verb meaning “to cease work”. The first place in the Bible where the word “holiness” is used relates to this word, “Elohim blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Genesis 2:3a). Yeshua taught that “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).
PLEASE PRAY: For Israel to be freed from the legalistic structures of man, and enter into the true Rest given by God. Pray especially for leaders in the Body of Messiah to not ignore the necessity of availing themselves of the rests from normal work which God has ordained for His children.
*Exodus 17:15-16. “And Moses built an altar and called its name, YHVH IS MY BANNER; for he said, ‘Because YHVH has sworn: YHVH will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’”
One of the Hebrew words for “banner” is nes (“my banner”—nissi). In modern Hebrew nes has also come to mean “miracle”. The Amalekites were a real people—who throughout the Scriptures epitomize and symbolize a covenant-hating spirit, specifically that of anti-Semitism. They were Israel’s first enemies after leaving Egypt. They preyed on her, picking off the weak straggling in the rear (Deut. 25:17-19). Because God’s covenants bring life to all of humankind, He therefore grants “no quarter” to those who threaten their purposes; their remembrance must be “blotted out from under heaven.” When King Saul failed to do this, it was an Amalekite who in the end claimed to have killed him (II Sam. 1:13). Centuries later, it would be Haman, a descendant of Agag (an Amalekite whom Saul also spared) who, as recorded in the Book of Esther, sought to ignite a Holocaust, to annihilate God’s covenant people. With the hatred Satan has for Israel and her redemptive call, it is indeed a Divine Miracle flying over her which has sustained Israel and brought her, still an entity and with her ancient language restored, back to her native Land.
PLEASE PRAY: For revelation in Israel that it is only the Banner of YHVH (The LORD) flying over her which will protect her from annihilation…that the LORD is fighting for her…that His Banner over her is LOVE.
*Judges 4:8. “And Barak said unto her [Deborah]: ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.’”
We would suggest that Barak’s error here was not fear or cowardice (he is, in fact, listed among the heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11). Moses had said something very similar to the LORD in Exodus 33:15, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here”. But there, Moses was dismayed because He longed for the LORD’s presence (face), and God had threatened to send an angel instead. In this passage, Deborah, who held the Office of Prophetic Judge over Israel, had released God’s Word of command over the warrior. Yet Barak seems not to have realized that in God’s word of command would be God’s presence and authority for the battle. He seems to have identified the divine power and authority with the vessel releasing the Word, rather than the Word itself, and thus felt it safer to have the prophetess along with the Word she had released (It is significant that when Deborah later released a further command, he corrected his error and without hesitation went like lightning (Hebrew: barak) down the mountain (4:14).
PLEASE PRAY: For a maturing in Israel of the Body of Messiah, young and old, to the “prophetic” (I Cor. 14:1; Rev. 19:10b). For re-establishment by the Holy Spirit of the Office of Prophet (Ephesians 4:11) amongst both men and women in Israel. Pray for discernment and respect among believers for God’s Word and how it relates to His government; how, on spiritual as well as physical battlefields, instantaneous responses to divine instruction released through His ordained authority structures can be critical.
– Your Friends in Jerusalem
[The readings for next week (20-26 January) are called Yitro—“Jethro”: TORAH: Exodus 18:1—20:26; HAFTARAH: Isaiah 6:1—7:6.]