Thursday, December 31, 2015

Parashah Messiah: United With The Vine

Torah Portion: Sh’mot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)
Gospel Reading: John 15:5
Commentary by: Sonja Langford

“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” This loaded question sits squarely in the center of Sh’mot, the first parashah of the book of Exodus. God called Moses from his pastoral duties and gave him the starring role as central protagonist and hero in the fulfillment of a promise made over 400 years prior. But the thing is, Moses had no desire to be the hero. Through a running dialogue of 28 verses spanning two chapters, he challenges God’s calling five times before God’s anger is provoked, and Moses seemingly agrees to accept it. And thus begins one of the most powerful relationships recorded in the scriptures between God and a man.

After Moses returns to his homeland and gives a rather half hearted address to Pharaoh with a directive that borders more along the lines of a suggestion than a striking command from the Lord, the antagonist strikes back with orders of more hard labor and poorer working conditions for the people he was supposed to be saving.

Our hero almost triumphantly returns to God, “What was the value in sending me? For ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has dealt terribly with this people! And you haven’t rescued your people at all!” (excerpted from Exodus 5:22)

But then in one of the most moving passages of the early book of Exodus, God tells Moses that for the fulfillment of God’s promise to work, He will have to work not through Moses’ own might or power, but through His own. He says, “I will free you, rescue you, redeem you, take you as my people, bring you into the land, and give it to you.” (paraphrased from Exodus 6:6-8) Once Moses chose to believe the actual process of redemption was merely passive action on his behalf, merely speaking God’s words, and channeling His power then God was able to work through him.

The theme of dependence on God continues in John 15. Yeshua speaking to his disciples says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from me you can't do a thing.”

As a young person in her twenties, I struggled with my calling. I had personal desires and plans, but they never panned out. But once I surrendered to God’s calling for my life, once I allowed him to work through me, once I realized that “without [Him] you can do nothing” (John 15:5), I was freed. Does it mean I never struggle? No. Does it mean there are no antagonists? Absolutely not. But it does mean that I don’t struggle alone. It does mean that my antagonists aren’t just fighting against me.

And that brings me abundant comfort and great peace. I am a part of the vine; my Savior strengthens me when I stay united with Him. He doesn’t expect me to walk out my calling by myself, without help, or without the qualities necessary to accomplish it. In spite of my weaknesses, my failures, and my insecurities, He will be there with me, moving mountains through my faith, rejoicing with me when I succeed, and comforting me when I fall to my knees. The same God who Moses walked with walks with me. He walks with you. He wants to deliver you, to rescue you, to redeem you, and to bring you into the greatest fulfillment of His promises, if only we stay united with him.

About the Author: If you were to ask me my story, you probably wouldn't hear anything special on the surface. But if you were listening carefully, you would hear a story about an ordinary girl's life being shaped by an extraordinary God. You might pick up on a theme of abounding grace, unending love, and incredible joy. If you listened carefully you'd probably discover I'm learning; I’m growing. I'm not anybody special, but I cherish my life and my story. I blog inconsistently at She Smiles at the Future about life and the messy faith I believe in.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing, Sonja! My favorite bit of dialogue in Sh'mot this week is when Moshe is feeling so inadequate and questions YHVH why He would call him to lead the people of Israel. And YHVH says, "because I am with you." (Shem. 3:12) That jumped off the page at me when I read it, and really spoke to my heart. What better answer could there possibly be? He is with us....We do ca do anything He's called us to do....just because of that.

    Shabbat Shalom & Blessings in Messiah!

    1. Such a beautiful truth, Joy. Thank you for commenting and sharing. The continued message throughout the Exodus story and journey into the Promised Land is "chazak" (be strong) for God is with you and ready to lead you...if only we're remain close to Him.

      Thank you again for commenting!

  2. Thank you for this encouraging article, Sonja! It completely resonated with me. The sentence about "In spite of my weaknesses, etc., He will be there with me, moving mountains through my faith," tugged at my heart. It's exactly what I needed to hear right now.
    It's amazing how Moses and God's partnership is so close to what Yeshua says about the vine and the branches, and that that truth applies so well to each of us...

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kelsey! I wrote this months ago because I wasn't sure if I would have time to write it when it was supposed to be shared. So when it came through my inbox this past week, I was struck again by the truth in the Scriptures and its applicability to my life and situations today.