Parsha post: Beshalach

This week’s parsha Beshalach (he let go) picks up the story of the Israelites flight from Egypt right after they have left the land of slavery. You can read the whole story in Exodus 13:17-17:16. There are a lot of things that happen in this parsha, so you’ll want to read it (or even just a part of it) for yourself to get more of the exciting action. The children of Israel have come out of Egypt after Pharaoh has finally relented and let them go. Now that they are physically out of slavery, they must learn to depend on God in a new way in freedom. God doesn’t lead them through nearby Philistine territory (think Goliath), because it would be too easy for the Israelites to become afraid and turn back and willingly go back into slavery in Egypt. Instead, God takes them in a direction that will make it next to impossible for them to return to their lives as Pharaoh’s slaves. Here, God divides the Red Sea before the children of Israel and causes them to walk through on dry ground. Though they are followed by Pharaoh’s armies and his chariots, Pharaoh’s forces do not reach the Israelites because God closes the depths of the sea over them and they drown. (Exodus 13:17-14:31)

Seeing this remarkable deliverance, Moses and all the people rejoice before the Lord in song and then Miriam leads all of the women in a song of praise as well. This attitude of Thanksgiving does not last long. Three days later they complain against Moses because they are thirsty. God provides water for the people. It is not long after this that the people begin to complain that they have no meat and no food in general and that life was better for them in Egypt.Egypt, where they were slaves. Egypt, where they were forced to make bricks without straw. Suddenly the Israelites remember a rosy picture of the land of their bondage. They accuse Moses and God of bringing them into the wilderness to die. God appears in the pillar of cloud and tells them that he will feed them with meat at night and with bread in the morning and that they will know that he is their God. It happens as God says. They have quail meat to eat and then a substance they end up calling manna (literally what is it?) in the morning. The manna comes every day and it is exactly the amount that each person needs. God tells the people not to gather more than they need and not to try and save it for the next day or it will spoil and become infested with worms. The only day that they are allowed to gather more is on the day before the sabbath they are to gather a double portion for there will be no manna to collect on the sabbath. Each day brought a new reminder that God would provide. Each shabbat brought an opportunity to learn to trust that the manna would come again tomorrow. (Exodus 15:1-16:36)

I really like this parsha and the tangible ways that God is at work in the midst of his people, teaching them to look to him and depend on him. We need to be taught that same lesson. I am grateful that my daily meals aren’t identical mixtures of quail and manna and I am grateful that I don’t live in the wilderness constantly on the move. But, I need reminders of this kind of daily goodness of God. It is so easy for me to forget that though my food gets delivered courtesy of Fresh Direct, it is God who provides for my physical needs. It is so easy for me to forget that even when I make dinner (or order in) it is God who feeds me. And we don’t have God in our midst in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, but as followers of Y’shua we do have the Holy Spirit who lives in us and is with us always. God provided a way out of slavery for his children in Egypt and he provided countless opportunities in freedom for them and for us to learn to follow, trust, and love him. How can we better cultivate gratitude in ourselves this year for the things that God has done, God is doing, and God will continue to do?

Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal,

RedSox

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Gilgal Gazette Monday

Mad Science

Hannah K., age 11

Tribe of Levi

This year one of my activities was mad science. My favorite experiment was putting Mentos in Diet Coke. When the Mentos were dropped in the Diet Coke it exploded!! Geysers look similar but work differently. Geysers are made up of hot steam. The steam mixes with the water and explodes up! If you ever go to camp, sign up for Mad Science!

Tribe of Judah

Erik A., age 10

Tribe of Judah

Our tribe “Judah” is the best and called awesome. The reasons why we’re the best is because we’re the most improved tribe. Our tribe has 4 campers and 2 staff. The main leader is the “Awesome Strider.” Really he is awesome! The ATL is the magnificent Hiccup. The 4 campers’ names are Erik, Shai, Daniel, and Ephraim. All the reasons why the Tribe of Judah is cool is that we’re smart, clean, and organized. We are all very good at sports and talents. And we’re friendly. This is why we’re the best tribe!!!!!

Parsha Post: Bo

This week’s parsha (Bo) is from Exodus 10:1-13:16 and the Haftarah is from Jeremiah 46:13-28. This parsha gives us the details of the last three plagues to fall on the houses of Egypt (locusts, darkness, and the death of the first born) and then continues with the children of Israel leaving the land of Egypt for good. With theses plagues we incrementally see Pharaoh’s resolve wavering. First, he says that yes they can go…but only the men. When Moses says that this is no good Pharaoh says that no one can go…and then the locusts come. After the locusts have devoured everything there is, Pharaoh asks for Moses to intercede on his behalf and asks for forgiveness–but still Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go…then the plague of darkness descends on Egypt. This darkness, like most of the other plagues is something that the Israelites get to witness, but not something that touches them directly. After three days Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron back and says “ok fine, the men, the women, and the children can go and worship in the desert but you have to leave all of your stuff and your animals here.” This doesn’t work because sacrifice is part of what is involved with worship, so Moses says no and Pharaoh says no right back.

At the end of this exchange Pharaoh says that he never wants to see Moses’ face again. God’s tells Moses regarding this tenth and final plague is that this plague will be it for Pharaoh and it will be enough for Pharaoh to drive them completely out of Egypt for good. But, the Israelites won’t be protected from this plague automatically. In order to be preserved through the visit by the Angel of Death, each home will have to kill a perfect and healthy lamb and spread its blood over the door of their home. It was the blood of the lamb that caused the Angel of Death to pass over the homes of the Israelites. It was only if the Israelites acted in obedience and in faith that their firstborn children would be spared. This plague wasn’t just changing Pharaoh’s heart, it was changing the calendar for the Jewish people for all time. If you didn’t know or if you hadn’t yet guessed, this is the first passover. The Angel of Death “passed over” (get it?) the homes with blood on their doors and this deliverance from death and from slavery in Egypt is something that the Jewish people were to remember and celebrate every year.

For this first Passover there could have been no doubt in the homes for those firstborn children that they were spared because the lamb was not. For those of us who know Yeshua (Jesus) as our Messiah we know that we are spared the judgment that our sin rightly deserves because Yeshua was not spared. This passage and the celebration of Passover later this year are a great reminder for me that we are unable as people to deliver ourselves or to protect ourselves from ultimate judgment. God provided instructions and provided the deliverance for the Israelites as they were fleeing Egypt and he provided the instructions and deliverance for all mankind to be redeemed and reconciled to him.

We hope that you will enjoy reading this passage with your families this week. Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal!

RedSox

Gilgal Gazette Monday

Capture the Degel

Shai K., age 10

Tribe of Judah

On Monday night we played Capture the Degel!!! In Capture the Degel, you each have a side and you hide both flags. If you cross onto another person’s side they can tag you and they take you to jail but if they don’t escort you, you can run away. During Capture the Degel 2014, we found a snake and had to stop the game until it left. My team lost both times, but it was still really fun. That night I could not fall asleep because we were talking about it all night. It was the best game of Capture the Degel I have ever played!!

Naomi W., age 12

Tribe of Levi

Soccer is one of my favorite activities. In soccer me and my friends play soccer games, world cup, running activities, passing drills and much more. We even play nuke ‘em sometimes. Soccer is such a fun sport activity and is an awesome way to go play outside and exercise. I love soccer and I’ve played it for several years. I like to play offense and go for the goal but there are a lot of fun positions like defense, goalie, midfield and more. So if you love soccer like I do then you should come to Camp Gilgal.

Gilgal Gazette Monday

Movie Night

Halie F., age 7

Tribe of Reuben

Today was great! It was Shabbat and Elliot’s birthday and the 4th of July. We had so much fun. We had chips, popcorn, soda, and animal crackers. We watched a movie and we were in our PJs and pillows and sleeping bags. We had cake, and Elliot is 12. We watched How to Train your Dragon. It was great!

Love, Halie

Claymation

Rachel H., age 10

Tribe of Levi

Imagine this: you’re at Camp Gilgal 2014. Twister passes around the sign-up sheets for activities. You see the word Claymation and go, “Oh, yeah.” What you just read was what happened to me. The next day, I was really excited for my thirst time in Claymation. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the room and only 5 campers were there! And they were sculpting figures with Play-Doh! But day by day, I made more and more characters and—finally—on Friday, we each made a video using our characters. My movie was about a girl taking a ride on a giant duck. Then the duck gets turned into a fish by the pond fairy. The duck-fish goes underwater, and the girl has to swim to the shore to get out. It was really fun, and I’m definitely doing Claymation next year!

Parsha Post: Vaera

This week’s parsha comes from Exodus 6:2-9:35. It is always amazing to me in reading and rereading the exodus account how quickly everything happens. Last week Moses was born and this week we get through almost all of the plagues. But I am sure that nothing about the actual events felt fast. The children of Israel had been in slavery in Egypt for 400 years and though God had promised that they would not remain there as slaves beyond that point, I think that many of them had grown so generationally tired of waiting that they cried out to the Lord not expecting an answer.

I was reminded this week of the words of King David in Psalm 27:13-14 because it sounds like the total opposite of the mindset of the children of Israel in slavery. We’ll circle back to this idea at the end, but for now read these words:

I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;

be strong and take heart

and wait for the LORD.

Vaera means “I appeared” and it comes from God saying to Moses that he had appeared to the patriarchs in the past and established his covenant with them in the past. God’s relationship with the children of Israel has serious history and he has not forgotten them. He recounts to Moses that he has given them the land of Canaan to possess (and they will possess it) and that he has heard their cries for help and that he will free them.  He promises that he will take them as his own people and that he will be their God.

Exodus 6:9 says, “Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.”

Can you believe that? God makes unbelievable promises to the children of Israel and their experience is so overwhelmed by their slavery and their generations of waiting for freedom that they can’t even hear the good news. Their discouragement doesn’t just stay with them–it infects Moses and discourages him in his next steps to obey God and tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Moses is distracted with his own insufficiency and is unable to stand confidently knowing that if God is asking him to do something that God will go with him.  This distraction/preoccupation repeats. Moses keeps repeating that he has “faltering lips” and the repetition continues as he and Aaron approach Pharaoh. Each visit with Pharaoh in this parsha concludes with “yet Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.”

The Israelites see only their present situation. Even once they are out of slavery they can’t seem to let go of their position as slaves. Moses sees only his disability, even after God has called him for an amazing task and made him able. Pharaoh can’t let go of his right to deny the petition on behalf of the Israelites, even when keeping them seems to be against his best interest.

And so we come back to the title of this week’s Parsha–“I appeared.” To free the Israelites from bondage and to reveal himself to them God provides signs and wonders in the form of the plagues. Some of them the Israelites experience directly and some of them they view the effects of from afar, but God intervenes tangibly in their circumstances. They are not freed from slavery because the gate was loose and their slave drivers weren’t paying attention. They are freed from slavery because God time and time again (ten times in all) shows his power and his supremacy over Pharaoh and the things that Pharaoh holds as powerful, the things that Pharaoh puts his trust in. The waiting was worth it, God delivers on his promises to stand by the children of Israel and to lead them from slavery to freedom and to lead them into a land of their own and to make them his own people.

Part of why I really enjoy looking at the parsha each week is the regular reminder that God keeps his promises and that he is trustworthy. I really love the verses in Psalm 27 because they remind me of all that God has already done and all of the ways that he has already kept his word. King David isn’t confident in God because it sounds like a good idea or because it is easy. King David is able to stand confidently in who God is and what he has said, and even to wait on him because God has already demonstrated his character in history. The children of Israel in slavery in Egypt were struggling because they’d lost hope. But God appears in the midst of their groaning, provides a deliverer, exercises miracles, and promises to deliver them with his mighty hand and his outstretched arm.

I want to encourage you to read the parsha this week/weekend. There is a refrain I remember from the Passover seder growing up: then we were slaves, now we are free. This is true of physical slavery in Egypt but this is also true of our spiritual relationship with sin. In response to our groaning and after generations of waiting for God to provide salvation and redemption from spiritual bondage, Yeshua came and made his dwelling among us. I pray that this week we would all be able to stand more confidently in the Lord and that we would be able to stand firm and wait on him because he is faithful and he is true to his word.

 

Shabbat Shalom Camp Gilgal,

RedSox