Vayera [ and He Appeared] 2015

Torah Portion: Genesis 18:1 through Gen 22:24
Haftarah: 2 Kings 4:1-37
New Testament: Acts 7:2-3, John 8:28-59, Jude 1:1-8, James 1:2-6

vayeraReturning to our quest to understand what caused God to passionately pursue Abraham, thus far, we note the following:

  1. Along with his father, Abram departed the city of Ur to head for the land of Canaan. (Gen. 11:31)
  2. Abram “made souls” in Haran (Gen. 12:5). The spread of the gospel of one God commences.
  3. Leaving Terah in Haran, Abram departed his father’s household (12:5) who “served idols” (Joshua 24:2).
  4. Abram left the land of Babylon and took with him the souls they had made in Haran. (12:5)
  5. Unlike Terah, Abraham did not stop until he arrived in the land of Canaan. (12:5)
  6. Upon entering the land, Abram made an altar to Yahweh and called upon His name (12:8)
  7. Abraham walked the land and claimed it for his descendants. (see last week)greater Israel 2
  8. When famine came, Abram did not return to Babylon. He went to Egypt; but, as others have pointed out, we must remember that the land promised to Abraham contains a portion of Egypt.
  9. When strife arose between his and Lot’s shepherds, Abram quickly avoided becoming a reproach to the name of Yahweh by urging Lot to separate from him.
  10. Abram remained in the land of Canaan even though the “cities of the plain,” which Lot chose, were green and well-watered.
  11. When Lot got into trouble, Abraham intervened.

We will pick up with the story here. The Scripture for last week’s Torah portion contained the story of Lot’s captivity; but, in order to view his story as a whole, I have saved comments until this week.

The parsha opens with the newly named and circumcised Abraham sitting outside of his tent on what the sages of Israel understand to be the third day after his surgery.

And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. (Gen. 18:1)

risen on 3rd dayAnyone who has undergone trauma or a surgical procedure knows that the third day is commonly marked with the most suffering; and, from that day onward an escalation of healing can usually be expected. (Remarkably, our all-knowing Heavenly Father has caused the suffering and resurrection of Yeshua and the healing of the nations to be reflected in the recovery of the wounds of one’s own body. Selah!)

Perhaps, as Abraham sat, he grieved over the circumstances which led to his nephew Lot living outside of his camp. Abraham had urged Lot to separate from him due to strife between their herdsmen.

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. (Gen. 13:10-12)

Because Lot “chose for himself,” he was not present when the command from Yahweh for Abraham to circumcise the men in the camp came forth. Did Abraham regret his decision to gain some ground between he and Lot?

“Lot” means veiled.  Without a doubt, Lot’s blind eyes could not see what Abraham’s saw.  Unable to comprehend the natural progression of life in a lawless society, Lot intentionally chose to expose his family to the wickedness of Sodom, which the Scripture says was “like Egypt,” rather than submit to a life of faith as a simple shepherd.  Perhaps he was influenced by his wife, whose fate was to be turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the order not to “look back” upon Sodom. (Gen19:26)

The apostle Peter viewed Lot as a “righteous man [who] lived among them day after day… tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard.” (2 Peter 2:8)

Peter’s endorsement of Lot is a bit perplexing. If Lot was so righteous, why was he willing to remain in such an unrighteous society? Could it be that Isaiah was pondering a similar situation when God spoke to him about blindness?

blind man w bandana black and whte“Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the LORD?” (Isaiah 42:19)

Yet, God promised Isaiah that at the end of days, when the nations come up to Jerusalem, to Mount Zion, this blindness will at last be removed:

“And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering [Heb לוֹט (lot) – covering, envelope] that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.” (Isaiah 25:7)

Here is the verse in the KJV with Strong’s numbers:  And he will destroyH1104 in thisH2088 mountainH2022 the faceH6440 of the coveringH3875 castH3874 overH5921 allH3605 people,H5971 and the vailH4541 that is spreadH5259 overH5921 allH3605 nations.H1471

Note the phrase “of the covering cast over the people” contains two words, lot H3875 and lut H3874. The first is identical to Lot’s name, veiled, covering, envelope. The second is the primitive root, containing the same Hebrew letters, but with different vowel pointings, meaning to be tightly wrapped. We could say restrained.

Now, look at the phrase “veil spread over all nations.” This “veil” is in Hebrew massêkâh H4541. Literally, it means covering of metal over a wooden image. Brown, Driver, Briggs defines it as pouring, libation, molten metal, cast image, drink offering, 1a) golden calflibation (with covenant sacrifice)1b) molten metal, molten image, molten gods. Isaiah uses to depict the spiritual blindness of idolatry. The word “spread,” is the Hebrew nâsak H5259 which means to interweave with the idea of fusion. To fuse is to make as one. But, this type of unity is the polar opposite of Yeshua’s prayer that His people would be one.

With the amplification of the meaning of the words, this verse could be read:

And He [Yahweh] will swallow up on this mountain [Mount Zion] the veil, the covering, the envelope that is tightly wrapped over all people, the idolatry that is restraining, interweaving, and fusing all nations into one.

Quite obviously, this “veil” and “blindness” is so great that only Yahweh Himself can dispel it. To dwell away from Abraham’s tent is to dwell in idolatry. Therefore, in my opinion, Lot can best be viewed as a picture of God’s people who chose to distance themselves from Abraham’s tent.

Sometime after Lot relocated to the well wateredAbraham_rescuing_Lot_C-652 plains, an army of four powerful kings of the east, including  Amraphel, king of Shinar, whom the rabbis believed to be none other than Nimrod, attacked Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies because they had dared to stop paying tribute. As the kings fled, some fell into the slime pits, while their citizens and all their possessions were confiscated, including Lot and his family. (Gen 14:1-12)

Abram’s response was to rouse his 318 trained men and tear off in hot pursuit.

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan. And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. (Gen. 14:14-16).

Make no mistake. This was no small skirmish. It was a David and Goliath battle. Under cover of darkness and foreshadowing Gideon, the shepherd divided his forces so as to surprise the enemy with what must have seemed a very large army.   With the help of God and Abram’s allies, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, the enemy was soundly whipped, the captives and their possessions rescued.  To quote 18th century commentator Matthew Henry , “never was any military expedition undertaken, prosecuted, and finished, more honorably than this one.”

While Abram probably could have made a surgical strike and rescued Lot alone, instead he chose to rescue ALL of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, despite what he may have thought of their lifestyle. Abram understood the purpose of Torah: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Supernaturally, Lot found himself back in Abraham’s hands; but, even after having been vexed by the culture of Sodom and being miraculously set free of it, Lot chose for the second time to enter Sodom.

three visitorsAs our Torah Portion opens today, “three angels” approach Abraham’s tent and their business is three-fold:

1) to heal Abraham

2) to announce the birth of Isaac

3) to deliver Lot.

Abram “lifted up his eyes” and “looked” and “behold” three men stood before him. Abraham  “ran” to greet them; “he bowed” before them and begged them to allow them to serve him; “he hastened” to instruct Sarah to bake unleavened bread; “he ran” to carefully select a “tender and good” calf to be served to his guests; and he made it known to the servants that it needed to be prepared quickly.  We can surmise from this excitement and activity that God healed Abraham.

The sages deduce that God healed Abraham so that he could attend to the needs of his guests and receive the reward for doing so. One of Abraham’s guests would turn out to be none other than Yahweh in the flesh! And we know that Yahweh in the flesh is Jesus/Yeshua!

Abraham’s first thought must surely have been that he was dreaming.  But, as “the men” came closer, behold! There, among them, was His Master, the same LORD who had appeared to Abraham three days ago (17:1) to instruct him in circumcision has  returned today to tell Sarah to get the nursery readyAdonai Ps 16!

When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O LORD [Hebrew: Adonai], if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.” (Gen 18:3)

The Hebrew word “Adonai” is used in Scripture only in cases when God is being addressed.  If Abraham had been addressing mere man, he would have used the term adoni, as when Sarai calls Abraham “my lord,” verse 18:12.

When the food was ready, Abraham “stood” while his guests ate. (Gen 18:8) The sages reason that the unleavened bread hints at the season of Passover which would be instituted in Egypt. It seems to me that Abraham’s standing is yet another hint, for the Israelites were commanded to eat the first Passover meal, “with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste.” (Exo 12:11) Remember, the deeds of the forefathers are portents for the children; therefore, we should look for other possible fulfillments.

After the meal, Yahweh spoke in Sarah’s hearing.

The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.”  And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years.  The way of women had ceased to old-woman-laughingbe with Sarah.  So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”  The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD?   At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen 18:10-14)

Perhaps the LORD asked Abraham why Sarah had laughed to remind Abraham that just three days before he had had the same incredulous reaction! The news is just too big, too astounding, and too overwhelming! But, immediately upon Sarah being informed that she would bear a son next year, and before the couple could even congratulate each other, the heavenly visitors stood and resolutely began walking toward Sodom. Abraham accompanies them and listens as Yahweh the Son poses a question of the other two men:

And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Gen 18:18-19)

Here Abraham is pictured as the Bride. “For I know him” is a term of intimacy and “the way of the LORD” is a euphemism for the marriage contract, or “ketubah.”

The Wickedness of Sodom

wickedness evilIn sharp contrast to the hospitality offered in Abraham’s tent, which according to Jewish commentary was open on four sides throughout the day in order to receive guests, Sodom’s wickedness is depicted in rabbinic literature as not only failing to offer hospitality, but of legalizing theft and cruelty to travelers, especially the poor and foreigners, even down to killing its own citizens who would try to intervene on their behalf.  Even the sexual perversion of these cities was, according to the rabbis, for the express purpose of keeping people out who appeared to be of insufficient means so as to benefit the society, and who were therefore, potentially, threats to their high standard of living.  The prophet Ezekiel appears to confirm this information:

“As I live, says the LORD….Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: pride, plenty of bread, and careless ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.” (Eze 16:48-50)

The depravity of Sodom’s culture accentuates the righteousness of Abraham, of whom it is written,

“Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Gen. 26:5)

good_samaritan_2-resize-300x225This is another way of saying that Abraham was tawmeem,blameless.  “The way of the LORD,” the bridal contract, specifically urges kindness to strangers and concessions for the poor, therefore instructing how to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  That should ring a bell and bring to mind the parable of the Samaritan who paid for the care and lodging of a man who had been left for dead on the road to Jerusalem, ignored by Levite and priest.  Yeshua castigated the religious leaders for such hypocrisy.

“If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did!” (John 8:39)

Graciously, Yahweh informs Abraham of His intent in regard to Sodom and Gomorrah:

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great; and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. Then Abraham drew near….(Gen 18:20-23)

abraham pleadingAn amazing picture begins here to unfold. In humility of spirit in which a devoted wife, deeply concerned about her husband’s decision and reputation, might confront him privately, Abraham challenges God!

Abraham begged mercy for Sodom for Yahweh’s own sake, that His name not be desecrated among the nations.

Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you!  Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen 18:23-25)

Do you hear the protective voice of the Bride? Can you hear the Help-Mate pleading with her Husband that His reputation is in jeopardy?

And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”  Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” (Gen 18:26-28)

scepter extended to estherDespite his tremendous wealth and blessings, Abraham counted himself as absolutely nothing.  And, do you see the scepter extended to the Bride, even as King Ahasuerus extended it to Esther? (Est 8:4)

And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”

Abraham persisted until he obtained the promise “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”  And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place. (Gen 18:28-33)

Intimacy with His Treasured Possession

Let’s delve into the phrase “…when He had finished speaking to Abraham.

The word “finished” [H3515] can also be translated as “accomplished” or “fulfilled.” The word “to” [H413] can also be translated as “near” or “with,” denoting intimacy. The word translated as “speaking” [H1696] can also mean “commune,” another concept for intimacy.   So, perhaps, the verse could read:

And the LORD went on his way when He had accomplished or fulfilled His intimacy with Abraham.

Amazing! When Abraham drew near to God, Yahweh also drew near in intimacy to accomplish HIS PURPOSES!  This is the intimacy that Yahweh desires with His “am segulah” [treasured possession].  We will look deeply into the idea of “drawing near” when we reached the book of Leviticus, as we study the purpose of the prescribed offerings.

israel prevails with GodAbraham returned to his tent in confidence, assured that he had prevailed with God. That is exactly what “Israel” means: “one who has power with God” or “prince with God.”  This is why Abraham was chosen to be the progenitor of Israel, the “am segulah” or treasured possession of the Most High God. The one who kept the commandments of God knew the King’s scepter was extended to him, and therefore, boldly embraced the opportunity to intercede. When he was finished, having done all else, Abraham “stood” in faith, fully confident that Yahweh would do what was right.

When Lot saw the angels, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth, emulating his uncle. Also to his credit, he pressed them to stay in his house, he rushed to prepare a meal, including unleavened bread, again hinting of the sign of the Passover that Lot and his two daughters would experience that night.

Before the household could sleep, the men of Sodom surrounded the house and demanded the visitors, “that we may know them.”  Lot tried in vain to argue with them and when they nearly knocked the door down in their insistence, he offered his own daughters to them instead (Gen 19:8).  Such is the reasoning of a man who would choose to dwell outside of Abraham’s camp. Note that at no point do we hear Lot crying out to the LORD to help him; but, thank Heaven, “God remembered Abraham.” (Gen 19:29)

The intercession of the Bride was not in vain. The angels pulled Lot safely into the house and secured the door, while the evil men outside, struck with blindness, still continued frantically to get inside.

Then the angels said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” (Gen 19:12)

So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.. And…he lingered…” (Gen 19:14-16)

Lot lingered. Note the contrast between Abraham and Lot. When Abraham hears the voice of God, he quickly moves to obey.

ca. 1850 --- An illustration from a mid-19th century copy of Grand Catechisme des Familles (Christian Doctrine for Families). --- Image by © Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis
ca. 1850 — An illustration from a mid-19th century copy of Grand Catechisme des Familles (Christian Doctrine for Families). — Image by © Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis

The angels seized Lot, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand, “the LORD being merciful to him,” and brought them outside the city. By this time, Jeusu/Yeshua Himself has rejoined the two angels and, strangely enough, Lot recognizes Him and converses with Him!

And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, Adonai [used only in reference to God]! Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. (Gen 19:17-19)

Lot’s veiled eyes still cannot believe that the King of the Universe knows what is best for him and his family! Instead of quickly obeying, human reasoning prevailed as it did on the fatal day he “chose for himself” Sodom.

“Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one.  Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!”  He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.  Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” (Gen 19:20-23)

Note that the LORD is restrained from destroying the wicked cities until Lot has been saved! Such is the power of the Bride’s intercession!

fire raining“Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.” (Gen 19:24-25)

So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.  (Gen 19:29)

But, for some reason, “[Lot] was afraid… So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.” (Gen 19:30)

The carnage may have been so great that the daughters believed they were the only people left upon the earth.  Following their father’s example, they resorted to human reasoning rather than exercising faith. Parents, be very sure that what you do is far more powerful than your instructions!

And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” (Gen 19:31-32) Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab.  He is the father of the Moabites to this day.  The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi.  He is the father of the Ammonites to this day. (Gen 19:36-38)

The grandchildren of Lot were conceived in incest and their descendants would become two of Israel’s greatest enemies! ruth-boaz-Yet, amazingly, Jesus/ Yeshua Messiah, contained in the loins of Lot, was brought forth through Ruth the Moabite, great-grandmother of King David, and Naamah the Ammonite, mother to Rehoboam. These women are the righteous ancestors of the kings who were commended by God: David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Oh! The unfathomable grace of the Most High God! [If you have time to do a little more study, here is an excellent comparison of Lot and Abraham by James B. Jordan.]

“At the mo’ed [pronounced mow-AIDE] I will return to you, about this time next year and Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:14)

Strong’s Concordance defines mo’ed as an appointment, a set time, a specific time or season, a meeting, a Feast, again hinting at Passover. The first time this term is used is on the fourth day of Creation.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for mo’edim. [plural form of mo’ed] (Gen. 1:14)

passover bread and wineGod not only has His own calendar, He purposefully arranges events to fall on certain days.  Isaac’s miracle birth at the season of Passover portends the birth of the nation of Israel at the Red Sea at Passover in the year of the Exodus.  The God of the Hebrews told Pharaoh, “Israel is my firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22).

Interestingly enough, John the Baptist’s miracle birth to the aged and barren Elizabeth also occurred at Passover.  This can be determined by the priests’ course of duty established by King David.  Zechariah served in the course of Abijah; nine months later John was born.  It was while Zechariah was on duty in the Temple that the angel Gabriel foretold John’s birth. John’s name means “beloved.” His miracle birth heralded the birth of Jesus/Yeshua six months later.

The Joshua generation crossed the Jordan at Passover, entering the land of Israel after emerging from the “womb” of the wilderness.  So, in addition to the lamb and unleavened bread, the themes of Passover are wombs, barrenness, wilderness, deliverance, and LAUGHTER!  We will talk more about God’s calendar as we proceed through the Torah this year.

abraham w newborn isaacBack to our sidrah, can you imagine Abraham’s and Sarah’s joy upon hearing Isaac’s first cry? Or holding their very own squirming newborn at their old age? Can you imagine Sarah’s delight in her quickened 90-year-old-breasts brimming with nourishment for her hungry babe? Don’t you imagine she cackled! No doubt the camp echoed with shrieks of joy as word of the miracle birth passed from tent to tent.  No wonder God had said, “His name shall be LAUGHTER [Isaac]! 

And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Gen 21:6-7)

Hagar and Ishmael

However, not everyone rejoiced. The excitement in the camp served only to provoke the jealously and displeasure of Ishmael and his mother until it could not be contained.

But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing.  So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.”  And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son.  But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman.  Do whatever Sarah says, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.  And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” (Gen 21:9-13)

Ishmael’s laughter was the fruit of Hagar’s jealousy and insolence toward Sarah. As with Cain, the firstborn son was enraged by God’s favor upon his brother. Perhaps God had to remove Ishmael as a hedge of protection for both boys to prevent the premature death of one or both.

Determined to obey despite his deep love for Ishmael, “early the next day,” Abraham sent Hagar and her son away.  This had to have been an extremely hard lesson.  When we “help God,” and get ahead of Him, the result is often that we end up with an “Ishmael” who will impede the true plan and purposes of God. The only remedy is to break the ungodly tie and, thus, untie God’s hand of mercy.

Hagar & IshmaelIn despair, Hagar wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she placed Ishmael under a bush, sat down to watch her son die, and wept, forgetting the LORD’s promise that came to her when she was pregnant, that Ishmael would have offspring without number. This time, the LORD responded to the “voice of the boy.”

And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt. (Gen 21:17-21)

The editor of the Eastern Bible Commentary notes God heard Abraham’s prayer, “O that Ishmael might live before Thee!” (Gen 17:18 The commentator goes on:

The Arabs, the fiery sons of the desert… have carved their name deeply upon the history and the faith of the world. But sensuousness and lawlessness are everywhere the stamp of the Ishmaelite. With high gifts and some generous qualities… their fierce animal passion has been the curse of the sons of Hagar… Ishmael stands forth as the type of the carnal man. On outward grounds of flesh and blood he seeks inheritance in the kingdom of God [and, this writer would add, the land of Israel]; and with fleshly weapons passionately [seeks to take it by violence].

Take Your Son, Whom You Love….

Abraham leavning over prostrate IsaacAfter these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. (Gen 22:1-3)

Even in this most difficult trial of all, not a whit of procrastination is seen in Abraham. Receiving clear understanding of the LORD’s instruction, though most certainly not His purpose or the end result, Abraham rose early the next morning, placed the wood (foreshadowing Yeshua’s cross) upon Isaac, and proceeded to Mount Moriah (Hebrew: Moriyah, “chosen by Yah”).

On the third day, foreshadowing Yeshua’s resurrection, Abraham “lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.”  The place” [Hebrew: ha makom] where Isaac would be offered up is none other than the site of threshing floor that King David will purchase from Oman (1 Chron. 21:25), and where his son Solomon will later build the glorious Temple, and where Yeshua will be crucified.

What must have gone through Abraham’s mind in that three day journey? Did he argue with God? Did he wrestle? Did he try to wiggle, at least on Sarah’s account?   What on earth will she think?

stay here with donkey“Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” (Gen 22:5)

Note the certainty of Abraham’s faith. “I and the boy willcome again to you.”  Abraham’s faith in the promises is firm.  His seed WILL INDEED be as the sand of the sea and the stars in the sky.   Nothing could sway him; both he AND Isaac will return. The writer of the Book of Hebrews puts it this way:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” (Heb 11:17-19)

God will provide Himself the LambAnd Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. (Gen 22:6-8)

How Abraham’s heart must have been pierced when Isaac said, “My father!”  According to several timelines, Isaac was 37 years old.  This was no small child whom Abraham would place on the altar. Isaac willingly offered himself, just as Jesus/Yeshua would do at the very same location.

So they went both of them together.” The word translated here as “together” is a forceful word that means “unitedly,” if I may coin a word. Abraham and Isaac picture the absolute “UN-dividedness”, “echad” (oneness), of Father and Son.

Faith Like Abraham

Faith of the kind that Abraham possessed is ready, at a moment’s notice, to take on any role, any project, any assignment that the LORD may direct, no matter how under-qualified or over-qualified we may see ourselves. It is a willingness to go anywhere, at any time, and to meet with anyone. It takes on Abraham’s mantle, to “run” to offer help to the neighbor or stranger, to continually be an advocate for the orphan, the widow, the poor, the needy.   It is prepared at any time to quickly assemble a meal or meet a financial need.  It intercedes constantly and is willing to personally be used as an answer to prayer.  This kind of faith teaches by example “the way of the LORD,” and is therefore, “the light of the world.”  People who have the faith of Abraham will be tested as Abraham was.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete [tawmeem], lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

blameless in a crooked generationIf we are being tested, it is because, like Abraham, we have been called and chosen, and, therefore, we have been given eyes to see what the “Lots” of this world cannot. Our calling is not to live peaceful, comfortable, trouble-free lives.  It is so that, through our trials, we can grow and become tawmeem [blameless] so that we can take on the role of the Bride to intercede for the nations.

As such, we are truly the most blessed people who have ever lived on the planet and we must boldly, urgently, and frequently draw near to the throne of grace to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” When we do so, we are assured He draws near to us to fulfill His purposes.

Until next week, shalom!

3 thoughts on “Vayera [ and He Appeared] 2015”

  1. WOW! What a thought provoking commentary! I especially love how you brought out the role of the ezer kenegdo in Abraham’s “negotiating” with YHWH. I will reblog this on Grace in Torah. Shabbat Shalom dear sister!

  2. Blessing to my soul, I long to step into the unknown to trust Yahweh in where and what he is trying to help me see. We are his servants and so blessed and anointed to serve him, help us Father to have the faith of Abraham and walk into the unknown with total trust in your will not ours. Pain has finally become the most precious gift that my King has ever given me because you do gain strength in the valley and it’s all because of his great and wonderful love, that I with his power could help someone else. Thank you my gracious Father! I love you! Thanks Ms Cathy for following your anointing through him and blessing us with awesome insight to our true meaning of living. Shalom Shalom!

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