Friday, November 18, 2016

The Faith and Testing of Abraham | Parashat Vayera | By His EVERY Word

Parashat Vayera
 פרשת וירא
“And He Appeared”

“Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth...”

Torah Portion: Genesis 18:1-22:24
Haftarah: M’lakhim Bet (II Kings) 4:1-37
B’rit Chadash/New Covenant: Luke 1:26-38; 24:36-53; 
II Peter 2:4-11

Shabbat  | 19 November 2016  |  18 Cheshvan 5777

The Faith and Testing of Abraham
  • Mysterious Visitors
  • Intercession for Sodom
  • Ministers of Destruction
  • The Message of Lot’s Wife
  • Isaac: the Son of Promise
  • Ishmael: the Son of the Flesh
  • Love and Sacrifice: the Ultimate Test
  • The Lamb of God
The faith of Abraham is the standard for all who would count themselves followers of Adonai through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). What is that faith? The Bible says, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23) 

This word, believed, is far from a passive, mental assent, but the Hebrew word, “aman” actually means: to support, confirm, be faithful, uphold. Which we see increasingly in Abraham’s life. His is a life of testing in unforeseen and unfamiliar circumstances—will he trust Adonai his Lord and be faithful

In this parasha, Abraham faces the ultimate test of his faith and faithfulness—he is told to sacrifice Isaac, his promised son of the Covenant. 

Who among us could say “Yes, Lord,” in this test of faith?
Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah.

The traditional blessing pronounced before reading the Torah is as follows:
Bar’khoo et Adonai ham’vo’rakh
(Congregation responds)
Ba’rookh Adonai ham’vo’rakh lay’o’lahm vah-ed

Bless Adonai, who is to be blessed.
(Congregation responds) Blessed is Adonai, who is to be blessed, forever and ever.)
Ba’rookh ah’ta Adonai,
El’o’hay’noo me’lekh ha'olam,
a’sher ba’khar ba’noo mee’kol hah’ah’meem v'nah’tahn lah’noo et torah’tow.
Ba’rookh ah’ta Adonai, no’tayn ha’torah.

Blessed are you Lord, our God, King of the Universe who chose us from all the peoples and gave to us His Torah. Blessed are You, Lord, giver of the Torah.

Genesis 18 Abraham Entertains Mysterious Visitors

vs. 1-14 “Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, ‘My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.’ Then they said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘There, in the tent.’ He said, ‘I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. 

Sarah ... Laughed?

Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ And the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed  bear a child, when I am so old? Is anything too difficult for the LORD?’”

This would be the fifth time Adonai appeared to Abraham. Some commentaries place Adonai as separate from the three visitors, who are clearly angelic. This is due to Abraham’s initial greeting: “My Lord,” in Hebrew, adon, which is not primarily used for Adonai, the LORD (YHVH), but rather a title that can mean master, king, lord, or prince as well. However, as the narrative proceeds, one of Abraham’s “guests” pronounces the consummation of the promised child and “hears” Sarah laugh and speak inwardly to herself, incredulous at the news. In the text Adonai is revealed: “the LORD said to Abraham, ‘why did Sarah laugh ... Is anything too difficult for the LORD?’”
One of Abraham’s guests was indeed Adonai, the LORDיהוה (YHVH) Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, Creator of the Universe! The promised son is reaffirmed. From Sarah, who’s womb is dead, God will bring forth life!
When verse 14 is read in Hebrew, it gains something our English translation doesn’t convey: "Is anything too (difficult—Hebrew—pala: wonderful, marvelous, extraordinary) for the LORD?"
vs. 16-19 “The LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do ... For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD...’”
Chief Rabbi J. H. Hertz, notes: An important doctrine is here taught in connection with the word “command,” (tsavah in Hebrew, meaning to charge, give charge to, or commission) which has played a conspicuous part in Jewish life. It is the sacred duty of the Israelite to transmit the Jewish heritage to his children after him, meaning the last injunction of the true Jewish father to his children is that they walk in the way of the LORD and live lives of probity and goodness.  PENTATEUCH AND HAFTORAHS, SONCINO PRESS, 1936
vs. 20-33 Abraham Intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah
“And the LORD said, ‘The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.’ Abraham came near and said, ‘Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?’”

To some, this exchange between Abraham and the Divine may seem impudent or irreverent. However, it is an ideal example of intercession, characteristic of the Patriarchs carrying the mantle of supreme fatherhood on their shoulders.
In verse 25, we also find that unique characteristic of the one who is intimate with God—one who is jealous to protect the Divine testimony in the earth, that His Name would not be disparaged! He senses ... he knows that which is consistent or inconstant with the character of God and will even wrestle with God Himself to preserve God’s Name before mankind!
The concept of justice to this day is possibly considered the highest virtue to the Jewish People. 

Verse 25 is seen as an “epochal sentence of the Bible,” resounding throughout all time as a guiding beacon. Justice is considered as the main pillar of God’s Throne, ethics not only being a Divine quality of God and man, but the basis for all others.

Hear the voice of the prophets:
  • “But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
  • “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
  • “...the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:4)
  • “Thus has the LORD of hosts said, ‘ Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother...” (Zechariah 7:9)
Abraham humbly interceded on behalf of the possible righteous that may inhabit Sodom and Gomorrah from fifty souls down to ten. “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.”

Of course Adonai knew there would not be even ten righteous within these wicked cities, but allowed Abraham his noble exercise ... and preserves this very precious exchange for us! For in it we also see our own nature at times, moved to compassion for those who are in the midst of destruction of their own design. 

Our ability to see the Hand of God in others’ lives is all too often so myopic.

Were Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed Because of Sexual Immorality? It is common to assume that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sensual wickedness, however, the prophet Ezekiel gives us a broader view—one that resonates with what we now understand about the lofty and Divine ideal of justice being violated:
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it." (Ezekiel 16:49-50) 
Certainly Sodom and Gomorrah were depraved and immoral—as were most of the pagan civilizations. What was it that set these cities apart for destruction? Commentaries say they not only neglected their poor while they were very prosperous, but they oppressed and abused their poor. 
Their self-gratifying, selfish living led to unrestrained sexual immorality, but it arose out of a basic lack of justice and ethics, violence to humanity, the helpless and needy. Too gross to be overlooked by the Creator.
Genesis 19  The End of Sodom and Gomorrah

vs. 1-29 “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, ‘Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant's house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’ They said however, ‘No, but we shall spend the night in the square.’ Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’”
Of the three visitors Abraham entertained, Adonai has now ascended to His Heaven, and the two others, (here they are identified as angels—the same Hebrew word,מלאך malak, is rendered literally as messenger) have gone on to Lot’s house in Sodom. Lot immediately moves to protect them from the vile nightlife of the city by insisting they stay under his roof rather than in the open square.
So great was the depravity of Sodom, the knowledge of Lot’s male visitors caused a feeding frenzy: “the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter (v. 4) to sexually abuse them. It’s impossible to comprehend that mankind could be as little more than brute beasts. Finally the angels had to strike the crowd with blindness to quell the onslaught!

The angels then revealed to Lot that their mission was to destroy Sodom (deservedly so!), and told him to gather his wife and daughters, and the “sons-in-law” who were to marry his daughters, and whoever else he had in the city and bring them out, for the outcry against Sodom has become so great that, “...the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” (v. 13)
The sons-in-law did not take Lot seriously and would not go. Lot hesitated. So the angels mercifully took Lot, his wife, and his daughters by their hands and led them from the city. Once outside the gate, one of the angels said: “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.” (v. 17)
But Lot was frightened and asked a special favor—to be allowed to stay in a small town which was nearby. Lot’s request was granted, and the angel told him, “‘Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.’ Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar (v. 22) In Hebrew, Zoar means insignificant.
The LORD rained brimstone out of Heaven on Sodom סְדוֹם which in Hebrew means BURNING and Gomorrah עֲמוֹרָה which means SUBMERSION, destroying the five desert cities, the inhabitants, and even all that grew from the ground.
Archaeologists are currently conducting digs at sites they believe to be two of the five cities buried under this biblical firestorm from Heaven. In the barren Judean Desert, molten glass and bitumen tell the story of a sudden cataclysm, burying ancient cities in ancient Israel in the biblical timeframe of Abraham and Lot.
The Message of Lot’s Wife
Lot’s wife, disobeying the command not to look back, turned, looked back at Sodom, and became a pillar of salt. What does this mean? Was she struck by God for disobeying? Was she simply caught in the great destruction as she didn’t keep up with those being supernaturally rescued, but lingered behind? We’re not told. 
Yeshua uses Lot’s wife as a warning and an example in Luke 17:32, of those whose hearts are so set on this world that they either choose it over Heaven or miss their day of deliverance.
vs. 30-38 You Can Take the Girls Out of Sodom...
“Then 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 the earth. ‘Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father. ‘So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.’ 

"Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.”

Lot’s daughters would not have been taught to “walk in the way of the LORD as those of Abraham’s household. Theirs also was the further misfortune of living in a grossly decadent society. So when they found themselves to be the last people alive on earth in their perception, it seemed reasonable to do whatever was necessary to carry on the family line. Twice the text says of Lot, “...and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.” (vs. 33-35) The wrongdoing was to be borne by the daughters alone.
Not unlike Sarah, coming up with a plan that circumvents total reliance on a Holy God, this plan would birth bitter consequences.
The sons born to Lot’s daughters, Moab and Ben-Ammi would be a curse to Israel and in turn be cursed of God:

No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD, because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.” (Deuteronomy 23:3-4)

“I have heard the taunting of Moab and the revilings of the sons of Ammon, with which they have taunted My people and become arrogant against their territory. ‘Therefore, as I live,’ declares the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Surely Moab will be like Sodom and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah—a place possessed by nettles and salt pits, and a perpetual desolation. The remnant of My people will plunder them and the remainder of My nation will inherit them.’ This they will have in return for their pride, because they have taunted and become arrogant against the people of the LORD of hosts.’” (Zephaniah 2:8-10)
The exception of course is Ruth, a Moabite who married the son of Naomi and Elimelech. She loved her husband’s people and his God. After her husband died, rather than remain in Moab with her own people, she chose to follow her mother-in-law, also a widow, to Israel and serve Abraham’s God. It is Ruth that uttered the beautiful verse that so presaged the Gentiles coming to worship the God of Abraham: “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
And through this lovely woman of faith, we find the line of King David and thus Messiah Yeshua, Savior of the world!
Genesis 20 Abraham and Abimelech~One More Time Around the Mountain

vs. 1-12 “Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister.’ So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, ‘Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.’ And Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What have you encountered, that you have done this thing?’  Abraham said, "Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she actually is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife...’”

Oy, Abe! Haven’t we been through this before and it didn’t work then either?

vs. 13-18 Abraham Prays and God Opens the Wombs of Abimilech’s Household
“Abimelech then took sheep and oxen and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and restored his wife Sarah to him. Abimelech said, ‘Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.’  Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children.”

It is interesting that the sign given to Abimilech that all is not well was stopping the normal birthrate among his harem as he took Sarah in. “For the LORD had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife” (v. 18) And it was in response to the intercession of Abraham, whose own wife had yet not born him a child, that God caused Abimilech’s wife and maids to bear children.

Genesis 21 Isaac, the Promised Son is Born!

vs. 1-21 Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.  Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me."
Finally, the promised son is born of Abraham and Sarah, through Adonai’s miraculous intervention. He is named Isaac, in Hebrew, יִצְחָק Yitzakh, meaning “he laughs.” This is reminiscent of Sarah laughing to herself at the thought of having a child after her childbearing years were long past, and also the great joy of realizing her heart’s desire. She expresses her joy in verse 6: "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me."

Sarah’s joy seems short-lived, however, when she finds Ishmael “mocking” Isaac. Sarah expects the laughter to be contagious; instead it is met with derision from Abraham’s firstborn. “Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. (v. 9)
The Hebrew word for laugh is very close to mock:
Laugh in Hebrew is tsĕchoq, which translates simply, laugh.Mock in Hebrew is tsachaq, a subtle difference, meaning to mock, taunt, toy with, tease, make sport of, torment.
After suffering the insolence of her Egyptian maid, Hagar, Sarah is not going put up with her young child—the promised child, and the only one she will ever have, being tormented by Hagar’s son. She tells Abraham to drive Hagar and Ishmael out—that Ishmael is not to be a fellow heir with Isaac.

Abraham is greatly distressed as he loves Ishmael. However, God speaks to Abraham and tells him that Sarah is rightand reiterates that it is through Isaac that Abraham’s descendants will be named. God also comforted Abraham with the promise that Ishmael would survive and be a great a nation because he is Abraham’s son.
vs. 22-34 Abraham finds he must confront Abimelech over a well in Be’er Sheva which had been seized by Abimelech’s servants. They once again come to an amicable agreement, with Abraham sealing the deal with seven ewe lambs. To this day, it is called Be’er Sheva, which means, “well of the sevenfold oath” for the seven ewe lambs.

There, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree, 
and “called on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.” 

Meaning, in that place, Abraham not only planted a physical tree, he propagated trees of righteousness, as he proclaimed Adonai, God of Heaven and earth!

Genesis 22 Abraham’s Ultimate Test, “The Akedah”

vs. 1-8 A Shocking Request from the Author of Life!

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am. He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.’ ... Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ So the two of them walked on together.”
By this time, Abraham knew he served a God who produced Life, unlike the gods of the heathens unto whom they sacrificed their children. We are not privy to the anxiety and anguish of Abraham’s heart; only his unquestioning obedience.

The rendering of the text from Hebrew masks the emotion displayed from Adonai, Who knows the end from the beginning, and is more than aware of how devastating this trial will be for Abraham.

Verse 2 is rendered, “Take now your son...” However, it is a peculiar rendering in Hebrew. The particle “na” is used, which is an entreaty: “please, I pray thee please,” often used in submissive and modest requests (see Genesis 12:13, 13:8, 13:9). Adonai is actually speaking in a softer tone to Abraham than is revealed in our English text: Please, I entreat you, [Abraham] to take your son, your only son, whom I know you love...

As devastating as the request is Adonai is reassuring Abraham that it is HE, the God who loves him and knows his heart, that is requesting this, not a far-off foreign god, not a god who changes from day to day.

Perhaps this is why Abraham’s faith is not shaken. We see a remarkable statement in verse 5: “we will worship and return to you.” Abraham believed God ... and it was accredited to him as righteousness! Abraham knew God would not transgress His Word, His everlasting covenant that through Isaac his descendants would be too numerous to count!

The author of Hebrews gives us insight: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

As the carefully crafted tapestry of words is unfolded in this amazing foreshadow of the Messiah, the Lamb of God to come, these verses leap from the page:
  • Take now your son, your only son (v. 2)
  • On the third day (v. 4)
  • God will provide for Himself the lamb (v. 8) Literal rendering: “God will reveal the lamb

vs. 9-10 As a Lamb Led to the Slaughter

“Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son."

In this chilling vignette, we see the difference between Isaac’s personality and that of Ishmael. Ishmael was last seen tormenting Isaac and “mocking” him. Adonai said Ishmael would be a “wild donkey of a man, and his hand hand will be against everyone. (Genesis 16:12) Isaac demonstrates the opposite—he asked his father earlier about the sacrifice, now he is the one being bound and laid on the altar. The text does not say he struggled or fought. Is this another Christological allusion? “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7)
vs. 11-19  Adonai Provides and Reconfirms His Covenant
“But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.’”
The angel of the LORD seems to be anxious in calling Abraham’s name in repetition! Although Abraham knew God would protect His Name (meaning His reputation/nature) by resurrecting Isaac, if he had to go through with the sacrifice, Adonai had to show Himself UTTERLY OTHER THAN the heathen gods. Therefore, among the many layers of revelation we can take away from this rich portion of Scripture, one that must not be missed is the object lesson for Abraham and his descendants after him, and to add to his preaching about Adonai’s abject abhorrence to human sacrifice among the nations.
Moses also warned his people: “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” Deuteronomy 12:29-31

v. 14 “Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, ‘In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.’”

The LORD Will Provide, in Hebrew is YHWH-Yireh, or Adonai-Yireh which is anglicized to the familiar “Jehovah Jireh.” (There are no “j’s” in Hebrew.)
The land of Moriah is Jerusalem and the mount where this prophetic event took place is today’s Temple Mount, the most highly volatile piece of real estate on earth.
vs. 16-18 “‘By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. 
"In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’”
Adonai knew Abraham would be faithful—he had already been pronounced faithful, so why another test? Who has known the mind of God? (Isaiah 40:13) Certainly much is gained as we are given the privilege of viewing each intimate human encounter with the Divine. There are few verses of text that better exemplify wholehearted devotion and complete trust than what the Jewish People call “The Akedah,” the Binding of Isaac, by Abraham, the great “Patriarch of Faith.”
Once more, Adonai blesses Abraham and reconfirms His everlasting covenant through Isaac, swearing by Himself—YHVH, Creator of all, Omnipotent and All Powerful!
Few chapters in the Torah have had a greater impact and lasting influence for the Jewish People than the dramatic account contained in "The Akedah,” the Binding of Isaac

The riches mined from this portion of Scripture extend far beyond, to future  generations—to both Jew and Gentileunravelling the mysteries hidden through the ages, rehearsed and repeated, reiterated and recast, as the grand redemption storyHIS STORY—moves ever closer to that glorious time our soul groans for ... to that which Isaiah prophesied: 
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
And her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying...
Isaiah 65

 Today, however, we DO have weeping in Jerusalem

  • Israel is also fighting a war of lies, distortion, and disinformation from the Arab Palestiniansdisseminated worldwide, which is raising antisemitism (cloaked as anti-Israelism) throughout the western world
  • In 2015 the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem declared that the Jewish Temples Never Stood on Temple Mount | In 2016 the world body of UNESCO made it official
  • While genocidal wars rage in various corners of the world, the UN is obsessed with condemning Israel for one contrived accusation after another in lock-step with the Arab Palestinian deception and BDS agenda
There is GOOD NEWS on the Horizon, However!
The incoming Administration, President Elect Donal Trump, and V.P. Elect Mike Pence stand solidly with Israel, and have pledged to restore America and Israel's solidarity!
  • WE URGE YOU TO STAY INFORMED, utilize the news links we have provided for you at the right of our page, and listen/read critically the news regarding Israel from traditional sources.

Haftarah Vayera
M’lakhim Bet  2 Kings 4:1-37

This week’s Haftarah is found in II Kings 4:1-37. In it we see Adonai  working through one of His most productive prophets (vs. 2:9-13). As our story picks up, Elisha, who followed Elijah is busy doing the things a prophet does. Here his ministry is at its beginning.

Thus far he has purified the water used by the folks living in and about Jericho (vs. 2:19-22). Now it is no longer undrinkable and the land is made fruitful by it. Then there is the story of the young lads mocking him and calling him a, “baldhead.” (vs. 2:23-24) Apparently respecting your elders was an issue even then, the punishment for it, however, much more severe. And then there is his advisement of King Jehoram regarding battle plans.

Well, Elisha  has made a name for himself and is now recognized as God’s man on the scene. So in great distress, a poor widow of the son of a prophet comes to him for help and he responds. A creditor has threatened to take her two sons and make them slaves as payment for a debt she owes him. With her only jar of oil and Elisha’s instruction she not only pays off her debt, but has surplus enough to feed her family. vs. 4:1-7

The next recorded miracle is the resurrection of a son. (vs. 4:8-37) Elisha is shown kindness by a well-to-do, but childless woman. To show his gratitude—and obviously at Adonai’s guidance—he prophesies that she will have a son. This is of no little significance since her husband is “old.” Does this sound familiar? The child is born the next season, but suffers an untimely death some years later.  The upshot of the story is that Elisha is the agent of God used to bring the child back to life. 

In this one chapter we see that Adonai through Elisha has supported a family, supplied the gift of a child, and sustained a life—under the circumstances, all miraculous works. The parallels truths to this weeks Torah and B’rit Chadashah portions are obvious and bold. Lets look at some of this.

First, we see that God is a predictor of the future. In each Scripture portion a birth of miraculous proportions is foretold. Second, we see the fulfillment of those predictions. To Abraham is given Isaac, to the Shunammite woman a son, and to the virgin Mary the birth of the Messiah. And third, we see unwavering trust. Abraham offered Isaac back to God believing his Creator would provide for his life. The Shunammite woman laid her dead son on the bed of the prophet believing he would bring him back to life. And Mary willingly suffered public ridicule—the erroneous charge of mothering a child out of wedlock—believing that God would ultimately vindicate her through the fulfillment of prophecies regarding that Child.

What does all of this mean for us? Well, how about that God does have a future already planned out for each of us. For the lost it is an eternity separated from God. For the believer in Yeshua it is a plan for your life today and a guaranteed future with Him tomorrow (Philippians 1:6). Second, that God is presently accomplishing His plan. Philippians 2:13 says that He is at work in the believer, right now. And third, there’s that thing called trust. Can we be confident that He does have a plan for us, for now and in eternity? Can we believe that He is already at work carrying out that plan, right now? Why, absolutely! Check this out...“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” 1 John 3:2
Scripture is so rich. Lets turn to it for our sustenance. In times of both joy or trial feed upon it. Learn of Him. Know that He knows your future. Realize that He is at work in it right now. Believe in Him for it. He is after all, Almighty God.
B’rit Chadashah Vayera
Luke 1:26-38; 24:36-53

II Peter 2:4-11

In this week’s Torah reading from Genesis we have seen, in part; the promise of life in Isaac, the penalty for unrighteousness in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a man’s love for his son subordinated to his trust in his God, and an illustration of substitutionary death. The Haftarah taken from II Kings has shown God’s miraculous work through Elisha as one family is gifted with preservation and another with a son.

Now, three passages have been selected for the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant or New Testament) reading. The first is Luke 1:26-38. Here we read that “an” angel of the Lord, Gabriel, appeared to Mary announcing that she was to have a child. This was to be a miraculous birth, since Mary at this time was still a virgin and would remain so until after Jesus‘ birth. I wonder if in Mary’s mind she went back to that time long ago when the angel of the LORD appeared to Abraham to tell him of Sarah’s impending motherhood. (Gen. 18:1-2) Both of these were miraculous births, but each in a different way. The first was to continue the lineage that would birth a nation destined to bring forth its Messiah and the Savior of the world. The second birth was to be that Messiah and Savior, for all mankind.

Our next passage is Luke 24:36-53. This picks up just after Yeshua has risen from the grave (“But on the first day of the week...”  v. 24:1)  “...two of them were going that very day...” v. 24:13  ... “ is the third day since these things happened.”  (v. 24:21) Cleopas  and a companion are engaged in conversation by the risen Messiah on the road to Emmaus (vs.17,18). Verse 27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” It is not until this discussion is over and at the dinner table that they realize that they have been with the very one who they were told had just risen from the dead. The Messiah then vanishes while passing out the bread He had just blessed.

In that same hour the two rush back to Jerusalem and find the remaining eleven Apostles and others with them.  Keep in mind the sequence of events. While telling their story they affirm that the Lord had already appeared to Peter. (24:34) Messiah had to of told them this while walking with them. Peter is already in this group of eleven Apostles when the two arrive. That means that Messiah appeared to Peter prior to  meeting these two on the road to Emmaus. So what do you suppose Peter is doing as these two travelers arrive? Why, telling of his earlier encounter with the risen Savior. The events that Cleopas and his companion relate only bolster Peter’s claims. Remember that when all eleven Apostles were first told of the empty tomb they would not believe it. (24:10-11) Even after seeing the risen Lord, Peter, now convinced of the resurrection, would still be having trouble with an unreceptive audience, I’m sure.

Now to seal the deal Messiah himself appears to the entire group and proves that He has indeed risen from the grave. And then, the greatest Bible study of all time takes place. Read it and weep all you theologians still struggling to figure this and that out.
“Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things...’” Luke 24:45-48
The Lord then departs. This departure should not be confused with His final one. Remember that this is the first time He has spoken to them and it is just after the resurrection. Luke further clarifies the time frame in the book of Acts where he says that these appearances took place over a period of forty days. (Acts1:3) Check out as well I Corinthians 15:5-7. There is no doubt of a visible testimony to the resurrection being left by the One who had, risen from the dead!

Our third passage is II Peter 2:4-11. Let’s focus on just one thought in verse nine, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation...” In verses 4 thru 8 Peter makes a series of “if this...but then there is that” statements. Jude 6 tells us that there were angels that sinned terribly, but God cast them into hell and reserves them for judgement. (II Peter 2:4) There was a world deserving of total destruction, but God did deliver Noah from His wrath. (v. 5) And what about Sodom and Gomorrah? It was reduced to ashes as an example of the end of those living an ungodly life. But He did rescue Lot who was oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men. (vs. 6-8)

Wow, what an accumulation of magnificent  “saves.” If this were a sporting event there would be only one superstar. But it’s not. This is not a matter for any light treatment, but rather total seriousness. God does ultimately punish sin—all sin. He has in the past and He will in the future. So how does that apply to us today?

We live in a world that is every bit as wicked Sodom and Gomorrah. I’m sure I won’t find any disagreement there. But here is the great news. Our Lord God knows how to rescue the godly from all the temptations this Sodom and Gomorrah-like world throws at us. The previous verses prove it. If living that godly life, then what greater peace and assurance of victory could any believer in Yeshua ever have?
We each have our own unique areas of temptation, and I’m not talking about chocolate or sporting events. (Hebrews 12:1) What an amazing truth to grab hold of, that God knows how to deliver us from even the worst of our temptations.  What do you say we identify them, godly believer, and place them before the throne of God. He does know how to deliver us.
Blessings and Love in Messiah Yeshua,
His EVERY Word Ministries
Shabbat Shalom!