Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Parashat Chayei Sarah | Your Weekly Challah

Chayei Sarah
“The Life of Sarah”
“Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years;
these were the years of the life of Sarah.”

Torah Portion: Genesis 23:1-25:18
Haftarah: I Kings 1:1-31
B’rit Chadash/New Covenant: Matthew 2:1-23, I Corinthians 15:50-57

November 19, 2011 |  Cheshvan 22 5772

The Legacy of Abraham & Sarah
A Bride for Isaac
The goal of the family is to prepare a dwelling place for the Divine; a tent of meeting where Heaven touches earth for the brief sojourn of all who pass through the gates. In Jewish thought, although a characteristically patriarchal society with men responsible for decisions, provision and spiritual instruction before God, it is said the wife and mother, “makes the home.” While she lights the candles on Friday night—Shabbat”—her light continues to illuminate the home throughout the week. This week’s parashah begins with the passing of the first Matriarch of Israel, Sarah, and continues with the life of the second, Rebekah.

Above all, it’s about LOVE—the epic love story unfolding across time as Adonai unfolds His-Story of Love for His creation, a Love that is Beyond Love!

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 23  Sarah and Beyond

vs. 1-7
“Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying, ‘I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me a burial site among you that I may bury my dead out of my sight.’ The sons of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him, ‘Hear us, my lord, you are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead.’ So Abraham rose and bowed to the people of the land, the sons of Heth.”

It may seem odd that our parashat is titled Chayei Sarah, the Life of Sarah, as it reports the death of Sarah, and focuses on events following her demise. However, the parshiot take their titles from the first words of the first verse. Of equal weight, as mother of the Hebrew nation, Sarah certainly deserves a special mention.

After Abraham’s period of mourning, he went to Hebron, to the Hittites to secure a burial site for his beloved Sarah. The text reads: “that I may bury my dead out of my sight” (v. 4). However, a better rendering would be, “from before me” or “from before my face.” Even today, the Jewish People have a period of mourning, called “sitting shiva,” from the Hebrew word sheva, which is the number seven. It is a seven day period of intense mourning. Some will observe a thirty day period of less intense mourning and after that there are specific days for remembrance.

Interestingly, the traditional “Mourner’s Kaddish” prayer said at every Jewish funeral and remembrance does not pray for the mourner at all, but glorifies and magnifies God’s Name, prays for the restoration of Israel and the Kingdom of God and asks that peace be granted to all Israel. After the period of mourning, the bereaved is not to focus continually on the departed, but on life.

To Bury Rather than Burn It is significant that Abraham desired to bury his beloved. This would serve to distinguish the Hebrews from the pagans who burned their dead. Later God would speak of burying Israel’s dead, further reinforcing this tradition: “ shall surely bury him on the same day” (Deuteronomy 21:23). The Jewish People have taken it to be a commandment and considered it a disgrace to burn the body which awaited resurrection. The first century Roman senator and historian, Cornelius Tacitus noted this Jewish distinctive: "They [the Jews] bury rather than burn their dead." (The Histories v. 5)

v. 6 “a mighty prince among us” Literally, Abraham was recognized as a “Prince of God.”

vs. 15-18 The Cave of Machpelah,Today Known as the Cave of the Patriarchs Deeded is to Abraham with Surrounding Land
“‘My lord, listen to me; a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.’ Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, commercial standard. So Ephron's field, which was in Machpelah, which faced Mamre, the field and cave which was in it, and all the trees which were in the field, that were within all the confines of its border, were deeded over to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.”

Welcome to the Middle East! It’s really wonderful that the Holy Spirit preserved the record of this quintessentially Oriental bargaining process between Abraham and Ephron! Abraham said he wanted to purchase the cave as a burial site, but the Hittite said, no, he would give him the field and also the cave. Ephron then mentions an extravagantly inflated valuation of the property, adding: “what is that between me and you?” So Abraham winds up having to purchase land he didn’t want or need—plus pay for the trees on the land—in order to obtain the cave of Machpelah, and pay far more than any of it was worth!

An Important Note on Hebron and the Cave of Machpelah
Hebron is the second most sacred site in the world after the Temple Mount, as it still contains the burial place of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham purchased the field of Ephron in Machpelah for four hundred shekels of silver to bury Sarah, and later he was buried there by Isaac, who is also buried in the Cave of Machpelah. (Genesis 23:16, 25:9) Joseph also buried Jacob (Israel) in the Cave of Machpelah. (Genesis 50:1-14) Rebecca and Leah are also entombed in this precious place. Herod the Great built a grand structure which was further enhanced during the Byzantine Empire. Jewish access to this site has been severely restricted over the centuries. In 1929, there was a small Jewish community that lived peacefully among Arabs in Hebron. However, responding to a call from the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Arabs rose up and slaughtered their Jewish friends and neighbors in Hebron. After that, the British further restricted Jewish access to the Patriarch’s Tomb as it angered the Arabs who claimed Abraham as their Patriarch. When the entirety of the Land of Israel miraculously came back into Jewish hands following the Six Day War in 1967, the Jewish People enjoyed unrestricted access for the first time in more than 2,000 years to this important biblical and historic site. This was short-lived as violent attacks, bombings of the site and destruction by Palestinians forced the Jews to surrender to a severely restricted schedule of visits rather than see this invaluable site demolished by Arab violence—as happened to Joseph’s Tomb, which was on land purchased by Jacob. according to the Bible (Gen. 33, 48, 50) and stood until October 2,000. (From Parashah Lech Lecha)

Genesis 24:1-67  A Bride for Isaac

“Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, ‘Please place your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac’” (Genesis 24:2-4).

This was a very serious oath between Abraham and his servant. The mission was to find a suitable wife for forty-year-old Isaac—through whom the promise of Adonai would be realized and flow—a woman through whom the Divine Promise would bring forth the Messiah in the fullness of time.

What is a very strange ritual to our sensibilities, was rich in meaning in the ancient world. According to the biblical idiom, children issued from a man’s loins, therefore, an oath sworn while placing one’s hand on or under the thigh signified that the children and children’s children would avenge the party if he violated his oath. This was a solemn oath!

A Note on “Abraham’s servant”—commentaries suggest that he is likely Eliezer of Damascus, spoken of in Genesis 15:2, as our text refers to him as “the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned” (v. 2). However, as he is not named throughout this portion of Scripture, we will leave him unnamed as well.

Abraham could not allow Isaac to choose a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites, who would have been far more convenient than sending his servant hundreds of miles back to Mesopotamia. The Canaanite women were likely intriguing and tempting to Isaac, however, Abraham knew how important it was that Isaac carry the burden of righteousness and not be led astray by the people who worship Baal and Asherah.

A Love Worthy

How does one find a worthy bride for Isaac—a woman who would become the second matriarch of Israel? In today’s western culture, we rely heavily on “attraction,” and “love at first sight”—both recipes for failure.

Relying on “attraction” to sustain a marriage is as successful as relying on the magnetic attraction of a refrigerator magnet to hold important papers affixed to our kitchen appliance indefinitely. They both fall prey to the law of entropy—the deterioration process at work since the fall of man in the Garden of God’s Delight!

“Love at first sight” and the feeling of “attraction” primarily fall under the category of the “lust of the eyes,” which is not of the Father, but the world (1 John 2:15-16). Therefore it is not likely to produce lasting fruit. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:6-8)

Proverbs 6:25 warns young men: “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, Nor let her capture you with her eyelids.” In contrast, biblical wisdom places high value on virtues perhaps missed by the world’s shallow standards, but rich by Heaven’s: “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:29-30)

This was caliber the of wife Abraham’s servant was to find for Isaac, the Son of the Covenant. Abraham assured his servant that Adonai, YHVH would be with him: “‘The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you...’” (v. 7)

So Abraham’s servant traveled to Mesopotamia, to Haran where Abraham’s family lived, with ten camels and many gifts. But how would this faithful servant find the right young woman? He devised a plan—he prayed to Abraham’s God.

vs. 11-27  God Answers Prayer!

“He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water. He said, "O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water; now may it be that the girl to whom I say, 'Please let down your jar so that I may drink,' and who answers, 'Drink, and I will water your camels also'—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master” (vs. 11-14).

“I will water your camels also”—Hebrew commentaries note that offering to care for the camels of her own initiative would give evidence of a tender heart and beauty of character. Kindness to animals is also considered an important virtue.

The text says that before he had finished praying, behold, Rebekah came out with a jar on her shoulder! (Rebekah was the daughter of Abraham’s nephew, Bethuel, the son of his brother Nahor.)

“The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up” (v. 16).

The word translated as “beautiful” in this verse is the phrase in Hebrew, “tov meod,” commonly used to express, “very good!” Tov meod can also be rendered: very pleasant (to the higher nature), most agreeable, very becoming, very right (ethical), and very good (morally). Had Abraham’s servant found his Proverbs 31 woman for his master?

Abraham’s servant asked for a little water from her, which she proffered graciously, then said, “‘I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.’ ...quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels” (vs. 20-21)

You can imagine the incredulous servant watching a miracle of answered prayer unfolding before his eyes! The text says he gazed at her in silence as she drew water for all of his ten camels. That is probably close to 150 gallons of water! Finally he asked the burning question: “Whose daughter are you?” (v. 23)

“She said to him, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor’” (v. 24).

What are the chances? The first maiden to come out to the well and meet the exact criteria Abraham’s servant was praying to Adonai about—before he had even finished praying—is from Abraham’s family!

Our text tells us that not surprisingly, “...the man bowed low and worshiped the LORD (v. 26).

And he thanked Adonai! "Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master's brothers" (v. 27).

vs. 28-67 Rebekah Journeys to Become Isaac’s Bride

Rebekah immediately runs and tells her family of this amazing meeting and shows them the gold ring and bracelets that Abraham’s servant gave her after she had watered his camels. Rebekah’s brother Laban runs to the spring and says, “Come in, blessed of the LORD! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?” (v. 31)

Rebekah’s family welcomed him and the men who were with him as honored guests. But Abraham’s servant refused to eat until he had “told his business” (v. 33).

 He then spoke of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac, the son of her old age, and recounted all that Abraham had told him—and the oath he had sworn to, and his mission to find this very family and a wife for Isaac. He shared with them his prayer to find the right maiden—one who offer to water the camels, and how Rebekah came forth as an answer to that prayer. When he told them how moved he was to find that she was the daughter of his master’s kinsman, and how he bowed and worshiped the LORD, Laban and Bethuel were also astonished and moved: “The matter comes from the LORD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has spoken” (vs. 50-51).

Once more, Abraham’s servant, “bowed himself to the ground before the LORD (v. 52).

Rebekah’s mother and brother wanted Rebekah to remain for a few days before leaving, however, Abraham’s servant felt the journey was so blessed, he should return to his master, having completed the mission. The family decided to allow Rebekah to make the decision. So strong was the Hand of God on this mission, that almost unbelievably this young girl didn’t even hesitate to immediately leave her family and travel with strangers to be wed to a stranger in a strange land. She said, “I will go” (v. 58).

Her family blessed her she left: “They blessed Rebekah and said to her, ‘May you, our sister, Become thousands of ten thousands, And may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them’” (v. 60).

Upon their journey’s end, they encounter Isaac toward evening as he has gone out to pray in the field. Isaac “lifted his eyes” and sees the caravan of camels approaching...

“Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel” (v. 64).

She asks the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field to meet us?” (v. 65) And when she is told it is Isaac, she took her veil to cover herself in humility and modesty.

The servant told Isaac the details of his amazing journey.

“Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her; thus Isaac was comforted after his mother's death(v. 67).

“brought her into his mother Sarah's tent” means Rebekah was installed as mistress of the household, taking Sarah’s place.

“Took” is the Hebrew word, laqach, which also means: marry, take a wife.

Rebekah would become Isaac’s “house” in the Jewish way of thinking.
We weren’t told before this verse that Isaac was also mourning his mother’s death. This was a sad and desolate home. As mentioned in Parashah Lech Lecha, when Sarai offered Hagar to Abram saying, “perhaps I may obtain children through her,” the word obtain is actually “to be builded.” The family is pictured in Hebrew thought under the image of a house; with the wife spoken of as the husband’s house; her house is built through her children.
The order of the words, “he took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her” calls for comment. In modern life we would place “he loved her” first, and write: “he loved Rebekah, he took her, and she became his wife.” But, however important it is that love shall precede marriage, it is far more important that it shall continue after marriage. The modern attitude lays all the stress on the romance before marriage; the olden Jewish view emphasizes the life-long devotion and affection after marriage.
Amen. Whereas romantic love is a carnal (and often selfish) emotion that wanes, true love born of mutual commitment and devotion grows, develops, matures, and becomes more mutually satisfying. As children of Abraham and followers of Messiah, the love men are to have for their wives is to be a visible witness to the world of Messiah’s everlasting love for the Body of Believers. Wives are to exhibit respect for their husbands—something that should set a distinctive standard apart from the unbelieving world. Marriage is important to God as exhibited by this parashah. It is God’s institution, not man’s. Perhaps that’s why it is a prime area of attack.
God, Husband & Wife— A Threefold Cord
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Genesis 25  Abraham is Buried with Sarah

“Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east” (v. 5-6).

Our text records Abraham taking another “wife” named Keturah for the purpose of establishing the people groups that sprang from her children, i.e., the Midianites among others. Keturah was actually a concubine, which was clarified in verse 5. The word rendered “wife” is “ishah” in Hebrew, which is “woman” or “female” or “wife.”

Although Abraham provided for all in his vast household, the text notes that he “gave all that he had to Isaac,” which refers to the covenantal blessings and his estate (v. 5).

Abraham then sent his concubines and their sons away to the “land of the east” so that Isaac could administer his household before the LORD as patriarch. The Hebrew commentaries note the “land of the east” to be Arabia as used in Job 1:1-3.

Abraham was 175 years old when he died: “Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people (v. 8).

“Gathered to his people” is an idiom. Not to be taken literally, it is an allusion to the enduring hope and belief in the resurrection of the dead.

“Then his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth; there Abraham was buried with Sarah his wife” ((vs. 9-10).
The Modern Structure Protecting the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, Israel
To this day, you can visit this very spot where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah and Leah are entombed. The cave and surrounding land was paid for by and deeded to Abraham. (It is also deeded to him by Adonai in the everlasting covenant!) Sadly, Jews are allowed very limited access to visit this invaluable site where their ancient patriarchs and matriarchs lay, linking ancient biblical history with today’s world.

“It came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi” (v. 11)

Isaac is blessed of Adonai as the promises of Abraham will flow through him and his descendants after him—culminating in the realization of the Crown of the Torah, Messiah ben David, Yeshua (Jesus) Son of David, Lion of Judah, who finishes the work of creation by completing the redemption and welcoming the resurrection of the faithful!

“Beer-lahai-roi” means “well of the Living One seeing me,” so named as it was the well where the LORD appeared to Hagar.

Verses 12-18 Is the genealogical record of Ishmael’s generations. They bear witness that the blessing promised to Hagar for her son was realized. He was the father of twelve princes, twelve nations. At the age of 137, Ishmael “breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people” (v. 17).

This chapter concludes the Biblical account of the first of the Patriarchs. It is difficult, indeed, because of our lifelong familiarity with the story, rightly to estimate the nobility and grandeur of the personality revealed in the these chapters.
    He was the pioneer of the monotheistic faith. Undazzled by the heathen splendour of a Nimrod or Hammurabi, he broke away from the debasing idol-worship of his contemporaries, and devoted his life to the spread of the world-redeeming truth of the One God of Justice and Mercy. He forsook home and family to brave unknown dangers because the Voice of God bade him do so; and, throughout his days, he showed that faith in God must manifest itself in implicit and joyful surrender to the Divine will. He set an example to his children to sacrifice the dearest things in life and, if need be, life itself, in defence of the spiritual heritage entrusted to their care. While he preached renunciation in the service of God, he practised lovingkindness and truth towards his fellow men. Witness his magnanimity in his treatment of Lot; his fine independence in the refusal to accept any of the spoils won by the men of his household; his benevolence in the reception of strangers; his stand for justice, when pleading for the doomed cities; and his all-embracing human pity which extended even to those who had forfeited all claim to human pity. Finally, the closing stage of his life shows his anxiety that the spiritual treasures he has acquired should be transmitted unimpaired through his son to future generations. Verily, he is the prototype of what the Jew should aim at being. “Look unto the rock whence ye were digged, look unto Abraham, your father,” is the Divine exhortation addressed to Israel (Isaiah LI, I).
Haftarah Chayei Sarah
M’lakhim Aleph (I Kings) 1:1-31

The Throne of David, the Seat of the Messiah

The whole of our Parashat for this week has the theme of lineage running through it. In the Torah reading we saw that the Hebrew nation was preserved by Adonai through Isaac, not Ishmael. This is as God said it would be (Genesis 17:2,15-19). Isaac now marries and is in place to father Jacob who we shall see fathers the Twelve Tribes of the Hebrew Nation. This to bring forth the Messiah through the coming throne of David.

The haftarah which we are examining here gives us the story of how Solomon almost does not become the second king of Israel in the line of David. His ascension to the throne was an essential step in establishing the lineage that would bring forth the Messiah (l Chronicles 28:5-7).  David’s throne, promised to Solomon, was however almost usurped by his older brother. Read it. While we will not recount much of it, it is a story of intrigue and political skullduggery. In the beginning it looked as though everything was stacked against Solomon, but he was, in the end, made king of the Hebrew Nation. This too, to bring forth the Messiah through the throne of David.

The B’rit Chadashah is as well all about lineage. In Matthew is seen Yeshua’s (Jesus’) legal birth right to the throne of David. This passage completes the lineage process thus establishing the legal right of Jesus of Nazareth to the throne of David through Solomon.  It is from this throne that Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah will rule over restored Israel, and the whole earth in the Millennium (Isaiah 9:6-7).

As you read through l Kings 1:1-31 you’ve got to wonder how in the world could Solomon ever overcome all that was stacked against him and ascend his father’s throne. As our story picks up we see that David is now old and infirm. Adonijah was King David’s oldest surviving son and as such had the historically established right as next in line to the throne. So he throws a celebration, invites all the right people and then declares himself King. Solomon was the only son of David not invited. But then neither were Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, or Nathan the prophet. The rest of our story is how that which God originally and always intended, did come to pass.

God knew what the lineage of the Messiah had to be. It was based on His specific promises and His foreknowledge of events in the future, from a perspective of far in the past. His plan was established and would not be altered. Human intervention could not foil it. Satanic attack, if allowed by God, could only trouble it, and that only to the extent that satan’s Maker would choose to allow.

Consider how sure our Creator, Adonai is:
  • “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow
    (James 1:17).
  • “God is not a man that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).
  • “For I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
  • “The council of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation” (Psalms 33:11).
  • “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand’” (Isaiah 14:24).
  • “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure” (Isaiah 47:9-10).
  • And there is this, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand forever” (Proverbs 19:21).
Where does all this take us? Two points can be made. First, I believe the story of the preservation of the Messiah's lineage shows us that no matter what, God’s plans are established and they will not be changed. There are those occasions in Scripture where from the human perspective it looks as though God changes His mind. But that event did NOT take Him by surprise. He knew its outcome from before the creation of time. Any change in course had already been determined and was done by God to demonstrate to us some aspect of His character. He wants His creation to get to know Him, really well.

Second, human interaction in His already determined plan is what our God wants. Upon hearing of what Adonijah had done Nathan, God’s man on the scene, went into action. Yes, he knew that God had said that Solomon would follow David on the throne (ll Samuel 12:24-25) and I’m sure he believed God would accomplish this. But he didn’t just sit back and wait to see it happen. He intervened. He came up with a plan to bring about what he believed God’s will was in this situation. And he was used and it happened.

O dear child of His. Our God is a mighty God; never surprised, never shaken, always secure in His settled plan for eternity, for this world, for His people, even all of mankind, and those He has created. How can we not be secure in Him with this knowledge. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Never rest in that truth to the point of idleness though. Know His plan through reading His Word and fellowshipping in prayer with Him. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Get up. Get in the game. Be a part of His long ago already determined plan. And remember this, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
B’rit Chadashah Chayei Sarah
Matthew 1:1-17
I Corinthians 15:50-57

Mining Essential Truth from Endless Genealogies!
This week’s Parashat starts with the continuing story of Adonai (Almighty God) building a nation that ultimately will birth the Messiah / Savior of the world. The mother of the first of the seed of that nation passes on and is buried. Her husband and the father of that nation secures a bride for their only child, the first seed of that nation. A marriage is had, thus facilitating the continuance of this process. And then the father of that nation passes as well. This is, if you will, a bit of the history portion of how you and I came to have eternal life, and Israel secure her future.

Our second reading filled in more of the history in the securing of our redemption. There we are given a second window on the truth of the lineage of the Messiah. It is this Messiah that is to establish Israel permanently in her land, during the Millennial Kingdom, and be the once and for all sacrifice for the salvation of mankind. (l John 2:2)

So now we come to the first of the two selected portions for this weeks B’rit Chadashah, Matthew 1:1-17. I probably shouldn’t admit this but whenever I have come to them I have always been a bit anxious to get through those lists of genealogies in the Bible. It is, however, when you come to a passage like this that you really see the importance of them, and this one in particular.

One reason that God provides these lists for us is that He is big on proving birth right. We see that here with Yeshua and His right to sit on David’s throne, the throne from which He will rule in the Millennium. Matthew 1:1-17 is one of two lists in the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament or New Covenant) that establishes Yeshua as the rightful heir to David’s Throne. Forty-two generations are covered starting with Abraham, carrying through David (It’s his throne we are interested in here.), concluding with Yeshua, who is called Messiah (the Christ). Charles Ryrie in his study Bible notes, sums it up well: “The genealogy is here traced through Joseph, Jesus’ legal (though not natural) father, and it establishes His claim and right to the throne of David (1:6).”

There is by the way, one other list that accomplishes the same thing. I know, another list. But this one is important, too. It is found in Luke 3:23-38 and is Jesus' lineage through Mary. This is a bit tricky since Mary’s name is not mentioned in the list, but check out verse 23. Joseph is said to be the son of Eli. Actually he was the birth son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16). He therefore had to be Eli’s son thru marriage, a son-in-law. This is how Mary, the birth mother of the Messiah makes this her genealogy. And why is this list important? This list goes all the way back to Adam through David, thus emphasizing the humanity of Jesus. Remember Joseph didn’t give Jesus humanity, only legal right to David’s throne. It is the birth mother, Mary, that gave the God-man His humanity.

Another thing that can be said about this list business. Back in the Matthew list, verse 1:16 it says, “And to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” The emphasized words (emphasis mine) are of such a nature that it states plainly that only one person was responsible for the human birth of Christ. In the original language it is in the feminine, meaning Mary was that one and only person responsible for the birth process, from conception on. What we have here is one of the strongest statements in Scripture for the virgin birth of the Messiah.

Our second passage for the B’rit Chadashah this week is l Corinthians 15:50-57. Want to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up? Just read this passage. Verse 51 says that a mystery is being revealed. There are numerous “mysteries” in our Bible. They are not  something spooky. A mystery is simply something not previously revealed.   It is brand new information to its readers. Check out all the “mysteries” in the Bible some time. It’s a fun study.

Here the brand new information is insight into the resurrection. Imagine how relieved and excited the Corinthian believers must have been reading this. Many were under the false belief that hope of eternity could only be attained if it happened before their physical bodies died (l Corinthians 15:12-19). Verse 52 says, NOT SO. No, all believers in Messiah will go to Heaven. The dead will rise first, and then those alive will go up with them. Read on. This is really a great mystery to get wrapped up in.

So much more could be said, but grab the thrust of all these passages we have looked at this week. God has created a People through Abraham. This People’s mission was, in part, to bring the Messiah into the world to die for and thus pay the price of the sins of mankind. This debt paid would and did secure the guarantee of a resurrection for all who have accepted the free gift of salvation through our Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Heaven awaits. Receive Him if you haven’t already. Join us in serving Him if you have. And never forget what the last verse of the last passage for this week says, “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (l Corinthians 15:57).      
In Messiah's love,
Michael & Sarah