LECH LECHA – Abraham’s Great Reward

Life will place us in situations where we stand to make a profit by sacrificing our principles. The person who refuses to compromise his values may lose out financially, but his ultimate reward is God Himself.

God promises Abraham a numerous offspring in a dream. (Image: Wikimedia commons, public domain, art by Wenceslas Hollar)


In the days of Abraham a great war swept through the land of Canaan. The invading armies captured the Canaanite city of Sodom and took the inhabitants captive. A fugitive survivor escaped and came to Abraham. He told him that his nephew Lot was among the captives.

There was little that Abraham could do about it. After all, he did not have an army at his command. Besides, Lot had it coming. Abraham could have said, “That’s what he gets for claiming the best of the land for himself. The LORD has repaid him for his greed.” But he did not. Instead he demonstrated courageous loyalty. He immediately gathered the able-bodied men in his household and the Canaanite neighbors who would assist him and set off in pursuit of the invaders. That’s the kind of person Abraham was.

God honored Abraham’s selflessness. Though Abraham went up with only 318 men against a much larger army, God delivered the enemy into his hands. Abraham rescued his nephew and all of the prisoners. He returned from the battle with the prisoners and all the plunder the invaders had taken.

The evil king of Sodom offered Abraham a handsome reward for his efforts. “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself,” he said. It was a generous offer and would have made Abraham very wealthy. Abraham refused the proposal. He knew the king of Sodom was cunning and wicked. Abraham did not want to owe any allegiance to such a man. He said, “I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich’” (Genesis 14:22-23).
Some people are tempted to sacrifice their principles for the sake of money. Abraham stood fast because his faith was in the “possessor of heaven and earth.” He did not need the rewards of the wicked king of Sodom, no matter how tempting.

When God saw how Abraham refused reward from the king of Sodom, He appeared to him and said, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great” (Genesis 15:1).

Life will often place us in situations where we stand to make a profit by sacrificing our principles. The person who refuses to compromise his values may lose out financially, but his ultimate reward is God Himself. (Click to Source)

 
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Weekly Torah portion from the One New Man Bible – Vayeira – Nov 3, 2017

Vayeira

Genesis 18:1 – 22:24

jesus-in-the-synagogue

18.1. And the LORD* appeared to him in the plains of Mamre and he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2. And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and there were three men standing by him. And when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and he bowed toward the ground 3. and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, do not pass by, I pray You, from Your servant:4. let a little water, I pray you, be brought and wash your feet and rest yourselves under the tree.

5. And I shall get a morsel of bread and comfort your hearts for you. After that you will pass on, for that is why you have come to your servant.” And they said, “So do as you have said.” 6. And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it and make cakes.”

7. And Abraham ran to the herd and fetched a good, tender calf and gave it to a young man and he hastened to dress it. 8.And he took butter, milk, and the calf which he had dressed and set it before them, and he stood by them under the tree and they ate.

18:9. And they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There – in the tent.” 10. And He said, “I shall certainly return to you at this time next year and, see, Sarah your wife will have a son.” (Rom. 9:9) And Sarah listened in the tent door, which was behind him. 11. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well up in age: the manner of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself saying, “After I have grown old will I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” 13. And the LORD* said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Will I, who am old, of a surety bear a child?’ 14. Isanything too hard for the LORD*? (Matt. 19:26, Luke 1:34) At the time appointed I shall return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Rom. 9:9) 15. Then Sarah denied it saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

18:16. And the men rose up from there and looked toward Sodom and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17. And the LORD* said, “Will I hide from Abraham that thing which I am about to do, 18. seeing that Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him? 19. For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him and they will keep the Way of the LORD*, to do acts of loving kindness and judgment, so the LORD* may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.” 20. And the LORD* said, “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very grievous, 21. I shall go down now and see whether they have done everything I told them, which has come to Me. And if not, I shall know.”   22. And the men turned their faces from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD*. 23. And Abraham drew near and said, “Will You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24. If there are fifty righteous within the city will You also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are there?

25. Far be it from You to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked and that the righteous should be like the wicked: far be that from You. Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 26. And the LORD* said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I shall spare the entire place for their sake.” 27. And Abraham answered and said, “Behold now, I, who am but dust and ashes, have taken upon me to speak to the LORD*. 28. If by chance there will lack five of the fifty righteous, will You destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And He said, “If  I find forty-five there, I shall not destroy it.” 29. And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “If by chance there will be forty found there?” And He said,  “I shall not do it for forty’s sake.” 30. And he said to Him, “Oh do not let the LORD* be angry, and I shall speak: If by chance thirty will be found there?” And He said, “I shall not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31. And he said, “Behold now, I have taken upon myself to speak to the LORD*: If by chance twenty will be found there?” And He said, I shall not destroy it for twenty’s sake.”  32. And he said, “Oh please, let not the LORD* be angry, and I shall speak yet but this once: If by chance ten will be found there?” And He said, “I shall not destroy it for ten’s sake.”

18:33. And the LORD* went His way, as soon as He had left speaking with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

Lot Rescued

19.1. And two angels came to Sodom in the evening and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. And when Lot saw them he rose up to meet them and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. 2. And he said, “Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house and tarry all night and wash your feet and you will rise up early and go on your way.” And they said, “No. But we will stay in the street all night.” 3. And he pressed upon them greatly and they went in with him and entered his house and he made a feast for them and baked unleavened bread and they ate.

19:4. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both old and young, all the people from every quarter. 5. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came in to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so we can know them.” 6. And Lot went out to them at the door and shut the door behind him 7.and said, “I pray you, brothers, do not behave so wickedly.

8. Behold now, I have two daughters who have not known a man: let me, I pray you, bring them out to you and you do to them as is good in your eyes. Only to these men do nothing, for therefore they came under the shadow of my roof.” 9.And they said, “Stand back!” And they said again, “This one came in to sojourn and he thinks he is  a judge. Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” And they pressed sore upon the man, Lot, and came near to break the door. 10. But the men put forth their hand and pulled Lot into the house to them and shut the door. 11. And they struck the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves to find the door. 12.And the men said to Lot, “Do you have here any besides yourself? Sons-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whoever you have in the city, bring them out of this place, 13. for we will destroy this place, because their cry has become great before the face of the LORD*, and the LORD* has sent us to destroy it.”

19:14. And Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who married his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place, for the LORD* will destroy this city.” But he seemed like one who teased to his sons-in-law. 15. And when the morning came, then the angels hastened Lot saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters that are here, so you will not be consumed in the iniquity of the city.” 16. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand and upon the hand of his wife and upon the hand of his two daughters. The LORD* had pity on him and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17. And it was, when they had brought them out, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you! Do not stay anywhere in the plain! Escape to the mountain, so you will not be consumed.” 18. And Lot said to them, “Oh, not so, my lord. 19. Behold now your servant has found favor in your sight and you have magnified your loving kindness, which you have shown to me in saving my life. And I cannot escape to the mountain, lest something bad overtake me and I die. 20. Behold now, this city is near to flee to and it is a little one. Oh, let me escape there, (is it not a little one?) and my soul will live.” 21. And he said to him, “See, I have accepted you concerning this thing also, that I shall not overthrow this city of which you have spoken. 22. Quick! Escape there, for I cannot do anything until you have come there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

19:23. The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. 24. Then the LORD* rained brimstone and fire from the LORD* out of heaven upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah. (Rev. 14:10; 20:10; 21:8) 25. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain and all the inhabitants of the cities and that which grew upon the ground.

26. But his wife looked back from behind him and she became a pillar of salt.

19:27. And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD*, 28. And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the plain and there it was! The smoke of the country went up like the smoke of a furnace.

19:29. And it was, when God destroyed the cities of the plain that God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelled.

19:30. And Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the mountain and his two daughters were with him, for he feared to stay in Zoar and he lived in a cave, he and his two daughters. 31. And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on the earth to come in to us according to the statute of all the earth. 32. Come, let us make our father drink wine and we will lie with him so we can preserve our father’s seed.” 33. And they made their father drink wine that night and the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not perceive when she lay down, or when she arose. 34.And it was the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, last night I lay with my father. Let us make him drink wine this night also, and you go in and lie with him, so we can preserve our father’s seed.”

35. And they made their father drink wine that night also and the younger arose and lay with him, and he was not aware when she lay down or when she rose.

19:36. Both the daughters of Lot were thus with child by their father. 37. And the firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moab to this day. 38. And the younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon to this day.

Abraham Again Calls Sarah His Sister

20.1. And Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, the south, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. 2. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech (Avimelekh) king of Gerar sent for and took Sarah. 3. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are but a dead man for the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4. But Abimelech had not come near her and he said, “Lord, will you slay also  a righteous nation? 5. Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister?’ And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.” 6. And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I AM knows that you did this in the integrity of your heart, for I AM also withheld you from sinning against Me, therefore I did not let you touch her. 7. Now therefore restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live, but if you do not restore her, know that you will surely die, you and all that are yours.”

20:8. Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told all these things in their ears, and the men were very much afraid. 9. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And bywhat have I offended you, that you have brought a great sin on me and on my kingdom? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.” 10. And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see that you have done this thing?”

20:11. And Abraham said, “Because I thought, ‘Surely reverence for God is not in this place and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.’ 12. And yet indeed she is my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13. And it was when God caused me to wander from my father’s house that I said to her, ‘This is your kindness which you will show to me: at every place where we will come, say of me, He is my brother.’”

20:14. And Abimelech took sheep, oxen, men servants, and women servants and gave them to Abraham and restored Sarah his wife to him. 15. And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you. Stay wherever it pleases you.” 16. And to Sarah he said, “Behold I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver: here, it is eye-covering for you, for all that are with you and you are vindicated before all.”

20:17. So Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his maid servants and they bore children. 18.For the LORD* had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Sarah and Isaac

21.1. And the LORD* visited Sarah as He had said and the LORD* did for Sarah what He had spoken. (Gen. 18:10) 2. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. (Heb. 11:11) 3.And Abraham called the name of his son that was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. 4. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5. And Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

21:6. And Sarah said, God has made me laugh, so that all who hear will laugh with me. 7. And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah should be given children to nurse? For I have borne him a son in his old age.” 8. And the child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast the day that Isaac was weaned. 9. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scornful. 10. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman will not be heir with my son, with Isaac.” (Gal. 4:30, Heb. 11:17)

21:11. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. 12. And God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed in your sight because of the lad and because of your bondwoman. In all that Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice because your seed will be called in Isaac.  (Rom. 9:7, Heb. 11:18) 13. And of the son of the bondwoman I shall also make a nation, because he is your seed.”

14. And Abraham rose up early in the morning and took bread and a skin-bottle of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder and the child, and sent her away. And she left and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. 15. And the water was spent in the bottle and she put the child under one of the shrubs. 16. And she went and sat down opposite, a good way off, about a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not see the death of the child.” And she was sitting opposite him and lifted up her voice and wept. 17. And God heard the voice of the lad, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be in awe! God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him in your hand, for I shall make a great nation of him.” 19. And God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and she went and filled the bottle with water and gave the lad a drink.

21:20. And God was with the lad and he grew and lived in the wilderness and became an archer. 21. And he lived in the wilderness of Paran and his mother took a wife for him out of the land of Egypt.

21:22. And it happened at that time that Abimelech and Fikhol the chief captain of his army spoke to Abraham saying, “God is with you in all that you do. 23. Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my son, or with my son’s son, but according to the kindness that I have done for you, you will do to me, and to the land in which you have sojourned.” 24. And Abraham said, “I shall swear.” 25. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. 26. And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing: neither did you tell me, but I heard of it just today.” 27. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them to Abimelech, and both of them made a covenant. 28. And Abraham set seven ewe-lambs of the flock by themselves. 29. And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What do these seven ewe-lambs mean that you have set by themselves?” 30. And he said, “For you will take these seven ewe-lambs from my hand, so they may be a witness to me, that I have dug this well.” 31. Therefore he called that place Beer-Sheba because both of them swore there.

21:32. Thus they made a covenant at Beer-Sheba, then Abimelech and Fikhol the chief captain of his army rose, and they returned to the land of the Philistines

33. And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-Sheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD*, Eternal God. 34. And Abraham stayed in the Philistines’ land many days.

The Ultimate Test

22.1. And it happened after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham.” And he said, “Here I am.” 2And He said, “Now take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love! Get yourself into the land of Moriah! Offer him there as an offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you!”

3. And Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the offering and rose up and went to the place of which God had told him. 4. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5. And Abraham said to his young men, “You stay here with the donkey and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” 6. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it upon Isaac his son, and he took the fire in his hand and a knife, and they went, both of them together.7. And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father.” and he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8. And Abraham said, “My son, God will see to it, providing a lamb for a burnt offering for Himself.” so they went, both of them together. 9. And they came to the place which God had told him about, and Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10. And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

22:11. Then the angel of the LORD* called to him out of heaven and said, “Abraham. Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12. And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad! Do not do anything to him! For now I know that you revere God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.”

22:13. And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behind him there was a ram caught in a 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. 14. And Abraham called the name of that place “The LORD* Will See to it” as it is said to this day, “The LORD* Will Show Himself on the mountain.”

22:15. And the angel of the LORD* called to Abraham out of heaven the second time 16. and said, “By myself I have sworn,” says the LORD*, “For because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17. that I shall greatly bless you, and I shall multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand on the seashore, (Heb. 6:14; 11:12) and your seed will possess the gate of his enemies, 18. and in your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed because you have obeyed My voice.”

22:19. So Abraham returned to his young men and they rose up and went together to Beer-Sheba and Abraham stayed at Beer-Sheba.

22:20. And it was after these things that it was told Abraham saying, “Behold, Milkah has also borne children to your brother Nahor, 21. Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22. Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23. And Bethuel begot Rebeccah (Rivkah).” These eight Milkah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24. And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore also Tebah, Gaham, Thahash, and Maachah.  (Click to Source)

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Lekh-Lekha – Get yourself out – “The Father of Faith” – 23 October, 2017

Lekh-Lekha

Get yourself out

1977-jesus-of-naz-synagogue1

Genesis 12:1-17:27
Isaiah 40:27-41:16

“The Father of Faith”

by Mark Huey

By the time one turns to the third Torah reading, Lekh-Lekha, the recorded story of humanity indicates how the Almighty God has had direct contact with certain noted individuals. Despite the fact that considerable history is covered in a relatively short space (Genesis chs. 1-11), we see that after the scrambling of the languages to encourage migration (Genesis 11:7-8), there remained a growing population in Mesopotamia. As Genesis 11 closes, the genealogical trails recorded narrow down to one chosen family, and eventually one individual in Abram/Abraham, who will dominate a great deal of the Scriptural message for future generations (Genesis 11:27-32). Noting the significant amount of faith demonstrated by Abraham, the Apostle Paul would call him in the First Century, “the father of us all” (Romans 4:16).

The Lord Calls Abram

Abraham and his family were natives of the Mesopotamian city of Ur (Genesis 11:28), located in what is today Southern Iraq. Located adjacent to the Euphrates River, Ur was undoubtedly an important commercial center, which received a wide amount of trade extending down into the Persian Gulf. While Lekh-Lekha informs us of how Abraham’s family, presumably including his father Terah and others, had some kind of connection with the Creator God—it is also true that idolatry was rampant in their native land. As Genesis 11 concludes, we find that Terah, his son Abram with wife Sarai, and grandson Lot, departed Ur and moved northward, ultimately settling in Haran on the way to Canaan (Genesis 11:31). Why they settled in Haran is unknown, but it was here where Terah died and left his oldest son Abram with his estate, and perhaps the inclination to continue the journey to Canaan with his wife and nephew.

It is at this juncture that the account turns dramatically to the voice of the Lord commanding Abram to leave not only his country, but his relatives and his father’s house, in order to journey to a special land that He was going to show him:

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed’” (Genesis 12:1-3).

At the time of this command from the Lord, Abram was seventy-five years old and childless (Genesis 12:4-5). He had been an obedient son in leaving Ur. The Lord obviously had His eye upon Abram, and when this dramatic communication came, he must have been overwhelmed with fear. Not only was Abram commanded to leave all of the comforts of his country, but he was given a significant blessing that has been repeated numerous times down throughout the ages (i.e., Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8).

Can you imagine hearing this list of blessings from the Creator God? Here was a seventy-five year old man, who was living in what seems to be a remote part of upper Mesopotamia, who heard that the Almighty was going to make him—a childless husband—into a great nation (l’goy gadol, Genesis 12:2). On top of promising Abram many descendants, God said that He would bless Abram, and make his name great, in order to be a blessing to others. Also stated is how those who blessed Abram would be blessed, and that those who cursed him would be cursed. Perhaps the most important remark made is v’nivreku b’kha kol mishpechot ha’adamah, “and all the clans of the earth through you shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, Alter). In spite of the complications of his being reared in Ur, with its many temptations and having seen many other gods worshipped, Abram knew who this One God was, and heeded His word when it was delivered.

Upon hearing the audible voice of God, and the incredible blessings communicated, Abram was required to exercise some faith or trust in this promise. Abram not only embarked on his journey forward from Haran with his wife Sarai, nephew Lot, and their accumulated possessions—but upon arriving in the Land of Canaan, we see that the Lord appeared to him with another promise, which is that his descendants would be given this land. Abram’s response was to build an altar and worship the Lord, confirming how he was dedicated to the Creator God and wanted his fellow travelers to recognize his faithfulness:

“Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:5-8).

Abram and Sarai in Egypt

Upon arriving in the land of Canaan, the faith that Abram had demonstrated in God began to be tested. Almost immediately, Abram had to survive a regional famine (Genesis 12:10), which required him to actually relocate to Egypt in order to find food for his entourage. While in Egypt, Abram had to contend with the possibility that the Egyptian Pharaoh would admire the beauty of his wife Sarai, and want to include her in his harem. This dilemma caused Abram to take some measures that seem somewhat contradictory to him being a man of faith, indicating that Abram did have a few faults:

“Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev. Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, ‘See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “This is his wife”; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.’ It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house” (Genesis 12:9-15).

Departing Canaan, after all of the promises delivered from the Almighty, had to be difficult. After all, God had dynamically affirmed to Abram significant promises to give his descendants such territory. They arrived in Canaan, there was a famine, and to complicate matters, the only known source of food was in Egypt. The customs of the Egyptians were known to Abram, who feared that knowledge of his marriage to Sarai was going to jeopardize his personal survival. Rather than introduce Sarai as his wife, Abram chose to refer to her as his sister, being less than honest. One might justifiably ask why a man of God would subject his wife to such an ordeal.

It is detectable that there was a lack of trust on the part of Abram, in telling Sarai to say that she was his sister. While the ruling Pharaoh thought that Sarai was only Abram’s sister, he was treated well and was given livestock and servants from him (Genesis 12:16). We further see how a plague hit the Pharaoh because of him keeping Sarai, who then found out that Sarai was Abram’s wife. Consequently, Abram and his company were escorted out of Egypt (Genesis 12:17-20).

To many modern-day followers of the Holy One, the actions of Abram in Egypt are quite perplexing. The person commonly regarded to be “the father of the faith,” was not sternly admonished for his decisions in the Scriptural text. Did God condone Abram’s actions in telling Sarai to call herself his sister, considering the real possibility of Abram’s execution by Pharaoh? While speculation has surely been offered over the centuries by both Jewish and Christian readers, the key promise delivered by God (Genesis 12:1-3) would undoubtedly have to override whatever human or mortal actions might intervene. It would be fulfilled no matter who would try to stop it. Abram would have multitudes of descendants. If he were killed by the Pharaoh, then it would prove that the Creator God was untrustworthy.

Still, one can only imagine the conversations that took place as Abram and Sarai, after the uncomfortable situation in Egypt, journeyed back east toward the Negev and Canaan (Genesis 13:1). They might have had additional wealth and an expanding entourage of servants (Genesis 13:2-4), but there was still a growing faith and trust in the God they served that needed to develop further.

Abram and Lot

Upon Abram’s return to the place of the altar he had originally built (Genesis 13:3), he must have worshipped and praised the Holy One for guiding him and his family through the famine ordeal. But another challenge was looming. With the additional wealth and expansion of herds belonging to both Abram and Lot, the herds needed to be separated so that both growing families could find sufficient grazing land. Rather than the elder Abram choosing where to ultimately settle, and sending Lot on his way, Abram elected to let his nephew have the choice on where he desired to raise and graze his herds (Genesis 13:5-12).

Abram had to have absolute trust in the Lord, as he deferred to Lot’s decision on where he wanted to relocate. Lot was naturally attracted to the lush and abundantly watered land in the valley of the Jordan. But, Abram was totally content in Lot’s decision, because after all, God had promised the land of Canaan to his descendants. As Lot moved himself to Sodom, there is a narrative prompt informing readers how “the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD” (Genesis 13:13).

As Abram and Lot went on their separate ways, and Abram began to establish himself within this new land—the only major remaining challenge was the thought of descendants and for him and the aging Sarai. As the two of them got older, the likelihood of the two of them bearing children was becoming an issue. So to perhaps ease some of their concerns, the Lord once again confirmed to Abram that he was doing the right thing. The Promised Land would be theirs for perpetuity, and they would have great numbers of descendants:

“The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.’ Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD” (Genesis 13:14-18).

After hearing about the magnitude of his descendants, and surveying the land through its length to breadth, Abram decided to relocate from his perch along the heights between Bethel and Ai, to further south to some land near Hebron (Genesis 13:18). Upon arriving in his new location, faithful Abram acknowledged the blessings of the Lord, and built another altar to worship and praise Him. After having received God’s blessings of favor in the land, surviving through a famine in hostile Egypt, being sent back to Canaan with additional wealth, and resolving the growing disputes with Lot’s herdsmen—Abram was now in the area where he ultimately would reside and be buried. Yet, Abram would be significantly tested, as his nephew Lot encountered trouble in Sodom.

Wars in the Middle East are not just a recent occurrence, but have been present throughout history. A regional conflict erupted between various local kings, with the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah caught up in the fighting (Genesis 14:1-9). In the midst of the fighting, the two cities were vacated (Genesis 14:10) and looted by the invaders (Genesis 14:11). Lot was actually one of those who was taken prisoner, as he was living in Sodom. Upon hearing about Lot’s capture, faithful and loyal Abram took rescuing actions to save Lot and his family from certain demise:

“They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom. Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people” (Genesis 14:12-16).

Despite difficult odds, the aged Abram saw that an expedition, or in modern-day terms a “strike team,” was assembled to go rescue his nephew. Obviously, Abram did not need to risk his own life and those of his companions to save Lot—but by faith in the Lord, and displaying some skill, Abram not only defeated the marauders, but returned to Sodom with some booty and prisoners of war (Genesis 14:16). At this point in our Torah portion, we see a definite peek into the faithful heart of Abram:

“Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ He gave him a tenth of all. The king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.’ Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, “I have made Abram rich.” I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share’”” (Genesis 14:17-24).

Interestingly, the king of Sodom, and the king of Salem, Melchizedek, went out to greet Abram upon his return. The contrasting actions of these two kings is indicated by the disposition of their hearts. The reluctantly grateful king of Sodom wanted some of the spoils of war, but requested only the prisoners, seemingly being generous in not wanting the goods taken. Abram was not impressed, as he simply requested that those who fought be rewarded with a legitimate division of the spoils taken.

On the other hand, Melchizedek, the king of Salem, was obviously a follower of the One True God, the same as Abram. It is understood by Abram’s response to the praise bestowed upon the Most High God, that he knew how he and Melchizedek both honored and worshipped the same God. By giving Melchizedek a tenth of his spoils, Abram established a precedent for what developed into the process of the tithe to be given to the Lord. Abram did not want to be yoked to the wicked king of Sodom in any way, but instead, wanted all to know that his allegiance, praise, and worship were to the Lord, the One who had led him on his successful expedition to rescue Lot. As we can see, the faith of Abram was becoming more apparent as revealed. Abram’s special relationship with the Holy One was becoming obvious to all in the region.

Abram Reckoned as Righteous

Following the rescue of Lot, the nagging problem of what to do about children still remained for Abram and Sarai. This couple did not have a physical heir, and the biological clock was surely continuing to tick, as their servant Eliezar of Damascus was the only recognized heir. Had not God promised a physical heir? If so, would this even be possible at such a late stage in their lives?

God was surely pleased with Abram’s handling of the various testing events he had experienced. In His mercy to Abram, He saw that the concern of children for Abram and Sarai was unrelenting. Upon returning from the encounters with the two kings, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision, and specified much more than the surety of Abram having a physical heir. Abram is stated to have been reckoned righteous because of his belief in the Holy One:

“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great.’ Abram said, ‘O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.’ Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.’ And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:1-6).

The word of Genesis 15:6, “And he trusted in HASHEM, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (ATS), is one of the most important verses in the entire Bible for understanding the relationship of people to their Creator. In Genesis 15:6, the verb aman is employed, which in the Hifil stem (casual action, active voice) is defined by CHALOT to regard “rely upon (God)” and “believe in” Him.[1] The Septuagint rendered this with the verb pisteuō, “to trust, trust to or in, put faith in, rely on, believe in a person or thing” (LS).[2] While it is most common to see Genesis 15:6 rendered with some form of “believe” in English Bibles, it is not outside of the realm of possibilities to render it with “have faith.” It is upon this critical verse, Genesis 15:6, that James and Paul would both appeal to emphasize a life of trust in the Heavenly Father (James 2:23; Galatians 3:6; Romans 4:3, 20-22).

One of the biggest mistakes that many of today’s Christians can make, when encountering the Tanakh or the Old Testament, is thinking that it presents us with a God who demands that His people work to earn their salvation. While God surely does expect good works and actions of His people, the thrust of Genesis 15:6 is that belief/trust/faith in Him is what reckons a person righteous as one of His own. Abram was confronted with a situation, in being promised by God multitudes of descendants, where he must have had many doubts about it ever taking place. He and his wife were both elderly people! Yet, much of his human uncertainty had to have been overcome—as he placed himself entirely in God’s hands—because we are told how “Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith” (Genesis 15:6, NLT). The Apostles would later apply Genesis 15:6 to a life of required faith and trust that people must not only place in the Heavenly Father, but in His Son sent to die to atone for sinful humanity.

The Conception of Ishmael

Within Lekh-Lekha, we see how Abram and Sarai concluded that they would not be able to conceive a child, due to Sarai’s advanced age. Instead, Sarai recommended that Abram take her handmaiden Hagar to conceive a child. Perhaps, they must have thought, the physical heir from Abram’s loins need not come from Abram’s wife herself. So, the two of them resorted to a local, Ancient Near Eastern, pagan practice. And, while Abraham and Hagar were able to conceive a child, it notably resulted in Sarai despising Hagar:

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the LORD judge between you and me’” (Genesis 16:1-5).

Was the act of Abram impregnating Hagar an act of faith, or of faithlessness? It is noted later that God would actually bless Ishmael (Genesis 17:20), and that from Ishmael would come forth a great nation. Yet in his letter to the Galatians in the First Century, the Apostle Paul would use the analogy of Hagar conceiving Ishmael, to dissuade the new, non-Jewish Believers from being circumcised as proselytes (Galatians 4:21-31). Abram impregnating Hagar has never had a great reputation in the Holy Scriptures, and it is a negative lesson from which all are to learn. Rather than Abram and Sarai waiting to let a child be naturally conceived via their normal sexual relations—they instead force things by having Abram impregnate Sarai, by which a less-than-legitimate child would be born. While Abram is indeed to be regarded as “the father of faith,” he was human and did not always act according to faith.

Abram and Sarai Renamed

Lekh-Lekha concludes as an eternal covenant was made with Abram (Genesis ch. 17), as the Lord once again appeared to and spoke to him. Abram was not only promised that from himself would come “a multitude of nations,” hamon goyim (Genesis 17:4, 5), but it is here when Avram was renamed Avraham or Abraham. Not only would a plentitude of descendants come forth from Abraham, but a child of promise would come forth from the womb of Sarai, renamed Sarah:

“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.’ Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’ God said further to Abraham, ‘Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations’…Then God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’ Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before You!’ But God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him’” (Genesis 17:1-9, 15-19).

A physical reminder, circumcision of the foreskin of the male sexual organ, would be issued upon those who would be the beneficiaries of the covenant cut between God and Abraham (Genesis 17:22-27). While physical circumcision is to be regarded as a badge of honor upon those who practice it, as it connects a man to the Patriarch Abraham—circumcision can also be a badge of dishonor, considering all of the unfaithful acts that can be committed with the male member. Both faithful acts to God, and less-than-faithful acts, are seen demonstrated by Abraham in our Torah portion. Both faithful and unfaithful acts have been demonstrated by those men in history who have been physically circumcised (cf. Romans 2:25-29).

Abraham Remembered

Lekh-Lekha is a rather comprehensive Torah reading, with many events witnessed that will inform those studying the remainder of the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings. Students receive an incredible overview of key trials that ultimately led the chosen Abraham, to be regarded as “the father of faith.” Abraham was uniquely selected by God for this role. While he had his faults, Abraham proved that he was a man who had to place great confidence in his Creator, as the challenges he faced steadily grew. Abraham has left us an example that has stood the test of time. The author of Hebrews lauds the faith of Abraham and Sarah, as they are noted as persons who acted upon the steadfast trust that they placed in the God who called them, not quite knowing what was going to occur or where they were specifically going:

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE [Genesis 15:5-6; 22:17]” (Hebrews 11:8-12).

As you have reviewed the testimonies of Abraham and Sarah, while these two were not perfect people, they did walk by faith and they are examples that we are to follow as Believers in Yeshua. This is because born again Believers, by faith, are to be those who look beyond this temporal realm to the eternal. Hebrews 11:16 says that “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”

By contemplating the faith and actions of Abraham, we should each be inspired to walk in a manner that exhibits trust in the Lord, and a secure belief in the reliability of His Word and promises. A clear result of this trust are to be actions of obedience generated when we hear the voice of the Lord, and we serve Him in the world. Perhaps, as we edge closer and closer to the return of the Messiah Yeshua—which certainly requires great faith (cf. 2 Peter 3:4)—a few of us may demonstrate a faith of greater proportions than Abraham? If this is at all possible, then this would also mean that the mistakes made by Abraham must be quantitatively avoided. (Click to Source)


NOTES

[1] William L. Holladay, ed., A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden, the Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1988), 20.

[2] LS, 641.

Torah Commentary -VaVera (He Appeared) Ritual or Relationship -Day 16, Month 8, 5775; 17 November 2016

yeshuatheMessiah

Torah Commentary
Gen 18:1-22:24
2Kings 4:1-37
Luke 17:26-37
Romans 9:6-9
Hebrews 6:13-20
Ya’akov 2:14-24

VaVera (He Appeared)

 
Ritual or Relationship
 
This week we begin by looking at two men, Avram and Lot. They are related by physical DNA, but the makeup of the men is worlds apart. These two men who left Ur together have both become rich. Because Lot did not recognize and acknowledge that the reason for his wealth was because he had joined himself to the man of faith, Avram, he began to think life was about himself, his needs, and his desires. This mindset caused Lot to have to make a choice in life which would, in the end, cost him more than he ever dreamed. He would not only lose his riches, but something far greater than wealth, his family and legacy.
 
Abram, on the other hand, would never lose focus on the One who had called him or the destination that calling was taking him to.
 
There is an interesting similarity in these two men which we may read over too quickly. When the messengers came to Avram, the text says he asked Sarai to quickly make cakes of flour. When two of the messengers went to Lot’s house he made for them cakes also. In the Hebrew text the word is matzah, or unleavened bread. Consider that though the Hebrew text does not say it specifically, Avram gave the messengers bread which had been made quickly, unleavened bread. Why does the text lead us to the thought of unleavened bread? Could it be that the messengers came to these men during a time they would only be eating unleavened bread? Could Adam have passed on an instruction regarding an animal slain to give clothing of righteousness? Could all the Feasts including Unleavened Bread have begun in The Garden, in which case Avram and Lot would be continuing in those instructions? (Click to Article)

PERVERTED PRIORITIES -by David Wilkerson

PERVERTED PRIORITIES
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]
malachi-1c
Christians who neglect prayer have perverted their priorities. Many believers
pledge to pray if and when they can find the time. Yet each week, seeking
Christ becomes less important to them than washing the car, cleaning the house,
visiting friends, eating out, going shopping, watching sports events. They
simply don’t make time to pray.

People were no different in the days of Noah and Lot. Their top priorities were
eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying, and caring for their
families. They had no time to listen to messages of God’s coming judgment. And
so no one was prepared when judgment fell!

Evidently, nothing has changed over the centuries. For many Christians today,
God remains at the bottom of the priority list; at the top are income,
security, pleasure, family.

Beloved, the Lord does not want your leftovers—those little bits and pieces
of time when you have only a moment to toss up a quick prayer request. That
isn’t a sacrifice of prayer.

The prophet Malachi writes: “If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not
evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy
governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of
hosts” (Malachi 1:8).

Malachi is saying, “You’re bringing just any old farm animals to sacrifice in
God’s presence—careless, thoughtless, secondhand gifts. Try giving those
kinds of offerings to your governor and see what happens!”

God expected His people to go through their flocks carefully, examining every
animal, and choosing the most perfect specimen for sacrifice to Him. Likewise
today, God expects the same from us. He wants our quality time—unrushed. And
we are to make that time a priority!

I once met with the pastor of one of America’s largest churches. This man was
one of the busiest ministers I had ever seen. He told me without apology, “I
have no time to pray.” Yet, what he really meant was, “I don’t give any
priority to prayer.” When I visited his church, I sensed no moving of God’s
Spirit in the congregation. In fact, it was one of the deadest churches I had
ever preached in. How could there be any life if the pastor didn’t pray?

No Christian will set aside time to pray unless it becomes his first priority
in life—above family, career, leisure time, everything. Otherwise, his
sacrifice is perverted!

Click to article

Survival Food for Uncertain Times

DELIVERANCE FROM SODOM

DELIVERANCE FROM SODOM
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

Most of us think of Sodom as a type of modern-day wicked city such as San
Francisco, New York or New Orleans. But the truth is, we need only to look at
our own hearts to find Sodom. We are all born with a Sodomite nature—a heart
that is exceedingly wicked, full of every evil thing. “Yea, in your heart ye
work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth” (Psalm
58:2)

I believe the following passage reveals how God delivers us out of Sodom:

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory
and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the
corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

God comes to us in our deluded, bound condition with powerful promises of full
and complete deliverance. He says, “I pledge to deliver you and keep you from
iniquity. I will give you a heart to obey Me, so now let My promises lay hold
of you.”

What a wonderful, freeing truth. We are led out of our sin as we lay hold of
God’s promises. Think about it for a moment. Peter says the believers he was
addressing in this epistle had “escaped the corruption that is in the world
through lust” (verse 4). How did these Christians escape sin? They were given
divine power—life and godliness—through their faith in God’s promises.

Beloved, your Father wants you to know fullness of joy in Christ. That joy will
break out only as you are freed from the power of sin. So, allow the Holy Spirit
to go into the womb of your lusts and remove everything that is unlike Christ.
Pray to the Lord right now:

“Oh, Father, I agree with You about my sin. The stench of my compromise has
reached into heaven and I know it has to go immediately. Lord, I receive Your
loving, divine ultimatum and I lay everything down before You. Set fire to
everything wicked in me and let Your promises take hold of my heart. Lead me to
the mountain of Your holiness.”

Click to article

 

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