VAYERA | WEEK 4
By Nathan Wesley Smith
Gen 18:1 – Gen 22:24
Promises, judgments and miracles. In the Torah portion, Vayera, we are given some of the most dynamic moments in the life of Abraham and his family. Called by God to leave his homeland, family, culture and inheritance, Abram (whose name God changes to Abraham) is now at the oaks of Mamre where he encounters the Lord and is given the promise of a son. As an old man, and his wife and old maid this was an impossibility that only God would be able to make happen. This seems to be God’s pattern; making the impossible, possible. That story develops later in the parsha but it is worth noting that immediately after Abraham receives the promise of future generations the attention of the reading turns to the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. With the promise of his own family line to come, what would be his heart and mind toward a notoriously wicked people? Abraham pleaded for mercy.
In this famous exchange Abraham pleads with the Lord to spare the cities for the sake of the righteous people that may be in their midst. Going back and forth Abraham begs for mercy, even if only 10 righteous can be found. God demonstrates His heart for people, His willingness to be persuaded by the pleas/prayers of the righteous and His fierce judgment on unrepentant lifestyles of sin. We also learn a bit more about who Abraham is. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, lives among the wicked cities and even though he and Lot have had their differences, Abraham wants only good for him. Abraham would go on to be called ‘the friend of God’. I believe there is much we can learn from Abraham’s life, even just in this passage of scripture, of how God chooses His friends. I cannot imagine a greater title given to a human being. A friend of God. Apparently God’s friends plead for mercy, not only for their neighbors, but even for family members with whom they may have differences for he and Lot had parted ways just a few chapters before.
Later in the reading we find that even God’s friends stumble in their faith at times. Trying to hold onto the promise of a son, Abraham and his wife, Sarah, conceive a plan of their own to help God’s promise be fulfilled. As result, Abraham has a son with Sarah’s maidservant. The boy is named Ishmael and is blessed by both Abraham and by God but the Lord makes clear he is not the child of promise. This would cause great contention in Abraham’s family for generations extending even to today. This speaks to the issue of being able to receive a promise. It takes great faith and trust to simply allow God to bring about His plan without your intervention or ‘great ideas’. Often we try to ‘do’ a promise as if it is up to us to make it happen. But when you do a promise you birth contention (such as the contention between Isaac and Ishmael). Every time. The only way a promise is kept is when the one making it brings it about. And God is not slack in His promises.
Years later, Issac, the child of promise was born and God is proved faithful, yet again, by being true to His Word in His time. With the birth of the promise, now God’s call on Abraham’s life to be a ‘father of many nations’ can be brought about. However, God tests Abraham to know if his love for his son has now superseded his love for God. The Lord calls Abraham on a three day journey, to Mount Moriah, where he would ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son. In obedience, Abraham binds his only son and raises his knife to slay him but is stopped by the voice of God. Abraham has proven his trust in God and God makes clear he delights in Abraham’s obedience and not in his sacrifice, sparing Isacc’s life and giving us another window into the heart of The Father. This story speaks of much more than obedience and sacrifice. It foreshadows the cross where the Lamb of God would be slain.
In this story (Genesis 22) we find the words ‘love’ and ‘worship’ for the very first time in the Bible. Abraham loved his son and God had required Abraham to sacrifice him as an act of worship. Though God spared Abraham the pain of such a horrible event, God did not spare Himself. In the New Testament we see Jesus, God’s only Son whom He loves, on this very same Mount Moriah (Calvary), except this time the sacrifice is made as an act of love for the people of the world and an offering of worship to a righteous God. Jesus, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is offered up, journeys through death and is raised to life on the third day of His journey. Because our Heavenly Father went through with the sacrifice, each of us can claim access to the blood of Jesus that washes us clean and presents us holy before the Lord.
The parsha concludes with a foretelling of this event in Genesis 22:17-18 where God says to Abraham,”I will surely bless you… and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” Jesus, the perfect and beloved Son of God, is the offspring of Abraham as recorded in the first verse of the New Testament, Matthew 1:1 ‘The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” God’s friend, Abraham, trusted the Lord and though his faith wavered at times, pleaded for mercy for sinners, did not withhold the things he held dearest in life and worshipped God by loving Him more than any other. Oh that we would trust God in the same way and truly be a friend of God.
About the Author
Nathan and his family live in the Charlotte, NC area. Nathan has served the Body of Christ in full-time ministry for nearly 20 years through church planting, worship leading, teaching and speaking. He carries an immense burden for Israel and the nations. Nathan has authored and published over 50 songs and currently serves as an Executive Pastor at The Refuge Church (therefuge.net). You can read more of his writings on his blog called #TheBestViewInTown at www.
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