Torah Portion: Lekh L’kha (B’resheet) Genesis 12:1-17:27
HafTorah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Today we are introduced to Avram, later to become Avraham. He is person who is revered by well over half the world’s population. Think about it, he never became a ruler of a nation, wandered much of his life, yet he is looked at as the foundational person in the spiritual life of billions. Why is this? I think the answer lies in this Torah portion.
I want you to think for a bit about the world at the time of Avraham. What did the people worship? They worshipped a pantheon of gods. God’s who were characterized by their power. Ra of Egypt, Zeus of the Greeks and Ba’al of the Cananites are a few examples. The religious system was built on power and the elite of society exercised that power over the weaker. God’s that were formed by the hand of man were then worshipped by the same men that formed them.
Along came Avraham who for some reason questioned this system and believed something different. G-d saw this quality in him and spoke to him. He gave him a choice actually. G-d said to him, “Lekh L’kha”, go to yourself. If you want to know Me you must leave your land, your family and your father’s house. In effect He was saying leave everything and follow me. Does this sound familiar? Yeshua called His disciples with the same words. (Luke 5:27-28) So what can we learn from Avraham and from Yeshua’s call on our own lives? What does it mean to leave our land? For Avraham it meant physically leaving and going to another place that G-d would show him. For us it may have that same meaning or it may mean to not conform to the ways of our land. Conforming is such a strong force in our world and country. No one wants to seem odd. But for us as believers our faith demands we are not to conform to the godlessness around us, last night, Halloween being one example. As believers we are not to become like everyone else, maybe even in our faith. That need to fit in applies also to religion. A Biblical way of approaching G-d is never easy and is sometimes met with resistance. But often that resistance comes from not wanting to rock the boat. Conforming to the world takes less effort.
So Avraham had to leave the influence of his land behind. He also had to leave his family behind. Sometimes our families are not the best influence in our lives. We may be called to not conform to how our family sees life and faith. Avraham’s family members were idol worshippers. G-d calls him to leave that behind. Sometimes we need to put some spiritual distance between us and our families, not to just conform and go along. What might be examples of how this works out in your life?
Finally Avraham was told to leave his father’s house. As you might have noticed this leaving process has become more and more focused. First land, then family and now his father’s house.
Nothing influences us more than our immediate family. Our early ways of dealing with life are learned from our close family. In his case, Avraham’s father was an idol worshipper. G-d called him to break that pattern and follow Him, the only true G-d, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. So G-d calls us all to be responsible for our own spiritual life. We are not to leave our spiritual life to the decisions of others. We all are called to stand before G-d and give an account of our own life. (Ezek 18:20). G-d wants all of us. He wants our undivided devotion, our single mindedness to follow Him no matter the cost. So it was with Avraham. “Be not conformed to this world,” Romans 12:2 G-d is a jealous G-d and wants our all.