Torah Portion: Vayera (He Appeared) Genesis 18-22
HafTorah: II Kings 4:1-37
Tonight we look at a Torah portion that is truly filled with verses that challenge us on a number of levels. We will pick our way through some of these as well as others you might have questions about. However, I would like to begin with my first question this week – comparing Abraham’s actions with other earlier Biblical characters. For example, how did Adam and Eve handle their sinful actions when confronted by G-d? What did they do? They denied any personal responsibility. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. I asked you to look at Genesis 13:8-9 where a quarrel breaks out between the herdsmen of Lot and those of Abraham over the availability of grazing land for their herds. How does Abraham deal with this? He takes personal responsibility. He does not pass judgment. He does not ask whose fault the argument was. He does not seek to reap any financial rewards. No, He gives Lot his choice of land. He sees the problem and acts to solve it without passing judgment or blame. Many times we are more involved with blaming rather than bringing growth.
Yeshua brought this out when the woman taken in adultery was brought before Him in John 7:53-8:11. He did not judge her but sought to help her and the people who brought her to see the more important issue. I think this was a learning time for Lot, whether he learned from it was his problem. But Abraham dealt with it correctly.
Next let us look at the sin of Cain and compare him to Abraham. Remember Cain killed his brother and when confronted by G-d he says, “Am I my brother’s keeper.” He does not accept moral responsibility for his actions. In Chapter 14 we read where Lot is captured in the wake of a local war. What are Abraham’s actions? He gathers an army and rescues Lot, along with the other captives, and returns them to their homes. So here Abraham immediately takes action even though Lot chose to live where he did and shows without any doubt we are our brother’s keepers. We are called to accept moral responsibility for those around us. Abraham could have said, “Well he made his own bed so now let him lie in it.” How easy it would have been for Abraham to turn his back on Lot and the others and go on his way. But he didn’t. Luke 10:30-37 gives us a good example of how Yeshua sees moral responsibility. It is not our place to judge when we see someone in trouble but to do what we can. If they have made bad choices give them the tools/spiritual and practical to do better. If they do not do it we are able to stand before the Father and be clean because we tried.
Then compare Noah and Abraham. G-d speaks to each what He intends to do. What does Noah do? He builds an ark but as far as scripture is concerned does not say anything to his neighbors in order to save them. Nor does he speak to G-d on their behalf. Now in this week’s reading G-d comes to Abraham and tells him what He is going to do to Sodom. In Genesis 18:16-33 we read this extraordinary exchange between G-d and Abraham. Abraham speaks out and literally challenges G-d over His plans. In fact in verse 17 we see where G-d expects Abraham to challenge His decision. Abraham grasped the fact that the people of Sodom were also created in the image of G-d and were worth intersession. Here we learn whether we are personally involved or not. Whether the people are good or bad in our eyes, we must intercede for them that they be spared and have the opportunity to know the L-rd.
So I pray that through this look at Abraham we can grasp what G-d has to say to us about how we live our lives each day. Judgment is best left to G-d. We are truly to be peace makers.
Now, why did Abraham not intercede for his son when G-d told him to sacrifice him? Also what kind of sacrifice was Isaac to be? In English it is called a burnt offering. This is an offering that is Holy and completely dedicated to G-d. Yeshua was the same type of sacrifice.
In Genesis 22:2 G-d literally pleads with Abraham, “Please take your son.” I think by this Abraham knew this was not open for argument.