At first glance, the trustworthiness troubles of Abraham, his son Yitzkhak (Isaac) and grandson Ya’akov (Jacob) can be disturbing, considering they are pillars of faith in the Kingdom of God. How can we forget Ya’akov’s “red, red stuff” deal for the birthright his brother, Esau?
Rather than a descent into “truthiness,” their legacy for the commonwealth of Israel is growth from faith-fickle to faithful. In this week’s Torah portion (תולדות Toldot, “generations,” Gen. 25:19–28:9), we follow Ya’akov’s journey to becoming a “new man,” renamed Israel (“struggles with God” or “rules with God”). That “rebirth,” pictured via Ya’akov’s dream of a ladder between Earth and Heaven, is why Yeshua (Jesus) likened that ladder to Himself (John 1:43–50).
The name of the Torah portion חיי שרה Chayei Sarah means “life of Sarah,” but it starts with the matriarch’s death. We see how Abraham works hard to find a final resting place for her, but her death had a huge impact on Yitzkhak (Isaac) as well, affecting him for years. Her death also played a larger than life role in how Abraham’s most trusted servant, Eliazer of Damascus, set out to find a suitable wife for Yitzkhak to carry out Abraham’s legacy.
It’s all too easy in today’s crave-the-cutting-edge lifestyle to forget who got us to where we are today. Abraham is called “father of us all” because his trust in God is the model for saving faith in God’s Son, Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ) (Rom. 4:16–5:2). In this week’s Torah portion, חיי שרה Chayei Sarah (“Sarah’s life,” Gen. 23:1–25:18), we learn how important Abraham’s wife Sarah is in The Way from our old way of life to our new one in Mashiakh.
God “shows up” all over the place in events recorded in the Bible and today, but He is not passive. Rather, the LORD is active in Earth’s affairs.
A pattern of behavior we see in the Torah reading וַיֵּרָא Vayera (“and He appeared”) is that when people are in “fight or flight” mode, they usually make very poor decisions. Lot’s “bright idea” to give his daughters to protect his guests from a vile mob, Lot’s daughter’s “bright idea” to get pregnant by their father a mere few days after they escaped from Sodom’s flames, and later Abraham and Sarah’s decision to lie to Abimelech about the extent of their kinship, all these poor decision had consequences.
We will see through the testimony of the words of God the interplay between the promised one, Yitskhak (Isaac), and the one born only through the flesh, Yishma’el (Ishmael).
One of the Creator’s names is YHWH Yireh (Jehovah Jirah), translated as “the LORD sees” or “the LORD is seen.” And one of the key times Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus Christ) is foreseen is Abraham’s near-sacrifice of is “one and only son.” The mercy and sacrifice of God is on full display in this week’s Torah portion, וַיֵּרָא Vayera (“he appeared,” Gen. 18:1–22:24).
It’s not easy to leave one’s family, even at 75 years old, but God called Abram out of his father’s house for his own good. This was Abram’s first test.
In the Torah passage לֶךְ-לְךָ Lech Lecha/Lekh Lekha (“go forth,” Genesis 12:1-17:27), we learn that Abram’s faith came from both hearing God’s instruction and doing it. Doing matters, not just hearing. Hearing is easy, doing is much more involved and more difficult. When our life is smooth and we get instant gratification, it’s easy to continue walking in a way that brings a quick blessing. But when we are doing something that is right but we do not receive instant gratification, it’s harder to continue doing what is right.
When God tells us to do the right thing but we don’t want to do it, it’s hard to do it anyway.
Apostle Paul called Abraham the “father of us all,” those born in Israel and those who have faith like his (Rom. 4:16). In this week’s Torah passage, לֶךְ-לְךָ Lech Lecha (Lekh Lekha) (“go forth,” Genesis 12:1-17:27), we see Abraham’s first move of faith in leaving his homeland for some unknown destination Heaven was leading him toward. His response is an inspiration to us all.