Do we trust God in His promises? We can come up with all sorts of ideas about God. But if we don’t really trust Him and His leading, why bother following? These are questions tackled in this discussion on the Torah portion וירא Vayera (“and He appeared”), covering Genesis 18-22. Abraham is shown to have trust issues up to his great test of faith. At that point, he sees something. This passage is all about the Promised One — the Mashiakh (Messiah) — represented by Abraham’s son Yitzkhak (Isaac).
Modern society views the rite of circumcision to be backward at best and barbaric at worst. Yet, it actually is a cutting memorial of what God has cut away from the faithful — men and women — through the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).
How do we explain to others about being “under grace” and still obey the Torah? Are we “under grace” or “under law”? Paul explains this in his letter to the Romans.
“For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.” (Gal. 4:22-23)
On the surface, Paul’s message about Sarah and Hagar in Gal. 4:22-23 doesn’t make sense. After all, we all know how a man and woman come together to make a child. This biological mechanism is how both Ishmael and Isaac came into the world.
We also read here that, because of Abraham, God made a covenant with Ishmael as well as Isaac, but Ishmael’s is different because he was cast out.
Why did apostle Paul connect Hagar with Sinai and Jerusalem in Galatians 4? Was it to free believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as God’s Messiah from obedience to God’s Law?
The Christ-like life is compared to a race, but it’s not a cut-throat competition against our fellow believers. We are to help one another reach the ultimate goal. The “fruit of the Spirit” that are given to us by God to help us and others in this life are not a “grab bag” that we can pick and chose which fruits we want. We should want them all and use them all and we should share them with our fellow believers and the world at large. We are also called to understand that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has one plan for the salvation of man, not two, three for four versions.
Paul’s discussions of circumcision, mainly in Galatians, Philippians and Romans, have been interpreted as being condemnation against the Torah, because the Law calls for circumcision for newborns and those wanting to participate in key parts of worship of God.
However, it must be remembered that circumcision by the first century A.D. had become an “identity marker” separating Jews from non-Jews. Like observance of Shabbat, circumcision was listed among the “works of [the] law” in the Dead Sea Scrolls that defined those separate from the corrupt religious system around the time of the first century. The rite of circumcision could be behind the division between Jewish and “unconverted” non-Jews that Paul dressed down Peter and the Galatian congregations in chapters 2 and 3 of this letter.