Have you ever wrestled with your desire to do something that deep down you know you shouldn’t? “Conversion” sometimes get so spiritualized that what’s actually happening to you gets lost. The important transformation to the “new creation” is the theme of the Torah section וישלח Vayishlach (“he sent,” Gen. 32:3–36:43).
The Torah reading ויצא Vayetze (“and he went out,” Genesis 28:10–32:2) is another example of how all the Scriptures testify of the Mashiakh (Messiah). The account of Ya’akob’s (Jacob) using striped sticks to encourage breeding among livestock and separating livestock sounds like archaic superstition, but it actually is a Messianic prophecy about how Yeshua (Jesus) would draw to Himself the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 10:6; 15:24) and make them stronger than what appeared to be the preferred flock.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51 NASB)
That rather cryptic comment from Natan’el wrapped up Who the Mashiakh would be and the Anointed One’s role in a neat package.
“Under the fig tree,” “true son of Israel,” “Son of Man,” ladder between Heaven and Earth: These are symbols a student of “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” like Natan’el would have known.
The Torah reading (parashah) ויצא Vayetze or Vayetzei (“he went out,” Gen. 28:10–32:2) covers the dream of Ya’akob’s ladder, Ya’akov‘s seven-year wait to marry Rakhel, Laban’s double-dealing to marry off his oldest daughter, a sister battle over fertility and the origins of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. Sprinkled through these accounts are prophetic breadcrumbs leading to Continue reading Parashat Vayetze (ויצא): Genesis 28:10–32:2
One lesson from the life of Esau is who and where we came from doesn’t necessarily define who we are or will become. Another takeaway is to recognize the good around us and become wise to the frequent folly of “following your heart” after what appears to be good. This is why Messiah Yeshua wants us to learn how to be “complete,” not lacking in anything.
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.