Shalom and welcome to this week’s “Parasha Vayeira”. I am your host, Ulices Rodriguez. For this week’s parasha, I wanted to try something different.
Instead of focusing on a central theme for the parasha, what I want to do instead is tell a story through the parasha about how the men and women of Scripture lived their lives, experienced real hardship, and had real challenges and had real blessings. We will see that we are not much different from them.
What better way to tell a story than to imagine yourself as one of the characters of the story? Because after all, the story of the Garden is a story about us. The story of the Flood is a story about us. All the stories that exist in Scripture are about us. And there is something we can take away from all of them. If we can imagine ourselves in the shoes of Adam, Havvah, Noah, Avraham, and countless others, we can better understand their story is our story.
Their history is our history. If we do not know our history, how can we know where we are going? That is what Scripture is there for; to remind us of where we started, what happened along the way to get us to where we are now, and what awaits us in the future. So please join me as we study Yahweh’s word and find out how we fit inside the stories of Scripture.
As we begin our story in B’reishet (Genesis) 18, we come across Avraham “sitting in the door of his tent in the heat of the day”.
If you can picture yourself in the heat of the day, I am sure you can understand that it is a hot miserable part of the day where all we would want to do is lie around and relax, but Scripture says that “Yahweh appeared to him by the terebinth tree of Mamre”.
Then it says that “he lifted his eyes and saw three men standing by him and he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground”.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:1-2
1 “Then Yahweh appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.
2 So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground.”
So it is the heat of the day, and I am sure Avraham is tired. The last thing on his mind is being of service to anyone. Yet he jumps up quickly to meet these three men. Why might that be? We might ask ourselves who is Avraham bowing down to? Without going too deep into it, we have a study on our website titled “Yeshua: Manifestation of Yahweh“.
One of the men who Avraham is bowing down to is Yeshua! So we can see and understand why he ran from his tent to meet Yahweh and the other two men, and why he is so eager to be hospitable.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:6-7
6 So Avraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.”
7 And Avraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it.”
So I ask, how many of us are eager to serve Yeshua this way with our lives? Avraham was in a hurry to host
and prepare a meal despite the fact that it was in the heat of the day, and I am sure that he just wanted to sit back and relax.
We really get an understanding of how much Avraham loved Yahweh with this one verse. “My Adon (Master), if I have now found favor in your sight do not pass on by your servant.”
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:3
3 “And said, “My Adon [Master], if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.”
Let us let that sink in for a moment. How many of us treat Yeshua as our Master (as our Adon)? And are we as His servants ready to respond quickly at a moment’s notice; even when we see Him far off?
Miracles have happened in the lifetime of Avraham. He has seen Yahweh’s miracles and His blessings all his life. Yet Avraham still takes the low place in spite of all that. He still remains humble and remembers this basic principle. “Form dust we are and to dust we shall return.”
Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) 3:20
20 “All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.”
It really amazes me how humble Avraham really was, even though he was immensely blessed by Yahweh. If we had the riches that Avraham had, would we remember that we are still bags of dust? Would we still remember to remain humble, and kind, and be eager to serve Yahweh as Avraham did?
Avraham’s example of running from the tent door to greet Yeshua and the other two men shows that he was eager to drop everything and serve (regardless of the circumstances). He was eager to jump at the call for action. Are we in a hurry to drop everything in this life to serve Yeshua? Are we eager to jump into the call for action for Yeshua (despite our circumstances)?
If we notice, Avraham stood by them under the tree as they ate indicating that after he had served Yeshua and the other two men, Avraham was still attentive to what they would need next. This could be equivalent to listening in the Spirit. This is what it means to earnestly “seek after the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness”.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:33
33 “But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Yet, how many believers out there today serve Yeshua with a checklist mindset?
They say to themselves, “I have kept Shabbat, I have kept the feasts, I have paid my tithes, I have been nice to my neighbor. That means for the week, I have done my part in serving Yeshua. Now the rest of the week is about me and what I want to do.”
This is the difference between Avraham and the other men of his generation. This is the difference between believers who are on fire for Elohim and those who are lukewarm. The question that we must all ask ourselves is, are we washing Yeshua’s feet or is He washing our feet?
Think about the kindness that Avraham is showing to Yeshua and these two other men. Do we have this kind of hospitality to our brothers and sisters in the faith? Yeshua says this, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Yochanan (John) 13:35
35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Do we have this kind of love for one another in the body of Messiah or is it all lip service? Next, Yahweh tells Avraham that “about this time next year, I will return, and you will have a son. Sarah laughs internally because she does not believe that Elohim can make that happen”.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:10, 12
10 “And He said, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.”
12 “Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my master being old also?”
We must remember Yahweh is the Master chess player. Every move He makes is intentional. Every word that proceeds from His mouth is intentional. He is not like us where we are careless with our actions and our tongue. Beyond that, He is the Creator and all that came to be, came to be through Him and His word.
It is not good that Sarah did not believe that Yahweh could work this miracle in her life. Her and Avraham at this point in their lives know better. They have seen Yahweh’s blessings, provision, and guidance in everything. They understood that it was the Creator who had called them out of Terah’s house and led them all these years through the land of Canaan, Egypt and so forth.
This is why Yeshua asked the question, “Is anything too hard for Yahweh?”; As if to ask, have you not seen enough? Have I not done enough for you and yet you still doubt Me?
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:14
14 “Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
How many times in our own lives have we found ourselves in the same shoes as Sarah where Yahweh wants to bless us, but we laugh in disbelief? If we notice, Sarah denied her disbelief because she was afraid. It was in that moment where she realized that she had doubted in the power of Elohim.
This is a very similar circumstance that Kepha found himself in as well. Yeshua was walking on the water in the midst of a storm. While everyone in the boat with Kepha was scared, he seems (initially) not to be so. This is why he called out to Yeshua and said “Adon [Master], if it is You, command me to come to You on the water”.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 14:28
28 “And Peter answered Him and said, “Adon, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
This is a good response from Kepha. He is humble enough to know that it is not in his own power that he can walk on the water, but only through the power of the Son of Elohim, Yeshua. So Yeshua then said “come”. And Kepha stepped out in faith just as Avraham and Sarah left Terah’s house in faith. But just as Kepha looked around and saw that the wind and the waves were boisterous, he became afraid (because of the circumstances that he was in).
Mattityahu (Matthew) 14:30
30 “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Adon, save me!”
Sarah did the same thing. She focused too much on her and Avraham’s age and she doubted. She had little faith in Yahweh. In the same way that Yeshua asked Kepha. Yeshua was asking Sarah the same thing, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Mattityahu (Matthew) 14:31
31 “And immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
I am sure this happens to us all daily. How many blessings do we miss out on because of our little faith or our doubt? Yeshua says, “when we pray, pray as if you have already received it”.
Marqaus (Mark) 11:24
24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
He says have faith in Elohim!
Marqaus (Mark) 11:23
23 “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things He says will be done, he will have whatever He says.”
We can see that nothing is impossible for Elohim if we have faith and if we believe.
Before we talk about Avraham and his intercession for Sodom, I want to take a brief moment to touch on what Yahweh said about Avraham before all this. Yahweh asks the question; “Shall I hide from Avraham what I am doing?” As if Avraham is a friend and Yahweh is deciding whether or not He should share His secrets with His friend.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:17
17 “And Yahweh said, “Shall I hide from Avraham what I am doing?”
Verse 19 says,
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:19
19 “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice, that Yahweh may bring to Avraham what He has spoken to him.”
In order for Yahweh to know Avraham as a friend, Avraham had to turn his back on the world. For friendship with the world makes you an enemy of Elohim.
Amos 3:7 states,
7 “Surely Yahweh Elohim does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”
With Avraham calling himself a servant of Yahweh and Yahweh asking the question whether or not He should reveal His plans to Avraham, this shows that Avraham was indeed special to Yahweh. Avraham was a prophet and a friend of Elohim.
How many of us are still stuck in the world trying to serve two masters? Making ourselves a friend of the world and an enemy of Elohim?
Yeshua says, “You cannot serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he would be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve Elohim and Mammon.”
Meaning you cannot serve Elohim and still be concerned with amassing a great deal of wealth and pride in the world.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:24
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve Elohim and mammon.”
With this understanding, let us take a look at Avraham’s intercession and break it down a little further.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:22-23
22 “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Avraham still stood before Yahweh.
23 And Avraham came near and said, would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?”
For starters Avraham was set-apart because of the level of faith he had in Elohim. We see that Yahweh did not discuss this plan with Lot or anyone else in Sodom, but rather with Avraham only.
This moment of intercession can be seen in the most obvious way which is that Avraham (in a certain sense) is behaving like Yeshua (our High Priest) by interceding for the righteous that lived in Sodom.
For now, let us focus on the compassion and love that Avraham is displaying for the righteous that lived in Sodom.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:24-25
24 “Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?
25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Notice that Avraham is not trying to come between Yahweh and His judgment on the wicked people of Sodom. Avraham is not even advocating that the wicked even need to be punished. But rather what Avraham is doing is trying to make sure that the righteous do not suffer with the wicked.
This is a very distinct difference we need to make because Avraham is showing love and compassion where he could have easily walked away and said that is none of my business.
The conversation goes on with Yahweh answering his question.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:26
26 “So Yahweh said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”
This conversation continues on this way till the number dwindles down from 50 to 10. And in-between, as Avraham intercessions for mercy he asks Yahweh to please not be angry with him.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:32
32 “Then he said, “Let not Yahweh be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there? And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”
So, from my couch this may not seem like that big of a deal. But in fact it is. This is the King of the universe that Avraham is speaking with. Who is he and who are any of us to question the righteous judgment of Yahweh? Avraham was bold enough to question Yahweh. He was bold enough to intercede for Sodom.
In one sense, I think Avraham had a pretty good understanding of what Hebrews chapter 4 verses 14 through 16 were talking about.
Ivrim (Hebrews) 4:14-16
14 “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua the Son of Elohim, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Avraham knew that Yahweh was righteous. He knew the character of Elohim. That He was merciful and compassionate. You can see that in Yeshua’s response to Avraham when He says, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten”.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:32
32 “Then he said, Let not Master be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there? And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”
When we dwell on this interaction a little more, we begin to understand the kind of love that Yahweh has for His people. Yahweh loves His people so much that if there were only 10 righteous people in an entire city, for their sake He would not destroy their city. Yahweh’s love is so great for His people that the wicked get to experience Yahweh’s love and grace through the righteous that live among them.
For my brothers and sisters out there, it is ultimately up to Yahweh and His grace that determines whether or not we are saved and blessed.
If you are ever wondering if you are making a difference by walking righteously before Elohim, know that you are making a difference. Know that Yahweh’s love flows through you when you decide to walk humbly and righteously before Elohim.
As we move on to chapter 19, we can see some differences in the way that Lot’s hospitality was given versus how Avraham’s was given.
First, we see that Lot and Avraham almost start off in the same manner. Avraham was sitting in the door of his tent and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw the two angels, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the ground.
When we then look at Lot’s meal compared to that of Avraham’s, we can see that Lot really did not offer up the best meal he could have.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 19:3
3 “But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.”
Whereas Avraham’s meal was the tender calf, butter, milk, and cakes made of fine flower. Avraham gave Yeshua and the two men his very best whereas Lot offered them just a meal. Do not get me wrong, it is better than nothing, but let us stop to think about how this applies to us in our spiritual walk.
How many of us serve Yeshua with our lives the same way that Lot serve the two angels? It is better than nothing in some cases, but we should really be giving Elohim our absolute best. Most of us give Him our leftover time, energy, and effort, and yet expect a full reward. We expect a big blessing in return and minimal effort on our part (which is not how it works).
Lot seemed to try and protect the two angels when the men of the town, both old and young, came seeking to have relations with them. But Lot messed up big time by offering up his two daughters in place of the two angels. This is a really twisted and disgusting thing for me to read as a father, especially since I have children of my own. I would never think to do this. But when we read this, we really should stop to consider that while this may be evil and disgusting, we all fall short of the glory of Elohim.
We must learn from this example in Scripture. Because I am sure we all have committed sin that would cause others to look at us like we all look at Lot in this situation.
I imagine that Lot must have known that the two men were angels of Yahweh or at least affiliated with Yahweh to some degree because he called them Adon [Master] and he bowed with his face to the ground. Lot had spent a considerable amount of time with Avraham and I am sure he was familiar with the sightings of angels (or at least what it would look like) when the messengers of Elohim appeared.
It just baffles me that he would behave like this in front of these two angels of Yahweh. Maybe he really did not know that these two men were angels. But nevertheless (angels or not), this is not how we should be witnessing our faith to others. It is no wonder that when the time came for Lot and his family to leave Sodom (because it was about to be destroyed) his sons-in-law did not believe him.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 19:16
16 “And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, Yahweh being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.”
Even after all this, Lot’s wife still turned to look back on Sodom and was turned into a pillar of salt. Even when Lot was fleeing Sodom, the angels told him to flee to the mountains and Lot still insisted that it was too much of an effort for him to do, but to rather let him escape to a nearby city.
Lot is just one bad mistake after another. Yet, for so many of us in the body of Mashiach, we are Lot in the way we walk out our faith. I am sure Lot had faith and was considered righteous to some degree. Otherwise Yahweh would not have sent the two angels to go and rescue him. But Lot had also built a life for himself in the world. So effectively, he had one foot in the world and the other in Elohim’s kingdom. That is what Scripture calls double-mindedness; where we desire the things of heaven but earnestly chaste after the things of the world.
No wonder his sons-in-law did not believe him; he never provided a good example of what true faith looked like. It is no wonder that he almost gave away his daughters to gang rape. It is no wonder he hesitated to leave Sodom when the time came. It is no wonder that his wife was turned into a pillar of salt. She wanted to be saved, but she desired to be in Sodom, and we cannot have both. “The friendship with the world makes us an enemy of Elohim.”
Ya’akov (James) 4:4
4 “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim.
How many of us who call ourselves believers live in this lukewarm fashion that Lot did? Where we praise Elohim for all the blessings in our life, but are more focused on giving our attention to that new promotion at work? Or going golfing, or playing sports, or taking the kids to soccer practice? Or going on a vacation? I am not saying that any of these things are evil and that you must live inside of a box. But what could be more important than building the Kingdom for Yeshua? Yeshua said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
Luqa (Luke) 10:2
2 “Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Master of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”.
We are the laborers. Those of us who call ourselves followers of Yeshua the Nazarene are the laborers. So where are all my fellow laborers at? Why are we not uniting to build the kingdom together?
Moving on to Yitzhak and his birth. It truly is a joyous moment to watch your children being born. Children really are miracles of life and blessings Elohim gives us. I can only imagine how excited both Sarah and Avraham were for Yitzhak’s birth.
Myself and my wife just celebrated another miracle of life. Yahweh blessed us with the birth of a new baby girl. If you have children of your own and you are watching this, please never waste a moment to pour your love into them. Never waste a moment to show them and teach them about Elohim.
This is how I view it when Scripture says that “Yitzhak grew and was weaned. Avraham made a great feast on the same day that Yitzhak was weaned.”
B’reisheet (Genesis) 21:8
8 “So the child grew and was weaned. And Avraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.”
In the west, to be weaned means that a child no longer consumes their mother’s milk as a source of food. In the near and far east, to be weaned is far different. It means when a child is fully independent and can now be considered a contributing member of the family.
This can happen at a relatively young age because the idea is not that they are weaned at two or three years of age because they no longer drink milk. But rather that they have matured in their level of understanding. That it is less about “me, me, me”, and more about, “How do I now turn around and help my family?”
I have a daughter who is four. And she can be considered weaned because this is her mentality with the family. Do not get me wrong, she is still a child and still needs to be mentored and raised up in the way. But my wife and I can really rely on her for a lot of help. This is a blessing and cause of great joy for us.
I am not telling you parents out there how to raise your own kids, but Scripture seems to be pretty clear from this example and several others that the responsibilities at a young age for a child is very healthy and good for them. It would seem that Yahweh desires that we would all learn to be servants of His at as young of an age as possible.
As we fast forward to when Yitzhak has grown up, Avraham is tested once more by Yahweh when He asked Avraham to offer up Yitzhak (his one and only beloved son) as a burnt offering on Mount Moriah. I think the sending off of Ishmael was intentional for this very reason. Yes, there were other things at play, but this is why I think Yahweh allowed and even told Avraham to send off Ishmael. If Avraham had both Yitzhak and Ishmael, the test would not have been the same for Avraham. Elohim was testing the loyalty of Avraham and this test is a huge one.
Avraham now has his one and only son that he is caring for. Yitzhak is Avraham’s one and only beloved son.
To also keep in mind, Yitzhak was probably an adult when this took place. Because Avraham had placed the wood on Yitzhak’s back for him to carry. Realistically, no 10 to 13-year-old boy can carry enough wood on his back needed for a burnt offering. So it would have had been a grown man who had done this.
Something to also keep in mind is that in the same way that Yitzhak carried the wood on his back to his own sacrifice, Yeshua did the same thing. I think that is pretty cool how all of Scripture points to Yeshua.
Everyone focuses on Avraham and how Yahweh provided the sacrifice in this case, and this points to Yeshua. But what about the faith of Yitzhak and how he lovingly obeyed his father Avraham? He allowed Avraham to tie him up and place him on the altar. I am sure Yitzhak did not want to be sacrificed, but he trusted in Yahweh, and he trusted in his father Avraham. In the same way that Yeshua did not want to be crucified but still trusted and lovingly obeyed His Father Yahweh in heaven.
From Avraham and Yitzhak, there are two major lessons that we can learn. From Avraham, all he wanted was a son that he could pour his love and affection into. Someone who he can pass on an inheritance to. I do not think we truly understand how much Avraham really loved Yitzhak and how important it was for a father to have a son (in this time frame) that he could pass on the family name and legacy.
Nowadays, we do not really think this way. For you, it might not be your children because you may not have any. But think to yourself of a blessing that Yahweh gave you. And what if he asked you to give it all up for Him? This is not any regular blessing. This is something that you hold deep and near to your heart. Could you do it in the same way that Avraham did?
For Avraham and Sarah, Yitzhak is the miracle child. He is the greatest blessing that Yahweh gave them in their eyes. Yet, Avraham was still willing to give all that up for Elohim. That is true love for the Creator. And Yahweh will always honor love like that for Him.
Can you love Yahweh the same way that Avraham did?
And a lesson that we can learn from Yitzhak is what it means to honor and love your parents. But even more than that, think about the childlike faith that he not only had in his father Avraham, but in Yahweh as well, when Yitzhak asks the question: “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
B’reisheet (Genesis) 22:7
7 “But Isaac spoke to Avraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
Avraham’s response is so simple. He says, “My son, Elohim will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”
B’reisheet (Genesis) 22:8
8 “And Avraham said, “My son, Elohim will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.”
Yitzhak never questioned Avraham nor Yahweh. He lovingly obeyed his father and allowed himself to be tied up and laid on the altar. What a testament to his faith, like no joke!
Yitzhak’s example lines up perfectly with what Yeshua said in Matthew chapter 18.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 18:3-5
3 “and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”
So I ask brothers and sisters, can we have faith like Yitzhak? Can we have faith like Avraham? Can we have faith like that of a child? Or are we too much like Lot? Where we want salvation in Yeshua, but we still desire the things of the world?