Va‘yera> And He: Genesis 18:1 – 22:24; 2 Kings 4:1-37
Isn’t it amazing how God directs the timing of the weekly Torah reading with an actual situation going on? This was true of the war in the North this summer. Now this Shabbat when the Gay Pride Parade was set to take place today (Friday), Jews would be reading the passage on Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19! Coincidence? I don’t think so.
We read in our weekly portion about hospitality of Abraham and Sarah, as they hurried to prepare the best of the best for the three men of God who visited them in the heat of the day in Alon Mamre. This kind of extravagant hospitality is found in the Oriental nations, the Arabs, Bedouins and the Sephardic Jews. In the New Testament we read about the importance of hospitality. You never know if you are entertaining angels unaware. Never reject guests, even if they’re not welcome! Maybe they have a word from God for you!
The couple was tested again, but Sarah laughed (18:12-15). After all their human efforts had been exhausted and Sarah was 90, the supernatural could spring into action. “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” (18:14) First the flesh should die, then the LORD can function.
After the angels brought the message of hope and life, they turned their eyes on Lot’s city of Sodom and brought a message of death! Abraham as the first intercessor, tried every way to rescue this city asking the Lord if there were only 50, 45, 40, 30, 20 or 10 righteous, would he spare the city. Because God would have mercy until ten righteous person, the Jews took the minimum number of 10 worshippers during a sermon or prayer in the synagogues. Abraham in his negotiation with the Almighty was very humble and careful, saying: “I am but dust and ashes” (18:27).
Chapter 19 speaks about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but before that God called His people out as He did with Noah. He saved the family of Lot, called righteous in Philippians 2:7. God called us too out of this world, but warned us saying: “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32). Her heart was still in the lusts of the world. “Many will be called, but few will be chosen!” (Matthew 22:14)
We can still sense the spirit of Sodom in the two daughters of Lot, a spirit of immorality (verses 31-33). Or maybe it a revenge toward their father, who was ready to give them as virgins over to the wild mob? Both nations that came from Lot and his daughters, Moab and Ammon, were cursed and located as in Biblical time on the east side of the Jordan. The Jordanian capital today is called Amman!
In chapter 21, Isaac was born, meaning “he laughed,” and on the eighth day he was circumcised. Isaac is the fulfillment of a long-awaited promise of God! It teaches us a lesson – it is worth it to wait upon the LORD no matter for how long!
In chapter 22 we come to the true test of faith in Abraham’s life: To sacrifice his only son, the one he waited so long for. Abraham, without hesitation or arguing, set out the next morning with his son Isaac, obedient to God until the point of raising the knife to kill his son! Then the voice came: “Abraham, Abraham!... for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (22:12).
After this act of true faith, the Lord showered Abraham with numerous blessings. It was worthwile, to be obedient until the end! A similar scene occurred many years later on Golgotha.