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It is a valid question to ask, “What made Moses the most humble man?” (Num. 12:3) There are several answers to this question but I believe one of the paramount answers is located right here in this week’s parasha. Carefully read the following verse:

“And the L-RD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like G-d to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.”  Exodus 7:1

I am unable to find an additional verse that recounts someone being made like G-d as it is written in this verse. Moses was given extraordinary power and supernatural characteristics throughout his life. Any ordinary human, placed in a similar position, would instantly succumb to pride and arrogance. Scripture teems with examples of human corruptibility. Yet Moses, through the help of HaShem, maintained an unsurpassed humility. Does this remind you of someone? Perhaps these verses will demonstrate the similarities of the two characters.

“21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:21-24

Both Moses and Yeshua were incomprehensibly humble. At any moment Moses could have used his power and recognition to bring glory to himself, though he did not. In the rare cases when Moses transgressed G-d corrected and punished him swiftly and justly. Despite any error Moses was still endowed with title of most humble man on earth. Also, at any moment Yeshua could have used His power and recognition to destroy the naysayers and the hypocrites, though He did not. As a lamb led to slaughter He was silent and paid the debt of our sin. The parallel of humility is yet another reason why Yeshua was and is a Prophet like Moses. (Deut. 18:15, Jn. 5:46)

This week’s portion contains the first 7 plagues: the Nile turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, devastation of livestock, boils, and hail. The magicians were able to replicate each plague (which is very ironic since intelligent people would attempt to *reverse* the plague) until the passage about the plague of gnats.

“The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast.”  Exodus 8:18

This is the last attempted replication of the plagues. Once the magicians reached the limit of their facade they were left with no other choice but to acknowledge G-d’s sovereignty. (Ex. 8:19) The Hebrew word for gnats (ken) presents a potential explanation for their inability to imitate this plague. Gnats (ken) is only used 5 times in the Tanach and three of which are here in Exodus. Here are the other two verses:

“He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats (ken) throughout their country.” Psalm 105:31

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner (ken); but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.”  Isaiah 51:6

The verse in Psalms is simply a recount of the passages in Exodus, but the verse in Isaiah should appear strange. “In like manner?” The Hebrew word for “thus or like this” is kakah as used in Exodus 12:11, “In this manner you shall eat it..” The verse in Isaiah is more comprehendible if kakah is used because it would read, “and they who dwell in it will die like this.” The word ken is used deliberately. I believe it illuminates the passage in Exodus. One of the reasons the magicians could not duplicate the plague is found here in Isaiah. HaShem’s salvation will be forever and His righteousness will never be dismayed. All human attempts at competing with G-d will wear out and vanish, but His Name will be glorified by His marvelous works and His eternal salvation. There exists a limit to human ingenuity, creativity, and even sorcery, but G-d is limitless. In this parasha, even wicked necromancers recognized the sovereignty of G-d. This week, let us remember to cease from vainly striving for success through our own hands and rely solely on the assistance of our sovereign G-d.

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Let’s follow the age of Joseph since Scripture reveals many timing markers.

17 years old – Genesis 37:2

30 years old – Genesis 41:46

+7 years – (Feast) Genesis 41:47

+2 years – (Famine) Genesis 45:6

Here we can add together the timing markers and discover that Joseph is 56 years old. We also learn that Jacob is 130 years old  – Genesis 47:9 – (Therefore Jacob was about 74 when Joseph was born.)

Add 17 years – Genesis 47:28

Joseph is 73 years old and Jacob is 147 years old. At this age Jacob passes away and Joseph lives 37 more years until he is 110.

My intention is not to extrapolate a hidden truth or deep insight from the ages of Joseph and Jacob. I just wanted to record the ages we are given and fill in the rest. The revelation of many character-specific timing markers is infrequent so the ages of Jacob and Joseph must be of great importance. Is there anything in these timing markers that you found intriguing? The only thing that stood out to me is that Joseph, who we understand to be a messianic figure, becomes viceroy over all of Egypt at age 30, which is the same age Yeshua began his ministry. (Lk. 3:23)

In my opinion, the most perplexing passage thus far in the Torah has been the record of Jacob’s blessings and how they relate to the “days to come.” (Gn. 49:1) It is clear that the blessings are poetic and prophetic; however, they are complex.  Benjamin’s blessing, for example, appears unfitting. Joseph treats him better than all of his other brothers and yet he receives a blessing about being a ravenous wolf. (This could be why Joseph gave him 5 times as much food at the banquet but most scholars disagree with this speculation.) It would seem that Benjamin’s blessing is meant for the future and is not a current description.

The blessing for Dan has a unique verse at the end:

“I wait for your salvation, O L-rd.” Genesis 49:18

This verse sounds similar to:

 “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the G-d of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalms 25:5

“But as for me, I will look to the L-rd; I will wait for the G-d of my salvation; my G-d will hear me.” Micah 7:7

The placement of the verse is fascinating because it is in the midst of the blessings but it does not seem to be part of the blessing. Also, it is strategically placed in the seventh blessing. We should all know that the number seven is significant. (Think about Shabbat! G-d literally rested on the seventh day!) In this placement we see the verse is between the blessing for Dan and Gad. Where else do we read about the positioning of the tribes? Numbers chapter 2 records the positions of the tribal encampment. In Numbers we see that Dan is encamped to the North and Gad is encamped to the South. The tribe of Judah is encamped to the East, between Dan and Gad! Issachar and Zebulun are also encamped with Judah and of course the encampments to the west would be between North and South but I thought this was interesting nonetheless.

The sages say that when Rachael forfeited a night with Jacob for mandrakes she lost the right to be buried with him. Regardless of the reason, it amazing that Jacob ends up being buried with Leah! For it was through Leah that Messiah, the Lion of Judah, was born! This means that everyone in the cave at Machpelah is an ancestor of Messiah.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the L-RD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

In conclusion, ponder this amazing demonstration of G-d’s faithfulness, grace, and love:

“And Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face; and behold, G-d has let me see your offspring also.’” Genesis 48:11

We may be angry, frustrated, or discontent with our current situation. We may even question His promises, but the verse above is proof that what seems impossible to us is possible for Him. What we feel like we deserve may be significantly less then what G-d wants to give. If you obey, He will bless. That is His promise. (Deut. 30:16) G-d blessed Israel with more than he could have thought or asked (Eph. 3:20) and the same is possible for us if we walk in obedience and faith. (Deut. 11:13-15)

Lesson One: Dreams can be very significant.

Lesson Two: G-d can use whomever He pleases to reveal His plan. (ex. Balam, Pharaoh)

Lesson Three: We should always present ourselves modestly and with decency to our superiors. The Torah seemingly goes out of its way to mention that Joseph “shaved and changed his clothes” before going before Pharaoh. If Joseph prepared himself to stand in front of a pagan ruler, then how much more should we present ourselves well in the presence of a righteous authority? In short, G-d cares about our appearance.

The portion closes with a significant insight. If we acknowledge the similarities between Joseph and Messiah then something interesting emerges in verse 17 of Chapter 44:

“But he said, ‘Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.’”

This verse comes after the offer for all of the brothers to become Joseph’s slaves. Joseph’s answer is both prophetic and Messianic. He righteously and adamantly rejects the idea of all of the brothers becoming servants as it is written,

“You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.” Leviticus 25:46

Only the brother with whom the cup was found will be his servant. By specifically placing the cup in Benjamin’s sack Joseph chose him to be his servant. Is this not the biblical means by which we receive salvation? Messiah chooses us and bestows the precious gift of salvation. Similarly Benjamin did not ask for the cup nor was he pleased upon his discovery of it because it meant the beginning of laborious service. Isn’t that our attitude sometimes toward our position as His servants? We allow the intimidation of obedience to quell the praise that should be on our lips. I pray this portion serves as a vivid reminder to die to our flesh and praise the Might One of Israel for His wondrous gift of salvation. Though our walk may be difficult at times His salvation comes with a promise. Just as Benjamin, whom Joseph had called, previously underwent a name change so too do we receive a new identity in Him.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“to put off your old self,which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of G-d in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Shabbat Shalom

Have you heard the many parallels between the story of Joseph and Messiah? I particularly enjoy reading these portions about Joseph for that very reason! It is clear from the text that Joseph’s life was different. He was set apart. He was a remnant. His brother’s jealousy and hatred was fueled by their father’s exceeding love for Joseph. In addition, tension mounted after Joseph had two dreams revealing his eventual authority. Now, his brothers “hate him even more.” (Gn. 37:3) Jacob has an interesting response.

“Are we to come – I and your mother and your brothers – to bow down to you to the ground?” Genesis 37:10

By this time Rachael, Joseph’s mother, had passed away. Is Jacob referring to Leah? Bilhah? Or is he considering that Joseph’s dream will be fulfilled in Messianic Days when the dead will be raised? Was Jacob’s remark meant to be spiteful? One thing we do know is that Jacob guarded Joseph’s words. In the Hebrew of this passage it reads:

*וַיְקַנְאוּ־בֹו אֶחָיו וְאָבִיו *שָׁמַר אֶת־הַדָּבָֽר

shamar et-hadavar

Shamar – to guard

Davar – word

Jacob knew his son well. He knows that Joseph is highly favored and that he would not intentionally dishonor his parents.  Even though Jacob rebukes Joseph he “kept the matter in mind.” Well what happens later? Does the dream come to pass?

“And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.” Genesis 42:6

“And he said, ‘Swear to me’: and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.” Genesis 47:31

This still leaves out Rachael, but perhaps the dream’s interpretation was meant differently. One possibility was that Joseph’s dream was a foreshadowing of his entire family’s dependence on him in the future. Through G-d’s wisdom Joseph stored up enough food in preparation for the famine and Scripture records the following:

“And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their dependents.” Genesis 47:12

Also, the “11 stars” which represent his brothers remind me of the promise of Abraham’s descendants. The provision from G-d through Joseph sustained the lineage of Jacob! Joseph’s obedience to G-d literally saves the entire house of Israel. Hopefully this sheds more light on the interpretation of Joseph’s dream.

Why is it that when Judah hears about his daughter-in-law Tamar’s immorality that he tells them to burn her? The only two places in the Torah that I could find where we are commanded to burn someone are as follows:

“If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you.” Leviticus 20:14

“And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.” Leviticus 21:9

I rule the first one out because chapter 38 describes G-d’s destruction of the immoral brothers. If Judah’s wife was Tamar’s mother than I think Judah should have been killed as well, just like his sons. By the way, when the L-rd puts someone to death, there is no speculation. Everyone knows the cause of death. Here, I am leaning toward the parallels of the second verse about the “daughter of a priest.” Would it be amazing if Tamar was the daughter of a priest? We see clearly that Tamar’s son Perez is a part of Yeshua’s genealogy and that would mean priestly blood would have been in the lineage of Yeshua. Yes, you are right! Even if this was so it wouldn’t be of the line of Levi. What other priesthood is there? Melchizedek. In Hebrews 7 it is clear that Yeshua isn’t associated with the earthly priesthood through Aaron:

14For it is evident that our L-rd was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.”

I am not suggesting Tamar’s father was literally a descendant of Melchizedek. The Bible doesn’t mention anything about Melchizedek having children. So what does it all mean? Judah declared the same punishment for Tamar as merits the wayward daughter of a priest as later revealed in the Torah. Perhaps this was all a foreshadowing to Yeshua being “a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Ps. 110:4) Mere speculation but very mysterious nonetheless.

On the subject of Tamar and her son Perez, there is a wonderful parallel to Yeshua! Perez’s name means breech and Zerah’s name means rising. Perez, not Zerah continues the line to David and the eventually to Yeshua.

 “..and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,..” Matthew 1:3

In the story, Zerah tries to come out of the womb first, striving fervently to achieve firstborn status, but Perez ultimately breeches and is born first, just as Yeshua is firstborn. (Lk. 2:7) This reminded me of the occurrences prophesied for the eventual war between Messiah and the anti-messiah.

24His power shall be great— but not by his own power; and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints. 25By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand.” Daniel 8:24-25

Though he “rises” up against G-d’s firstborn, he will be broken. And we will be able to recognize him because he will bear the scarlet thread of sin. Lawlessness is proof of his identity and his deceitful intentions. Be not deceived and hold fast to the Word of G-d. (Pr. 4:4) Repent (Mt. 3:2) and put your faith in Messiah Yeshua who alone is eternal life. (1 Jn. 5:11)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the L-RD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” Jeremiah 33:14

The first interesting point in this week’s parasha is the puzzling name for the parasha chosen by the Sages. Chayei Sarah translates to “Life of Sarah” but the first part of the portion is about Sarah’s death and burial. The intention here, if I understand it correctly, is to demonstrate the legacy of Sarah. Even though she has passed away we see the influence of her life on Isaac as he takes Rebecca as a bride, Abraham as he sends away the “concubine-children” [Gen. 25:6] from Isaac just like Ishmael, and Ishmael himself as he comes back to fulfill the mitzvah of burying his father.

“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitudes – innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:11-13

In parasha Chayei Sarah we see the progressive fulfillment of the promises given to Abraham and Sarah. These promises continue even to this day. Though their lives ended HaShem’s promises are amaranthine. We can learn from how Abraham and Sarah lived out their faith. Yes, Sarah lived to see her promised son Isaac born but she did not live to see kings of peoples rise from her. [Gen. 17:16] Abraham lived to see G-d do as He promised to Sodom and Gomorrah but he did not live to see his offspring become increased like the stars in the heavens. [Gen. 22:17] Nevertheless they feared G-d and obeyed His every word. Even so, we may not live to see the second coming of Yeshua but we should, by faith, live as though it were today. If you knew Yeshua was coming back today, how would that change your walk?

Other interesting concepts in this week’s parasha are the similarities between Abraham and his brother Nahor’s family despite the physical distance. In regard to hospitality both entreat their guests to stay, wash their feet, and provide food. We know this of Abraham from last week’s parasha and we know this of Nahor’s son and grandson here:

“He said, ‘Come, O blessed of HaShem! Why should you stand outside when I have cleared the house and place for the camels?’ 32 So the man entered the house, and unmuzzled the camels. He gave straw and feed for the camels, and water to bathe his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 Food was set before him, but he said, ‘I will not eat until I have spoken my piece.’” Genesis 24:31-33

It appears that hospitality was a defining characteristic in Abraham’s family. Was Terah the person who inculcated generous hospitality? It would seem so since we read accounts of Abraham’s hospitality [Terah’s son], Lot’s hospitality [Terah’s grandson], and Laban’s hospitality [Terah’s great grandson]. Here we have a beautiful example of generational faithfulness specifically relating to hospitality.

Here is another similarity between Abraham and Nahor’s family in regard to blessing:

[Laban and his Mother to Rebecca] “They blessed Rebecca and said to her, ‘Our sister, may you come to be thousands of myriads, and may your offspring inherit the gate of its foes.’” Genesis 24:60

[G-d to Abraham] “that I shall surely bless you and greatly increase your offspring like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy.” Genesis 22:17

Did Abraham’s family know the blessing G-d gave him after the binding of Isaac? Either way the blessing given to Rebecca was prophetic. My intention for highlighting similarities between both families is to emphasize the importance of the biblical selection process for a spouse.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

Abraham knew the importance of Isaac finding a virtuous woman which is why he forced his servant to take such a strong oath.

“And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh,” Genesis 24:2

Interestingly enough the word here for thigh is יְרֵכִֽי which can also be understood as loins or related to the word for descendants as it is in this verse:

“All the descendants of Jacob [ יֶֽרֶךְ־יַעֲקֹב ] were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt.” Exodus 1:5

It was as if Abraham was swearing an oath on his descendants! In other words, Abraham declared that the fulfillment of the oath [finding a wife for Isaac from his country and his family] was directly related to the fulfillment of G-d’s promise of innumerable descendants! Both were dependent on G-d. Abraham’s servant realized this which is why he relied solely on G-d for the success of the quest. Finding a righteous wife was an essential ingredient for generational faithfulness and the servant used a revealing test. Would this beautiful young woman willingly demonstrate righteousness and love beyond what is requested? Rebecca completed the challenge and agreed to be Isaac’s wife.

Too often marriages are formed based on emotion. Marriage is too important to rely on ourselves. This passage in Genesis is just one of the many places where G-d reveals His process for selecting a spouse. Notice the important traits of Rebecca: Generous, loving, obedient, pure, beautiful, AND she demonstrated these characteristics before she knew someone was even interested in her! When these traits are faked or they manifest themselves during the “in love” euphoria it is easy to fall prey to the call of the siren. Brothers and sisters, I implore you to heed the wise words from the Song of Solomon and “..not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” [Song of Solomon 2:7] We have been promised that our inclusion of G-d and stringent selection criterion will evoke blessing.

Shalom.

This week we see a very important portion, especially in Judaism. In my opinion, Genesis 22:1-19 is one of the most difficult of all the trials Abraham faced. Here he is asked to offer his only son, whom he loves, as an offering. This whole passage contains messianic foreshadowing of Yeshua’s ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.  Some of the parallels include; Isaac being the “only son, whom you love” and Yeshua being G-d’s only Son; both being offered as an offering upon G-d’s request; the wood, which was the source of death since it sustained the fire, was placed on Isaac and he carried it up the mountain just as Yeshua carried the wooden cross up the hill; both Isaac and Yeshua had the faith to walk out their father’s will; and so on.

In Parasha Vayera we see yet another fascinating parallel between Isaac and Yeshua. In the last portion G-d commands Abraham,

“You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. At the age of eight days every male among you shall be circumcised, throughout your generations..” Genesis 17:11-12

Sure enough Abraham’s “only son, whom you love”, Isaac, is miraculously born and circumcised on the eighth day. Not only was Isaac promised to Sarah and Abraham just as Yeshua was promised to Mary and Joseph, but both mothers gave birth despite the physical impossibility. It is just as impossible for a woman without a menstrual cycle to give birth as it is for a virgin to give birth. It appears that Isaac is the first male to be circumcised on the eighth day. Ishmael was thirteen and there isn’t any indication that the people in Abraham’s household had just been born. Why is this significant? Because Isaac is the first child to fulfill the entire commandment of circumcision. Yeshua also fulfilled this commandment in its entirety by being circumcised on the eighth day.

“And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” Luke 2:21

There are even similarities in the outcome of the sacrifices of Isaac and Yeshua. The writer of Hebrew’s mentions,

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that G-d was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” Hebrews 11:17-19

Which sounds similar to,

“When Abraham bound his son Isaac on the altar, and slew him and burned him, (the lad) was reduced to ashes, and his ashes were scattered on Mount Moriah; then the Holy One, blessed be He, brought down life-giving dew and revived him […] See S. Spiegel in the Abraham Weiss Jubilee Volume (New York, 1964), pp. 553-566.]1 (emphasis mine)

Also, we know that Yeshua died and rose from the dead. However, the difference between Yeshua and Isaac is the most important part. Yeshua was, is and always will be G-d. His precious blood provided eternal atonement and it is through Him that we may be grafted in to Israel His bride. It is our responsibility to read the Apostolic Scriptures through the lens of the Tanach. In regards to Yeshua, those who believed recognized Him from Scripture. They saw the prophecies being lived out. They saw the messianic references in the Tanach come alive before their eyes. We may not have the incredible honor and privilege of walking physically with Yeshua, but as He said in John 20:29,

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

Shabbat Shalom!

 


1 Courtesy of Curious Jew blog. Cambridge University Library manuscript (Or. 1080, Box I: 48), of the Midrash on Shibbole ha-Leket
http://curiousjew.blogspot.com/2007/01/isaac-died-alternative-version-of.html

Each week there are endless lessons and individual studies that can be gleaned from the portion. For instance, was it right for Abram to instruct his wife to lie to Pharaoh? What was the “severe plague?” What was a “bitumen pit” and why was it significant to mention them?

This week, however, my focus is discussing a lesson about walking in faith and humility.

Abram noticed the strife between his herdsmen and his nephew’s herdsmen. The potential cause of this dissention may be found in proceeding verses where we learn Abram was “very laden with livestock, silver, and gold” [Gen. 13:2] and Lot only had “flocks, cattle, and tents.” Perhaps scripture mentions Abram’s wealth because he was able to pay his herdsmen and Lot was unable to do the same. However the strife could have simply been caused by the struggle to maintain separation between Abram’s livestock and Lot’s livestock. After all, “the land could not support them dwelling together..” [Gen. 13:5]

Regardless, in order to resolve the issue Abram humbly proclaims that Lot may decide where he would like to settle and Abram will dwell opposite his choice. What a guy! We just read about the severe famine in the land so it wasn’t as if all the land around them was inhabitable. It was possible that Abram may have ended up in a harsh, deserted part of the land. Nevertheless, Abram selflessly humbled himself and gave Lot the amazing opportunity to settle anywhere. Lot’s decision is significant.

“So Lot raised his eyes and saw the entire plain of the Jordan that it was well watered everywhere – before HaShem destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – like the garden (גַּן) of HaShem, like the land of Egypt, going toward Zoar.” Genesis 13:10

Here we see several reasons for Lot’s choice. The land:
• was flourishing and well watered.
• was in close proximity to the large, wealthy city of Sodom.
• resembled the Garden of Eden (בְגַן־עֵדֶן). (most likely because it was the most lush and fertile region they had seen thus far)
• resembled Egypt. (most likely because of the immense wealth of the city)

Lot’s choice was completely selfish, lazy and self-serving.  It is no mistake that scripture mentions the Garden of Eden. Lot would have certainly known the story of Creation and here he disgracefully compares a plain to the Garden of Eden AND Egypt.  I believe that was an insult. He draws a comparison between something holy and common. In addition, he chose a land that appeared to require little to no work since it was well watered and also a land close to cities in which he could easily acquire any earthly possession. He heeded the call of fleshly lusts and desires. In fact, Lot ends up dwelling in Sodom!  The very epitome of wickedness and sin! I am reminded here of the verses,

“The L-RD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.” Psalm 147:6

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12

The L-RD indeed supported Abram and blessed him. The land in which Abram dwelled at that point, the land of Canaan, is the Promised Land! Here we read a demonstration of G-d’s ability to use any situation, even the wicked decisions of men, to accomplish His will. We also see the fulfillment of G-d’s just words in regards to humble and wicked people. Abram did humble himself and he received blessing and victory. However Lot exalted himself and received shameful incarceration.

Abram had faith that G-d would provide for and sustain him in any part of the land. He knew that G-d would never leave him nor forsake him. Abram walked out that faith in bestowing to Lot the ultimate choice of dwelling place. Also in this portion we see Abram’s humble decisions to put his life and the lives of his disciples at risk by rallying to rescue Lot and refusing wealth from the king of Sodom. May we be able to refuse wealth and self gratification for the sake of G-d’s glory. May we be willing to not “stand idly by the blood of our fellow” and rescue those who are in distress. Trust in the L-rd this day for His plan is perfect. Be encouraged and follow Abram’s example!

Intro:
Several months ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with a dear friend of mine who I have known for over 12 years. Although our relationship started out as a family friendship it eventually led to our family attending their church – he is a pastor.

We were called out of the church about 3 ½ years ago to start an incredibly exciting journey which will not end – and actually seems like it only just began. I had recently been trying to share with him the truths that G-d had revealed to us over this short time by extending an invitation to attend a study in our home but he declined.

He did, however, accept an invitation to lunch to celebrate his birthday – as is our custom. I had intended to discuss, at least to some degree, our recent experiences and encourage him to look further and find the truth that has been covered from “our” eyes for nearly two thousand years. “G-d is calling His people back to Torah”….this most excellent news was answered with grave concern spread across his face. My friend’s concern was primarily regarding my relationship with Jesus Christ and I assured him that this was not a salvation issue but a sanctification issue.

He agreed to continue a discussion over email exchange as best that our schedules would allow…and so begins what I would like to share with you: “Thoughts from lunch”. This will be a short series of exchanges (there is a total of 2 emails from him and 2 responses from me) between the two of us that I have found challenging. I will post his emails for your review and practice on how you may have responded. Every few days I will post the next exchange.

Below (the first email) is my friend responding to my explanation of how we are to live out our faith.

Email Subject: Thoughts from lunch (#1)

“Hey Brother, Thank you for the lunch. I am glad we had a chance to share our hearts with one another. We are family in Jesus Christ. I was concerned, however, about some of your statements about the new covenant and what it means to live under the new covenant. My concerns come from the Book of Hebrews, especially Hebrews 8:6-13, Hebrews 9:10, and Hebrews 10:9-10. Hebrews 8:13 uses the word obsolete in the NKJV. In Strong’s Concordance it is number 3822 in the dictionary in the back. The word means to make or become worn out, to declare obsolete. That is a strong statement about the old covenant. We can talk more after you study it out. Thanks again for the lunch.”

A new Torah portion cycle has begun. Now is the time to undertake a thorough study regimen and incorporate more application of the Torah then the previous year. I encourage you to post your thoughts, comments, and questions so we all may grow together. Iron sharpens iron gentlemen. Listed below are a few questions to ask yourself with each parasha [portion] in order to enhance basic Torah comprehension.

  • How can I apply these principles/examples in my own life?
  • Am I obeying these commandments? If not, how do I start?
  • Where is a mention or illusion to Messiah?
  • Does this passage parallel another in the Tanach?

The Torah is the foundation of our faith and the foundation of life. It is HaShem’s instruction manual for all humanity. All other laws and principles should originate from the Torah. Unfortunately, society and government have veered far from Torah, but as men we have the responsibility to live obediently and raise a Torah-observant family. As leaders and as fathers, our decisions should be based on the immutable Torah. Our authority is bestowed from HaShem and His instructions which aggrandizes the importance of study and application.

Purpose to study, learn, and apply during this parasha [portion] cycle. If you encounter a confusing passage and/or have a question about something please post your question and someone will respond. Torah discussion is the goal of this blog and I encourage you to participate.

1 “You shall therefore love the L-RD your G-d and keep His charge, His statutes, His rules, and His commandments always.” Devarim [Deuteronomy] 11:1

11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” Devarim [Deuteronomy] 30:11-14

6 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Devarim [Deuteronomy] 6:6-7

by tzadikguy

“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is like your own soul will entice you secretly, saying, “Let us go and worship the gods of others” – that you did not know, you or your forefathers, from the gods of the peoples that are all around you, those near to you or those far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth – you shall not accede to him and not hearken to him; your eye shall not take pity on him, you shall not be compassionate nor conceal him. Rather, you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be the first against him to kill him, and the hand of the entire people afterwards.” Deuteronomy 13:7-10

G-d is a Holy G-d. He is the one and only. Serving other gods is a sin worthy of death. HaShem commands us to literally kill the person that commits such a heinous sin. Although, there is something interesting about this passage. Notice in the list of potential seducers there is no mention of a father and/or mother. The reason is the mitzvah [command] “honor your father and mother” takes precedence in this situation. A father and mother are to be honored and respected forever. According to this verse a child is never allowed to kill or even strike his/her mother or father even if the parents force the child to serve other gods. HaShem states in Exodus 21:

15“Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.”

17“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.”

In verse 17, the word “curses” in the Septuagint is reviles which Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines as “to subject to verbal abuse”. Dishonor and disrespect occur through our attitudes, our actions, and even our words. We are called to always bring honor to our parents even when it is difficult; even when our parents force us to serve other gods. Why is this so? I believe the relationship between parents and children is an earthly reflection of the relationship between us and G-d. The Bible describes G-d as “Father” in several instances. “So now, HaShem, You are our Father. We are the clay and You are our Potter, and we are all Your handiwork.” Isaiah 64:8 Just as G-d created man, a husband and wife create a child. In a Biblical marriage, G-d is a crucial part of the relationship, and when we dishonor our father and mother, we are dishonoring G-d.

In the extreme case where a person’s parents actually force them to worship foreign gods an appeal can be made in a respectful and honorable way. A great guide to presenting wise appeals is found in Dr. Gothard’s The Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar: Seminar Workbook.

  1. Check out attitudes
  2. Clear our consciences
  3. Discern basic intentions
  4. Design a creative alternative
  5. Appeal to our authority
  6. Give G-d time to change their minds

If the parents still enforce idol worship after the appeal then the child is obligated to honor his/her parents’ demand. HaShem spoke and said, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the L-RD your G-d is giving you.”1 When we honor and respect our parents HaShem promises a long life. This is one of the few mitzvot [commandments] that is accompanied by a promise. We should not do what is right in our own eyes and dishonor our parents through disobedience. Who are we to say to G-d, “I don’t think that is right so I am not going to do that.”? Our mortal minds cannot understand HaShem’s plan or purpose. Therefore we must be obedient to His Torah. Similarly, we do not understand why our parents would force us to disobey HaShem but we must honor and respect them as our authority. Parents will be accountable one day for all actions, but it is not our place to dishonor or curse our parents.

__________________
1Exodus 20:12

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