Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
reprinted by permission of FFOZ
Vayera - וירא : “And he appeared”
Torah : Genesis 18:1–22:24
Haftarah : II Kings 4:1–37
Gospel : Matthew 8–10
Abraham’s life was a life a faith, and the life of faith is a life of testing. At every juncture we are tested. Passing each test requires stubborn optimism, resolute confidence in God and steadfast obedience. Life’s problems are opportunities to prove our faith and to improve our faithfulness. We fail life’s tests when we give in to despair, lose confidence in God or turn away from obedience. Every difficulty and trial is a test of faith. Will we assess the problem through the eyes of faith or not? Will we respond in faith or faithlessness?
He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)
When God first called Abraham he said, “Go forth from your country.” The Hebrew for “go forth” is lech-lecha (לך לך). That was the first test of Abraham’s faith. Near the end of Abraham’s life, the LORD again tells Abraham, “Lech-lecha.” He commands him to bring his son Isaac to the land of Moriah. The land of Moriah is the area of Jerusalem. God tells Abraham to bring Isaac to “one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Mount Moriah is the mount on which King Solomon built the holy Temple. Abraham built his altar on the very spot where the Holy Temple would one day be built.
Abraham did not object to God’s commandment. Instead he rose early in the morning to carry out the terrible duty. Remember that he also rose early in the morning to send off Hagar and Ishmael. When we have a commandment from God, even if it seems disagreeable, we should not procrastinate.
Abraham passed the test. He demonstrated his confidence in God.
When Isaac asked about the lamb for the sacrifice, Abraham confidently replied, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8).
He demonstrated he was willing to sacrifice Isaac, even binding him, placing him on the altar and taking the knife to slaughter him. How could a loving father do this? The writer of the book of Hebrews explains:
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said [in Genesis 21:12], “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. (Hebrews 11:17–19)
Abraham believed God with such absolute faith that he did not hesitate to obey. He knew God had made promises to bless and multiply his seed through Isaac, and He knew God would keep those promises, even if He had to raise Isaac from the dead.
Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)
Abraham was sitting outside his tent during the hottest part of the day. Under the shade of a tree, he was trying to catch a little bit of breeze. He saw three strangers passing by on the road below. Despite the heat and the inconvenience, Abraham sprang up and chased them down to invite them home for a meal.
When Abraham hurried out to greet the strangers, he did not realize that they were angels. He thought they were just common wayfarers. He ran to meet them, bowed before them, greeted them and entreated them to enjoy a meal with him. His exceptional hospitality is a model for all godly people. Clement, the disciple of Peter, suggests that one of the reasons that Abraham merited the birth of Isaac was the exceptional hospitality that he showed to the mysterious visitors. Clement says, “Because of [Abraham’s] faith and hospitality, a son was given him in his old age” (1 Clement 10:7).
We should show the same enthusiastic hospitality to people who pass near our “tents.” By imitating our father Abraham, welcoming people into our homes and communities, serving them and showing them kindness, we demonstrate the love of God. We should treat each person we encounter as if it might be the LORD Himself.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)Imagine the Messiah disguising Himself as a stranger and visiting your home or your congregation. How would He be received?
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