Thursday, November 3, 2011

parashah Lekh L'kha - Gen. 12:1 - 17:27

Parashah 3
Lekh L’kha (Get yourself out)
Genesis 12:1 - 17:27
                        Tom Duke

We as Father Abraham have been called out from our places of comfort.  Though we were comfortable where we were, it was not a place of promise.  The church, as it is constituted today is far from what it started out as.  Abraham (Abram) was called to a land of promise; likewise we are called to a land of promise - the land of obedience to His Word - His complete Word.  This would compare very favorably with the events of Genesis 12:1 - 13.
Early on we go full of hope, expectation, and perhaps even fear.  Have we counted the cost?  Sure, we want others to go with us, but perhaps that is also as some type of security blanket.  Events are bound to get difficult.  Have we counted the cost, or will we go into Egypt because there is some type of famine in our lives?
If we choose to go into Egypt, we are showing a lack of faith, our walk is away from HaShem, and it is likely that we will not be as virtuous as before.  that is somewhat like Abraham and Sarah being deceitful regarding their relationship to each other.  Sometime, not always, we still return to the Lord with more than we had before.  Of course, the true source of any gain is the Almighty One.
We return to the Lord, hopefully adding to our faith virtue and then knowledge.  The walk is one of continual progression.  There are some that are not prepared to completely return to the Lord; the ways of the world are enticing.  There is something about serving God, but not completely.  How then, can one serve God and mammon.  Of course no one can, for one will be lord over the other.  However, as Abraham showed temperance, patience, godliness, and brotherly kindness in dealing with his nephew, so should be be growing in these virtues.  Looking at Abraham, though he gave Lot first choice of land to settle, Abraham received the best of the deal, though the success was long-range.
There are times that those we love and/or are somewhat responsible for find themselves in a sticky situation.  If we are holier-than-thou we may just look at their circumstances and say, “If only...”  Again we see Abraham’s brotherly kindness kick in as he goes to rescue his nephew’s family from having been captured during a revolt.  Nothing was spared in the successful rescue.  The action was timely and fruitful.  Abraham’s charity towards his nephew knew no bounds, even though Lot did not seem to have the same commitment to the Lord that Abraham did.
Following the successful recovery Abraham blesses the Lord with the first recorded tithe.   HaShem is honored because He “hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand” (Gen. 14:19b).  However, at the same time no honor is taken from man.  Abraham is showing, as we should, and increased level of faith, virtue, and knowledge.  He is stronger than he had been at the beginning of our reading.  He has “gotten himself out” of the level of graces that he was in previously.
Abraham receives a vision form the Lord sometime later about the Lord’s faithfulness to him.  However, Abraham wonders about his heirs, of which he has none.  The Lord then takes him outside, apparently fully alert now, and confirms that abraham will have heirs of his own body.  Simply stated, Abraham believed Him.  In formalizing this verbal covenant with Abraham, the Lord instruct him to prepare 5 sacrificial offerings for the “cutting of the covenant.”  In an amazing turn of events, the Lord puts Abraham into a deep sleep and He Himself walks through the pieces and takes responsibility for the satisfaction of both parties of the covenant.  Wow!  What a blessing that is provided for those who will take hold of it.
The Lord promises, but His timing is perfect.  It seems that if we think “soon”, He is planning for “later”.  Were we to presume “later”, He seems to choose “earlier”.  No matter, our faith needs to stand the test of time - short or long.  Do we have the temperance and the patience to receive His promise, be it sooner or later?  Obviously Sarah did not, and Abraham, much like Adam with Eve, willingly walked in a path that had not been assigned.”  As a result, there have been difficulties between the two lines of Abraham from the time that Isaac, the true son of the promise, was born until today.
Nevertheless, God is always faithful.  He is the only party to have walked between the pieces, for He is determined that the covenant will be kept.  Thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael, the true covenant is renewed with Abraham and Sarah.  It will be an everlasting covenant.  The sign of the covenant is revealed to Abraham - he must circumcise himself and all of his male entourage.
Before completing His conversation with Abraham, God announces that within a year Sarah, at 90 years of age, will bear the true son of the promise!  Straitly he went to perform the sign on each of his qualifying males.
In the 24 years since Abraham had first been called by the Lord to “Get yourself out”, Abraham has grown in so many ways.  He got out of idol worship, he got out of Egypt, he got out of fearing that he would be childless, and he got out of going the wrong direction in having an heir from his loins.  As we look at the steps of growth mentioned in II Peter 1:5 - 7, we can see that Abraham’s faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity have grown immensely as he has traveled the path set before him.  We, as those called out of the “traditional church” need to be growing in our walk as well.  are we going to make mistakes - absolutely.  However, we need to continue seeking Him, for if we seek Him, He will be found, and the covenant “cut by the pieces” will certainly be fulfilled.

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