Parashah 3: Lekh L'kha “Get yourself [out]”
B'resheet “in the beginning” (Genesis) 12:1-17:27 Psalm 110
Yesha'yahu “Yah has saved” (Isaiah) 40:27-41:16 Romans 4:1-25
1 Now Adonai said to Avram, “Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father's house, and go to the land the I will show you.
If we are not careful we can read “Adonai” so often that it becomes just another name. A name of G-d, yes, but just a name.
Adōn [אָדוֹן] means “L-RD,” or “master” (with or without a capitol letter; without referring to a human being, with a capital 'L' or 'M' referring to G-d). The 'i' at the end of a Hebrew word makes it a personal possessive, so adoni refers to my lord and / or my master.
Adonai, however, refers specifically to the L-RD and is most often a substitution for יהוה, (the tetragrammaton: the holy name of G-d,) which is multifaceted and very inclusive. Every other name and title ascribed to the L-RD may be said to be a facet of Who He is, an aspect of His being, e.g.:
Sovereign Omniscient (All-Knowing) Omnipresent (Ever-present)
Righteous Omnipotent (All-Powerful) All-Seeing
Holy Pure Just Loving
Merciful our Provider Eternal our Healer
our Shepherd our Banner King our Protector
Master our Redeemer L-rd our Fortress
…. and the list goes on, and on, and on ….....
The calling of G-d on an individual often involves physical movement, but it is primarily spiritual. We must be willing to let go of things, culture, people, plans, etc., etc., that may slow us down, or even stop us, from moving on with the L-RD.
Sometimes our Master will have us leave [whatever] for a time and then return to share His love and character with others there.
Sometimes He calls us to leave and never go back; both for our own good, as well as an encouragement to others who may be looking for a way out.
Either way, it is His prerogative. We call Him L-RD and Master (which is what Adonai means), but is He really? Am I really His servant, or am I trying to tell G-d what to do?
2 I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
This is the Sovereign, Eternal, All-Knowing, L-RD G-d of All Who is talking.
By His own will, knowledge, and choice He chose Avram, to work in and through his life and to establish this covenant with him.
In Hebrew there are two words used for “nation” or “people”: גוֹי [goi] and עַם [ahm]. The typical distinction being that עַם is used to refer to the “chosen people,” the people of Israel, and גוֹי is used for the nations in general, the pagans.
One of the indications that this covenant and blessing is open to all who will call on the name of the L-RD by faith in Yeshua (cf Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, Rom. 10:13, and Acts 2:38, Gal. 3:29) is that
G-d says He will make of Avram a great nation: a great גוֹי, and
“... by you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
“by” here being בְךָ [veh-kha] meaning: according to, among, at, because (of), before, by, for, in, near, on, to, toward, when, with, within
“Supernatural or Just Remarkable?” is a wonderful, thought provoking booklet, that examines how G-d has been involved in fulfilling this promise throughout history through the Jewish people around the world. It is available through Heart of G-d Ministries at http://heartofg-d.org/ministries/outreach-in-israel/ (accessed 19 Oct 15)
4 So Avram went, as Adonai had said to him, and Lot went with him. Avram was 75 years old when he left Haran. 5 Avram took his wife Sarai, his brother's son Lot, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, as well as the people they had acquired in Harah; then they set out for the land of Kena'an and entered the land of Kena'an.
Hmm. Looks like he did, but he didn't, and it caused him heartache later. Sarai was his wife, but Lot was his nephew – a kinsman (see Gen 13:8).
We need to be careful to obey all the L-RD tells us to do.
If we are traveling from point “A” to point “B” and the distance is one kilometer, and we are one degree off from our heading, it does not present much of a problem. But if the distance is 3,000 kilometers and we are one degree off, we will never reach our intended destination.
Youth minister, illusionist, and motivational speaker Danny Ray writes:
It’s amazing how being one degree off course significantly changes your destination. One degree off doesn’t seem like that big of a deal when you first start out. After all, there will be plenty of time to make course corrections, right? However, the further you get down the road, the further you deviate from logistically running your race to your intended destination. Attaining your goals and dreams is never a straight path, but anything that gets you off course, even a little bit, can have a momentous impact on your life.
If a pilot gets off course by just one degree, he will find himself 92 feet away from his target for every mile he flies. That means, for every 60 miles of travel, being just one degree off course will result in missing the mark by a mile. Doesn’t seem like much? Well, if you were traveling from New York City to Los Angeles and you were off by just one degree, your plane would land about 50 miles off course near San Diego. From Los Angeles to Paris, your plane would miss its mark by over 100 miles—I hope your German is as good as your French! With one degree of variation, your itinerary is rendered useless.
In this case, what’s true of airplane navigation is also true as you navigate through life. When you run your race, if you are just one degree off of your target, you miss out on being who you were made to be and doing what you were made to do. You must adopt a mentality that doesn’t settle for “close enough” when it comes to your life goals and dreams. What would it look like if you were so determined to run your race that you always stayed on course? What if you made decisions that fit your plan, fit your goals, and always led to your chosen destination? What if you made a point to arrive on time, leave on time and get to the places where you need to be? Now, of course, there are unexpected stops at times—a phone call from a doctor, an e-mail saying “the deal” didn’t go through, etc.—but these are stops along our path, not reasons to get off course.
Run Your Race. Never give up. Follow through on your commitments. Stick to the plan that leads you to where you are supposed to be! Don’t lose your passion. Don’t lose your focus. Don’t lose your race. Stay on course. Don’t stray off course, even by one degree! (http://dannyray.tv/2012/06/25/off-course/, accessed 19 Oct 15)
If one digit off on a phone number equals a wrong number, is being one aspect off on obedience equal to disobedience?
Avram was 75 years old when he headed out.
G-d's timing is perfect, regardless of our chronological age.
6 Avram pass through the land to the place called Sh'khem, to the oak of Moreh. The Kena'ani were then in the land.
In Hebrew, as in many languages, names have meanings; those meanings may teach us
אַבְרָם [Avram] = “high - ” or “exalted father”
שְׁכֶם [Sheh-khehm] = “back” or “shoulder” (as in a ridge, but it also reminds us of work, e.g. “put your back into it,” or “shoulder your responsibility”)
מוֹרֶה [Mo-reh] = “archer” or “teacher” (as in hitting the mark, and helping others do so)
A כְּנַעֲנִי [Kena'ani (Canaanite)] is an inhabitant of Kena'an (Canaan) which means “lowland,” but also “merchant, trader” (probably because the Via Maris [Way of the Sea] a major trade route ran the length of the country).
Along with the historical narrative, this verse also reminds us that
if we want to remain “high” or “exalted” in our walk with the L-RD,
we need to move beyond any kind of works mentality and
allow the L-RD to teach us; allow the L-RD to help us hit the mark, and then pass those lessons on to others (cf Deut 6:4-7; 2 Tim 2:2);
all the while being aware of whatever wares the world around us may be trying to sell us that would bring us low.
7 Adonai appeared to Avram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to Adonai, who had appeared to him.
יהוה appeared to Avram: a theophany many believe to be the pre-incarnate Messiah
A theophany is a visible manifestation of G-d in human form to mankind. A Christophany is a similar appearance of Christ in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures / Old Testament). An angelophany is a like appearance of an angel.
“Messiah” comes for the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ [mah-shiy-akh], “Christ” from the Greek Χριστός [khris-tos], both meaning “anointed one,” a title often applied specifically to the Redeemer / Savior sent by G-d (sometimes to kings, rulers)
He built an altar: the purpose of an altar is to worship, a natural response to an encounter with G-d
we praise the L-RD for what He does
we worship Him for Who He is
8 He left that place, went to the hill east of Beit-El and pitched his tent. With Beit-El to the west and 'Ai to the east, he built an altar there and called on the name of Adonai. 9 Then Avram traveled on, continuing toward the Negev.
• Beit-El (בֵּית־אֵל) means “house of G-d”
• 'Ai (עַי) means “heap of ruins”
◦ Often we find ourselves somewhere between the “house of G-d” and the “heap of ruins,” but even there we can call on the name of the L-RD.
• Negev (נֶגֶב) means “south” or “south-country”
10 But there was a famine in the land, so Avram went down into Egypt to stay there, because the famine in the land was severe.
There is no indication that the L-RD told Avram to go into Egypt, and this caused problems later; problems that continue today.
No matter how things may look to our natural eyes, we need to seek G-d's direction and His wisdom.
G-d had just been moving and blessing. The next thing recorded is a severe famine.
Everything of value, everything of worth (especially great worth) will be tested by trial and / or fire, e.g.
There is a struggle in learning any language, but diligence and perseverance can pay great dividends.
Raw ore must be mined and go through the fire for the silver or gold to be purified.
The dark growth rings in a tree indicate times of want and / or struggle, whereas the wider and lighter colored rings indicate times of plenty and rapid growth. It is the dark rings, however, that give the tree the strength to withstand the storms and struggles of life.
We were told by some friends that in the dessert of the Middle East, if someone sees a new plant breaking through the ground, they will take a large rock and put it right on top of it. That forces the plant to grow deeper roots and grow strong in order to push the rock aside or grow around it.
11 When he came close to Egypt and was about to enter, he said to Sarai his wife, “Here now, I know that you are a good-looking woman; 12 so that when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife,' and kill me but keep you alive. 13 Please say that you are my sister, so that it will go well with me for your sake, and so that I will stay alive because of you.”
Fear leads to telling a half-truth (cf Gen. 20:12), which leads to
great plagues on Pharaoh and his household (v. 17), which leads to
them being sent out (v. 20) with Egyptian livestock and servants (v. 16), which leads to
Avram fathering a child with Hagar (Gen. 16), mother of Yishma'el (Ishmael), which leads to problems down through the ages
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Pro 14:12)
Trust in the L-RD will all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. (Pro 3:5-6)
“direct” here comes from the Hebrew word יָשַׁר [yah-shar] meaning:
Strong's: to be straight or even; figuratively, to be (causatively, to make) right, pleasant, prosperous
BDB: (here in the Piel imperfect) to make right, to make smooth, to make straight; to lead, direct, to lead straight along; to esteem right, to approve
1 Avram went up from Egypt – he, his wife and everything he had, and Lot with him – into the Negev. 2 Avram became wealthy, with much cattle, silver and gold. 3 As he went on his travels from the Negev, he came to Beit-El, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beit-El and 'Ai, 4 where he had first built the altar; and there Avram called on the name of Adonai.
When things go awry it is good to go back (at least mentally and in prayer) to where we last know we heard from the L-RD.
5 Lot, who was traveling with Avram, also had flocks, herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support their living together, because their possessions were too great for them to remain together.
• G-d blessing Avram prospered those with him.
• G-d had blessed Avram (and because of him, Lot too) that the land could not support their combined flocks and herds: they had to separate.
7 Moreover, quarreling arose between Avram's and Lot's herdsmen. The Kena'ani and the P'rizi were then living in the land.
• Proximity can breed contempt, especially when accompanied by hardship or want.
◦ We need to prayerfully work together to accomplish goals, dreams and visions.
• As humans, we tend toward despising what we feel we are “stuck with” but tend to appreciate what we feel we are “blessed with.”
◦ The French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/antoinedes154901.html, accessed 07Nov16)
8 Avram said to Lot, “Please, let's not have quarreling between me and you, or between my herdsmen and yours, since we're kinsmen. 9 Isn't the whole land there in front of you? Please separate yourself from me – if you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left.
• This gives us a look into the heart of Avram, looking for peace, amicable solutions and the wellbeing of others.
10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Yarden was well watered everywhere, before Adonai destroyed S'dom and 'Amora, like the garden of Adonai, like the land of Egypt in the direction of Tzo'ar. 11 So Lot chose all the plain of the Yarden for himself, and Lot traveled eastward; thus they separated themselves from each other. 12 Avram lived in the land of Kena'an; and Lot lived in the cities of the plain, setting up his tent near S'dom.
• Even today parts of the plain of the Yarden look well watered, but the vegetation will not support flocks and herds.
◦ What looks good at a distance doesn't always prove to be so good on close inspection.
◦ Before making a life-altering decision, get the facts … and pray!
• When Lot separated from Avram, he also separated himself from the blessings G-d had given to Avram.
◦ Living in fellowship with the L-RD through Yeshua is vital, but living in fellowship with His people is what helps to guide, encourage, comfort, correct, balance, and bless our lives as we seek to serve Him together.
▪ To burrow Rabbi Sha'ul's illustration from 1 Corinthians 12, being connected to our Head is vital to life, but living with all the parts of the body working together in harmony is also important.
13 Now the men of S'dom were evil, committing great sins against Adonai.
• Ultimately, every sin we commit is against the L-RD.
• G-d is gracious and slow to anger, but His holiness demands righteous judgement.
◦ Biblical history is replete with His Word, warnings and judgements. G-d help us, as individuals, couples, families, societies and nations to eschew His judgements and warnings by obeying His Word.
14 Adonai said to Avram, after Lot had moved away from him, “Look all around you from where you are, to the north, the south, the east and the west. 15 All the land you see I will give to you and your descendants forever, 16 and I will make your descendants as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth – so that if a person can count the specks of dust on the earth, then your descendants can be counted. 17 Get up and walk through the length and breadth of the land, because I will give it to you.”
• Interesting that the Scriptures make a point of saying that the L-RD told Avram these things “after Lot had moved away from him.”
• G-d forever gave the land to Avram and his children according to the covenant, cf:
◦ Gen. 17:19 … Yitz'chak … I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
◦ Gen. 26:24 Adonai appeared to him [Yitz'chak] that same night and said, “I am the G-d of Avraham your father. Don't be afraid, because I am with you; I will bless you and increase your descendants for the sake of my servant Avraham.”
◦ Gen. 35:10 G-d said to him, “Your name is Ya'akov, but you will be called Ya'akov no longer; you name will be Isra'el.” Thus he named him Isra'el. 11 G-d further said to him, “I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed a group of nations, will come from you; kings will be descended from you. 12 Moreover, the land which I gave to Avraham and Yitz'chak I will give to you, and I will give the land to your descendants after you.”
18 Avram moved his tent and came to live by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hevron. There he built an altar to Adonai.
• Mamre (meaning “lusty,” “strength” or “fatness”) was an Emori / Amorite (Gen 14:13, 24) who lived in Hevron (Hebron) which means “association.”
1 When Amrafel was king of Shin'ar, Aryokh king of Elasar, K'dorla'omer king of 'Elam and Tid'al king of Goyim; 2 they made war together against Bera king of S'dom and against Birsha king of 'Amora, Shin'av king of Admah, Shem'ever king of Tzvoyim, and the king of Bela (which is the same as Tzo'ar).
• In reading parts of Scripture many are tempted to gloss over verses like this dealing with names of people and places, but
◦ verses like these keep the biblical narrative in its historical context;
◦ help us to remember that these are documents are talking about real people, involved in real life events; and
◦ prove the historical reliability of the uniquely inspired Word of G-d.
▪ Though not dealing with this particular list of names, Robert Dick Wilson's brilliant observations, prove the veracity and trustworthiness of the Old Testament Scriptures:
In 144 cases of transliteration from Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Moabite into Hebrew and in 40 cases of the opposite, or 184 in all, the evidence shows that for 2300 to 3900 years the text of the proper names in the Hebrew Bible has been transmitted with the most minute accuracy. That the original scribes should have written them with such close conformity to correct philological principles is a wonderful proof of their thorough care and scholarship; further, that the Hebrew text should have been transmitted by copyists through so many centuries is a phenomenon unequaled in the history of literature. [Wilson adds that] There are about forty of these kings living from 2000 B.C. to 400 B.C. Each appears in chronological order ... with reference to the kings of the same country and with respect to the kings of other countries ... no stronger evidence for the substantial accuracy of the Old Testament records could possibly be imagined, than this collection of kings. (Wilson, Robert Dick, A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, (Chicago; Moody Press, 1959), p. 71, 74-75.)
Mathematically, it is one chance in 750,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 that this accuracy is mere circumstance. (McDowell, Josh, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, (San Bernardino, CA; Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972), p. 58.)
• 750 sexillion, 75 x 10 22 : in ten billion years of supposed evolutionary time there has only been 1018 seconds!
◦ As a student in seminary [Wilson] would read the New Testament in nine different languages, including a Hebrew translation which he had memorized syllable for syllable! Wilson also memorized large portions of the Old Testament in the original Hebrew. Incredible as it may seem, Robert Dick Wilson mastered forty-five languages and dialects. …
Dr. Wilson commented on his scholastic achievements, relating why he devoted himself to such a monumental task: “Most of our students used to go to Germany, and they heard professors give lectures which were the results of their own labors. The students took everything because the professor said it. I went there to study so that there would be no professor on earth that could lay down the law for me, or say anything without my being able to investigate the evidence on which he said it.
“Now I consider that what was necessary in order to investigate the evidence was, first of all, to know the languages in which the evidence is given So I … determined that I would learn all the languages that throw light upon the Hebrew, and also the languages into which the Bible had been translated down to 600 A.D., so that I could investigate the text myself.
“Having done this I claim to be an expert. I defy any man to make an attack upon the Old Testament on the ground of evidence that I cannot investigate. I can get at the facts if they are linguistic. If you know any language that I do not know, I will learn it.” (Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Answers to Tough Questions Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith, (Wheaton, IL; Living Books, Tyndale House, 1980), dedication page.)
3 All the latter kings joined forces in the Siddim Valley, where the Dead Sea is. 4 They had served K'dorla'omer twelve years, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
• Rebellion against evil is a good thing, but as with any rebellion it is wise to carefully consider and count the cost.
• Or again, suppose one king is going out to wage war with another king. Doesn't he first sit down and consider whether he, with his ten thousand troops, has enough strength to meet the other one, who is coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he hasn't, then while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation to inquire about terms for peace. (Luke 14:31-32)
5 In the fourteenth year K'dorla'omer and the kings with him came and defeated
the Refa'im in 'Asht'rot-Karnayim
the Zuzim in Ham
the Eimim in Shaveh-Kiryatayim 6 and
the Hori at Se'ir, their mountain, all the way to Eil-Pa'ran by the desert.
7 Next they truned back, came to 'Ein-Mishpat (which is the same as Kadesh) and defeated
all the country of the 'Amaleki, and
also the Emori, who lived in Hatzatzon-Tamar.
• In a blitz campaign K'dorla'omer (an early Persian king whose name means “handful of sheaves”) and his allies swept through the land reaping victory after victory.
8 Then the kings of S'dom, 'Amora, Admah, Tzvoyim and Bela (that is, Tzo'ar) came out and arrayed themselves for battle in the Siddim Valley 9 against K'dorla'omer king of 'Elam, Tid'al king of Goyim, Amrafel king of Admah and Aryokh king of Elasar, four kings against the five.
• As evil as K'dorla'omer and his confederates may have been, we know from Genesis 14:13 that “the men of S'dom were evil, committing great sins against Adonai.”
• Even though they often worked out in the physical, all battles are, at the root, spiritual.
• The L-RD may use any “tool” at His disposal to accomplish His will.
◦ We see this in His using
▪ the Assyrians to judge Israel,
▪ the Babylonians to judge Judah and the Assyrians,
▪ the Medes and Persians to judge the Babylonians and release Judah
▪ the Greeks to judge the Babylonians
▪ the Romans to judge the Greeks ….
10 Now the Siddom Valley was full of clay pits; and when the kings of S'dom and 'Amora fled, some fell into them; while the rest fled to the hills. 11 The victors took all the possessions of S'dom and 'Amora and all their food supply; then they left. 12 But as they left, they took Lot, Avram's brother's son, and his possessions; since he was living in S'dom.
• Topography plays an important roll in any physical battle. In the same way, spiritually, we need to know the “lay of the land” in order to avoid pitfalls.
• When the L-RD judges a society all are affected, and yet ….
13 Someone who had escaped came and told Avram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Emori, brother of Eshkol and brother of 'Aner; all of them allies of Avram.
14 When Avram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, who had been born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night he and his servants divided his forces against them, then attacked and pursued them all the way to Hovah, north of Dammesk. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, together with the women and the other people.
• “trained” here comes from the Hebrew חָנִיךְ [khah-nikh] meaning
◦ Strong's: initiated; i.e. practiced
◦ BDB: trained, instructed, trained servant, tried, experienced
▪ from חָנַךְ [khah-nakh] meaning
• Strong's: properly, to narrow; figuratively, to initiate or discipline
• BDB: to train, to dedicate, to inaugurate (Qal): to train, to train up; to dedicate
▪ these were men that were trained and dedicated to their work; we might think of them as being the Special Forces, Recon, or Seals of their day
• Avram led out his trained men
◦ not only did this great man of faith have these “trained men” in his household, but he did more than send them on a mission, he led them
▪ there are those who are called to be scholars, and that is a good thing, though they need to be careful not to become like the Scribes, Pharisees, and Teachers of the Law that Yeshua confronted
▪ but the greater biblical example is of men and women of faith who prayed and worshipped the L-RD and worked within the physical realm to achieve spiritual victories, e.g.
• Avram here in this passage: leading this group of special forces into battle
◦ Avram had to know what he was doing, otherwise how could they confidently follow him?
• David (1 Sam 23:4; 1 Sam 30:8; 2 Sam 5:19-25)
• Hizkiyahu (Hezekiah) (2 Kings 18:5-8; 2 Kings 19:1; 2 Chr 32:30)
• Nechemyah (Nehemiah) (Neh 1:5-9; Neh 4:16-18)
18 Malki-Tzedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine. He was cohen of El 'Elyon [G-d Most High], 19 so he blessed him with these words: “Blessed be Avram by El 'Elyon, maker of heaven and earth, 20 and blessed be El 'Elyon, who handed your enemies over to you.” Avram gave him a tenth of everything.
• Malki-Tzedek is an interesting person, that by the biblical record just shows up … at this particular time … to Avram.
• Hebrews 7 speaks of this Malki-Tzedek, and how Yeshua is priest like him.
21 The king of S'dom said to Avram, “Give me the people, and keep the goods for yourself.” 22 But Avram answered the king of S'dom, “I have raised my hand in an oath to Adonai, El 'Elyon, maker of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal thong of anything that is your; so that you won't be able to say, 'I made Avram rich.' 24 I will take only what my troops have eaten and the share of the spoil belonging to the men who came with me – 'Aner, Eshkol and Mamre; let them have their share.”
• I won't take anything from you, so you won't be able to say, 'I made Avram rich.'
◦ Adonai, El 'Elyon is the One Who blessed Avram and His praise would not go to another.
• Avram's oath and personal determination was just that, his. It did not keep the others from receiving their share of the spoils.
1 Some time later the word of Adonai came to Avram in a vision: “Don't be afraid, Avram. I am your protector; your reward will be very great.”
• The L-RD's first words to Avram here are, “Don't be afraid, Avram.”
◦ Many act as if G-d were their buddy rather than their Sovereign L-RD and Master. While, through the blood of Yeshua, we are adopted sons and daughters, and granted access to His throne, that access must always be tempered with the realization of Who He is. Avram knew and so the L-RD recognizes his humility and subservience, and lifts him up with these words.
• “I am your protector; your reward will be very great.”
◦ The Sovereign L-RD of all proclaims Himself to be Avram's protector!
◦ “... Your reward will be very great.” Part of what this included is that:
▪ G-d appeared to him. For those who know, love, and follow the L-RD and His Word, it is a great reward to be in His presence.
▪ G-d changed Avram's name to Abraham, giving him of Himself – an ה [h] that comes from יהוה [YHVH] Himself (as He did for Sarai => Sarah).
▪ The L-RD blessed him and gave him a spiritual heritage.
▪ He protected him.
5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look up at the sky, and count the stars – if you can count them! Your descendants will be that many!” 6 He believed in Adonai, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
• Avram would have physical descendants through Isaac and Jacob, but more importantly spiritual descendants through Christ.
◦ Mt. 3:8 If you have really turned from your sins to G-d, produce fruit that will prove it! 9 And don't suppose you can comfort yourselves by saying, 'Avraham is our father'! For I tell you that G-d can raise up for Avraham sons from these stones!
◦ Gal. 3:29 … If you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham and heirs according to the promise.
7-21 In these verses we see the cutting of a covenant. Larger animals would be cut in two with each half on opposite sides of a shallow trench, the blood running down into the trench. Once the terms of the covenant were reached, each party would walk through the blood, between the animals. The sense being that if I violate the covenant, or do not hold up my part, you may do to me what we did to these animals.
This explains why “horror and great darkness came over” Avram: he knew there was no earthly way he could fulfill any part of this covenant. He didn't dare to even put a foot forward, or he was a good as dead.
G-d's covenant with Avram was totally reliant on יהוה to bring any of it about; let alone bringing it all to pass. So it is with us – there is nothing we can, or ever could do, to merit favor and right standing with the L-RD: but He did it all for us through Yeshua.
1 Now Sarai Avram's wife had not borne him a child. But she had an Egyptian slave-girl named Hagar; 2 so Sarai said to Avram, “Here now, Adonai has kept me from having children; so go in and sleep with my slave-girl. Maybe I'll be able to have children through her.” Avram listened to what Sarai said.
• This was not something unheard of in the time and culture, on the surface may sense, and even sounded spiritual: יהוה has kept me from having children, so ….
• Note what is missing from this situation: Avram listened to what Sarai said, but nowhere do we read that he sought G-d to hear from Him: sounds vaguely familiar (Gen. 3:6).
11 The angel of Adonai said to her, “Look, you are pregnant, and you will give birth to a son. You are to call him Yishm'el [G-d pays attention] because Adonai has paid attention to your misery. 12 He will be a wild donkey of a man, with his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, living his life at odds with all his kinsmen.”
• This is true to this day.
• An Arab proverb says:
I against my brother; my brother and I against our cousin; my brother, my cousin and I against our enemy.
1 When Avram was 99 years old Adonai appeared to Avram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai [G-d Almighty]. Walk in my presence and be pure-hearted. 2 I will make my covenant between me and you, and I will increase your numbers greatly.” 3 Avram fell on his face, and G-d continued speaking with him: 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations. 5 Your name will no longer be Avram [exalted father], but your name will be Avraham [father of many], because I have made you the father of many nations. 6 I will cause you to be very fruitful. I will make nations of you, kings will descend from you.
• G-d further establishes His covenant with Avraham.
• Vs. 3 Avram fell on his face.
◦ In some circles people will fall backwards, presumably under the power of the Holy Spirit. Biblically people have fallen in the presence of the L-RD, but the only time it is specifically mentioned that they fell backwards is in the case of the mob coming to arrest Yeshua in John 18:6. All the other times, when it is specified, the person (people) fall on their faces before the L-RD, just as Avram did here.
◦ Vs. 6 … Kings will descend from you … = the Davidic line (cf Mt. 1)
7 I am establishing my covenant between me and you, along with your descendants after you, generation after generations, as an everlasting covenant, to be G-d for you and for your descendants after you. 8 I will give you and your descendants after you the land in which you are now foreigners, all the land of Kena'an, as a permanent possession; and I will be their G-d.”
• יהוה says it is “an everlasting covenant” with Avraham and his descendants.
◦ The Everlasting G-d made an everlasting covenant.
▪ Scripturally there is no place for a “replacement” theology which says the church as replaced Israel. According to Romans 11 those who accept the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), are grafted in to the olive tree of this covenant (and become part of the commonwealth of Israel).
◦ G-d's Word clearly says He gave the land to Avraham and his descendants through Yitz'chak (Isaac). We need to be careful not to try and change what G-d has established and put ourselves in a position of fighting against Him.
20 But as for Yishma'el, I have heard you. ….
• Not that this is necessarily bad, but we have got to be careful what we allow to come out of our mouths.
Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) 40:27-41:16
27 Why do you complain, Ya'akov; why do you say, Isra'el, “My way is hidden from Adonai, my rights are ignored by my G-d”?
• Nothing is hidden from the L-RD
◦ He knows everything that is happening, He sees it all, and none of it takes Him by surprise.
▪ He is G-d. He is not a tame lion, but He is good.
▪ He answers every prayer: though not always in the way or timeframe we think we would like.
▪ I believe in the sun though it may not shine
I believe in the bird though it may not sing
I believe in the L-RD though He may be silent
said to have been found after World War II, scratched on a back wall of a concentration camp barracks
• What rights do we have before the Sovereign King and Judge of the Universe?
◦ Only those He grants us. That's why it's called “amazing grace”!
28 Haven't you known, haven't you heard that the everlasting G-d, Adonai, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not grow tired or weary? His understanding cannot be fathomed. 29 He invigorates the exhausted, he gives strength to the powerless. 30 Young men may grow tired and weary, even the fittest may stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength, they will soar aloft as with eagles' wings; when they are running they won't grow weary, when they are walking they won't get tired.
• As good as physical fitness and abilities may be, they can easily fail and they will not help in dealing with the spiritual.
• “... but ...” – what a wonderful word in Scripture
• those who hope in Adonai, those who wait on the L-RD, those who put their faith in יהוה
◦ will renew their strength
◦ they will soar aloft as with eagles' wings
◦ when they are running they won't grow weary,
◦ when they are walking they won't get tired … … that is supernatural; spiritual
8 But you, Isra'el, my servant; Ya'akov, who I have chosen, descendants of Avraham my friend, 9 I have taken you from the ends of the earth, summoned you from its most distant parts and said to you, 'You are my servant' – I have chosen you, not rejected you. 10 Don't be afraid, for I am with you; don't be distressed, for I am your G-d. I give you strength, I give you help, I support you with my victorious right hand.
• This was prophesied around 750-700 B.C., long before the Jews had been scattered to “the ends of the earth … its most distant parts ...”
• Some say “the church has replaced Israel,” “Israel has forfeited their position as G-d's chosen people,” “all the blessings of Abraham have been transferred to the church.”
◦ Where is any of that in Scripture? … … … Silence.
◦ Just how “G-d-like” is your G-d? Eternal? Omnipotent? Omniscient? All-Powerful? Sovereign? …
▪ Num. 23:19 G-d is not a human who lies or a mortal who changes his mind. When he says something, he will do it; when he makes a promise, he will fulfill it.
▪ 1 Sam. 15:29 Moreover, the Eternal One of Isra'el will not lie or change his mind, because he isn't a mere human being subject to changing his mind.
1 Then what should we say Avraham, our forefather, obtained by his own efforts?
• Sha'ul (Paul) was writing to the those in Rome who had come to faith in the Jewish Messiah (both from Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds), yet he calls Avraham “our forefather.”
◦ Sha'ul includes himself as one of these believers
◦ Sha'ul recognizes that G-d calls people to Himself from every ethnicity and background.
▪ Rev. 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for G-d with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
• The root word translated “nation” here is ἔθνος [ethnos], which is where we get the English word “ethnic.”
2 For if Avraham came to be considered righteous by G-d because of legalistic observances, then he has something to boast about. But this is not how it is before G-d!
• cf Eph. 2:8-9 For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but G-d's gift. 9 You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast.
3 For what does the Tanakh say? “Avraham put his trust in G-d, and it was credited to his account as righteousness.”
• cf Rom. 3:28 Therefore, we hold the view that a person comes to be considered righteous by G-d on the ground of trusting, which has nothing to do with legalistic observance of Torah commands.
• Rom. 5:1 So, since we have come to be considered righteous by G-d because of our trust, let us continue to have shalom with G-d through our L-rd, Yeshua the Messiah.
• Heb. 2:4 Look at the proud: he is inwardly not upright; but the righteous will attain life through trusting faithfulness.
by Messiannic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley