This week’s parasha is Vayera, which is translated “And He Appeared”. It covers Genesis chapters 18 through 22.
In this week’s Torah portion, we find Abraham sitting at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. Suddenly, he sees three “men”. As they began to speak to him, it became clear to Abraham that these were no ordinary men. It turned out that this was God and two angels!
Abraham asked them to stay for a meal, and his wife Sarah prepared bread while he had a servant prepare a lamb, and he stood by the three while they ate. God asked him “Where is Sarah?” Abraham said, “She is in the tent” and Adonai told Abraham that He would return to him the next year and that Sarah would bear a son. Now Abraham and Sarah were quite old. Sarah was well beyond the age of bearing children. As Sarah hid behind the tent door and heard this, she laughed to herself. Adonai heard her and assured them both that nothing is too hard for the Lord.
After this, the three of them left the camp with Abraham, and they looked down toward Sodom. Then the Lord revealed that because of the horrific sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, He was going to destroy both cities. Abraham, hearing this, drew near to God and pleaded with Him, asking Him, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are 50 righteous within the city; will you sweep away the place and not spare the 50 righteous who are in it?” Abraham knew his nephew Lot and his family were in the city. You may remember that previously Abraham had taken 318 men to rescue Lot from the armies of the four Kings. So, his desire for his nephew is no less important to him now as he intercedes with Adonai for those cities.
God said He would spare the cities if there were just 50 righteous men. Abraham began to negotiate with Him, reducing the number to 40, then 30, then 20 – finally, asking the Lord – who agreed – to spare the city if just 10 righteous people could be found there. Brothers and sisters, I believe that this is the pre-incarnate Yeshua who is talking to Abraham. And with that – Yeshua departed.
Next, the two angels arrive in Sodom. Thus far, all we know about Sodom is that it was extremely wicked. The depraved men of the city saw the two angels-in-human-form and wanted to have sexual relations with them. Lot tried to dissuade the men from this terrible sin, but that wicked mob of men rushed at Lot, intending to kill him. The angels pulled Lot back into his home and informed him that Sodom was to be destroyed, and that Lot and his family must depart out of there. Lot informed his family, but his daughter’s fiancée did not believe this would occur.
As morning was about to dawn, the angels hurriedly removed Lot, his wife and his two daughters outside the city. As Lot and his family came to Zoar, God rained down fire upon the degenerate twin cities – Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Lord had warned them not to look back, but Lot’s wife disobeyed and looked back – she was immediately turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his daughters fled to the mountains and hid in a cave. Lot’s daughters, thinking the world had come to an end and that they would never marry, supplied their father with excessive alcoholic beverage and Lot became drunk and the daughters had sexual relations with Lot on consecutive nights, thus each became pregnant. The daughters named their children Moab and Amon. In the end, the only remaining righteous one was Lot.
True to His word, the Lord again appeared to Abraham and Sarah, who were now 100 years and 90 years of age, and Sarah had a son and named him Isaac
Chapter 22 introduces the Akedah, the binding of Isaac. God will test Abraham to the utmost. Time has passed and Isaac is roughly 20 years old. God says to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac (note that He says only son – this is the son God promised him), and go to the land of Moriah and offer him up as a burnt offering.” Abraham obeyed. He rose early the next morning, and set out with two of his men and Isaac his son. Abraham cut the wood needed for the burnt offering.
Abraham is the leader of his tribe, and cutting wood would ordinarily be done by one of his servants – but not this time. Abraham does it himself. I believe this is due to great anguish he must have felt. Abraham certainly did not want to do this, but he trusted God, and was going to see to the details personally. There are times when God asked us to do things that are not easy, but none are as difficult as this. They proceed to Mount Moriah. When they got close enough to see Mount Moriah, Abraham told the men to set camp and wait there for them both to return. Some suggest that he said this so the men would not worry, but I believe he said it because he knew they would both return. We must remember the Lord told Abraham that His covenant would continue through Isaac, so he has faith that God will somehow preserve his son.
Abraham lays the wood on Isaac’s back, so Isaac carried the wood up that hill. At one point, he asks his father where the lamb is. Abraham tells him that God will provide the lamb. When they arrive, Abraham builds an altar, sets the wood on it, and then binds Isaac’s hands and puts him on the altar. Abraham takes his knife in hand, raises it, and as he is about to slay his son, the angel of the Lord calls to him, “Abraham Abraham!” and tells him not to harm the boy, saying, “Now I know you fear God.” Just imagine Abraham’s relief! At that moment, he sees a ram caught in the thickets, and the ram is sacrificed in Isaac’s place.
We can see how this was a foreshadowing of Yeshua and His crucifixion. Like Isaac, He submitted to His Father’s will. Like Isaac, He carried the very wood on which He would be sacrificed. Yeshua was our Lamb, our Substitute, who took away the sin of the world. Like the anguish that Abraham felt, surely God must have felt that as well. Marvel at how much God loves you – enough to sacrifice His Son for each one of us here today.