This week’s Torah portion consists of four chapters in Genesis which follow an incredible part of Abraham’s life. Here, the key stories recount Abraham’s three visitors, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the birth and binding of Isaac. Additionally, this week’s Haftarah portion is 2 Kings 4:1-37, in which Elisha performs the miracles of the widow’s oil and we read of the resurrection of the Shunammite’s son. Entitled Vayera (Hebrew for “and He appeared”), this parasha shows us moments in history when God appeared to people who really needed Him!
Genesis 18:16-33 gives us an astonishing picture of God revealing Himself and relating to man in an intensely personal way. Whilst our perspective of God is often too small, we are fortunate to have so many wonderful pages of scripture revealing who God is. Abraham’s perspective, however, was contained to a handful of appearances, separated by often decades of apparent silence. Yet, spoken from the mouth of God into an impossible situation, Abraham had received a promise that he would one day have a son and from him would come descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. In chapter 18, the Lord appeared again to remind Abraham of this promise, to tell him that his son is coming soon. And, in Genesis 21, the child arrives! We can only imagine the jubilee of Abraham and Sarah. Although they had laughed at the promise of God previously, now they could laugh with true joy – God’s faithfulness is present even when we doubt!
MERCY FOR LOT
Reading on, we see God appearing with His mercy towards Lot and his family. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were to be destroyed as a result of much wickedness, but there were a handful of people who still feared the Lord. God, in His justice, could not treat this family in the same way (Genesis 18:25) and so we read of how God ensured they were brought to safety: “when he [Lot] hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them” (Genesis 19:16). We may be hesitating in fear and uncertainty, but let’s be encouraged today that, like with Lot, the Lord knows how to ‘appear’ and rescue the godly from trials.
MIRACLES IN 2 KINGS
In 2 Kings we see how God used Elisha to bring abundance to a widow in a desperate situation. We also see the hope for new life as Elisha tells the Shunammite woman that she “will have a son!” God continues to ‘appear’ and bring life when Elisha is a part in this same son’s resurrection. Without a doubt, we can see the fingerprints of our faithful God in these stories!
THE LORD HIMSELF WILL PROVIDE A LAMB
The Lord appears again in Genesis 22, this time telling Abraham to sacrifice his son. Put yourselves in the shoes (sandals!) of Abraham – try to understand the potential pain, confusion and resurfacing doubt not only in the promise of God but perhaps in the very nature of God: “God how could you ask this? I thought you weren’t like other gods…” But we know the story! Abraham shows his complete obedience and as he raises that knife we see a man fully surrendered to trust the Lord, whatever the result, whatever the circumstances, whatever the cost. In spite of his limited knowledge of the Lord, he knew enough that whatever happened, God was faithful.
The end result is well known: the Lord provides. God stayed the hand of Abraham and provided a ram, indeed pointing to the day of His own provision of His beloved Son, once for all. The final testimony of this story is that Abraham named the very ground of this mountain YHWH Jireh, “The-Lord-Will-Provide.” This is the conclusion, the final chapter of the story the world finds itself in. Through heartache and trial, the Lord is faithful and He WILL appear to provide. In the midst of hopeless, lifeless or downright apocalyptic circumstances, we can rest assured that He is Emmanuel – God with us! No matter what is happening in the nations, in the nation of Israel, or amongst the Jewish people, let us remain steadfast with this hope and let us pray for God’s appearance on the Earth once again!
The European Coalition for Israel is a unique grassroots movement, which is seeking to promote better relations between Europe and Israel through advocacy and education. More information: www.ec4i.org
Header image: Untitled, by Jonathan