The Torah Portion for Sunday 24th October 2021 is from Genesis 18:1 – 22:24 called “Vayera” meaning “And He appeared (that is Jesus appeared)”. I have also included Rev: 3:20 and Matthew 25: 35 – 40
Last week we took a journey with Abram and Sarai from Ur of the Chaldeans to Haran where his father died, and they travelled on to Canaan with his nephew Lot.
Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her, and give you a son by her: yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
Here I interject the narrative to explain that Abram’s name was also changed from Abram, which means (Exalted Father) to Abraham meaning “Father of Nations”. As a little side note: It amazes me that Abram was born 1948 years after Adam and Palestine was renamed Israel in 1948. God gave the land of Israel to Abraham and his seed for ever – so how long is that? “Forever”.
I should like to add that Ishmael was also the son of Abraham by the slave woman so I believe it includes the Armenians/Egyptians and the Palestinians - yes the Muslim – and of course, us too - as the seed of Abraham through Jesus!! The Abrahamic covenant says: “Through Abraham ALL families of the earth will be blessed”. (Genesis 12:13)
God had also told Abraham to circumcise himself and Ishmael, who was 13 years old at the time, and every male among him as a sign of the covenant between God and himself.”
So here we have the setting for this week’s Torah portion of Abraham sitting in the shade of the Oaks of Mamre when he received three visitors.
As we look at this week’s Torah study there are two aspects I wish to point out.
One, entertaining unexpected visitors and two, Sarah conceives the child of Promise.
Firstly, in this Torah portion, in the first five verses of Genesis 18 we see Jesus appearing in disguise with two angels or messengers beside Him: it reads.
“And the Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, "My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I fetch a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on -- since you have come to your servant." So they said, "Do as you have said." (Genesis 18:1-5 RSV)
We are told clearly in verse 1 who this is that appears to Abraham. "The Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre."
Here is one of those mysterious appearances of Jesus – the personification of YHVH. He appears as a man, accompanied by two angels or messengers in human disguise.
Of course, Abraham does not recognize Him. All he sees is three travelers, weary and thirsty as they come in off the desert where the temperature often reaches 120-125 -- in the shade. Abraham is seated under the oaks of Mamre in the doorway of his tent in the heat of the day looking out on the blazing countryside and suddenly he sees three men coming toward him.
And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes." And Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. (Genesis 18:6-8 RSV)
Soon Abraham and Sarah had a wonderful meal ready for their guests and as they ate, Abraham visited with them. All this is a beautiful picture for us of the fellowship we can have with Jesus. The Lord said in Revelation 3:20 (RSV): "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me." That is, we will fellowship together, we will have dinner together. This is not simply private enjoyment, not just a social hour for our own pleasure, but a demonstration how we are to treat strangers, for it is written “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
This is a picture of how the Lord wants us to be. As an instrument to meet the needs of those around us, and in so doing, we enter into fellowship with the heart of Jesus. When He comes in to us, He doesn't come in merely to give us a good time, to bless us, and make it an enjoyable experience for us, though it is, He comes in to fulfill his long-standing desire to be what he came into the world to be -- a Savior to seek and to save that which was lost, to give and show compassion to others, to minister into human needs whatever they may be, through us.
It also reminds us of the words of Jesus "...for I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." (Matthew 25:35-36 RSV)
"Truly, I say to you, as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me," (Matthew 25:40 RSV).
This is the test of our faith. James says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”. (James 1:27 RSV)
As he so practically reminds us, faith that does not demonstrate this kind of ministry is not real, and it does not work. The true test of our lives is how much our hearts are yielded and wholly dedicated to Christ to respond in fellowship with him in meeting peoples’ need around us.
These tests come to us every day. When the need for help arises, what do we do about it? Do we run and hide, or run to meet it, as Abraham did here?
Abraham is told again that he will father a child in his old age and He fell on his face, and laughed, צחק and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to him that is a hundred years old?
Now the visitors are confirming to Abraham what God spoke previously that a baby is on the way.
When the Lord gives us a word – he often will tell us two or three times which will confirm it in our hearts.
Many of us have a promise from God that we have been waiting for for a long long time but God is faithful who promised – and it will come to pass. Maybe God has promised you a ministry – or a home of your own, a business – or indeed a family. The word for you today is “Hold on – its coming” – “This time next year”.
The visitor said, "Where is Sarah your wife?" And he said, "She is in the tent." The Lord said, "I will surely return to you in due season, and Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?"
The Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, and you will hold your son” and it was so as the Lord had said.
Genesis 21:3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac which means “He Laughs”. * Now the amazing thing is that this Hebrew word for “Laugh” and Isaac” is written like this צחק - The first letter ק has a value in Hebrew of 100 – the last letter shaped like a צ has a value of 90 and the middle letter shaped like an ח has a value of 8 pronounced “chai” which means “Life”. So, we see in the word “Laugh” and the name “Isaac” in the Hebrew translates to a 100-year-old and a 90-year-old can bring forth new life.
The Church is in a new birthing season. We are experiencing labour pains, being squeezed on all sides, as in a birth canal, but the Lord is saying to us – “Wait for the Lord” “Do not rush in and birth an Ishmael – a child of the flesh. “As you wait for Me”, says the Lord, “you too will bear the seed of promise - this time next year” for “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Notes from El Shaddai Ministries:
Chabad – Torah in a Nutshell. Hebrew4Christians and notes from
Ray Stedman on Old and New Testament readings are within the text:
* Isaac in English Gematria equals: 198:i54s114a6a6c18