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Today is Saturday, October 28, 2017 … Shabbat, the 7th of Cheshvan, 5778. Today’s parashat is Parashat Lech-Lecha, or Lech-L’cha, which means, “go” or “leave”, and the parashat text is Genesis 12:1-17:27.
Genesis 12:1 - Genesis 17:27
Elohim speaks to Abram, telling Abram to, “Go!” Elohim has said for Abram to leave his place of birth, the only land he’s ever known, and his father’s house to a place that Elohim would have Abram settle. Elohim promises blessings for those who would bless Abram and curses for those who would curse Abram. As Abram sets out for this new land, he is accompanied by his wife Sarai- who is barren -and his nephew Lot. Abram had all his possessions acquired while in Haran, and they all traveled to Canaan.
Abram stops at a place, a tree, the tree of Moreh at Shechem, in Canaan, where he builds an altar to Adonai. Adonai appeared to Abram, telling Abram, “To your offspring I will give this land.” (12:7).
A famine in Canaan forced Abram to depart from Canaan into the land of Egypt. As Abram and his wife crossed the border into Egypt, Abram demanded that his wife tell the Egyptians that he and she are brother and sister; otherwise, the Egyptians might kill him in order to take for themselves his beautiful Sarai. And, as expected by Abram, Sarai was taken from him and taken to the Pharaoh. A plague entered upon the Pharaoh’s household, and Sarai was returned to Abram. All the while, Abram was given “sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels” (12:16). When Sarai was returned to her husband, Pharaoh sent them all on their way with what had been given to Abram.
As Abram and his household, to include his nephew Lot, settled again in the land of Canaan, a rivalry broke out between Abram’s animal handlers and Lot’s animal handlers. Abram suggested that he and his household separate from Lot and his household in order that the fighting among their animal handlers might cease. Lot chose the plains of the Jordan River to the east and Abram himself lived in the land of Canaan.
During this time there were four kings that went to war with five other kings; one of the five kings was King Bera, king of Sodom, where Lot had settled with his family. In the ensuing war, the four kings who waged war with the five kings captured Sodom- where Lot lived -and Gomorrah. As the spoils of war were carted off, so were Lot and his family and all his possessions. When Abram heard the news of this he took three hundred eighteen men and attacked the kings who captured Lot and brought Lot and his family to safety.
It was shortly after this event that Adonai met with Abram again and promises Abram that a son who was his own “flesh and blood” (15:4) would be born. Abram put his trust and faith in Adonai, and Abram’s faith was “credited to him as righteousness” (15:6).
Sarai was still barren, and Sarai became impatient for a son of Abram’s to be born. She knew that she herself would not be able to bear children, and so she gave to Abram her Egyptian slave, Hagar. Abram married Hagar, who quickly conceived a child. Hagar, being pregnant, knew she had given to Abram something Sarai could not, and “bad” feelings passed between the two women. When Sarai asked Abram to settle the matter between his two wives, Abram refused, telling Sarai to handle the matter herself. Sarai so mistreated Hagar that Hagar ran away.
Adonai spoke to Hagar, speaking words upon her unborn son; her son would be called Ishmael, meaning, “Elohim listens”, and Adonai said of Ishmael, “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (16:12). Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born (16:16).
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, thirteen years after Ishmael was born, Adonai came to Abram again and told Abram that Abram would become the father of many nations, changing Abram’s name, Abram, which means, “exalted father”, to Abraham, which means “father of many”. A covenant of circumcision is made for all who are in Abraham’s household, those who are a part of his household now and those who might join Abraham’s household later, including foreigners. At the same time, Sarai’s name, which means “princess”, is changed to Sarah, which means, “my Princess”. Abraham and Sarah are promised a son that would be of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham laughed at this sentiment because Sarai had already been barren for many, many years, and he himself was nearing one hundred years old. The son of Abraham and Sarah would be called Isaac, which means, “he laughs” or “laughter”.
At ninety-nine years old, Abraham becomes circumcised, as does his son Ishmael, who was thirteen, and all of Abraham’s male household, whether natural born or foreigner.
For Believers Today
What does this mean for the Believer today?
When I was a young child, my father was in the U. S. Army, and as the Army is want to do, they sent my father to one military base after another. I’m not complaining because it was nice living in the places we did; but, I am complaining because it was so hard to have to pack and move every two or three years.
Every time I made friends, it was time to make new friends.
And, we never lived near any family. Our family became other military families who lived on the base as we did at some places, or in the government-built housing off base as we did in other places.
We, the six of us in the Hall Household, became dependent on each other. And we learned to live in harmony with the other military families who lived around us. My parents had to leave what they knew- their hometowns, their parents, their siblings, their comfort zones in order for our family to be where YHVH knew we needed to be during those times.
And, thinking back, I think that YHVH was preparing me and my siblings, even as children, to live in places other there where we were comfortable.
I live in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, eight hours away from my mother. And, I’ll be honest with you, there are some days where I struggle so hard with being so far from my mother; one might even say I detest it sometimes. And my mother and I have spoken several times about this. I want to live closer to my mom, and my mom would really enjoy having me live closer to her; but, we both know that in Abba’s will is the only way to live.
A person goes where YHVH says, “Go!”
You may think that there is no rhyme or reason to where YHVH sends you. There are certainly days that call out to me, saying, “You don’t belong in Sallisaw.” But, YHVH’s will is always good and perfect. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what YHVH’s will is- HIs good, pleasing and perfect will.”
So, while there may be days when I would really like nothing more than to live next door to my mother, I want more to stay in YHVH’s will. That means that, like Abraham did make a new home in Canaan far away from his father and family, I will make a home in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, where the roosters crow at 2:30 in the morning, the dog barks at the wind, and the scenery of the Ozark Mountains and of the Ouachita Mountains is some of the prettiest in our country. And, I will look to my left and to my right because someone will be placed in my path that has a need, and I will have the ability to boast all the more about my Adonai’s goodness!
Scripture from Lamentations
Lamentations 3:22-24--”Because of Adonai’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “Adonai is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”