Lech Lecha / Go For Yourself
HafTorah Portion Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Brit Chadasha Romans 3:1-26
The first sentence of Lech Lecha states in a roundabout way that in order for you, Abraham to raise up a nation for Me out of one people, you must go forth for you and away from all the influences you have ever known and be under the influence of God, thus being an influence of God as a testimony of Him and for Him. ‘Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.’ Genesis 12:1.
This mind set of leaving our influences behind is repeated in:
Genesis 19:17 ‘So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that they said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.’
Luke 9:62: ‘But Yeshua said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.’
Philippians 3:13-14 ‘Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Yeshua HaMashiach.’
Isaiah 43:18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.’
Why? Why is this so important? What if Abram, looking back and longing for the past, wished for the days of old with his family and the idols that were so much a part of his life? Didn’t the Israelites, when faced with hardship longed to return to slavery? Isn’t that what our past is? A form of bondage. It must be important for Yeshua reiterates in Luke 17:32, ‘Remember Lot’s wife…’
In Genesis 31:34, Rachel steals her father’s idols. Some of the sages teach that she did so to help her father remove himself from idolatry. But if that was the case, wouldn’t Adonai have known that? For the commandments state:
Colossians 3:5 ‘Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.’
Leviticus 26:1 'Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God.’
1 Thessalonians 1:9 ‘For they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…’
If it was the case that Rachel had good intentions to protect her father, would she have passed so young?
Other sages teach that perhaps she wanted a backup plan. She was raised with idols, and as a child, she would have participated in the rituals and pageantry associated with them. She would have watched the sacrifices, the chants, the divinations, and more. When he was introduced to Jacob, her father Laban became a man of two religions: he was aware of Adonai, but he also liked his household gods -- after all, they never questioned his motives or his actions, and never challenged his conduct or made him pay any consequences for his treachery or immorality! Perhaps she was clinging to the past that she was leaving.
We don’t need to turn back or look back. We don’t need to long for the slavery we once lived in. For Genesis 15:1 states: ‘After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
The beginning of this parsha is about us leaving our past, the influences that played such a big part in our lives. When we reach back, we grope and long for the past, the comfort moments, the cucumbers of Egypt. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be an influencer of Torah and Adonai’s love and great mercy. But rather not seek outside the camp. When we do, are we in deed seeking the idols of our past?
Joshua 23:6-8 ‘Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, 7 and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, 8 but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.’
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ‘I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked person from among you."
Proverbs 22:24 ‘Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered…’
2 John 1:10-11 ‘If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. 11Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.’
What is the importance here? It is obvious that God views unwise associations as just that – unwise. In Proverbs 22:24, God states to not make friends with a hot-tempered individual. The proverb does not state to seek them out and try and change them. We are not to be haughty in our faith, in our walk, but rather wise.
Abram left. ‘Go for yourself’…it is as simple as that.
Lech Lecha / Go For Yourself
HafTorah Portion Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Brit Chadash Romans 4:1-25
The Journey of Abram and the Covenant…
This week’s parsha tells the story of Avram and Sarai and their journey into the unknown path. After hearing a call from God telling them to “get up and go,” they take their nephew, Lot, and begin their new life.
Lech Lecha can be translated four ways. Rashi translates the phrase as “Journey for yourself.” According to him, God is saying; “Travel for your own, there I will make you into a great nation.” Another interpretation is: “Go with yourself,” meaning, by travelling from place to place you will extend God’s influence through you over many lands. A third interpretation is “Go to yourself.” This translation seeks to discover who one truly is. The fourth interpretation is “Go by yourself.” This interpretation is unique in the fact that one must be willing to stand alone and steadfast within the calling of God. This included a journey into the unknown. I like to stress: "Go see for yourself" because first God tells him and then He shows him.
Either translation shows us the depth of Abrams’ journey and the calling of God. Abraham was about to say goodbye to the things that mean most to us – our land, birthplace, home, our people and the religious system that we are ‘comfortable’ living in. God was calling Abram out of comfort – into the unknown – by faith. “Go For Yourself” by faith you will follow Me.
This journey included God’s covenant that He made with Abraham.
Genesis 12:1-4 ‘Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him…’
Genesis 17:1-7 ‘When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.’
A covenant is different from a promise in many ways. A covenant is a binding agreement, much like the Owner and the tenant. This covenant was given, established and orchestrated by God as an everlasting covenant.
In between these two chapters, Genesis 14:13 makes a strong declaration. During a conflict, an escaped prisoner came “le’avram ha’ivri” to Avram the Hebrew, to inform him that Lot had been captured. Ha’Ivri – The Hebrew עברי . The root letters are used to mean cross over, or pass through. In the Scriptures it refers to those who have primarily crossed over rivers. This is the first time that Hebrew is used in Scriptures. To cross over – Hebrew is an action.
Abraham was a Hebrew because he crossed over from a culture of idol worshipers, (Joshua 24:2) from Ur of the Chaldeans into a promised land. The children of Israel are also called Hebrews, examples are Genesis 43:32, Exodus. 2:6, and Exodus 2:13.
Abraham crossed over into a new life and covenant with God; he did not cross over into a religion. To be joined into the covenant of God is a way of life, neither with man’s boundaries or bondage, but rather with the freedom to live life to its fullest, a redeemed life with the Most High. Religion is a place to get stuck, to adhere to the rules of the denomination that one is under, and as that denomination changes so will the rules.
God’s covenant is everlasting and never waivers or changes. Shabbat is a lifestyle, the moadim are part of our lives, and kosher is how we eat. These facts in our lives have nothing to do with religion, but rather living by faith in the covenant of God.
Lech Lecha / Go For Yourself
Haf Torah Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Brit Chadasha Acts 7:1-6
Go Forth – lech lecha literally means ‘betake yourself’. Go forth and find yourself in Adonai. Find the one you truly are in YHWH, the one you are meant to be. This is what Abraham did as he was commanded to and in doing so he received the inheritance. Rashi interprets it as: “Journey for yourself.”
When God calls us into covenant, we have to give up our past in order to acquire a future with Him. Abraham was about to say goodbye to the things that mean most to him and us – land, birthplace and parental home, the places where we belong. He was about to make a journey from the familiar to the unfamiliar. And this involved trust. This trust is reiterated in Hebrews 11.
This parsha opens with “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse…” Genesis 12:2.
The promise that Abraham’s descendants shall be as the stars in the sky is found in Genesis 15:5. God continues to declare to Abraham that he will inherit the land that God is giving him. Abraham’s response is so typical of how we live our lives, “How shall I know that I will inherit it?” Genesis 15:8. We know that God is sovereign; we know that He is the Alef and the Tav, we know that He created all, and yet we still doubt.
God cuts a covenant with him in Genesis 15:8. A covenant is an agreement usually between two parties, and usually binding on their descendants as well. It is either conditional or unconditional and requires a sign which is the visual.
This covenant in Genesis 15 and 17 is between God and Abram and the unconditional promise is that Abram’s offspring will be more numerous than the stars in this sky. God gives the land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael to Abram’s descendants. The sign of this covenant is circumcision found in Genesis 17:1-27.
Genesis chapter twelve is the call of Abram, the beginning of a mighty nation. Chapter twelve continues with Abram in Egypt and in chapter thirteen Abram and Lot separate. In Genesis 14:18-20 Abram has the encounter with Melchizedek:
‘Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Psalm 110 also speaks of Melchizedek;
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
2 The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
3 Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth.
4 The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at Your right hand;
He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
6 He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall execute the heads of many countries.
7 He shall drink of the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He shall lift up the head.’
Looking deep into Lech Lecha, we see such metaphors to our lives today. From the cutting of a covenant, to the trust in God and the faith to follow Him, to the journey we all must take. In the Brit Chadasha, Matthew 4:19, Matthew 10:38 and 1Peter 2:21 we are told to ‘follow Him.’
How great a God we serve. John 12:26 ‘If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.’