וירא/VaYera

Torah: Genesis 18:1-22:24

Haftarah: 2 Kings 4:1-37

Brit Chadashah: Luke 1:26-38; 24:36-53

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In our portion, we come to a day shortly after Abraham had undergone his covenant of circumcision with Adonai – and he is sitting, resting and recovering by the oaks of Mamre. Suddenly, there appears to him three individuals standing right by him. The Torah goes on to say that after he sees them, he actually gets up and runs from his tent to meet them – he then bows down to worship and says, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass by your servant” – Genesis 18:3. The Torah is clear on who Abraham is bowing before – it is none other than the Lord Himself – as it is written, “Then Adonai appeared to him” – Genesis 18:1a. While modern Rabbinical Judaism interprets this passage to say – “And the glory of the Lord was revealed to him” – Targum Jonathan 18:1a, the Torah itself gives no room for such an interpretation. The Torah simply says, “Vayera elav Adonai” – “And the Lord appeared to him.” As a matter of fact, one early Jewish rabbi wrote – “Adonai visited him (Abraham) as one visits a sick person.” He goes on to say that, “Adonai’s appearance to Abraham was necessary in connection with revealing to him what He intended to do the inhabitants of Sodom and the cities associated with it” – Chizkuni. Yet, another and amazing interpretation says that it was the Word itself in human form of Adonai that paid the visit to Adonai – to announce not only the promise of His coming, but also judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah. So, this is what is also amazing to me – is that it is said that shortly before Adonai’s visit to Abraham, both Abraham and Sarah apparently succeeded in converting myriads of people to faith in the One True G-D. In addition, this was also what Lot was supposed to be doing in Sodom – he was supposed to be leading people to righteousness, but sadly the majority of Sodom refused, and became extremely sinful. So sinful, in fact that Adonai decided to send judgment upon the people of Sodom. According to Messianic prophecy this was considered the age of Torah, when Adonai was giving opportunity to mankind come to Him through His Word – the Messiah.

We read in our portion that when Adonai was speaking to Abraham, Sarah laughed – “So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I’ve grown decrepit, can I have desire – and my lord so old?’” – Genesis 18:12. It seems fitting for today, because after years of waiting for the promise of Adonai that was told to Abraham in Genesis 12, Sarah had seemed to be losing hope of seeing it coming to pass. Yet, it is important to remember that Adonai is indeed a G-D of hope. Remember when He delivered Israel from Egypt, they too were about to lose hope – they too seemed to laugh at Moses’ words. As it is written, “Moses spoke to Bnei-Yisrael, but they did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and cruel bondage” – Exodus 6:9. This verse can also translate to say – “They did not listen to him because of their shortness of breath,” which indicates that they too were losing hope. The years and years of suffering in Egypt had caused Israel to lose hope in the coming of any promised Redeemer – they no longer had the strength to fight or even to believe in the promise. Yet, we do indeed know that Adonai would send a redeemer and Israel would be saved. An early rabbi wrote – “If one truly believes in the possibility of Messiah’s imminent arrival, then he will constantly be in a state of spiritual preparation” – Chofetz Chaim. Our faith and our hope in the returning of Messiah gives us strength, even supernatural strength to withstand and remain strong in the face of trial and tribulation. As it is written, “But they who wait for Adonai will renew their strength. They will soar up with wings as eagles. They will run, and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint” – Isaiah 40:31. Yet, until the time of Messiah’s return, it may seem that there is indeed no hope to be had or, that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. During this time, some may become even more faithful or, some may even become faithless and mock the promise of Adonai that Messiah is returning – as is indeed happening in our time – as it was in the time of Abraham and Sarah in Sodom and Gomorrah. Torah goes on to tell us that shortly after Adonai visited with Abraham, He sent two of His angels off towards Sodom. We all know why Adonai did this – He was indeed going to send judgment upon Sodom and its people because of their sins – sins so grievous that Adonai would eventually send fire and brimstone upon the city and destroy it. I want to briefly touch upon the destruction of Sodom and why it was judged – because is it so fitting for today (of all days). 

The condition of many places in the world will soon be like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Their people will become more and more immoral, hateful, proud, arrogant and especially hospitable – not welcoming anything that is of G-D, including their leaders. Messiah Himself said that the days will come when, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against their parents and them put to death. And you will be hated by all because of My Name, but the one who endures to the end shall be saved” – Matthew 10:21-22. As we look around at our world today, we see the growing inhospitable conditions for the Word of Adonai, His Word and His people. The days are indeed getting darker, and shorter – as people are even willing to give up their freedoms to embrace evil doctrines and ideologies that are completely against the Word of Adonai. They mock His word not only by their deeds but their own words, with threats of death to His people and even carrying out hateful acts against His people and immoral acts against women and children. Even worse, their leaders not only approve but encourage these hateful acts – and it is happening right before our eyes. 

Yet, there is indeed hope – the Gospel of Messiah Yeshua. It must continue to go forth until it is no longer accepted – as it was when Abraham said unto Adonai – as he was interceding on behalf of Sodom – “Perhaps ten will be found there?” Sadly, ten were not found, and Sodom was eventually destroyed and its people taken away to judgment – as it is written, “The moment the sun arose upon the land, Lot entered Zoar, and Adonai rained sulfur and fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from Adonai out of the sky” – Genesis 19:23-24. Messiah goes on to say that one day many cities will become inhospitable to Him, His Word and even us (His people). However, we mustn’t lose hope for as He remembered Abraham and Sarah, He will indeed remember us – and He will indeed remember those who were inhospitable of us. As He, Himself said, “And whoever will not receive you or listen to your words, as you leave that house or that town, shake the dust off your feet. Amen, I tell you, it will more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town” – Matthew 10:14-15. 

Shalom