Lech Lecha (Go for Yourself)

Torah: Gen 12:1 – 17:27 Haftarah: Isaiah 40:27-41:16 Brit Chadasha: Romans 4:1-25

Belief in God

It is interesting to me as our portion begins this week seeing Abraham obeying a voice that he has never really seen?  If we were seventy five years old do you think we could just pick up and leave everything behind to go somewhere that we would be shown later on?

Genesis 12:1-4 And יהוה said to Abram, “Go yourself out of your land, from your relatives and from your father’s house, to a land which I show you. “And I shall make you a great nation, and bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing! “And I shall bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you. And in you all the clans of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram left, as יהוה had commanded him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Ḥaran.  

It is very clear to me after reading this week’s portion that Yah is a separatist in the realm of calling His people out from the nations in order to use them. He does this by  establishing them in order to reveal His glory and bring honor to His name.  As we see in the above text he asks Abram to separate from his family and go.  I think many times that we allow family to influence us and our actions sometimes more than we should.  Sure we should listen to our relatives counsel and take it all in to account but sometimes we see in Scripture that in order to walk where Yah wants us to walk it just takes separation.  I’ve seen lots of folks being told by the Father to separate, but they chose family or relationships over Him.  Many times I’ve heard the excuse of we are very close and unified. How in the world would the Father want us to divide and bring separation amongst us?  Well even Y’shua speaks to that issue and clearly tells us what one of his roles would be.

Matthew 10:34-36 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword, for I have come to bring division, a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – and a man’s enemies are those of his own household. 

We have to be very careful and keep that passage in its proper context because it clearly can be used for destruction.  This verse in context is about Y’shua preparing the bondservants and letting them know that what they signed up for wasn’t going to be an easy ride full of roses.  It would bring division and strife throughout their lives.  They would be ridiculed and mocked and even some cases I’m sure some family disowned them for the message that they brought forth.  This view doesn’t fit into the theology of the people that only view the Eternal as being full of love and would never do anything to divide or cut asunder relationships.  We have to realize that He is the Creator and Ruler of the Universe.  We must submit to His plans and not our plans even when we might not understand them fully.  Remember He just told Abram basically to leave your place of where it’s comfortable, leave your relatives, leave your home.  I’ll tell you where you are going later on.  The text isn’t clear but possibly Abram had other plans for his life.  Maybe he had a twelve step plan on how to accomplish those goals.  We don’t know, but one thing is for sure that many times following the Father will bring separation and division from others and “our stuff”.  What we must realize is that following the Father always bring His blessings. When it isn’t popular or what the majority is doing at that time, it will eventually bring blessings.  Even though it might be difficult and painful at the time, it will always bring His blessings.

In today’s world the actions of Abram leaving what was familiar to go somewhere that he would eventually be told might seem abnormal, crazy, or even revolutionary.  In the light of eternity we must remember it was because of Abraham’s obedience that he received the blessing of forming a covenant with the Creator of the Universe.  Is there a reward for those of us today who have left everything?

Matthew 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My Name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 

Yes it is.  There are blessings for obedience today just as it were back then.  Nothing has “changed or been done away with”.  There is a saying that states,  “there are people waiting on the other side of our obedience.”  Think about that for a moment.  Abram was told that YHVH would “make” him into a great nation.  What if Abram would not have obeyed?  What would the implications have been for Abram?  What would have that meant for us?  What does it mean today when we don’t obey?  Are there truly people on the other side of our obedience?  I believe it’s definitely something for us to consider.

I would like to mention one thing about obedience.  Actually about half obedience, if that is really possible.  Even though Abraham left his home and started on the journey, he actually didn’t do exactly as he was told.  Abraham didn’t actually leave his relatives.  He took Lot and his gang with him.  What did Abraham have to go through for not fully doing what the Father said?

Genesis 13:7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Aḇram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. And at that time the Kenaʽanites and the Perizzites dwelt in the land. 

First, we see strife between Abraham and Lot.  I believe that Abraham did the right thing in allowing Lot to pick his spot.  In my opinion this shows me that Abraham wasn’t out for his own gain and truly was a leader and a true servant.  The text even reveals a key to us about this aspect.

Genesis 13:18 So Aḇram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamrĕ, which are in Ḥeḇron, and built an altar there to יהוה

I read over this many times without noticing something.  The writers of the Scriptures didn’t just use words to fill up space so this word terebinth trees got my attention. I looked up what a terebinth tree was.  It is an oak.  That doesn’t say much but when you begin to look deeper into the Hebrew you find that the root of this word means anyone or anything that has strong authority. I think text is possibly making the point that Abraham through his will to serve was given authority.  Serving is associated with authority.  Many people, organizations, ministers, and ministries want to be served instead of serving others to show their authority off to everyone.  Many people try and earn, gain and even manipulate their way to gaining and maintaining authority.  This type of attitude is usually revealed eventually because they don’t have an attitude of a servant.

The story of Lot helps us see that just because the grass is greener on the other side doesn’t mean that it is the best place to go.  Abraham gives us a great example of someone who doesn’t have ambition to have the best or take what he feels like he deserves.  He humbly gives Lot the choice and displays a true attitude of a servant.

The next problem that Abraham had to deal with by taking Lot with him was Abraham had to fight a battle in order to liberate Lot from his captivity.

Genesis 14:14 And when Aḇram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 

We need to note that it is much easier in the future to fully obey the Father than to have selective hearing.  Selective hearing means choosing which parts of what He said that we are going to obey.  In the end He gets His way no matter how tough it is on us.  He will win so it’s best to submit and obey in the beginning. If we fully obey, we divert extra hardships that come with not fully obeying.  If we selectively obey, there will be trials, obstacles, and hardships that are purposefully put in our path in order to teach us a lesson.  Even though fully obeying might be a crucifixion to our flesh at the time, in the end the eternal benefits such as blessings and authority we receive outweigh what we had to go through in order to receive those things.

We’ve been talking about obedience and the lack of so let’s shift gears and look at something that seems to look good on paper, but I wonder if anyone has ever done it?  Let’s take a look at multiplication.

Genesis 17:2 “And I give My covenant between Me and you, and shall greatly increase you.” 

I find it interesting that the Father thinks in terms of multiplication, while we think in terms of addition?  Let me explain what I mean from a religious perspective.

Converts or disciples, which ones are we producing?

Abraham was commanded “to go” (Lech Lecha) and multiply.   I find it very interesting that Y’shua commanded his followers “to go” and make disciples (multiplication).

Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, go and make taught ones of all the nations,

Is it a coincidence that Abraham and the servants of the New Testament were being commanded ‘to go’ and multiply or make something that never really existed before?  A friend of mine emailed me once with this data that I want to share it with you guys.  Remember we are looking at the difference between adding and multiplying.  The numbers will speak for themselves.  Many of us were brought up in a religious system that functions by ‘adding to’ what we have already and not really multiplying.  So let’s look at the numbers.  Say we have a guy who was born in 1920 and lived for seventy years.  If that guy ‘won’ a person to the Creator everyday of his life for these seventy years, how many people would that be?  Well 365 X 70 = 25,550.  Now let’s look at a guy who was born the exact date and starts at forty years old.  In 1960 this guy takes one person and spends the whole year discipling this person and the next year these two people spend the year each discipling a person.  Now just in two short years you have four people.  That doesn’t sound like a lot but in ten years there would be a total of 512 disciples.  In twenty years you would have 524,288 and in thirty years you would have 1,073,741,824.  The first guy I mentioned in thirty years would only have 10,950.  Can you see now why the Father is into multiplication?  It is somewhat shameful when you look at these numbers.  Why?  Well the ‘christian church’ has more or less been around for 2,000 years.  How has it fared using the multiplication method?  We have been taught in the ‘religious system’ to not make disciples but make converts and the outcome usually doesn’t end well.  We aren’t duplicating ourselves making sure that they duplicate themselves.  If you think about it, using this discipleship system above, the whole world could return to YHVH in just one generation.  That’s amazing.  So we must begin to disciple and not just convert folks.

2 Timothy 2:1-4 You then, my son, be strong in the favour that is in Messiah יהושע. And what you have heard from me among many witnesses, entrust these to trustworthy men who shall be competent to teach others as well. Suffer hardship with us as a good soldier of יהושע Messiah. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in the affairs of this life, in order to please only him who enlisted him as a soldier.

A Faith that brings forth the Fruit of Obedience

I have heard many messages preached about Abraham’s faith.  I would have to say that some were pretty good but most of the time many were usually manipulated and twisted into saying that because of Abraham’s faith he was blessed.  Folks you can’t find in Scripture where your faith blesses you.  It’s always your obedience that brings the blessings of YHVH.  So what was so special about Abraham’s faith?  Abraham’s faith in YHVH wasn’t about him believing that YHVH existed.  No, he knew that already.  It was about Abraham believing in the promise.

Genesis 15:6 And he believed in יהוה, and He reckoned it to him for righteousness. 

Abraham believed that YHVH would bring forth Y’shua, salvation!  The same exact faith and hope that you and I have today.  Again there is nothing “new” in the New Testament.  So as Abraham believed in the Y’shua of YHVH, the faith of Abraham was indeed the faith that Yah brings forth salvation!

I have heard many preachers teach that the ‘Jews’ were saved by keeping the ‘law’.  I would ask two questions.  When were the Old Testament saints first called ‘Jews’? Show me in the Old Testament where it says that obedience to the ‘law’ brings salvation?  Obedience to the ‘law’ never has and never will bring salvation.  Whether I obey or disobey my biological Father’s rules for his house has no bearing on if I’m his son or not.  I will always be his son but my obedience/disobedience does determine if I receive his blessings, grace, and mercy.  Obedience to the “law” or Torah (the instructions and teachings of YHVH) only brings blessings and just because you have material things or money isn’t always considered a blessing.  Our culture and society has misinterpreted those things by calling them blessings.  Many disobedient folks will tell you how blessed they are.  They think that having money means you are blessed.  This isn’t always true because for example look at a lot of famous Hollywood people and how many of them are rich and famous but are on medication to control their depression.  Look at how many of them are using drugs because they aren’t happy with their life nor all their money.  That is just one example that shows just because you have money doesn’t mean you are blessed.

Also, another point I would like to make is many times we do things in our own strength and then we say that Yah has blessed us.  That isn’t always the case.  I know ministers who have literally built super mega ministries without the help of Yah because they use their charisma, charm, and money marketing system to establish their kingdom.  I add again, without Yah being involved one bit. Ok back to Abraham believing YHVH.

Abraham was born again and brought into the house of YHVH because of his belief or faith that YHVH would do what He was telling Abraham He would do.  The same way we have received salvation today is the same way salvation has been since the beginning of time.  Faith in the Y’shua of YHVH nothing more nothing less.  Theologians, ministers, and religious people have made the message of salvation different and difficult. It’s not the Scriptures that have made it difficult.  The writer of Hebrews even teaches us that the message was the same in the Old Testament just as it was in the New Testament.

Hebrews 3:16-19-4:1-2 For who, having heard, rebelled? Was it not all who came out of Mitsrayim, led by Mosheh? And with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter into His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they were unable to enter in because of unbelief.  Therefore, since a promise remains of entering into His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the Good News was brought to us as well as to them, but the word which they heard did not profit them, not having been mixed with belief in those who heard it. 

We clearly see here that the writer of Hebrews tells us that this Gospel being preached was the same that was given to them (in context, them, were the Israelites at Sinai) so there isn’t a new way of salvation that the Creator has given to people.  There isn’t a plan B.  If there were a plan B then YHVH would be a liar because He says that He never changes.

Malachi 3:6 “For I am יהוה, I shall not change, and you, O sons of Yaʽaqoḇ, shall not come to an end.  

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of turning. 

It is my prayer that we would return to the beginning and study to show ourselves approved and understand the Scriptures in the way they were written.  Not how our organization, tradition of men, culture, and society says they were written.

Guarding, leading and taking on responsibility

Genesis 16:2 And Sarai said to Aḇram, “See, יהוה has kept me from bearing children. Please, go in to my female servant. It might be that I am built up by her.” And Aḇram listened to the voice of Sarai. 

How many times have you and I wanted the promises of Yah to be fulfilled like right now in our lives.  Let’s face it we don’t like to wait or go through the testing and trying period that many times comes with words from the Father.  Here is a great example of the chaos that can come out of us getting ahead of YHVH.  At some point and time in our lives we’ve tried to help Yahweh fulfill His promises in our lives.  We all know the story of Abraham and Sara being promised a son in their old age.  They were tired of waiting and took matters into their own hands and produced Ishmael.

Genesis 16:11-12 And the Messenger of יהוה said to her, “See, you are conceiving and bearing a son, and shall call his name Yishmaʽĕl, because יהוה has heard your affliction. “And he is to be a wild man, his hand against every one and every one’s hand against him, and dwell over against all his brothers.” 

The last sentence in that verse says something very interesting.  It says, “and dwell over against all his brothers.”  The Hebrew gives us a clearer picture in saying that he will always be or stay in the face of his brothers.  In my opinion it’s an example of someone who continually is bothering you or taunting you.  Can we think of a group of folks today that are always in the face of Israel taunting and provoking them?  It is very clear and evident.  I am not going to take that angle.

I think this gives us a clear example of sowing and reaping.  I’m not taking anything away from Abraham or Sarah but look at one decision that they made that was outside the will of Yah for their lives.  Look at how many folks it has affected even to this day.  That’s a sobering thought to me.

People say I’m sorry forgive me YHVH and get up and continue on their merry little way not taking one second to think about the consequences and repercussions that will eventually come forth from the seeds that were sown from their errors.  Let this be a lesson for us today that yes we can receive forgiveness, but there comes a time to pay for those mistakes.  It might not be five minutes later, five months later, or even five years later but eventually it will come about where what we have sown produces a harvest.

We need to be careful in decisions we make especially when we put ourselves in the place of YHVH in trying to make something happen.  So again let this be a sobering reminder to us to not get ahead of the Father and obey Him and allow Him to bring forth His promises in our lives in His time and not ours.