Parashah Vayyera 2020 (And he appeared) Genesis 18 – 22

The major events that occur in this reading are the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the creation of the peoples of Moab and Ammon through the incest of Lot’s daughters with their father (after his wife is turned into salt), the birth of Isaac, the sending away of Ishmael, and what we call the Akedah, the story of the Binding of Isaac.

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We also read of twice how Abraham caused Sarah to be taken as someone else’s wife in order to protect his life, a weakness of faith that shows Abraham was still, after all, human.

You know what? Let’s make that today’s lesson: a truth that is simple, straight-forward, and easy to understand is that no matter how faithful we are, we are still human and still subject to human weaknesses, such as pride and fear. And it is more than probable, actually, expected, that each and every one of us will show some level of faithlessness at times.

I want to talk about this because too often when we deal with either other Believers or (especially) non-Believers if we show weakness or anger or any regular, human emotion, it will be used as a weapon against us to weaken our resolve or to denigrate God’s word.

How many times have you heard the accusation, “And you say you’re a godly person! Hah! If you’re so godly, why are you doing (whatever)?”

Those people who do not believe in God or want to prove that obedience to the Torah is wrong will use your weakness as their excuse for acting as they want to. If I curse or get angry, or do something wrong, they take that as proof that being obedient doesn’t work, because I did not do right.

The fact that I am always going to have iniquity (the innate desire to sin), no matter how “holy” I am, is no proof that being obedient is useless or wrong. It is simply proof that I am made of flesh, and no matter how spiritual I try to be, you can’t be a living, flesh-and-blood human being and not have weaknesses.

Yochannon the Immerser said of Yeshua, in John 3:31:

The One who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks as one from the earth.

Therefore, since we are all of the earth, we will always belong to the earth, in one way or another. A leopard cannot change its spots or an apple tree give forth pears, so we who are born of a woman and are of the earth will always be of the earth. No matter how spirit-filled we want to be or try to be, we can never escape who we are.

Perhaps this is why Yeshua, when (in Matthew 19:24) speaking of the rich man, said that when it comes to entering heaven, it is impossible for men to do so, but with God, all things are possible. Even though Yeshua was specifically talking about rich people, the fact is that entering heaven as a spotless lamb, as Yeshua was, is impossible for humans because we are made of flesh, and heaven is of spirit.

It is not useless to try to do as God instructs, and when you backslide or slip, do not chide yourself. That is what the Enemy wants you to do- the Accuser wants you to accuse yourself of being a failure, and to give up trying to be what you can never be. It is true that we can never be sinless, but that is why Shaul told the Corinthians in his second letter to them that in our weakness, God’s strength is made manifest!

That’s the point! We are weak, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven from our own power, and only because of God’s grace given through his Messiah are we able to enter heaven. That is why we will have resurrected bodies- bodies that are not from the earth but from above, spiritual beings no longer fettered with flesh.

Don’t let your weaknesses or failures dishearten or depress you, but use them as building blocks to build up a better you. The most effective and lasting lessons are the ones we learn the hard way; when we sin and, because of the Ruach HaKodesh inside of us, feel the pain of doing so, we can better overcome what our flesh desires.

After all, why do you think security firms hire hackers? It is the ones who have been sinners and now choose not to sin who are best qualified to teach and protect others.

When I went to college and grad school, the best teachers were the ones who taught the night classes because they were working in the industry during the day- they’re the ones who had real-life experiences to share, not just book-learning.

When you go to take self-defense courses, you look for the school with the trophies in the window because they have experienced in the real world what they are teaching in the Dojo.

Let’s finish with this: if, and when, someone accuses you of being a hypocrite because you preach about sinlessness but you, yourself, sin, tell them that is the reason why you can preach about being sinless. It takes one to know one and being a sinner you are best qualified to tell others about it. Remember that Shaul called himself the number one sinner! And now, having accepted Yeshua as your Messiah, you know that you aren’t the one who will eventually overcome sin, but it will be God’s spirit within you that gives you the victory.

We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

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