This portion of the Torah tells us of God’s covenant with Abraham; the promise that his seed will be many, that they will be a blessing to the whole world, and that God will stand behind them, blessing those that bless them and cursing those that curse them.
There is just so much in here, most notably the verse often quoted in the B’rit Chadashah regarding true faithfulness, Gen. 15:6.
We see Abraham as a pillar of faith. Everything the Lord asked of him he did immediately, everything the Lord told him he believed, absolutely. He was a great leader (it tells us he had over 300 trained men when he went to war against the 5 kings to recover Lot) and that meant he had to be a good manager and leader to have so many servants, trained and loyal to him. He also was a man of action, going to war successfully and also a man of honor, not accepting gifts, as valuable as they were, from the wicked king of Sodom, and a man of generosity giving the tithe to Melchizedek.
In all of this we look up to Abraham as a true Patriarch and a man of unwavering faithfulness.
Well, maybe not unwavering all the time. I am not going to talk Abraham “down”, but the lesson I see here for me, and maybe for you, is that no one is perfect except Yeshua. Abraham’s faith was not so great in Genesis 11:11 when he took his family into Egypt and asked Sarah to say she was his sister to prevent him being killed so Pharaoh could take her as his own. Abraham certainly wasn’t showing faith and trust in God’s promises that he had already received when he “pimped” his own wife to save his skin. And Sarah, although we don’t have any idea how long she was with Pharaoh or how intimate their relationship had been, went along with this. In all fairness to her, at that time and as a woman, she didn’t have a lot to say about it, but I would think she couldn’t have been very happy with the situation. However, she was a dutiful and obedient wife, submitting even to her own shame in showing obedience to her husband. Shaul wrote to more than one of the Messianic Congregations about how wives should be obedient and submissive to their husbands, but he followed that up with how the husband should be toward his wife- he should protect as he would his own body. I don’t think Abraham was thinking of her as his own body here; he was only thinking of his own body.
Abraham was unquestionably a man of great faith. He was strong, brave, faithful, honourable…he was a real mensch! And we should all look towards him as an example of how to live regarding our relationships with the world and our relationship with God. Yet, as great as he was, he had faults, fears, and he did have moments of faith-less-ness. He was, after all, human. So are we, and as such we need to remember that we will fall.
The important lesson here is not to avoid falling, because we will. We have no choice to avoid it and no chance to escape it- it is our nature to sin. God knows that: that is why Yeshua had to die, because without His sacrifice on our behalf we had no hope. Messiah is the hope of the Jewish people, and since the Jewish people are chosen by God to be His representatives to the Goyim (the Nations, i.e. the rest of the world), we are Cohanim (Priests) to the world, set apart by God by His Torah to be an example for everyone else, and thereby lead them to salvation. Messiah is for everyone, Jew and Gentile. It has always been that way, and always will be. Be joyful, thou Gentiles, that God has included you in His plan and be not prideful, you Jews, to think that you are better than anyone else. We were chosen not because of who we are, but because of Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Father) and his worthiness.
I got off topic a little there, but it’s good stuff, right?
Back to Abraham and the fact that he showed lack of faith and trust in God. We all will backslide, one way or another, sooner or later. We need to treat those discretions correctly- without guilt, without remorse, and with a stronger desire and commitment to do better. That’s the best we can hope for and what we should aim to achieve: just to do better. If we try to be holy and righteous, we will fail and become distressed and disappointed with ourselves. That is fuel for the Enemy. He will come into your life with trials and problems, or tempt you with the pleasures of the flesh to keep you away from returning to the correct path. When we are attacking ourselves all the Enemy has to do is stand to the side and occasionally give us another reason to feel God has rejected us. He will give us more Tsuris, or he may introduce new pleasures, hedonistic and sinful, that will make us feel better, at the same time leading us away from the proper Halacha (way to walk).
Everyday I fight myself. Just like Shaul says, I do not what I want to do, and that which I do not want to do, I do. I am as much a wretch as he said he is. But I have the hope of Messiah, and the promise of God, and the knowledge of His forgiveness, compassion and mercy which helps me continue to get back on track. It’s not the falling that is the problem- that goes with the territory. What we need to remember is that the key element is getting back on the right track. We will fall, we will stumble, we will get skinned knees and bloody noses. It will hurt, we will also hurt others (sin always hurts more people than just the one who committed the sin) and we will feel bad about it. You better feel bad about it! Here’s the big BUT: feel bad but don’t berate or abuse yourself. Don’t give the Enemy a foothold: use the bad feelings in a positive way that will help you get back in the race, get back on the right track, and walk more carefully. Remember the spot where you tripped and avoid it next time it comes around. Don’t worry about not having enough chances to sin- you will never run out of opportunity to sin. That’s OK- God will never run out of mercy or forgiveness to those who do T’Shuvah.
I used to think that those people who were “saved” used this Messiah thing as a crutch to simply explain away their problems. I was right, and I was wrong. I was right in thinking we can use Yeshua as a crutch, but not in the way I thought. I thought He was a crutch people used more for an excuse, a means of avoiding the truth about themselves and the world. The truth is that He is a crutch which supports us when we are about to fall, and keeps us standing and moving , and gives us the hope that we will be better. He is not a means of avoiding our responsibilities: He doesn’t enable us, He edifies us. He holds us up in our weaknesses and supports us with His love, His truth, and the Ruach HaKodesh.
Don’t be afraid of falling; but, do be horrified at the thought of not getting off your butt and back in the race when you do.