This parashah is known as the History of the Patriarchs. We read how Abram (later called Abraham) was called by God. How he went to Egypt where he gained wealth, how he took care of his deceased brother’s son, Lot. We learn of the separation between Abram and Lot due to both of them having such wealth in cattle, and we see how Abram allowed Lot to choose the best land.
Lot is captured when the 5 kings attacked Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abram and his 300 men save them. This is where we first meet Melchizedek, the righteous king of Salem and the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol), a precursor to Yeshua .
Sarai (not yet Sarah) gives birth to Ishmael through her handmaiden, and God promises Hagar that Ishmael will also be a prince of many tribes, and that he will always be at war and in conflict with his own brothers.
We end this reading with God’s promise to (now called) Abraham that he will bear a son through Sarai (now called Sarah), and they shall name him Isaac, and through Isaac God’s covenant with Abraham will be fulfilled.
The sign of this covenant is the circumcision, which Abraham performed on himself, Ishmael and all his men the very next day.
Wow! The stories alone are wonderful, and demonstrate God’s majesty and power, as well as the weaknesses of humanity. If anyone should ever doubt the truth of the bible, all they have to do is ask themselves this: if the bible is supposed to make God and all those who worship him look like powerful and saintly people, why then do they act the way they do?
Abraham pimped his wife to save his skin (twice!); Lot moved next door to the most sinful and disgusting place in the world; Sarah asks her hand-maiden to bear a child for her, then when she does Sarah throws her out into the wilderness to die, along with her son.
These are wonderful people? These are the saintly Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people? They sound just like you and me!
That’s the reason the bible is verifiable and believable- because these people are just like you and me! That is also why these stories are so wonderful and empowering: because the people in the bible are like you and I, that means you and I can be chosen by God to do great things, just like they did.
The part of this parashah I want to discuss, and this will be brief (no, really- it will be!) is right at the very beginning: Genesis 12: 2-3, where God is talking to Abram and tells him:
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; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
God made the Jewish people His vessel for blessing the world. That is what being the “Chosen People” means, to be chosen to bring God’s blessings to everyone. And the two greatest blessings of all that God gave the world through the Jewish people were the Torah, and Yeshua ha Maschiach- Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
I have written before about the blessings the world has received through the Jews, the number of Nobel prize winners who are Jewish (a percentage that is far greater than the percentage of Jews in the population), the many wonderful performers, the writers, the poets, the financiers (no stereotyping now!), and many other things.
And I have also written about how God’s promise to curse those that curse the Jews has been proven to be trustworthy: Pharaoh in the time of Moses, The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Philistines, Spain, the Nazi’s- all demolished or reduced to nothingness. Not even a shadow of their former glory left to them, those that are left at all.
And for those that have blessed the Jews, well, America is about the only country that has done so, but we are moving away from that and soon will be cursed and judged, just as all the other nations will be (and are being judged, even now.)
These two lines in Genesis are the beginning of the Jewish people’s influence on the world and God’s plan of salvation, and they are also the end of it. Judgement is not coming, it is here! The countries that have cursed the Jews are being cursed, the countries that have forsaken God and rejected His Torah are suffering punishment (global warming, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami’s, war), and it is getting worse every day.
Here is the simple lesson that God is telling us in this parashah: choose sides.
On the one side, you can choose God by accepting and supporting His people (chosen to save you), accept the Messiah He sent to bring you back into communion with Him, and obey the teachings (the Torah) that He gave you to know how he wants to be worshiped and how He wants you to treat each other.
On the other side, you lose. Everything. You lose blessings while you are alive, and you lose heaven on earth and eternal peace after this life is over.
When you look at it, you have to ask yourself: what the heck is wrong with people? Why would anyone give up eternal joy for a short-lived reward of hedonistic pleasures that will never really satisfy?
Because we’re stupid, that’s why. The definition of stupid is one who is lacking common sense. Rejecting God and His path to salvation is, well, stupid. There is no better word for it, and even Shaul (Paul) used that word in Galatians: 3:1 (some interpretations use the word “foolish”, but I believe the correct word is “stupid.”) Those who reject God, reject His Messiah, reject His Torah and refuse to support the Jewish people and Israel are just plain stupid!
And as Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” So if someone out there doesn’t appreciate being called stupid, then stop acting stupid!
I am not calling you to give up your life as it is and run an underground railroad from the former Soviet Union countries to help Jews escape and make Aliyah (return to Israel)- we have organizations already doing that. Ezra International, Bridges for Peace, and others like Jacobs Hope, helping Jews when they get to Israel.
I am not asking you to convert to Judaism.
I am simply asking that you think about your choices; God has given you free will and intelligence so you can think about your choices. Think about how much better your life will be if God is blessing you, how much better your life will be when you are helping others (treating them as you would want them to treat you), how much more peaceful you will feel knowing that you are promised eternal joy.
I spent 2/3 of my life rejecting all this, and I can remember why I did. It seemed to make sense at the time, but it was, now knowing better, truly senseless. And I can tell you this, unequivocally: I am so very, very glad I came to my senses!