Lech Lecha / Go For Yourself
HafTorah Portion Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Brit Chadash Romans 4:1-25
The Journey of Abram and the Covenant…
This week’s parsha tells the story of Avram and Sarai and their journey into the unknown path. After hearing a call from God telling them to “get up and go,” they take their nephew, Lot, and begin their new life.
Lech Lecha can be translated four ways. Rashi translates the phrase as “Journey for yourself.” According to him, God is saying; “Travel for your own, there I will make you into a great nation.” Another interpretation is: “Go with yourself,” meaning, by travelling from place to place you will extend God’s influence through you over many lands. A third interpretation is “Go to yourself.” This translation seeks to discover who one truly is. The fourth interpretation is “Go by yourself.” This interpretation is unique in the fact that one must be willing to stand alone and steadfast within the calling of God. This included a journey into the unknown. I like to stress: "Go see for yourself" because first God tells him and then He shows him.
Either translation shows us the depth of Abrams’ journey and the calling of God. Abraham was about to say goodbye to the things that mean most to us – our land, birthplace, home, our people and the religious system that we are ‘comfortable’ living in. God was calling Abram out of comfort – into the unknown – by faith. “Go For Yourself” by faith you will follow Me.
This journey included God’s covenant that He made with Abraham.
Genesis 12:1-4 ‘Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him…’
Genesis 17:1-7 ‘When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.’
A covenant is different from a promise in many ways. A covenant is a binding agreement, much like the Owner and the tenant. This covenant was given, established and orchestrated by God as an everlasting covenant.
In between these two chapters, Genesis 14:13 makes a strong declaration. During a conflict, an escaped prisoner came “le’avram ha’ivri” to Avram the Hebrew, to inform him that Lot had been captured. Ha’Ivri – The Hebrew עברי . The root letters are used to mean cross over, or pass through. In the Scriptures it refers to those who have primarily crossed over rivers. This is the first time that Hebrew is used in Scriptures. To cross over – Hebrew is an action.
Abraham was a Hebrew because he crossed over from a culture of idol worshipers, (Joshua 24:2) from Ur of the Chaldeans into a promised land. The children of Israel are also called Hebrews, examples are Genesis 43:32, Exodus. 2:6, and Exodus 2:13.
Abraham crossed over into a new life and covenant with God; he did not cross over into a religion. To be joined into the covenant of God is a way of life, neither with man’s boundaries or bondage, but rather with the freedom to live life to its fullest, a redeemed life with the Most High. Religion is a place to get stuck, to adhere to the rules of the denomination that one is under, and as that denomination changes so will the rules.
God’s covenant is everlasting and never waivers or changes. Shabbat is a lifestyle, the moadim are part of our lives, and kosher is how we eat. These facts in our lives have nothing to do with religion, but rather living by faith in the covenant of God.
Lech Lecha / Go For Yourself
Haf Torah Isaiah 40:27-41:16
Brit Chadasha Acts 7:1-6
Go Forth – lech lecha literally means ‘betake yourself’. Go forth and find yourself in Adonai. Find the one you truly are in YHWH, the one you are meant to be. This is what Abraham did as he was commanded to and in doing so he received the inheritance. Rashi interprets it as: “Journey for yourself.”
When God calls us into covenant, we have to give up our past in order to acquire a future with Him. Abraham was about to say goodbye to the things that mean most to him and us – land, birthplace and parental home, the places where we belong. He was about to make a journey from the familiar to the unfamiliar. And this involved trust. This trust is reiterated in Hebrews 11.
This parsha opens with “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…” Genesis 12:2.
The promise that Abraham’s descendants shall be as the stars in the sky is found in Genesis 15:5. God continues to declare to Abraham that he will inherit the land that God is giving him. Abraham’s response is so typical of how we live our lives, “How shall I know that I will inherit it?” Genesis 15:8. We know that God is sovereign; we know that He is the Alef and the Tav, we know that He created all, and yet we still doubt.
God cuts a covenant with him in Genesis 15:8. A covenant is an agreement usually between two parties, and usually binding on their descendants as well. It is either conditional or unconditional and requires a sign which is the visual.
This covenant in Genesis 15 and 17 is between God and Abram and the unconditional promise is that Abram’s offspring will be more numerous than the stars in this sky. God gives the land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael to Abram’s descendants. The sign of this covenant is circumcision found in Genesis 17:1-27.
Genesis chapter twelve is the call of Abram, the beginning of a mighty nation. Chapter twelve continues with Abram in Egypt and in chapter thirteen Abram and Lot separate. In Genesis 14:18-20 Abram has the encounter with Melchizedek:
‘Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Psalm 110 also speaks of Melchizedek;
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
2 The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
3 Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth.
4 The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at Your right hand;
He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
6 He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall execute the heads of many countries.
7 He shall drink of the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He shall lift up the head.’
Looking deep into Lech Lecha, we see such metaphors to our lives today. From the cutting of a covenant, to the trust in God and the faith to follow Him, to the journey we all must take. In the Brit Chadasha, Matthew 4:19, Matthew 10:38 and 1Peter 2:21 we are told to ‘follow Him.’
How great a God we serve. John 12:26 ‘If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.’