A Few Thoughts on Vayera

This week’s parasha, Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24, begins as Abram was sitting in the entrance to his tent in the shade of terebinth trees in the area of Hebron, recovering from his recent brit milah (circumcision). Then there was the appearance of three “men” to whom Abram offered hospitality. Soon, after caring for the “men’s” needs, Abram received a promise, part of which he had heard before,

Then He (HaShem) said, “I will most surely return to you in about a year’s time, surprisingly, Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Genesis 18:10

This promise was not new as HaShem had already promised Abram, though currently childless, that he would be the patriarch of a great nation.

My heart’s desire is to make you into a great nation, to bless you, to make your name great so that you may be a blessing.

Genesis 12:2

The difference in the promise is that there was a specific time set for its fulfillment. Traditionally, Abram was 75 years old when HaShem called him to leave Haran and go to Canaan. In Genesis 16:16, it is recorded that Abram was 86 when Ishmael, son of Sarai’s handmaiden was born. Genesis 17:1 begins “When Abram was 99 years old, ADONAI appeared to Abram…” and eventually reiterated the promise of becoming a great nation once again, as well as restating the fact that it would be through Abram and Sarai’s offspring (now Abraham and Sarah) whom the promise would be realized.

…Sarah your wife will bear you a son and you must name him Isaac. So, I will confirm My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.

Genesis 17:19

Now to return to this week’s parasha and the promise with the timestamp that would be finally realized.

Then ADONAI visited Sarah just as He had said, and ADONAI did for Sarah just as He had spoken. So, Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time that God had told him. Abraham named his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore for him—Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised Isaac, his eight-day-old son, just as God had commanded him. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac his son was born to him.

Genesis 21:1-5

Twenty-five years have now passed from the original calling and promise to the fulfillment of Abram now Abraham becoming the father of the one through whom a great nation would be established. During the twenty-five years, Abraham was understandably concerned about the promise being fulfilled and how it would be even possible with such an old couple as he and Sarah. So, when Sarah offered a perfectly legitimate option of line continuance through her handmaiden, Abraham agreed (Genesis 16). As we know, this solution was not only not sanctioned by HaShem, the repercussions and consequences have plagued Isaac’s progeny as strife remains to this day with Ismael’s progeny.

In Peter’s second letter to his community, while referencing the prophet Habakkuk, we are given an insight to HaShem’s time schedule concerning his promises.

But don’t forget this one thing, loved ones, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some consider slowness…

2 Peter 3:8-9

For the vision is yet for an appointed time. It hastens to the end and will not fail. If it should be slow in coming, wait for it, for it will surely come—it will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3

In other words, our sense of timing and HaShem’s sense of timing are not necessarily the same, especially today when we usually want instant gratification and quick responses to our requests whether they be to others or to HaShem. We simply do not want to wait. Rav Shaul wrote to the believers in Corinth, “For in Him all the promises of God are ‘Yes’” (2 Corinthians 1:20a), but he did not write that all the promises are immediately fulfilled.

Too often, when we get into situations of need or concern, we, like Abraham, try to figure out how to help HaShem since he seems to be having trouble taking care of things in a timely manner, at least what we consider to be timely. Then on occasion, we might find ourselves with our own Ishmael’s that need to be dealt with. Then again like Abraham, we discover that it would have been much better to simply wait on the LORD and trust in his timing. Thus, the psalmist encourages us with these words,

Wait for ADONAI. Be strong, let Your heart take courage, and wait for ADONAI.

Psalm 27:14

Followed by these words of assurance by Rav Shaul,

I am sure of this very thing—that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Messiah Yeshua.

Philippians 1:6

In this world rife with chaos and concern, let’s commit to take these words to heart as we continue our life’s journey each day. We will “wait on ADONAI” and trust that he will finish the good work that “He begin” in each of us.

All Scripture readings are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

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