He appeared — וירא
Genesis 18:1 - 22:24
2 Kings 4:1-37
Torah Portion Outline
Genesis 18:1 | A Son Promised to Abraham and Sarah
Genesis 18:16 | Judgment Pronounced on Sodom
Genesis 19:1 | The Depravity of Sodom
Genesis 19:12 | Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed
Genesis 19:30 | The Shameful Origin of Moab and Ammon
Genesis 20:1 | Abraham and Sarah at Gerar
Genesis 21:1 | The Birth of Isaac
Genesis 21:8 | Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away
Genesis 21:22 | Abraham and Abimelech Make a Covenant
Genesis 22:1 | The Command to Sacrifice Isaac
Genesis 22:20 | The Children of Nahor
Haftarah Portion Outline
The fourth reading from the book of Genesis is named Vayera (וירא). Here we see the story of Abraham as God promises him a son and declares His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah to Abraham who intercedes for the cities. We see the birth of Isaac and how Sarah requests Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away fearing for Isaac's life. Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac and God tests his obedience and love for Him.
Abraham is one of the most remarkable figures in the Bible, that if you study his life, you will surely not forget him. He is portrayed with his weaknesses, but you cannot see the faults once you start to study the life of Abraham because his strengths significantly outweighs his weaknesses.
Abraham was subjected to multiple tests with reason. He wouldn’t have become the patriarch of three of the most renowned religious groups namely Moslem, Christian and most importantly the Hebrews. All three groups acknowledge him.
The first thing Abraham had to do was to leave the house and land of his father. He is separated from the known and comfortability. This becomes a pattern throughout the Bible for those who are specifically called by God. This is also the center of holiness. Kadosh קָדֹשׁ is the word for Holy.
To be holy is also to be separated. YHWH is holy. He is one. He is above all and thinks and acts completely different. Praise His Name.
Abraham came from a family that worshiped the sun and the moon. The Chaldeans were definitely not a praise worthy nation. God chooses Abraham and sets him apart so that He can use him to make a great nation out of him.
God’s hand is upon Abraham. He promised him a son. A characteristic of the Almighty is that He does not act or work the way we think He should. His thoughts are definitely not our thoughts. Abraham and his wife looked from a human perspective to resolve the problem. God did not see a problem or human possibilities, but does what is true to Himself. He does something which can only be said to be God. He does it in such a way that when we read the Word and everybody from that era sees it, they can only proclaim that it is the work of God. He fulfills His promise to Abraham, but He does it when it seems like it will not happen anymore. He gives a son when it seems to be too late. He gives life where there seems to be no life. It is literally like seeing a burnt field with one green tree in the middle of the field. He did a miracle regardless of the limitations of our earthly existence. This is the God we serve. Great above all. Everyone would have had to admit that Isaac was not born due to the abilities of Abraham or Sarah but due to the abilities of God.
Who would have thought that God would give only to take it away? God had a much bigger plan than ours and here we can see that Abraham could only count on God’s promise. God gave Isaac and then asks him back. Abraham got ready and was on his way to offer his beloved child back to His Maker who gave him. In verse 5 of Genesis 22 he says: “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” He gave them no indication that he was going to return alone. On the mountain God provided.
We see in previous scripture (Genesis 18) that Abraham interceded for sinful cities. God had right to destroy them due to sin and those two cities were very sinful. The names of Sodom and Gomorrah are further used multiple times in the Bible as a depiction of a person who sins excessively. Abraham rather intercede for them until the end and due to his prayers and requests Lot and his family was saved. He made a statement that would echo until the end of time:
Genesis 18:23 …“Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”