Maryanne wrote to me that I posted the wrong Parasha commentary for Shabbat, November 19. She is right; the one I posted was on my list next to the correct one, Vayeira. So, this is late but, please find Vayeira below. My apologies!
Parashat Vayeira (And He appeared) Genesis 18:1-22:24
Haftarah: 2 Kings 4:1-37
“…but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” These are the words which Yitzhak (Isaac) asked his father as Abraham was walking with him to offer him as the burnt offering. Yitzhak knew that a burnt offering required an animal to be sacrificed. Although a burnt offering could be from a variety of different kosher animals, Yitzhak specifically used the word “lamb”. There are a few different Hebrew words which can be used to convey the idea of a lamb; therefore it is significant that he chose the word שה. This is the same word which is used in the book of Exodus for the Passover lamb.
The Passover offering is known in Judaism as a foundational sacrifice. This means that one can learn the basic principles concerning a sacrifice from this offering. If you were to be asked, “What are some of the foundational truths concerning a sacrifice to HaShem“, what would be some of the things you would answer? One of the best answers is found in this passage in verse five.
“…And I and the young man (Yitzhak), we will walk unto thus, and we will worship and we will return unto you.” Genesis 22:5
The primary purpose of a sacrifice is to position the one who makes the offering in the spiritual condition in which he can worship G-d. What is this spiritual condition? The answer is revealed in the selection of the word שה for lamb. It has already been mentioned that this word is related to Passover. As we have learned countless times previously, Passover is the Festival of Redemption. Hence, one should always remember that in order to worship G-d, he must first be redeemed.
When Yitzhak had seen all the necessary items for a sacrifice: the knife, the fire and the wood; he knew that one thing was lacking, the lamb. Today many people are trying to worship G-d without having experienced the redemption of the Lamb of G-d, Yeshua. Even if you are a believer, one must be in fellowship with Yeshua and not living in sin in order to truly have a worship experience. This may seem elementary to you from a knowledge standpoint; but in practice, most believers are not living in fellowship with Yeshua.
The point on which I want to focus is that Yitzhak immediately noticed that something was missing in order to worship G-d. If you are like me, often I attempt to worship and there are indeed spiritual components missing in my life so that I can have the worship experience that HaShem desires for His people to enjoy. In the example from the Torah portion, fire, wood, and a knife are all mentioned. These three elements can also reveal to the reader a process that each worshiper must go through. First, identify those things in one’s life which are a hindrance to worshiping and serving HaShem. Second, use the knife to cut these things out of your life. In this instance, the Word of G-d is the knife, for it sharper than any double-edged sword and is able to cut, even dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (See Hebrews 4:12). The wood is where one must place these things symbolically so that the fire of G-d may come and consume them, ridding one’s life from them.
Worship is not a natural activity, even for the believer. The fact that he has been redeemed only means that he has the potential to worship. It is only when the believer abides in the word, applying it to every aspect of his life, that the Holy Spirit will move and worship will actually take place.