Thought for the week

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‘Parsha Chayei Sarah’ – It’s not about you

Genesis 24:12-14: “Then he said, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’--let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”” 

The ‘parsha’ (‘Torah’ portion) this week is ‘Parsha Chayei Sarah’ (Life of Sarah), found in Genesis 23:1 – 25:18, and is the fifth weekly ‘Torah’ portion in the annual Jewish cycle of ‘Torah’ reading, and the fifth in the book of Genesis; the corresponding ‘haftorah’ (reading of the prophets) is found in 1 Kings 1:1-31

Paradoxically, ‘Parsha Chayei Sarah’ deals with events that occurred after Sarah’s death.

The first verse of the ‘parsha’ tallies the lifespan of the first four Matriarchs of Israel beginning with the words: “And the life of Sarah was one hundred and twenty seven years”. 

Sarah was 127 years old when she died in Kiryat Arba, in Hebron. Abraham mourned for her and asked the Hittites to sell him a burial site. They invited Abraham to bury Sarah in the choicest of their burial places, but Abraham asked the Hittites to intercede for him with Ephron, the son of Zohar, to sell him the Cave of Machpeilah at its full price.

Ephron priced the value of the land at four hundred shekels of Silver and Abraham purchased the land. Genesis 23:19 tells us that Abraham buried Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpeilah before Mamre (that is Hebron in the Land of Canaan); thus the Machpeilah field with the cave in it, in the heart of Hebron, became the first Jewish owned plot of land in the Holy Land.

Abraham was old and he instructed his senior servant to go and find a wife for Isaac. The servant had to swear by G-d that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites but that he would go to the land of Abraham’s birth to find Isaac a wife. The servant asked Abraham if the woman did not consent to follow him to Canaan, should he take Isaac back to the land from which Abraham came.

Abraham told him on no account to take Isaac back there, for G-d had taken Abraham from there and promised Abraham and his offspring (the Jewish people) the Land of Canaan.

Abraham’s servant took Abraham’s bounty and ten of Abraham’s camels and traveled to the city of Abraham’s brother, Nachor, to find the right woman who would marry Isaac and become the second matriarch of Israel.

The servant had a plan: He made the camels kneel by the well outside the city at evening, when women come out to draw water. The servant asked that G-d grant that the maiden whom he would ask to draw water for him and who also offered water to his camels might be the one whom G-d had decreed for Isaac.

He had scarcely finished speaking when Rebekah, the beautiful virgin daughter of Abraham's nephew, Bethuel, came out with her jar on her shoulder; she went down to the well and filled her jar. The servant then asked her for some water from her jar; she quickly let him drink and, when he had drunk his fill, she offered to draw water for his camels.

When the camels had finished drinking, the servant took a gold nose-ring and two gold bracelets and gave them to Rebekah; he then asked her whose daughter she was and whether there was room in her father's house for him to spend the night. She identified herself and told him that there was plenty of straw, feed and room at her home for him to spend the night.

The servant worshipped G-d and blessed Him for His steadfast faithfulness to Abraham.

Rebekah ran home and told everything to her mother's household. Rebekah’s brother ran out to the servant at the well and invited the servant to their house. 

The ‘Torah’ now repeats the entire sequence of events: Abraham's instructions to the servant; his arrival at the well; his prayer and the test he invented; Rebekah’s appearance and her actions; the servant’s gifts to her and his conversation with her - this time told by the servant himself.

Then Laban and Bethuel said, “The thing comes from the LORD; we cannot speak to you either bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master's son's wife, as the LORD has spoken.” The servant then worshipped the L-rd.

After giving gifts to Rebekah, her brother and her mother, the servant and his party ate, drank, and spent the night. 

The next morning, he asked leave to return to Abraham, but Laban and her mother asked that Rebekah remain a period of time before they left. However, the servant persisted so they called Rebekah and she agreed to go. 

Isaac was out meditating in the field toward evening when he looked up and saw camels approaching. Rebekah saw Isaac and asked the servant who the man was; he replied that it was Isaac, his master. She then covered herself with her veil.

The servant told Isaac everything that had happened, and Isaac brought Rebekah into Sarah’s tent and took her as his wife.

‘Parsha Chayei Sara’ tells us that Isaac loved Rebekah, and found comfort after his mother's death.

‘Parsha Chayei Sarah’ relates that Abraham took another wife, Keturah, who bore him six sons.

The ‘Torah’, however, is quick to point out that these additional sons of Abraham were not to be included in the Abrahamic legacy.

Genesis 25:5-6 tells us that Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; but to the sons he had by concubines, Abraham gave gifts and sent them away from Isaac to the east.

Thus the ‘Torah’ concludes its account of Abraham's life. Abraham's lived to 175 and died and was gathered to his people. His sons, Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the Cave of Machpeilah.

Finally, ‘Parsha Chayei Sarah’ informs us that Ishmael died at 137, after fathering twelve sons, each of whom was the prince of a domain; the territories of these twelve clans extended “From Havilah to Shur, which is before Egypt, all the way to Assyria.”

’Haftorah Chayei Sarah’, found in 1 Kings 1:1-31, describes an aging King David; echoing this week's ‘Torah’ reading, which mentions that “Abraham was old and advanced in days.”

King David was aging and, seeing his father advancing in age, one of King David's sons, Adonijah, seized the opportunity to prepare the ground for his ascension to his father's throne upon the latter's passing - despite King David's express wishes that his son Solomon succeed him.

Adonijah recruited the High Priest and the commander of David's armies - both of whom had fallen out of David's good graces, to champion his cause. He arranged to be transported in a chariot with fifty people running before him, and invited a number of his sympathizers to a festive party where he publicized his royal ambitions.

The prophet Nathan encouraged Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, to approach King David and plead with him to reaffirm his choice of Solomon as his successor. This she did, mentioning Adonijah’s recent actions of which the king had been unaware.

The prophet Nathan later joined Bathsheba and the king to express support for Bathsheba's request. King David acceded to their request and he told Bathsheba that Solomon would reign after him in his place. 

There are a number of lessons to be learned from ‘Parsha Chayei Sarah’; however, I want to focus on one particular lesson: The faithfulness of a loyal servant who realised that it was not about him, it was about the mission.

We see in this week’s ‘parsha’, that Abraham’s servant swore an oath to Abraham that he would find the ‘right’ bride for Isaac. This was a huge responsibility placed on the servant.

In some cultures, there are arranged marriages; however, how many of you would trust one of your employees to find a husband for your daughter or a wife for your son. Yet Abraham had full confidence in his servant; in fact, his trust actually extended to G-d - Genesis 24:7: “The LORD God of heaven…will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.”

Abraham totally trusted G-d and so did his servant. In Genesis 24:12, we see that he committed the situation to G-d: “Then he said, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.””

He devised a test, setting out a fleece as it were, in order to be sure that He would make the correct choice. And G-d faithfully came through for him showing him Rebekah, who would become the second matriarch of the Jewish people, as a wife to Isaac.

The second part of this lesson is the loyalty of the servant to his master, Abraham. In Genesis 24:12 he prayed: “please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.”

He never prayed for success for his own benefit; rather he prayed for success for Abraham’s benefit. 

What an example of the Godliness of a humble servant, almost unknown in the bible.

In fact, I wonder how many of you even know his name. Do you know how many times is his name is mentioned in ‘Parsha Chayei Sara’?

The servant’s name was Eliezer and his name is not mentioned even once!

Why is that? Doesn’t it come as a surprise that the central figure in the story goes nameless throughout the entire account?

After Eliezer had encountered Rebekah and realized that she was the one he was sent to find, he requested permission from her father and brother that she return with him to marry Isaac. His initial statement to them was, “I am a servant of Abraham”; and throughout his journey, he is consistently referred to as “the servant”.

By his name not being mentioned, we learn that this was not about Eliezer the person; this was about the mission.

The servant was so dedicated to Abraham that at no time did his own self-interest get in the way of fulfilling that mission. He was a mere servant—an extension of Abraham’s hand.

And this was central to the mission’s success. The servant was faced with the near-impossible task of finding a wife for Isaac. Had he relied on his own capabilities, he would have had no chance of success. It was his constant awareness that he was nothing more than Abraham’s servant, and that he trusted the G-d of Abraham that mapped his path through every challenge and obstacle that lay before him.

By making himself into nothing more than an extension of Abraham, he had all the power and merit of Abraham – as well as Abraham’s G-d, behind him.

This brings to mind another Servant who made Himself nothing, trusted His Father faithfully, and loyally did His Father’s will that mapped His path through every challenge and obstacle that lay before him…His name is Yeshua and He is the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of mankind.

And the challenges and obstacles that lay before Him included being severely beaten; having His beard plucked out; being so cruelly scourged that His flesh was ripped off His body; being crucified by being nailed to a cross with thick bolts through His wrists and feet and finally, separation from His Heavenly Father as He took all of mankind’s sins upon Himself.

And He allowed all this to be done to Him as a Suffering Servant of His Heavenly Father. 

He could have decided not to go through with this – Luke 22:41-42: “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”” 

Yet love – for you and for me – kept Him on the cross so that mankind could be redeemed out of sin and out of the hand of Satan to forgiveness and everlasting life in heaven.

And all He asks of you is to accept Him as your ‘Mashiach’, your Saviour, and He is calling out to the unsaved, both Jews and Gentiles.

Don’t wait! Accept G-d’s call to you and pray the prayer of salvation found at the end of this article today.

G-d is also calling out to His church – both Jewish and Gentile believers to, like Eliezer, become humble, loyal, faithful servants of the Most High G-d, understanding that this life is not about you, it’s about the mission – G-d’s mission for you and for me to be an extension of Yeshua by giving up your life for Him.

Are you fulfilling the ‘Great Commission’ to tell the lost about Yeshua and salvation? Are you being the “light of Yeshua” to those around you?

Are you a humble, loyal, faithful servant of G-d or are you only interested in yourself; in your own mission and your own way?

Remember, as a Born Again Believer in Yeshua, it’s not about you; it’s about the mission.

 

We love you. 

 

Shalom.

 

Scripture of the week: Genesis 24 

 

SALVATION PRAYER

Thank you Yeshua for Your love for me.

Thank you for giving up Your life on the cross for me and for taking my sins upon Yourself.

I confess that I have sinned.

I repent of my sins and I turn from everything I know to be wrong.

I invite You to come into my life as my Messiah, my Saviour.

By Your grace I will serve You all the remaining years of my life.