Parasha Lech Lecha (Go Forth!)
Genesis 12:1–17:27; Isaiah 40:27–41:16; Romans 4:1–25
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go [lech lecha] from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1)
Last week, in Parasha Noach (Noah), God instructed Noah to build an ark (tievah) and coat it inside and out with pitch. That ark would save Noah – the only righteous man left in the world – and his family, as well as a pair of each kind of animal.
This Shabbat’s Parasha (Torah portion) is about journeys – specifically journeys that take us home.
Lech Lecha, roughly translated as “Go!” or “Leave!” or “Go ye,” carries one of the most exciting messages in the Bible – God’s call to His people to aliyah (literally to go up or to ascend) – to leave country, kindred, and home and go to the Promised Land.
Today, the word aliyah in Hebrew means to immigrate to the Land of Israel. A person who ‘makes aliyah’ (immigrates to Israel) is called an oleh (m) or olah (f) – one who goes up. Abram was the first oleh in Biblical history.
The prophet Isaiah also foretold a day in the end times when many people from the nations would say, “‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3)
Leaving the Security of the Comfortable
“So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.” (Genesis 12:4)
God called Abram to leave all that was familiar, secure, comfortable and beloved, in order to go to an unknown land where he would dwell as a stranger.
This parallels the call of God to many in our generation to ‘come home’ to the Land of Israel.
God promises in His Word to bring His people home from all four directions of the earth and He is fulfilling His Word in our very day – and it’s so exciting! God is bringing back to His Land the exiles of Israel, never again to be uprooted from the land that He has given us!
“‘I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them… I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.” (Amos 9:14–15)
The call to Abraham is a call to each and every Jewish person in this hour: Lech lecha! Go forth! This very much is the heart of God, and always has been.
In fact, Yeshua’s (Jesus) last words to His disciples before His ascension were also ‘go forth!’
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations….” (Matthew 28:19–20)
This doesn’t mean that we must all become missionaries. Obeying the call of Lech Lecha may not necessarily require a geographical change either, but God is calling each of us to step out of our comfort zones and be willing to follow His Spirit on a journey to a place that He will show us.
Leaving behind everything that is familiar and heading straight into an unknown future certainly stretches our faith in the Almighty, but He is faithful.
Will we trust Him enough to take this leap of faith as did Abram in order to receive the reward?
Goy Gadol (Great Nation)
“I will make you into a great nation [goy gadol] and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2)
In Genesis 12:2, God promises Abraham that he would become a great nation –a ‘goy gadol’ in Hebrew. The word gadol means either big or great and the word goy is used for nation, but can also mean a Gentile (non-Jew).
We can keep in mind, however, that at this point, Abraham was in fact, not a Jew. He was a man living in Babylonia, who entered into covenant with His Creator. The important part of the equation is the covenant, not our lineage.
Abraham, through this covenant with God, was to be blessed and to be a blessing to all humanity.
Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for blessing (brakha) may be changed to spring of water (breikha) with just one minor vowel change.
God is the source of all blessing, and Yeshua is the fountain of springs of living water (John 4:14).
Blessings and Curses
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
In Genesis 12:3, God makes a profound promise to Abraham that whoever blesses him will be blessed and whoever curses him will be cursed. This promise, which was extended to Isaac and then Jacob (Israel) and his descendants, has proven true throughout history and still holds true today.
The totality of European history throughout the centuries teaches one lesson: those nations which have dealt fairly and mercifully with the Jews have prospered; however, the nations which have oppressed and mistreated the Jewish people have come under a curse through their own actions.
Is anyone seeking God’s blessing? The sure way to receive His blessing, according to the Word, is by blessing Israel and the Jewish people.
How would all the families of the earth be blessed through Abraham? The Bible foretells that through Abraham would come the Messiah, a light shining in the spiritual darkness of this world.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light… For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given….” (Isaiah 9:2, 6)
The Messiah was not sent only to save Israel, but all of mankind!
“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved one of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles (goyim), that you should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
The Blessing of Abraham
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28)
There is another aspect of the blessing of Abraham that Believers need to comprehend: anyone who is in the Messiah is considered the ‘seed of Abraham’ and an equal heir to the blessings of Abraham as well.
That means that one does not need to be the physical seed of Abraham to receive the blessings!
The book of Galatians declares that because of what Yeshua (Jesus) did, the blessing of Abraham can be ours, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, bond or free, through our faith in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
God actually swore by His own self, for there was none greater, promising to bless and multiply Abraham, who patiently endured and received the promises. (Hebrews 6:13–15)
“And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promises.” (Hebrews 6:15)
So, too, if we will also patiently endure and continue believing in faith, God will bring to pass His promises of blessing, increase and multiplication, just as He did for Abraham.
“Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.” (Genesis 13:1)
It’s also noteworthy that Lot prospered simply because he went with Abraham.
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
“There was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite lived in the land at that time.” (Genesis 13:7)
In chapter 13 of Genesis, we see that there was strife between the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abraham.
Because Abraham understood that strife would destroy the blessing of God on his life, as lover of peace, he sought a solution.
He decided that he and Lot must separate. The fact that Abraham was such a radical peacemaker could very well be one of the reasons why God chose him to be the Father of our faith.
Abraham was willing to give up anything Lot asked for, just to have peace (shalom) restored in his life.
“Better a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1)
Sometimes separation is the only answer, as it was for Abraham and Lot.
Abraham passed on this heritage of peacemaking to his son, Isaac, as well. When the Philistines unjustly challenged him over his father’s wells, Isaac chose just to walk away for the sake of peace.
This wasn’t weakness on either Abraham or Isaac’s part. It was humility.
It was also the wisdom to know that we absolutely must have peace in order to walk in the blessing and anointing of God! We must treat strife as we would the plague.
Arguing, bickering and contention bring in confusion and every evil thing! (James 3:16)
In order to restore peace, however, like Abraham, we may need to sacrifice something important to us and even be willing to accept an unjust situation, trusting God to make it up to us in His way and time.
Also, we see here the principle about being careful in choosing our companions. Do we follow those who are walking with God, or those who are ‘walking curses’? As someone once said, “If we want to fly like an eagle, we had better stop hanging around with turkeys!”
Living by Faith
“I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession.” (Genesis 13:15)
Abraham gave Lot first pick of the land and accepted whatever was left over. Lot chose according to his natural sight.
The land he chose looked lush and green and fertile. He gave Abraham the leftover brown, barren, dry land.
Abraham, however, walked by faith and not by sight. He was unmoved by the appearance of the land leftover because he trusted in God.
The land that Lot chose ended up completely destroyed due to its depravity (Sodom), but Abraham prospered in the Land because he believed God’s promises.
The Promised Land Was Inhabited
“At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.” (Genesis 12:6)
When God promised the Land of Israel to Abram, the land was inhabited. So too today, the fact that some Arabs may have been living in the Land that God promised Israel is no reason for Believers to doubt that the Land still belongs to the People of Israel.
The very fact that the Bible starts with the account of creation establish God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The whole earth belongs to the Lord.
God, the Creator of every inch of land on this earth, has every right to give a portion of His land to whomever He pleases, no matter who happens to be living in the land at the time.
Likewise, although Shechem, the place where Abraham offered a sacrifice (Genesis 12:6), is now in the ‘Palestinian Arab occupied territory,’ the area still Biblically belongs to the People of Israel.
God’s promise to Abraham for the land is forever, and God is faithful to His covenant. God’s promise to Abraham, clearly an everlasting covenant, is still in effect today.
To believe otherwise calls into question the very nature of God.
God Is a Covenant Keeper!
He did not break His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). Yes, He punished Israel for her sins, but once the time of the punishment was over, He kept His promise to restore the Land and bring His people home.
But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. (Ezekiel 36:8–10)
The fulfillment of this prophetic Scripture is happening in our very generation. The land is now blossoming and its cities inhabited as He promised, but 99% of the Jewish People do not know that Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Jewish Messiah.