Lekh Lekha "go for your own sake" Genesis 12:1 -17:27
Now Yahweh said to Abram, "Go forth from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you." (Gen. 12:1)
The Test of Obedience The message is Lekh lekha! "pick your self up and go" from the land of your kinsmen. These are stronger words than are indicated by translation without embellishment. The indication is that a clean break with the past is required. A new direction is given and history is being made. Abraham was told to change everything, to learn new ways and change his heart as well as to depart from there. Rashi explains that the unusual phrase, "lech lecha,” means: "for your own benefit and for your own good."
Abram was probably the most tested individual in the Bible, he was tested by God from day one. His ultimate test came with the "Akeidah" the offering of his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice.
Avram had from all indication, established a very comfortable life in Haran. He was living among all his relatives and had obviously amassed wealth and servants. There was one problem however; Avram believed in one God while the rest of his family were still stuck in idol worship. Avram chose God over his family and in obedience to Yahweh he moved himself, his wife and all his belongings, along with his late brother's son, away from all his relatives, to the land of Cana'an.
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26
Every believer after receiving his or her call will be ultimately faced with the same choice as Avram. Our loyalty can not be to our family, who in many cases are not believers we must follow the voice of God. He does not want us to put any loyalties before Him. If you do, whatever you put before Him becomes your god and God hates idolatry.
Abram was 75 years old, married to (his half-sister) Sarai, and guardian of his nephew Lot (his deceased brother Haran’s son) when he received the promise of divine inheritance. In obedience to Yahweh’s call, he left Haran, journeyed to the land of Canaan, and there built an altar to Yahweh (between Bethel and Ai). He then journeyed south, toward the Negev, when his faith was immediately tested. A famine in the Promised Land forced him to leave for Egypt, where he conspired with Sarai to pretend to be brother and sister (rather than husband and wife) so that he would not be killed for her sake. Sure enough, Sarai was taken to Pharaoh's palace to be part of the royal harem, and the Pharaoh gave Abram livestock, camels and servants for her sake. However, Yahweh sent “great plagues” to Pharaoh’s household until it was known that the reason for the trouble was that Sarai was Abram’s wife. Pharaoh then released Sarai and dismissed Abram with all his possessions.
After Abram returned to the land of Canaan, Lot separated from him and chose to settle in the evil city of Sodom, where he became a captive during the war of Chedorlaomer (and his three allies) against the five cities of the Sodom Valley. Upon learning that his nephew was a prisoner, Abram set out with a small band and rescued him, defeating the four kings on account of divine intervention on his behalf.
Dwelling in the Land of Cana'an Abraham entered Canaan by way of Shechem and it was here that Yahweh first announced to Abraham that this was the land he was giving him along with the other provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant.
Shekhem represents the place in Abraham’s life where he died to himself and confessed Yahweh as his only true God. It was in that place that Yahweh for the first time promised that Avram’s descendants would receive the land as his inheritance. Previous to this there is no mention of the land to which he was to go becoming his possession. But this was the reward of his obedience. In the same way that Abraham had that experience, so must we all come to our Shechem where we die to ourselves and become entitled to receive our spiritual inheritance.
From there he goes to Egypt because of the famine and then moves back - this time to Bethel (13:1,3) "And Abram went up out of Egypt... even to Bethel". The rabbis note the significance of this passage in that one always speaks of "going up" or "making aliyah" (ascending) to the land of Israel and Jerusalem. Doesn't this speak of the spiritual journey we are all on leaving the spiritual servitude and slavery of the world, the flesh and the devil seeking to "dwell in the house of Yahweh forever" Ps.23:6 We must continually be going on (ascending) in our spiritual lives from our initial dying to self commitment.
“And Avram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre, which are in Hevron, and built there an altar unto Yahweh.” (13:18 JPS revised) – According to Rashi, Mamre is the name of a person, see 14:24. The name Mamre means “strength”, “firmness” and “fatness”. Hevron means “unity”, “unification”. Hevron is the place where, according to tradition, Adam and Eve were buried. Here Abraham built his third altar. This altar represents the resurrection power of being united with Yahweh. Here the patriarchs were later buried. And from this place Yahweh will one day resurrect their dead bodies, so that they can be united with Messiah in the air when he comes back and later moves to Yerushalayim.
The Abrahamic Covenant Yahweh reveals himself to Abram as El Shaddai, the All Sufficient or Powerful One and then between verses two and eight states the seven "I will" provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant (17:1). Abram believed the promises of Yahweh and it was accounted to him as righteousness and he entered into covenant with Yahweh.
Abraham was the archetype of acts of kindness and drawing people close to God. Abraham embodied the character trait of loving kindness. His entire being was dedicated to doing acts of charity and kindness for others. In this way, through Abraham himself, God's promise that he will be a blessing to others, was fulfilled apart from the covenantal promises.
The placing of animals that have been cut in half, opposite each other, was the ancient way of entering a covenant. The persons who entered into covenant with each other, walked together between the pieces of the animals in a figure eight formation, which symbolizes eternity thus confirming it as an everlasting covenant - Verse 19 speaks of an "everlasting covenant."
When Paul was referring to Yahweh's covenants (plural) of promise in Ephesians 2:12 this covenant as well as the previous covenants and the Sinai covenant were included. The believers were now Israelite citizens through Yeshua and no longer strangers or aliens to these covenants. see Jeremiah 34:19 and Ephesians 2:11-19.
This covenant confirmed the duration of the promise that Avram’s descendants would inherit the land. “And He said unto him: ‘Take Me a heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young dove.’”(15:9 JPS revised)
Abraham fell to doubt and unbelief after waiting for years for a son. The result was his taking matters into his own hands and working out Yahweh's plans and purposes in his life through fleshly means. The result was Ishmael, the father of the Arab Moslem people (16:1-16). The desire for a son had been Yahweh's will but it took time to prepare his chosen vessel.
His primary goal in our life is NOT to bring OUR dreams to pass, but to form in us the person and character of Yeshua (Rom. 8:28-29). This only comes through time, heat and pressure of spiritual refinement. That is the message of Genesis 15:12-14. The birds of the air (Satan and his demons) wanted to interrupt this process (verse 11). But will we rest (sleep, verse 12) in Yahweh and allow him to work his purposes out in our lives that we may become the refined vessel he wants us to be in Messiah Yeshua - this is the process of sanctification and spiritual maturity.
Yahweh told Abraham as part of the covenant to walk before Him and to be perfect. (17: 1) "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2
We Must renew our minds by not conforming to the things of the world but rather focusing on the things that are good and acceptable to God. It's accomplished through reading and absorbing of the word of God and coming to an understanding f what is His good and perfect will for all situations. We become perfect as the nature of God is revealed in us by living out the principles of His word. Through the revelation of God's word we are able to evaluate ourselves and see whether or not we're being conformed to the world or being perfected in God! When we consider our behaviour, or motivations, our attitudes and the way we express them, in the light of the word of God, we can grade the level of our perfection.
Some people never want to leave their kingdom of self, they feel comfortable there. They feel entitled to their outrages, entitled to their hurt feelings, entitled to their anger, entitled to their unforgiveness. But in order to be perfect in God's eyes we have to take our focus off self and put it on Yeshua. If we as believers, believe that Yeshua died for our sin, then we should believe that He can also eliminate our concern for self. We as believers should be so confident in Yeshua and who we are in Him, that we do not have to defend ourselves.We are to be perfect because Yeshua died to make that possible. (Matthew 5:48)
The key to perfection is love! We are called to be vessels of God's love! Yeshua is telling us that even in the midst of the pressures of this world, the conflicts, the heartless irritating people, the insults and the hurts, we are to LOVE. God's character is love. By this they will know that we are His disciples.
People will not recognize us by the correctness of our doctrine, they'll recognize us by our love. If we're afraid to love because we might be exposing ourselves to being humiliated or hurt, then we have not completely died to self, we're still being conformed to the world. If we are conformed to the world then we're not being perfected!
Is Yahweh separating the wheat from the chaff in your spiritual life? Are you passing through the fires of refinement and being given a new direction and purpose in life, a fresh start and a new beginning? The old religious paradigms need to be replaced by a higher, more righteous, more obedient, and a more intimate walk with him.
Everyone of us has to pitch our tent in some direction. Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom, Avram pitched his tent towards Bethel (the house of God), which way will you pitch your tent?