Parashat VaYeira (And he appeared)
Beresheet (Genesis) 23:1–25:8
In my previous blog on this specific parasha, Parashat Chayei Sarah (The Life of Sarah), I wrote, “This week’s reading from the Parasha starts with the words:
Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.
Many times, we overlook Sara’s life as we focus primarily on Abraham, his amazing story, the amazing promises that he received from God, and no doubt his amazing faith. However, Sarah played a vital role in Abraham’s life and in the story overall; what happened to Sarah, in many ways, foreshadows that which would happen to Messiah.
In many of my discussions that I’ve had with people who do not believe, they are very quick to refute the idea of the virgin birth saying that it was an impossible act against nature. However, I am quick to respond that when one sees the amazing miracle that God performed in Sarah’s life — which could easily be argued is also an “unnatural” act — why is it so easy to deny God’s power in regard to the virgin birth?
In Genesis 17:15–17, God tells Abraham that He chose Sarah to birth Isaac, the son of the promise, when she was 90 years old! At 90, Sarah’s womb was way beyond childbearing age. In fact, one could say her womb was dead. How could life come forth from a dead womb?
Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
Sarah herself didn’t even believe this could happen! In Genesis 18:9–3, we see that she laughed when she overheard the heavenly visitors telling Abraham that she would bear a child:
Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “Behold, in the tent.” And he said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’”
I believe verse 14 is the key to understanding this entire event: “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Is anything too difficult for the Lord? Our Creator can do all things, as He is the Almighty, all powerful and living God!”
I’d like to now tackle a controversial subject, especially among Jewish non-believers: the virgin birth of Messiah Yeshua. As I wrote above, this week’s parasha indirectly speaks to the possibility of a virgin birth. Most Bible translations translate the famous prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 as:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
One of the classic Jewish arguments against Yeshua being the Messiah comes from the English translation of this scripture, which does not directly translate the actual word “הָעַלְמָ֗ה” “HaAlma” as a young woman, but instead as a virgin. This, they argue, is an incorrect translation because it assumes that a "young woman" is also a "virgin". This, however, is a weak argument and is actually easily defeated in other places in the Scriptures where "young woman" and "virgin" are used interchangeably. In fact, in our Scripture portion this week we find a description that affirms that a young woman was implied to have been a virgin. Rebecca is described as both a virgin and a young woman in the following Scriptures:
And it came about before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder. And the girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.
Behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden (young woman) who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar”
My brothers and sisters, God can do anything… even open a “dead womb” or cause a virgin to conceive while she is still a virgin. There is nothing too difficult for the Lord to accomplish! If we cannot believe that the impossible can be accomplished by God’s power, then we really cannot believe anything else in the Word of God!