Parashat Vayeira (And He Appeared)
Beresheet (Genesis) 18:1 – 22:24
Haftarah: II Kings 4:1–37
There are two very interesting points in our weekly Parashah with regard to Abraham. The first is that God refers to him as a prophet. When Abimelech, king of Gerar, took Sarah because Abraham said she was his sister, God appears to Abimelech in a dream:
Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, know that you will certainly die, you and all who are yours.”
Genesis 20:6–7 (emphasis mine)
We tend to refer to Abraham as our forefather, and as we learned last week, as the great father of the faith. We do not usually refer to him, however, as a prophet. But let's not miss the amazing fact that Abraham was the first person that Scripture refers to as a "prophet."
The second point that I find fascinating is that Abraham was part of the LORD’s “close circle," the one to whom God told things that He kept hidden from others. For instance, God told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham pleaded before the LORD to have mercy and grace over the city. In essence, God made Abraham a secret partner in his plan.
The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do…”
I believe that these two points are useful for us to keep in mind as we turn to one of the accounts in our coinciding Haftarah portion from II Kings 4:1-37. As a short summary, the prophest Elisha went to Shunem, and there, an important woman who recognized that he was a man of God, fed him with bread and told her husband that they needed to build a small room for him in order to rest. As an act of gratitude, Elisha wanted to bless the woman who, by the way, was barren and prophesied that she would give birth to a son. She did miraculously end up giving birth to a son, but he sadly died. The grieving woman went to Elisha and when she found him, she desperately tried to catch him by his feet. Elisha's servant, Gehazi, tried to push her away, Elisha said,
“Leave her alone, for her soul is troubled within her; and the LORD has concealed it from me and has not informed me.”
II Kings 4:27:b
In Amos 3:7, we read that, “Certainly the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret plan to His servants the prophets.” Yet, in our story from the Haftarah, unlike the story of Abraham, He did not reveal His plans to Elisha.
I would like to offer two possible explanations for this. The first is that we do not see that Elisha seeks God before promising the woman a son. I believe that God still honored that promise, but sadly, the consequences of Elisha's haste still remained. Our takeaway from this is twofold: 1) We would be wise to always seek God first before we promise something, especially in His name. 2) Even though there is always forgiveness, God does not always shield us from the consequences of our actions.
The second possible explanation for why God hid His plan from Elisha is connected to what happens in the end:
When Elisha entered the house, behold the boy was dead, laid on his bed. So he entered and shut the door behind them both, and he prayed to the LORD. Then he got up on the bed and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, his hands on his hands, and he bent down on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. Then he returned and walked in the house back and forth once, and went up and bent down on him; and the boy sneezed seven times, then the boy opened his eyes.
II Kings 4:32–35
It is possible that Elisha followed the footsteps of his teacher, Elijah, as Elijah resurrected the son of the widow from Sidon (1 Kings 17:17–24). Another thought I had reading this is that it connects to the Son’s — Yeshua’s — resurrection. Sometimes God partially hides His plans from His people in order to usher in something even greater. Only after a certain point in time, will we know the fullness of His plan. This is where our faith comes into play. We are to seek Him daily with everything that we do and follow His footsteps as we choose to trust Him.
We also need to follow the example of faith of those who came before us. In a similar act of resurrecting the dead, Peter resurrects Tabitha in Acts 9:36–43. God will make signs and wonders through His messengers in order for people to see Him at work today!
The God of Abraham, Elijah, Elisha, and Peter is the same God that we believe in today and we need to walk in faith, seeking Him and trusting Him.
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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