God of Wonders

Parashat Vayeira (And He Appeared)
Beresheet (Genesis) 18:1-22:24
Haftarah: II Kings 4:1-37

Do you believe that God can do the impossible? Our readings from both the Parasha (Genesis 18:915 and 21:17) and the Haftarah (II Kings 4:837) deal with God creating something extraordinary from seemingly nothing. And in both portions, He does so supernaturally. In the Parasha, we read of Sarah who was old and barren. In the Haftarah, we read of the Shunammite woman who was also childless. Both women were married to old men, which can be an indication of why they could not bring children into the world. Yet, both women also experienced a miraculous birth of a son.

In Genesis 18:915 we read:

Then they said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” He said, “I will certainly return to you at this time next year; and behold, your wife Sarah will 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. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, am I to have pleasure, my lord being old also?” But the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I actually give birth to a child, when I am so old?’ Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah denied it, however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

There is a key word in verse 14 that, in my opinion, loses its meaning into English. Most English translations translate the verse as, “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” However, the Hebrew word “הֲיִפָּלֵאHaYipaleh contains the root word “פלא” (peleh), which means "wonder or miracle". I believe that this verse can be more accurately translated as “Is there any wonder that is too great for the LORD to do?”

In Genesis 18:14 and 21:1–2, we find another important phrase “At the appointed time” These are the very words that Elisha says to the Shunammite woman when he promises her that she will bear a son in II Kings 4:16:

Then he said, “At the appointed time next year, you are going to embrace a son.” And she said, “No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your servant.”

And in verse 17 we read:

Now the woman conceived and gave birth to a son at that season the next year, as Elisha had told her.

Sarah doubted the LORD’s promise and the Shunammite woman did not want to have false hope. As we know, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, the son of the promise, whose role was to continue the unconditional covenant of grace with the children of Israel. Yet, for the Shunammite woman, it was a different story.

The Scriptures tell us that her young son died very suddenly from an illness. God chose to make yet another amazing act of wonder by bringing her son back to life:

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. And he called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” Then she came in and fell at his feet and bowed down to the ground, and she picked up her son and left.
II Kings 4:32–37

These two accounts connect to our Messiah in an amazing way: first, we know that His birth was indeed miraculous, as He was conceived in a virgin womb. Second, as Isaiah 9:6 (9:5 in Hebrew) says, one of Messiah's names will be “פלא”peleh, which means "wonder" — indeed He is the reflection of our Father God, who is the God of all wonders. Lastly, Yeshua, the divine Son, was raised from the dead, just as the Shunammite's woman’s son was.

I hope you are encouraged by the wondrous things God can do, for you and for those you love. I want to encourage you to not give up faith in His ability to do the impossible. We serve a God of wonders!

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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