Parashat Vayeizei (And He Went Forth)
Beresheet (Genesis) 28:10–32:3
In the Book of John, we read an account that becomes much clearer once we read our weekly portion:
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Torah and also the Prophets wrote, Yeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Yeshua saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Yeshua answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” Yeshua answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
It is interesting that Philip told Nathanael (whose name means “God gives”), “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Torah and also the Prophets wrote…” and then after Yeshua’s encounter with Nathanael, he tells him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” This statement on its own seems outrageous! What in the world could He possibly mean by this?
The answer is found in this week’s Torah portion, where Jacob saw the angels of God descending and ascending on a ladder. In John 1:51, Yeshua was referring to Jacob’s dream, which speaks clearly about the “seed”, about the Word, and about the fact that the only way to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Let’s take a look at that portion:
Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. And he had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants shall also be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
God affirmed His unconditional covenant to Abraham, Isaac and now here, to Jacob. This covenant included a land, but also a promise that through their (Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob’s) seed, “…shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” This echoes the same promise found in Genesis 12:3: “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Rav Shaul (the Apostle Paul) referred to this promise when he wrote: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Messiah.”
Through God’s promise to Abraham, we can clearly see how He points to Messiah Yeshua! Through His promise, we also find evidence of God’s endless love for us, in that He provided a way for us to return to Him through the Seed of blessing—Messiah Yeshua—from the very beginning of time.
It is not by mistake that right after the Lord reiterated this amazing promise to Jacob, he woke up from the dream and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it…How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Even today, a condition to “wake up” from our “spiritual sleep” is to accept the truth of the “Seed of promise”, which is our Messiah. We cannot fully experience the presence of God Almighty without Messiah, as He is our entrance to the Kingdom (John 14:6).
In closing, many years ago, I said to God, “If this is true, if Yeshua is the Promised One, I want to know it, not just based on an experience or feeling, but on true knowledge.” I want to exhort each one of you to do the same… Just like He knew where Nathanael was, so too He knows where you are and is waiting for you!